Established in 1972, the Program Development and Evaluation Center’s (PDEC) mission is to add value to UF/IFAS Extension through improved program development and evaluation processes and the enhancement of professional competencies based on the science of Extension. AEC’s Dr. Amy Harder, Professor of Extension Education has served as Director PDEC since 2014. During the AEC Gathering on September 15, Dr. Harder provided insight into the collaborative work PDEC is accomplishing, highlighted the roles of faculty, staff, and student working with PDEC, and identified ways for AEC faculty, staff, and students to get involved with the program.
PDEC provides in-service training, evaluation resources, needs assessment resources, and more for UF/IFAS. Bu their work extends beyond just the Gainesville area. Through hands-on training with Extension faculty across the state and collaboration with institutions across the southern region of the country. PDEC works with technically trained faculty to give them the skills needed to share their expertise through nonformal educational programs. PDEC’s programs are based on research. Their work focuses on intentionality when engaging with Extension professionals and they’re committed to lifelong learning to best help others. Through their work collecting data from Extension faculty and stakeholders, they’re able to provide economic impact information, providing guidance to address individual, family, and community problems and find resources to address those problems.
While Dr. Harder serves as the Director, she says it’s the exemplary support and expertise provided by the staff, Diane Craig and Tyann Haile, that allows PDEC to keep moving in the right direction. Additionally, AEC faculty, Dr. Matt Benge and Dr. Glenn Israel work with PDEC. Dr. Benge focuses on coordinating and providing professional development for Extension faculty, one-on-one training, seasonal in-service training based on needs, and more. Dr. Israel serves as a wealth of knowledge on how program development and evaluation has evolved and focuses on clientele experience surveys. Two graduate students, Matt Gold and Karlibeth Leitheiser, work with PDEC to translate data into usable products for action and share the work PDEC is doing on social media.
Dr. Harder encouraged AEC faculty and graduate students to get involved with PDEC through the monthly meetings, collaborate in research opportunities, guest star in a “Programming with PDEC” video, and co-delivering professional development programming for Extension faculty. For graduate students specifically, she encouraged confirming availability with your advisor and meeting with PDEC faculty to determine what kind of experience would be most beneficial and meaningful through working with PDEC.