A new program may soon help communities become innovative thinkers through the use of technology.
Terrence Wolfork, Fort Valley State University’s assistant administrator for communications, conferencing and technology is leading the effort. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently awarded him a $299,995 1890 Capacity Building Grant for his project, The Momentum Network.
Influenced by an 1890 professional development academy offered years ago, Wolfork designed a similar think-outside-the-box program to educate Cooperative Extension personnel on how to implement innovative technology in their communities.
“For example, if they are working with small farmers and have a curriculum already, let’s see how we can make it more innovative using the latest delivery mechanism,” Wolfork explained.
Collaborating with eXtension Foundation CEO Dr. Christine Geith, Wolfork is including all 19 1890 Land-Grant Universities across the U.S.
“We realized that many of our 1890 institutions probably do not have the funding to support their personnel to go out and do this training. Our vision is to do a lot of it virtually,” Wolfork said.
To kick off the program, Wolfork said they plan to have one face-to-face three-day meeting with participants in August or September. Delivered as a three-year cohort, The Momentum Network will provide virtual training through web and video conferencing on topics such as impact writing, program development, leadership skills and communication camps led by North Dakota State University.
Within three years, at least 180 people could benefit from the program.
“Our vision is to get three people from each institution in the 1890 Land-Grant system, which is 57 people,” Wolfork said. “The next year, we will get three people again and then the following year. It is a yearlong process for everyone to go through. We expect if those individuals can train 10 people each, then we will constantly reach more and more people. That is why we call it The Momentum Network. It builds that momentum.”
Wolfork said once they see the impact of the program in three years, the 1890 Land-Grant system will likely continue with it. He plans to seek additional funding. “If we can show the impact that we have made not just with our own Cooperative Extension but in communities, I’m sure it can be almost self-funded,” he said.
Excited about the grant, Wolfork is also looking forward to The Momentum Network making an impact in countless communities and inspiring younger people who never considered Cooperative Extension as a career choice.
“This project can help farmers, veterans and those in community development because we are not limited to just our agriculture and natural resources people. What we expect is that they will be trained in those innovative skills and then they can actually go out in their county and possibly help others become more innovative in their thinking,” he said.
FVSU, the 1890 Land-Grant Institution in Georgia, offers free training through the Cooperative Extension Program. The Cooperative Extension Program, operated at each land-grant institution, assists diverse audiences with an emphasis on those who have limited social and economic resources. The goal is to improve quality of life and vitality of communities and individuals through engagement and outreach education.
For more information about The Momentum Network, contact Wolfork at (478) 825-6053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.