The Journal of Extension published “A National Framework for Urban Extension,” co-authored by Michigan State University Extension educator Marie Ruemenapp. The framework was created out of a collaboration by the National Urban Extension Leaders (NUEL) group that Marie co-founded and in which she serves as the vice chair. NUEL was formed after a group of mid-level managers and administrators from Extension in urban cities met together over breakfast and began conversations about commonalities in their work, and the opportunities and obstacles faced in urban and metropolitan areas. The group decided to continue the conversations and to meet regularly. They began to draft a framework for urban Extension.
Marie said, “(Our goal is) to elevate the conversation around what Extension should be doing in urban environments to a national discussion, and to begin to collaborate and network around that, so that state Extension systems can be more effective in urban and metropolitan environments.
“Eighty percent (of people) in Michigan live in five metro centers around the state. About a third of the state’s population lives in one of 26 cities. So Michigan really is a metropolitan and urban state. And that’s true across the country. Even nationally, about 80 percent of the population live in urban or metropolitan centers. We need to work where our clients are and make sure we’re relevant to meet their needs in ways that work for them.”
To craft the framework, NUEL members conducted an extensive literature review and collected information and experiences from Extension staff members working in urban centers around the nation. They identified four areas of historical development and opportunity for urban Extension: positioning, personnel, programs and partnerships.
To condense the framework and recommendations to make it more accessible, Marie worked with fellow NUEL members Julie Fox, associate professor, Ohio State University Extension; Patrick Proden, metro regional administrator, Division of Outreach and Engagement, Oregon State University; and Brad Gaolach, director, Metropolitan Center for Applied Research and Extension, Washington State University Extension; to author the journal article. Read the journal article at https://joe.org/joe/2017october/a2.php.
At the end of 2015, the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy identified that they were going to put a priority on urban Extension, and they asked NUEL to give leadership to their efforts. As a result, the group planned the National Urban Extension Conference in 2017. They plan to sponsor this conference every two years.
NUEL is also in the process of organizing a regional collaborative networking group for staff members who work in urban Extension and are interested in talking to other staff. This is a great opportunity to get involved. If you are interested in joining this network, email Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will connect you.
Further information on urban Extension:
A National Framework for Urban Extension: A Report from the National Urban Extension Leaders (full report)
Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, Special Issue: Urban Extension – June 2017
Also, you can find many helpful resources on the NUEL website.