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An Assessment of Extension Personnel's Roles Amidst Natural Disasters
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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the current roles of extension personnel through their experience in training, communication with elected officials, communication with other agencies and the community during and after the natural disaster, and the personal and professional needs of extension personnel. To address the research questions and respective objectives of this study, data were obtained from independent evaluation efforts conducted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Organizational Development Unit and evaluators in The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Data included in this study were collected from extension personnel in Texas and Florida between March and November 2018 who were involved in Hurricane Harvey, the 2017 Texas Panhandle fires, and Hurricane Irma. After two points of contact for Hurricane Harvey and one point of contact for Texas Panhandle and Hurricane Irma, 200 responses were deemed usable. Results indicated extension personnel were not adequately prepared to serve in their emerging role as the hurricane or wildfire happened in their region. Respondents from Florida, Hurricane Harvey, and Texas Panhandle indicated they would like more training in professional development to assist clientele, stronger communication with extension leadership, stronger communication with elected officials, and a clear outline of their job expectations amidst natural disasters to balance personal and professional needs. This study can guide extension leadership regarding the best trainings, educational programs, forms of communication, and hardship prevention when assessing the changing roles of extension personnel. More research is needed to further assist extension personnel in training program implementation at local and state levels to provide further clarification on stress management, work life balance, technology implementation, and communication.
Myers, Megan (2019). An Assessment of Extension Personnel's Roles Amidst Natural Disasters. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from