Spring 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // 1TOT1

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The Cooperative Extension Game


Lynnette Brubaker
Extension Agent, 4-H
Virginia Cooperative Extension Service-Hampton

Arlen Etling
Assistant Professor
Agricultural and Extension Education Department
Penn State University-University Park

The Cooperative Extension Game. Lynnette Brubaker. 1988. Available for $4.00 from The Cooperative Extension Game, c/o Lynnette Brubaker, 1320 LaSalle Ave., Room 6, Hampton, VA 23669.

Cooperative Extension isn't fully understood by the public. Many know about Extension programs, yet have a narrow perception of the entire organization. A simulation game has been developed to expose participants to a "whole view" perspective of Extension. The Cooperative Extension Game is designed to increase employees' and volunteers' understanding of Extension.

Game Audiences

The Cooperative Extension Game can be used by Extension agents with advisory committees, volunteers, 4-Hers, and new Extension employees. Typically, Extension professionals devote a portion of their undergraduate studies to a particular field (agronomy, dairy science, family environment). These professionals and new Extension agents may not have a basic knowledge of Extension's operation, philosophy, and history. The Cooperative Extension Game simulation teaches the program planning process and provides participants with background information about Cooperative Extension.

About the Game

A facilitator or someone who knows about Extension and program planning is needed for the game to run smoothly. The facilitator must present background information about Extension and answer participants' questions. The game begins as participants play the roles of Extension professionals and volunteers. They develop programs for specific county situations. As they go through the planning process using cards and the game board, participants learn the cooperative efforts needed to get funding, recruit volunteers, and implement programs. The characteristics of an effective Extension agent are also part of the game. A debriefing sheet is included to help the facilitator discuss Cooperative Extension and the game.

How Adaptive Is This Game?

Extension program planning, history, and basic programs are similar in each state, yet state and local structures may vary greatly. The game overcomes these factors through its generic design. The facilitator can also adapt the game by deleting or creating roles specific to local situations and unique needs.

Comments from Participants

An evaluation of the game was completed through pilot testing. Participants in the evaluation agreed that the program planning process was well-presented. Comments from the participants indicated that the game provided realistic information about Extension (agents, other individuals involved, and county situations). The evaluation also provided a basis for determining optimal educational benefits that each participant should receive from the game: (1) an understanding of Extension's program planning process, (2) a realization of Extension's complexity, and (3) an appreciation of Extension's support system (financial and volunteer).

The Cooperative Extension Game is a valuable tool to help in inducting new employees or to introduce the public to a "whole view" of Extension.