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EXPANDING PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT CAPABILITIES THROUGH SUSTAINABLE STATEWIDE AGENT COLLABORATIONS

V. Zabala, UF/IFAS Extension, Orange County, Orlando, FL; L. Johnson, UF/IFAS Extension, Lake County, Tavares, FL; S. Fundingsland, UF/IFAS Extension, Collier County, Naples FL; K. Griffin, UF/IFAS Extension, Suwannee County, Live Oak, FL; T. Leigh, UF/IFAS Extension, Collier County, Naples, FL; A. Nikolai, UF/IFAS Extension, Polk County, Bartow, FL; B. Marty-Jimenez, UF/IFAS Extension, Broward County, Davie, FL; A. Mullins, UF/IFAS Extension, Leon County, Tallahassee, Fl; K. Shelnutt, UF/IFAS Extension Family, Youth & Community Sciences, Gainesville, FL; W. Dahl, UF/IFAS Extension Food Science & Human Nutrition, Gainesville, FL.

SITUATION: Extension agents are responsible for providing education within their county to sustain and enhance the quality of life. Due to Extension’s presence in Florida, there are times when stakeholders look to agents to develop projects with a statewide reach. For example, the Building Healthy Military Communities (BHMC) program along with the First Coast YMCA sought to collaborate with Extension to provide a health and wellness educational program to reach the military reserves in Florida. Initially, BHMC contacted two county agents to develop an online educational series within two months. Projects of this magnitude present an opportunity for multi-agent, multi-county collaboration. The agents sought to determine if developing an eight-topic virtual series with a short turnaround could be achieved by working as an action team. METHODS: Agents worked within an action team that consisted of eight Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agents and two state specialists with Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credentials. The team met virtually to discuss the needs presented by BHMC, topics to cover, project timeline, delivery methods, and evaluation tools. Each agent developed a health and wellness presentation, recording, and evaluation, and had their work reviewed by a peer. The team shared the final project with the collaborators, who marketed, recruited participants, and shared the videos. RESULTS: The team recorded eight 20–30-minute presentations within two months, developed evaluation tools for each, and uploaded them onto one county’s YouTube page. The learning outcomes from this project will be presented at the 2021 UF/IFAS Extension Symposium and the 2021 Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition Conference. CONCLUSION: As demonstrated by the BHMC collaboration, it is imperative that agents collaborate within action teams for projects with statewide reach. These teams help share the responsibility of research, materials development, program delivery, evaluation tool development, while assuring sustainability, impact, and continued professional success.

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