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Digital Information Brokers: Preparing Front-line Support Staff to Find and Direct Others to Online Resources

County support staff members have long been the ‘face’ of our Extension systems. They are the first people the public interacts with when visiting an Extension office or the first voice heard when someone calls with a question. With fewer Educators/Agents covering more territory, these county-based staff members often have no one to turn to with questions. To better prepare Michigan State University Extension support staff to help clients find information and answers, a one-hour hands-on training in Adobe Connect was developed and offered to over 80 county and campus staff members in small groups. They practiced asking questions, searching for information, and finding experts using features of eXtension and MSUE. This session will describe the process used in Adobe Connect and the short term outcomes of the trainings. It will also serve as a forum for others to share creative ways their states have dealt with shrinking human resources and expanding needs for knowledge and information at the local level. A handout will be shared with screen shots of the adobe connect layouts used. Another handout called “Finding Information in eXtension: A Guide for Support Staff” will also be shared:

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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 You can view the terms of useat

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