October 1994 // Volume 32 // Number 3 // Ideas at Work // 3IAW3

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I Love My Village

"I Love My Village" is a successful community based program in Taiwan. Community physical development and spiritual and psychological well-being are the main emphases. Collaboration, focusing on the family and community as a whole, and empowerment are the key implications for the Cooperative Extension System in the United States. They were also the key to implementing this program to empower individuals, families, and villages to be self-reliant and self-improving.

Nina Chen, Ph.D.
Human Development Specialist
University of Missouri
University Extension
Jasper County
Carthage, Missouri
Internet address: chenn@ext.missouri.edu

"I Love My Village" is a successful Extension program in Taiwan. The program was started in 1980 and by the end of 1990, 819 villages had conducted this program. The funding resources include federal, county, and town government, farmer associations, and local organizations (Department of Agriculture and Forestry, 1991). About one half of these villages' funding came from local farmer associations (in Taiwan, farmer associations conduct Extension education programs), and local organizations.

The purpose of this program is to empower individuals, families, and villages to be self-reliant and self-improving so they will improve their quality of life and build a healthy environment. This program not only emphasizes community physical development, but also promotes spiritual and psychological well-being. Internal and external collaboration are the keys to implementing this program. Agricultural, youth development, and home economics Extension agents working together are the three main groups to carry out this program in cooperation with other community agencies. The program is delivered through Extension education clubs (farmer clubs, 4-H clubs, and homemaker clubs), activities, workshops, and home visits. Village leaders and volunteers are key people to help implement the program and recruit clientele.

Extension agents help villages to organize a committee. The committee includes Extension advisory council members, leaders, farmer association members, and a village master. Extension agents assist the committee to design their village development plan. They also provide training, support, supervision, resources, collaboration, and evaluation to help villages implement the program.

This program addresses five main issues:

  1. Improvement of agricultural products and marketing. These programs focus on increasing the quality of agricultural products and improving the system of production and marketing operations, such as irrigation, communication, farm mechanization, soil and fertilization improvements, and integration of production and marketing. Agricultural Extension agents, marketing organizations, and other related agencies work together to meet the needs of the people. For instance, farmer associations and banks provide loans with low or no interest to farmers. Agricultural Extension agents provide training, workshops, field trips, and use one-on-one contact to help enhance farmers' agricultural skills.

  2. Improvement and beautification of the living environment. This program provides funding for improving drainage systems, road repairs, sanitation, recycling, composts, and a village garden. Each village chooses one kind of flower as their village symbol (village flower) to plant on two sides of the main road and at a village recreational center. People in the village have to take care of a public garden and clean roads. Some villages have families take turns, but others have 4-H club members or school students help. Farmers can apply for loans and subsidies to build or remodel a house from this program and obtain assistance from the housing department. Home economics agents not only help families plan to improve their kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, and yard, but also work with the housing department to help families improve their living environment.

  3. Strengthening youth development. This program emphasizes leadership training and cultivates healthy citizens. 4-H Extension agents provide activities and workshops which focus on learning by doing and working by learning. The main purpose is to enhance young people's physical, mental, moral, and intellectual development, as well as provide an appropriate and healthy learning environment for youth.

  4. Strengthening individual and family well-being. Helping families to be self-sufficient and have a good quality of life is essential. Home economics Extension agents provide practical education and support to help individuals and families increase their knowledge and skills on nutrition, health, family strengths, child care, parenting, consumer education, and financial record keeping. Home economics Extension agents also need to work with schools, the health department, social services, and other local agencies to meet the needs of individuals and families. Home visits, workshops, field trips, and homemaker clubs are strategies to expand education programs.

  5. Promotion of culture, literature, morals, and mental health. This program uses community resources and collaborative efforts to enhance spiritual well-being. One example is "Doing a good thing for others each month." Agricultural Extension, 4-H, and home economics agents usually work with related agencies to provide various activities and classes in areas such as literature, recreation, cultural traditions, arts, athletics, and health promotion. This also strengthens cultural values and mental and moral health to establish a strong village.

Every village has different programs of various events to promote the ideas of "I Love My Village" and to provide appropriate activities for people to get together and work together. At the end of the year, there is an evaluation to document their efforts and the success of collaboration. This makes these people feel worthy and proud of their contributions and living environment.

These villages usually become independent after several years guidance from the Extension service. They also become a model for other villages. The idea of "I Love My Village" motivates people to be aware of their strengths and realize that building a healthy village is everyone's responsibility, from the young to the old. It also demonstrates the importance of collaboration.

Implications for the U.S.A.

Internal and external collaborative networks are the key to a successful program. Otherwise, competition among agencies and organizations will become a barrier against program development and implementation. Cooperative Extension should use the empowerment approach and act as a catalyst to enlighten people to use their strengths to challenge their environment and take action.

A successful program should focus on family and community as a whole--and not just individuals. Hence, it is important to take a community or neighborhood approach and have local people, businesses, organizations, agencies and representatives from the target population involved in planning, implementation, evaluation, and recognition of the program.

Using Extension clubs as the primary groups to start the program would be helpful. Although some states have eliminated Extension clubs, they may need to consider using these clubs as the main group to expand Extension education programs. Moreover, a well organized committee, community leaders, and volunteers are key people to implement programs. In particular, using volunteers as a bridge to conduct Extension programs has been one important delivery method in Cooperative Extension. It is important to continue to provide on-going leadership training and recruit more volunteers from various backgrounds to be involved in Extension programs.

Finally, a successful program also needs to include recognition. This recognition not only shows appreciation of people's contributions and efforts, but also raises awareness on the value of collaboration.


Department of Agriculture and Forestry. (1991). Agricultural Extension education plan 1991. Chung-hsien Village: Taiwan Provincial Government.