June 1996 // Volume 34 // Number 3 // Ideas at Work // 3IAW1

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Extension's Free Lunch

A Leader's Luncheon conducted by the Family and Consumer Science Planning and Advisory Committee has produced positive results in Lake County, Ohio. These include increased awareness of Extension FCS programming, recruitment of new volunteers, recognition of current volunteers and increased use of Extension resource programming. The Leader's Luncheon also provides local legislators an opportunity to explore the need for FCS programming with community leaders. In addition, the Leader's Luncheon provides a broad-based yearly needs assessment and recommendations for FCS programming.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse
Extension Agent
Family and Consumer Science
Ohio State University Extension
Jefferson, Ohio
Internet address: syracuse.1@osu.edu

Looking for a way to increase advisory committee satisfaction? Need to keep legislators up-to-date on your programming? Need to reach new audiences? Invite them to lunch.

As with many consumer extension planning and advisory committees, the family and consumer science committee in Lake County, Ohio wanted to do more than just advise and offer suggestions for programming. The group was interested in taking an active role in the community and conducting educational programs and events. They developed the idea of an annual Leader's Luncheon to acquaint local leaders with the programming opportunities of the Extension family and consumer science program.

The advisory committee helps select who is invited. Community leaders are identified and sent a special invitation to participate in the luncheon. The invitation is followed-up by a telephone call from a committee member. Typical individuals invited to the Leader's Luncheon include local legislators, county commissioners, presidents of local women's groups and junior leagues, clergy, librarians, and home economics/family and consumer science (FCS) instructors. Individuals who are being considered as future members of the advisory committee are also invited to provide them with background information on the FCS committee and programs. On the day of the event, advisory committee members do the room set-up, provide refreshments and serve as hostesses and presenters.

Guests are asked to participate in this two hour event with the added incentive of a free lunch. The agenda includes introduction and recognition of advisory committee members, general over-all Extension information including funding sources, and a brief overview of current programs and activities conducted and sponsored by the FCS Extension program. Participants are then asked to spend some time exploring the needs for future FCS programs in Lake County.

This Leader's Luncheon has succeeded in achieving many positive outcomes. These luncheons increase awareness of Extension and update local legislators about Extension FCS programs. It also provides local legislators an opportunity to explore with community leaders the needs for such programming. Advisory committee members are recognized as strong supporters and volunteers of Extension and community leaders are recognized for their leadership positions. In addition, the Leader's Luncheon provides extension FCS in Lake County with a broader based yearly needs assessment and recommendations for programming activities.

Results of the Leader's Luncheon include:

    Creating awareness among local legislators and political leaders

    Increased awareness of Extension programming

    Recruitment of new volunteers

    Recognition of current volunteers

    Broad-based recommendations/ideas on local programming needs

    Increased use of Extension taught programs by groups who have participated.

This event has been held for the last two years in Lake County, Ohio. Evaluation surveys have been completed by 21 "guests" at the two Leader Luncheons. Evaluations showed of those attending:

    4% were not familiar with Extension prior to the luncheon

    8% were involved with Extension in other areas, but had not been aware of the FCS programs

    14% had heard of Extension prior to the event but were uncertain of our responsibilities

    14% had heard of Extension, but never used our services

    29% were occasional users

    19% had indicated they were frequent Extension users

    71% (15 of the participants) indicated activities they would do as a result of what they learned at the luncheon.

These actions included: 1 - share with staff; 2 - educate my friends and neighbors and familiarize others; 3 - make sure our library has this information available to the public; 4 - consider more volunteer time; 5 - use one of the videos available; 6 - several clubs/organizations which I belong are always looking for new programs; 7 - I will pass on this info; 8 - provide info to parents and have them sign up for newsletters.

Of the 21 participants, four indicated they would be willing to serve on the FCS/home economics advisory committee. Two are currently active members. Ten others indicated they may be interested in serving in the future.

Other evaluation comments included:

    So glad I was invited as I learned how the organization has improved and doing so many services for the community.

    I did not realize how wide range the programs from your office are to the community.

    I did not know how broad your services are and exactly what is available to us in the community.

    I certainly am impressed with the extent that the organization involves current and basic needs and the availability of this knowledge to the county.