Public awareness study of the Ogle County Cooperative Extension Service
Etnyre, Nancy T.
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The Cooperative Extension Service (Extension Service) is a national educational organization, funded and administered by a partnership of local residents, county governments, the state land-grant universities and the United States Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the Extension Service is to identify and solve problems by transmitting practical information produced by research centers and universities to the public. In a complex organization, such as the Extension Service, it is difficult to develop an understanding of the nature of the organization. The image people have of an oragnization is developed through experiences they have with the organization and its program. When misunderstandings and misconceptions arise, assumptions are made about the general nature of the organization. Because the Cooperative Extension Service is a multi-faceted organization, it struggles with multiple identities. This has resulted in misperception of the overall organization through which the programs are delivered, and, subsequently, lack of public awareness. The purpose of this present study was to (1) determine the public awareness of the Extension Service within Ogle County, (2) determine how the agency was identified by county residents and (3) identify any differences between those knowledgeable of the Extension Service and those unaware of the organization. A telephone survey of 205 occupied households indicated that the Extension Service is known in Ogle County by over half of the respondents. However, most did not have knowledge of the whole organization. The most recognized program was found to be 4-H. The Extension Service in Ogle County needs to capitalize on the recognition of its 4-H youth program. Greater use of the organizational name is needed when programs are presented. The Extension emblem should be prominent on all materials, mass media efforts and new audiences. Timely surveying of the county residents is needed to assess visibility and effectiveness of public relations efforts.