Sowcik, M., Benge, M., & Niewoehner-Green, J. (2018). A practical solution to developing county extension director’s leadership skills: exploring the design, delivery and evaluation of an online leadership development program. Journal of Agricultural Education, 59(3), 139-153 


County Extension Directors (CED) are tasked with a myriad of responsibilities, many of which are directly related to leadership skills. Despite the identification of competencies and skills needed by CEDs in order to maintain successful programs, little research has been conducted on actual Extension leadership programming.  Even more uncommon in the literature is the evaluation of CED leadership development programs that utilize online delivery. Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore the outcomes of a primarily online leadership development program with the goal of developing 21st century soft skills in CEDs. The Leadership Short Course was built upon the leadership development foundations of Moore and Rudd (2005), Owen (2004) and Sanders (2014), while the program evaluation framework utilized the Kirkpatrick (1976) model to evaluate program participant reactions, learning, and behavior changes. Key findings indicate that the design and delivery of the program resulted in high participant satisfaction and significant increases in leadership knowledge and skill level. Positive outcomes in this type of online programming has implications for the design and implementation of future CED leadership programs.

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