Urban Extension: A Professional Development Offering

and complexity of issues prompted the creation of the position and it is still relevant today in the Tampa Bay region, which is currently ranked 18 th in U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Area rankings.

The position description reflects the focus on interdisciplinary approaches necessary to address sustainability – given its interconnections with other community issues – and provides the flexibility necessary to rapidly respond to emerging issues. The regional label allows the agent to work across county borders, to partner with other agents and entities, to pool expertise, and to utilize a team approach to educate and engage with pertinent urban challenges. Attracting and retaining the skillset for urban Extension professionals requires position descriptions that reflect the complexity of urban issues rather than relying on singular subject matter expertise. To this end, the reporting system from the university should also be flexible to capture and validate the myriad connections enabling a consultative approach rather than a prescriptive approach. The mindset of community expertise is valuable in urban areas where multiple players and perspectives must be considered in identifying solutions to urban problems, and this approach can be counter-intuitive in the Extension system where singular expertise is the norm.

How University of Florida Regional Urban Sustainability collaborates to leverage resources for collective impact:

Partnerships are vital in large urban metro areas where Extension might not have the name recognition and the resources to fully engage. To this end, the film series has been vital in attracting new clientele who might not have otherwise connected with Extension. The marketing channels used by both the RSA and the urban university partner contribute to increased visibility of Extension and its programs across the region. These channels include social media platforms; arts, film and humanities departments; Arts Tampa Bay; film distributor (Bullfrog films); and television and radio. The value of the film program is demonstrated in the continued use of film to educate and engage both on and off campus. The value of connecting with other urban entities contributes to amplifying Extension’s mission, which can strengthen existing relationships with county and city governments. Additionally, though the film series were held on university campuses, multiple single film events (film screenings) were held at libraries, community centers, and non-traditional venues such as an organic eatery.


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