UW-Extension Reimagined is a series of public deliberation forums statewide, as part of the national Extension Reconsidered initiative. Between 1906 and 1916, the University of Wisconsin established University Extension, Cooperative Extension, and 9XM radio as vehicles for connecting university resources to the needs of the public. One hundred years later, UW-Extension leads an array of university programs that continue to serve the people of Wisconsin. Today, Extension is asking how it can remain strong and relevant for the next 100 years.
Working in collaboration with the Kettering Foundation, Imagining America, and 12 other state extension systems. UW-Extension led a public dialogue around the future scope and direction of university extension in our state. For more information, visit Reimagining UW-Extension.
Community forums were held on June 16, 2015. We asked Milwaukee County citizens and stakeholders to share both your experiences/stories & constructive ideas toward the question: How can we best serve Milwaukee County in the future?
The goal of 70 participants was surpassed with 74 individuals participating in either the morning or evening forum. Of the 44 individuals registered for the morning forum, 42 attended (95%). Of the 30 individuals registered for the evening forum, 19 attended (63%).
- 30 different civic organizations and institutions represented across the county
- County Executive’s Director of Community Relations attended, County Parks Director of Administration & External Affairs attended
- All program areas represented: one 4-H youth attended
Main questions posed:
- For statewide UW-Extension, “How can we best serve Wisconsin communities in the future?”
- For our county office and programs, “What implications does your recommendations have for our programming and services?”
- Structure: Three options presented with five examples that each have trade-offs to consider
- Process: Participants weigh choices and trade-offs through discussion of all sides/points. Most forums introduce new ideas/strategies/solutions and/or affirm what works best. Some forums reach “common ground”.
Key Discussion Points
Option 1: Enhance Visibility and Reach through Communications Technology
- Improve how others and we tell the story of how our programs improve lives (refine marketing and communication strategies/”branding”)
- Invest more in Digital Extension (24-hour online access to research-based information)
- Be strategic in combining technology and face-to-face delivery of programming.
- Partner to produce better programs: partnerships help spread the word and connect to local municipalities
Option 2: Ensure Sustainability in a World of Change
- Make services for underserved populations a priority
- We need to be innovative to support all of the examples in this option (revenue generation, streamline services through regionally-based programs, new partnerships, innovation, increase advocacy for public funding)
- Form a PAC for UWEX, Friends of Extension, to gain support within the legislature
Option 3: Re-prioritize Programming to Prepare for the Future
- Let the market drive the program focus
- Be deliberate and focused in our efforts to reinvent ourselves.
Participant Strongest Points
- Build resources that partner with community and entice African American population to stay in Milwaukee
- Each individual generating content can begin sprawling/build upon itself
- “Ask This Old House” à “Ask UW Extension” (group loved idea) videos to show tips/information that is made easily accessible for the public/those seeking help
- SWOT analysis for UW Ext, strategic planning; Gap and Market Analysis