Core Competencies for WSU Extension Educators

Washington State University, WSUs, “Extension’s Core Competency initiative began in November 2006.A group of campus and off-campus Extension employees identified a set of skills and attributes essential to success as an educator with WSU Extension. This set of attributes was used to develop a defined set of Core Competencies for WSU Extension educators:

Program Planning and Delivery

WSU Extension educators are action‐oriented, creative, self‐motivated visionaries who strive to improve the economic and environmental situations and the quality of life for the people of Washington State and beyond. Extension educators secure appropriate funding, plan and deliver effective programming and clearly demonstrate measurable results.

Skill Sets (possesses the skills necessary to accomplish the following):

        Conduct informal and formal program need/opportunity assessments.

        Implement program and project planning, management and evaluation.

        Engage community in development and delivery of effective educational programs.

        Effectively apply research and scholarly resources.

        Uses appropriate pedagogy for youth and adult education.

        Effectively train and manage volunteers to deliver programs when appropriate.

        Evaluate and clearly document programmatic outcomes and impacts.

        Interact effectively with colleagues with diverse backgrounds.

        Perform effectively in a diverse team setting to address critical issues.

        Secure necessary funding to support achievement of programming goals.


Subject Matter Expertise

WSU Extension educators maintain a mastery of one or more scientific disciplines and clearly understand current research that applies to their discipline(s). They also possess the ability to effectively interpret and apply research results to improve the economic, environmental and social status of target audiences.

Skill Sets (possesses the skills necessary to accomplish the following):

        Technically competent and is recognize as an expert in a given subject matter area.

        Maintain and understand current subject matter research base.

        Employ critical thinking skills.

        Publish creative concepts in appropriate peer‐validated scholarly venues.

        Implement cutting‐edge research‐based technologies to achieve programming goals.


Communication Skills

WSU Extension educators effectively communicate orally and in writing and clearly convey meaning, significance, emotion and values to appropriate audiences. WSU Extension educators understand the educational and cultural backgrounds of audiences and develop and deliver programming in an appropriate manner to achieve desired outcomes and impacts.

Skill Sets (possesses the skills necessary to accomplish the following):

        Exhibit effective communicate with peers and clientele in a collegial manner.

        Effectively write reports, newsletters, scholarly publications, and popular media materials.

        Orally communicate in a manner that is clearly understandable and interesting and leads to retention of critical information among the target audience.

        Use appropriate, diverse and effective strategies to leverage the media to communicate with key audiences and appropriate stakeholders.

        Manage conflict with sensitivity and tact.

        Engage with groups and individuals from all cultural, economic, and educational

        backgrounds, both youth and adults, through effective listening, speaking, and other

        forms of communication.

        Explore and adopt cutting‐edge communication and educational techniques and technologies.


Cultural Competency

WSU Extension educators are culturally competent. They possess the capacity and behaviors needed to function effectively as professionals within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by participants in WSU Extension programs.

Skill Sets:

Cultural Awareness ‐ includes ability to:

        Describe his/her own culture(s), including WSU Extension culture.

        Identify personal and cultural values, biases, prejudices, and views.

        Recognize similarities and differences among cultures.

Cultural Understanding ‐ includes ability to:

        Identify ways in which culture shapes beliefs, practices, and values.

        Describe issues and concerns that arise when values, beliefs, and practices differ from those of the dominate culture.

        Recognize how culture affects participation in extension programs and services.

Cultural Knowledge ‐ includes ability to:

        Demonstrate familiarity with specific cultures, especially the ways in which they differ from one’s own.

        Use conceptual and theoretical models for understanding human culture.

        Identify appropriate cultural guides and build productive relationships with them

Cultural Interaction ‐ includes ability to:

        Recognize factors impacting successful intercultural communication.

        Use concepts and theories of intercultural communication.

        Manage intercultural conflicts effectively.

        Interact productively and seek input and guidance from cultural partners.

        Form new partnerships across intercultural differences

Cultural Sensitivity ‐ includes ability to:

        Recognize impact of privilege, inequality, oppression, and socially‐consequential differences in daily contests.

        Identify historical and sociological influences on specific cultural interactions.


Organizational Marketing and External Linkages

WSU Extension educators effectively represent the WSU Extension brand promise and understand the strategic goals and initiatives of the organization and of the University. They effectively engage individuals from other organizations to expand programming effectiveness and to execute the goals of WSU Extension.

Skill Sets (possesses the skills necessary to accomplish the following):

        Understand and be able to convey the history, structure, mission, and brand promise of WSU Extension.

        Understand and convey the strategic programming goals and initiatives outlined in the WSU Strategic Framework.

        Understand and operate within the basic structure, political culture and realities of federal, state and local governments and public and private organizations.

        Communicate and interact effectively with community decision makers.

        Build relationships with community leadership, colleagues, agencies and organizations to foster partnership and collaboration.

        Build active networks of clientele and stakeholders to advise and advocate for present and future WSU Extension programming.

        Conduct market research and uses evaluation data to create promotional strategies.

        Exhibits high ethical standards.



WSU Extension educators are leaders in their program area, within WSU Extension and their communities. They effectively engage a wide range of individuals to build leadership capacity, develop collective vision and goals, and collaboratively work, plan, and problem solve to achieve positive outcomes.

Skill Sets (possesses the skills necessary to accomplish the following):

        Cultivate leadership skills in others, both staff and volunteers to accomplish program goals.

        Manage conflict effectively and help others resolve it when possible.

        Competently delegate tasks to staff and volunteers.

        Facilitate groups to accomplish programmatic goals.

        Assist groups to create future vision and action plans.

        Set and achieve personal and professional goals.

        Effectively fulfills both leadership and team membership roles as appropriate.

From, retrieved 10/17/2011 (a working draft from 6/6/2007)