UBC Theses and Dissertations
Agricultural extension agent roles in Canada and the United States Yeshewalul, Ayele
Modern societies make various provisions for the education of adults engaged in agriculture. Individual adult educators involved in such educational work are known by different titles depending upon the country. How these adult educators (agricultural extension workers) perceive their role and carry it out appears to be affected by the characteristics of their employing agency and the clientele whom they serve. The purpose of this investigation is to compare the role perception and role performance of local extension workers employed by either a university or a governmental department of agriculture. Role theory was selected as the conceptual framework for this study because of its capacity to accommodate an extension worker's perceptions of expectations regarding his duties held by his employer and his clientele. The provision of agricultural extension service in Canada (government model) is primarily a responsibility of provincial Ministries of Agriculture. In comparison, the Cooperative Extension Service in the United States (university model) involves the Federal Department of Agriculture, the Land-Grant Universities, and county governments. The following aspects of extension workers and their roles were investigated: personal characteristics, professional development, attitude toward regulatory responsibilities, use of methods and sources of information, choice of methods and techniques and extension role functions. Data were obtained through a mail questionnaire completed by 69 district agriculturalists in Alberta and British Columbia, and 84 county extension agricultural agents in Idaho and Washington. The results of this research, within the limitations of the study, indicate that there were statistically significant differences between the agricultural extension workers employed in the two kinds of organizational models on most of the variables investigated. The most striking finding was the belief of the two groups that performing regulatory duties has a negative effect on extension workers' performance as extension educators. Implications and recommendations for further research are discussed.
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