Urban Extension: A Professional Development Offering

How WSU Metropolitan Center attracts, develops, retains, and structures competent talent:

Many land grant faculty members are eager to work on real-world projects and the Metro Center can provide them with that opportunity. The Center prioritizes customer service to both external fee-paying clients, and internal ‘clients’ – the faculty and staff who join proj ect teams. The Center’s small core staff scope and develop projects, lead the proposal writing and budget creation, contract with the client, manage the project and also take a leadership role in final reporting and deliverables. This allows project team members to be subject matter experts focusing on their unique contributions to the work, instead of being burdened by project management. Careful budgeting also ensures that project team members are fully compensated for their time, materials and travel.

How the WSU Metropolitan Center collaborates to leverage resources for collective impact:

One of the Metro Center’s goals is to add value to county Extension offices by providing additional capacity beyond their local faculty and staff, allowing them even greater ability to serve their communities. Some Metro Center’s projects have originated with a request from the county Extension director. Since the Metro Center only engages in shorter term projects (with set begin and end dates), those projects with the potential to evolve into longer term programs can be transitioned to the county Extension office. The Metro Center’s collaborations extend beyond Washington State to urban extension units and professionals across the country as the administrator for the Western Center for Metropolitan Extension and Research (WCMER). The WCMER is a multi-university collaboration established by the Western Extension Directors Association to increase the internal capacity of Western Extension programs to address metropolitan issues, and to elevate the value of Cooperative Extension to external metropolitan audiences. The WCMER focuses its efforts on applied research and on professional development for Extension professionals. The nine institutional members of WCMER now include universities beyond the west.

Multi-university projects implemented by the Metro Center and WCMER partners include:

• Well Connected Communities – helping to drive transformational change and increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life, in partnership with the National 4-H Council and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. • Urban Green Infrastructure Summit – a workshop connecting university researchers with city and county personnel to present research and best practices and to build a collaborative network to develop grant proposals and applied research projects. • Extension as Urban Policy Advisors – two workshops, one in Seattle and, by popular demand, one in Sacramento, to help Extension personnel understand how they can appropriately and effectively engage in policy work in many areas and at many levels.

Contact the Metro Center: Director Brad Gaolach

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