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Individual Plan of Work

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What Is a Plan of Work?

A plan of work is a written document developed by Extension educators that serves as a guide for educational programming. Creating the plan of work provides a structured approach to document and communicate your program development process. It includes a snapshot of the situation that guides the overall focus of the educational program. It also communicates the anticipated measurable outcomes that will result from your planned program activities including demonstrated behavioral changes or adoption of new technology or practices.

A plan of work should not attempt to cover everything you do, rather it should focus on your major programs and the elements and activities which make up those programs.

Routine or general responsibilities do not need not be reflected in the plan of work. Include only those program components that are expected to lead to the desired change in knowledge, behavior, or condition.

You will develop a Plan of Work for each of your major Extension programs. The number of Plans of Work you develop will differ depending on your program responsibilities. In some cases, an agent’s work may be focused on one goal area and they deliver one major program. {Major programs identify the Extension programs, projects, initiatives you intend to use to address a situation or need in your community.}  For example, an FCS agent that focuses on nutrition education or an Agriculture agent that works in consumer horticulture may only need to develop one plan of work.

While other Agents may have two or three major programs and therefore need to develop multiple Plans of Work covering each of their programs. Examples include Agriculture agents that work in both livestock and crops or a livestock agent that works with both producers and 4-H youth.

Why Write a Plan of Work?

To Strengthen Program Quality 

The most significant reason for writing a plan of work is to assist in program development and to enhance the quality of Extension programs. Creating a plan facilitates the development of an appropriate, realistic, and manageable educational program which focuses on intended outcomes that are relevant and meaningful to those we serve. A good plan of work increases the likelihood that those intended outcomes will be realized.

To Communicate Your Plans With Others

A current plan of work demonstrates to stakeholders, colleagues, partners and others that your work is based on needs and priorities. It clearly identifies intended outcomes that are logical and appropriate to those identified needs and priorities and expresses a commitment to regular re-examination of those issues, needs and priorities. It demonstrates thoughtful attention to the content and process most appropriate for the audiences and identifies the research base behind the programming. 

To Connect Your Work to That of the Larger Organization

A plan of work demonstrates the interconnectedness of Extension at the state, county and individual level. A high-quality plan of work is developed and aligned with statewide priorities to facilitate the collective impact of Extension across the state. Taken as a whole, all individual plans of work within a county should cumulatively address that which is included in the county plan of work.

What is Included in a Plan of Work?

Program Name: A brief title should communicate what is included.

  • What are you addressing? Examples might include pesticide safety, nutrition education, or youth leadership development.

Situation Statement: Succinctly describes the issue, problem, or need facing the target audience. Data is included to support this need.

  • What is the opportunity, need, problem, or emerging issue?
  • What data substantiates the need for Extension programming? 
  • What is the unique role Extension serves in addressing this problem? 
  • What are the costs of not addressing this situation?

Statewide Program Goal: Identify the statewide program area goal the program is addressing.

Target Audience(s): Identify the audience(s) you intend to reach through Extension learning opportunities. 

  • Who is most affected and could benefit from Extension educational programming that addresses this situation? 
  • Which populations are currently underserved or not served by programming related to this situation?

Partners/Collaboration: Include individuals or organizations that are partners or collaborators.

Program Outcomes: Describe the intended result and anticipated changes in the target audience (outcomes) and how the change will be measured (indicators). Outcomes include changes in knowledge, behavior, or condition.

  • What knowledge or skill gains and behavior changes do you expect to see?
  • What difference will this program make in the lives of participants or citizens?
  • Is there any economic, societal, or environmental benefit to the individual participant, local community or state?
  • How will you know if the outcome has occurred?

Short term, Medium term, and long term outcomes

Program Delivery: List the educational, outreach, or research activities and/or products that you plan to deliver or your target audience(s). If these activities are successfully completed, your short term outcomes should be realized, which are in response to the situation and progress should begin to reaching medium-term outcomes.

  • What methods will be used for different target audiences?
  • What methods will be used to specifically reach underserved and underrepresented clientele?
  • Why will these educational activities work (draw on research evidence or practical experience)?
  • How will you utilize state Specialists, partners/collaborators, volunteers in delivering programming? 

Marketing & Diversity Plan: Identify the strategies to market the program to the target audience, to increase outreach to underserved audiences, and to share the program impacts with stakeholder groups. 

  • How will this program be marketed to your target audience? 
  • What promotional tools will you use to maximize the reach and impact of your programming (e.g. online marketing, social media, direct mail, etc.)?
  • How will you market your program impacts? 
  • What partnerships/collaborations can be fostered to increase participation by underserved audiences?
  • What intentional efforts can be taken to provide outreach and increase participation by underserved audiences?
  • What barriers may prevent underserved audiences from participating in programming and how can they be removed?

Evaluation Plan: Identify specific evaluation methods and strategies that will be implemented for program improvement, outcome measurement, and accountability.

  • What data will you collect to assess the impact of your program efforts? 
  • What survey instruments you will use?
  • Will you be collecting data before and after the program or only after the program? Will you collect follow-up data?

Creating the Plan of Work: Step by Step

Create a 1 to 3 year plan of work for each of your major Extension programs. Agents will have at least one and no more than four active plans of work. You will review each plan and have the opportunity for it to be updated or discontinued during the annual planning process. 

Step 1: Assessment of program area educational needs. Your plan of work is based on an assessment of local educational needs. Before sitting down to develop your plan of work, you should have already gathered evidence and prioritized local programming needs. If you have not already completed this step you will need to assess the needs of your community in your program area before you begin developing your plan of work.

Step 2: Getting organized. To begin the plan of work, open a new plan of work (Word) / Google Docgather information from your needs assessment, and the list of statewide program goals and objectives. (to use the google doc version click on the link to open then go to FILE and MAKE A COPY and save the document to your Google Drive)

Step 3:  Selecting statewide goals and objectives. Work with your CED to review the list of statewide goals and objectives and determine which are most closely aligned with the identified needs of your community. Select the program area goals/objectives to focus on.

Step 4:  Complete the Individual Plan of Work form. Complete one plan of workGoogle Doc for each of your major programs. An example of a completed plan of work is available as a reference. (to use the google doc version click on the link to open then go to FILE and MAKE A COPY and save the document to your Google Drive)

Step 5: Review your plan with your CED.

Step 6:  Save you plan in a safe place and refer back to it regularly.  The Agent and the CED are responsible for keeping this document at the local level. It is recommended that a record of prior Plans of Work are maintained for future program planning as well as for title promotion and other career-related purposes. 


Resources

Guidelines for Writing an Individual Plan of Work Describes the “why” and “how” of the plan of work process.

Programming Bootcamp Online course covering the fundamentals of the Extension programming process.

Situational Analysis Data Sources Extension Evaluation & Accountability site provides a compilation of data sources for use when conducting a situational analysis.

Needs Assessment Resources Extension Evaluation & Accountability site provides information and resources for conducting a needs assessment.


Go To:

XPM

Individual Plan of Work

Annual Strategies

Professional Development Activities

Mid Year Evaluations

Program Summaries & Annual Evaluations