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EXCITE(ing) Strengths!

 

Since launching in 2021, the EXCITE program has reached more than 12 Million individuals with immunization education in 1,017 counties across 48 states and territories through the hard work of Extension Professionals from 72 land grant universities and 410 community and healthcare partners.

It all began with support for the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) "Vaccinate with Confidence" campaign in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHY EXTENSION?

Cooperative Extension has an over 100-year history of addressing local needs, particularly in rural areasβ€”their focus on science-based research information coupled with solid outreach and engagement skills with multiple delivery strategies. CES also routinely partners with other organizations inside their institutions and communities to accomplish programming. Agents also live, work, worship, and recreate in the communities they serve and are seen as trusted messengers of information. The national network of offices in almost every County and Parrish in the country made it the perfect partner for this vital health outreach alongside the CDC.

The first-ever system-wide EXCITE program leveraged existing strengths and revealed several additional benefits. At the conclusion of the initial project, affectionately called "Activity 1",  the program team asked the teams the question below. With some of our observations, here's how they answered...

  • Adaptability
    • Both in response and throughout the first year, their steadfast commitment led them to adjust appropriately to shifting needs
  • Resilience
    • A "can do" attitude can take you far. Attitude is everything, they picked a good one!
  • Local Influencers
    • Activating community champions enhanced essential education to overcome myths and misinformation.
  • Creativity
    • Using creativity and imagination increased engagement with the mission, the team, and their impact.
  • Inclusive
    • Everyone matters and we're stronger together!
  • Commitment
    • They know what this work means and how it will improve their communities, states, and the world. To be committed, to be all in, the meaning matters!
  • Community Focused
    • We're all in this together. More focus on the "unity" part community helps.
  • Engagement
    • Inspiration comes through our compassionate presence with others. Listen, learn, then lead.
  • Respect
    • CES professionals remain "trusted messengers" and through this effort, their community influence has grown.
  • Kindness
    • Consistent display of empathy for those they serve and one another is powerful.
  • Marketing
    • It's less "build it and they'll come" and much more "meet them where they already are", especially when friction and confusion are present.
  • Passion
    • CES work is a calling. This was a once-in-a-generation call for those involved.
  • Authentic
    • It's the cornerstone of how they display trustworthiness to all clients and the bedrock of their future success.
  • Impactful
    • They set aside the notion of going alone and came together so teamwork could make the dream work.
  • Communication
    • They embraced the concept of "share as you go" across the system and with those they serve locally.
  • Partnerships
    • Required healthcare partners enhanced and strengthened the CES national network.


As EXCITE continues we hope you'll check out some of the fantastic resources these teams have offered and consider being part of this effort moving forward. The stronger we are the more robust our nation is!!

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About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit extension.org. You can view the terms of useat extension.org/terms.

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