Why Ongoing Professional Development?
Several of us have been discussing professional development opportunities and systems since the ISU Extension and Outreach Leadership Summit last fall. The need for professional development and related coordinating systems surfaced as a top priority from the summit. Why is this so? I’ve heard from many people that they enjoy frequent and timely updates in their area of expertise whether it be nutrition, finance, or family development. However, what I hear more often is that we all want to be more adept at the processes of our work ranging from team leadership to program evaluation, or program delivery using web based technology. So I was surprised recently when I heard some people articulate, “I’ve been with Extension a long time, I don’t need professional development.” This goes counter to all the research and best practice in our field. Continued learning and professional improvement is the basis for our work. How can we help others learn and change behavior if we aren’t open to doing this in ourselves? We should each have a professional development plan reviewed and updated at least annually that helps us determine the specifics for our learning so we aren’t distracted by every new or interesting thing or fail to grow at all. I encourage you to keep this in the forefront as we work with each other and grow and learn together to improve ourselves, our work teams, our organization, and our impact with clients.