Challenges of early career extension agents in Florida
Keywords:onboarding, professional development, burnout
Extension agents serve a critical role in the land-grant mission as they disseminate research to local clientele in the form of educational programs. However, Extension agents face a myriad of challenges, such as the changing scope of clientele and programming, nature of the job, and burnout. Much research focuses specifically on new agent challenges within the first year, however, few studies have focused on early career Extension agents after the initial onboarding process is complete. We used a phenomenological approach to explore the challenges of early career Extension agents, which yielded eleven major themes, such as a lack of understanding Extension, the nature of the job and understanding their role, and personal pressure. Another major theme was the lack of Extension knowledge of early career Extension agents which could stem from the lack of formalized Extension education programs and professional development programs targeted to early career agents. Social capital theory could be used to better understand the social networks of early career Extension agents, how these networks form over time, and what type of impact social networks have on new Extension agents.
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