Winter 1988 // Volume 26 // Number 4 // Ideas at Work // 4IAW1

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Dynamics of Change


Keith L. Smith
Leader, Personnel Development and
Associate Professor, Agricultural Education
The Ohio State University-Columbus

Guy Denton
International Program Specialist
College of Agriculture
Utah State University-Logan

One of Extension's roles has been to help clientele deal with change. Now, due to Extension cutbacks and feelings of instability, agents themselves have been faced with change that could significantly hamper their ability to help clientele.

What's the best way Extension can meet this challenge? In designing an inservice program to help its professional staff deal with transitions in their lives, the Ohio Cooperative Extension Service (OCES) has made progress toward answering this question.

The program, "Dealing with Transitions in the Job and Your Personal Life," was developed for a county chair workshop. Chuck Lofy, of the Wellness Center of Minnesota, and Gail Gunderson, North Dakota Cooperative Extension Service, were selected as resource people. Programmers believed that the most effective way to help Extension faculty deal with change was to involve not only faculty, but also their spouses. To attract more spouses, the workshop was scheduled from Friday afternoon through Saturday, and all expenses were paid by OCES.

Mailed questionnaires were sent to all workshop participants.1 The response rate was 74% for employees and 77% for spouses. Table 1 summarizes their responses to nine different items and presents selected written comments.

OCES is planning to offer similar workshops to other interested Extension employees and their spouses. As two-thirds of the county administrators and their spouses indicated that they're now better able to deal with change in their own lives and help others do the same, money shouldn't be a limiting factor, even in this time of budgetary restraint. The positive response to this program is helping OCES rethink the structure of inservice offerings.

Table 1. Participants' response to "Dealing with Transitions in the Job and Your Personal Life."

Items evaluated

Selected comments
Objectives achievement higher
because spouse invited.
I think the workshop was the
turning point in helping
some serious marital problems.
Having spouses involved
helped us both see the total
Great treating husband and wife
as a team regarding stress
management-as it does affect
Examples used describing change
and wellness process appropriate.
Tying together mental health
and physical health and how to
stay positive.
Delivery process appropriate
for participants.
This was an excellent workshop.
A very worthwhile experience.
Very uplifting, very helpful.
Outstanding, fantastic.
Important to explore what's
happening in participant's life.
Increased understanding of how
to help myself deal with
changes or crises that occur.
It's given me the courage to
change the things that need
Important to know Extension's
impact on participant's life.
The workshop has been a big
help to me and my home life
versus work life.
More aware of others' needs,
especially family.
Employees more receptive because
spouses invited.
It's about time Extension started
to include spouses.
I strongly suggest another
workshop with spouses in
Workshop helped participant
help others through change.
More in charge of own life and
time management with
receptiveness to the change
others are experiencing.
Workshop more successful
because all expenses paid.
To pay the expenses makes us
feel that administration really
cares and the "family" does
exist. Thanks!
For the university to lay out such
a sizable amount of money to
keep family and personal
priorities in line was a godsend.
1 Percentage responding affirmatively calculated
by combining those respondents who circled 4=agree or
5=strongly agree on a Likert-type, 5-point scale.


1. Program participants included 75 county chairs, seven district supervisors and supervisors-in-training, five state administrators, and 73 spouses.