Author ORCID Identifier



This study focused on the professional development needs of Cooperative Extension agents and specialists with between four and seven years of experience, placing them roughly within the colleague career stage. Data were collected through focus groups and validated through member checking and the use of a modified World Café approach. A research team collaborated, increasing the reliability of the findings through intentional reflection in the development of the findings. Areas of competency strength and weakness vary for agents and specialists, and specific topic areas within competencies vary. While many of the emergent competencies identified in this study fit within the competency framework of Harder et al. (2011) and previous competency studies, more specific topic areas were identified. However, the top priorities identified for professional development focus included communication, educational design, leadership, and budget and fiscal management. Attention to these areas can increase the ability of these professionals to work more effectively and productively. Providing professional development in areas of need for both agents and specialists can support the development of collegiality within the Extension organization. Supporting professionals in this stage of their career growth will position them well for advancing to additional career stages within Cooperative Extension.



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