Writer: Mr. Robert Nathan Gregory, MSU Extension Service
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A Mississippi State University Extension Service instructor has earned an Impact Collaborative Facilitator certificate from the eXtension Foundation.
Bekah Sparks, instructor for the MSU Extension Center for Technology Outreach, was one of 16 Extension professionals across the country to receive the training required for this distinction.
eXtension is the organization through which land-grant universities in the U.S. Cooperative Extension System share tools and resources.
Sparks uses her training to facilitate the organization’s Designathon One events. These workshops kick off the Impact Collaborative initiative, which is eXtension’s flagship program to help Extension professionals generate local programming for their clients.
Participants practice design thinking skills and learn techniques during the events that they can take home and use with their colleagues. Sparks said the design process taught in Designathon One reconsiders how and when the effectiveness of a new Extension program is evaluated in its development.
“Currently, we evaluate a new Extension program after we’ve done all of the planning and implementation to see if there was an impact,” Sparks said. “By evaluating the idea for the program immediately, you have the opportunity to see if it is really what your community needs before you test it on clients.”
Sparks said the ultimate goal is for participants to duplicate the innovation process learned at Designathon One with their colleagues or within their communities to create localized Extension programs that make a measurable difference.
“I am excited to be a part of the Impact Collaborative because I truly believe in Extension’s mission of educating and helping people through research-based information and educational programs,” she said. “I just want to help people, and the Impact Collaborative allows me to help Extension professionals help their clientele, so it’s a win-win.”
For more information about the Impact Collaborative, visit https://extension.org/impact-collaborative.