Urban Extension: A Professional Development Offering


We don’t need to try to fight the old story. We simply need to walk outside the old story and build a new story.

— Chip Richards, How the Stories We Tell Shape Our World, 2015

Good stories are all about journeys — where they take us, why we choose them, what we learn from them. Extension has had a long, long story, one everyone thinks they understand, and the journey has been taken so long, and so many times, that no one sees it anymore. There is only one way to go, and everyone knows the road. But now that story is changing. Extension is now working with different people and communities, serving different goals, honoring different needs. The old story is not enough now; it must grow, and Urban Extension is where that growth is occurring.

The old story is still real, still vibrant, still needed, and Extension must serve as it always has. But Urban Extension is now adding a new chapter to that traditional tale.

This publication has been envisioned as a story of Urban Extension, exploring what it is, how it works, and what it is becoming.

The first section is an exploration of what Urban Extension actually is, its purpose and scope, describing its particular characteristics of diversity and population shift, and laying out its differences and similarities to Rural Extension.

The second section is a list of those contributing to this publication, allowing the reader to explore its founders as interest allows.

The story then winds on to dive deep into the actual work of the Urban Extension office as viewed through case studi es, which have been structured through the lens of the 4P’s (Positioning, Programming, Personnel, and Partnerships) that the National Urban Extension Leaders (NUEL) believe to be critical to the future of Urban Extension. Positioning focuses on the ways in which Extension is placed in terms of national, state, regional, and city levels, while Programming examines how Extension addresses the multitude of issues and priorities in the city. Personnel assesses how Extension attracts, develops, retains, and structures competent talent in the urban arena, and Partnerships explores how Extension collaborates to leverage resources for collective impact.

Finally, the heart of the publication, and the crux of the story, revolves around what professional development is like in Urban Extension, how it is achieved, and how it advances the work of the institution


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