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Community Development - Strategic Plan|University of Wyoming Extension

Program Initiatives

Organizational changes enhance program efficacy. For this reason, program priorities are the centerpiece of this strategic plan. UW Extension’ program initiatives, as identified by the strategic planning process, are determined by its mission and values, by its unique expertise, its proven capabilities, and by the changing needs of Wyoming’s society and economy. The priorities support the public’s interest in maintaining a globally competitive, economically vital, and environmentally sound Wyoming agriculture in coexistence with the nonagricultural population for whom issues of consumer well-being, resource distribution, and quality of life are crucial. A summary of the Community Development Education initiative to be pursued and developed follows.

Community Development Education

Situation:
With its roots in agriculture and rural communities, UW Extension is uniquely qualified and positioned to assist rural Americans chart a bright future. UW Extension believes that individuals and families are the cornerstone of strong communities and, in turn, that strong communities can strengthen individuals and families. Stable communities also attract investment and outside industries; businesses choose to locate in places where their workers can be productive and secure.

Wyoming residents are known for being independent and industrious. Stagnation of the state’s economy has deprived most Wyoming communities and their residents of the ability to prosper, and many communities have actually experienced a downturn (WY Business Plan and Steering Committee; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities Report, 2000). Historically, the economic viability of Wyoming’s small communities and rural households has depended upon the agricultural, mineral, and energy industries.These industries are no longer sufficient to sustain the economy and keep young people in the state. As a result, Wyoming residents and communities are and will continue to face fiscal challenges.

An estimated 70 percent of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. In 1996, the national consumer debt exceeded $1 trillion and one million households filed personal bankruptcies. Limited-resource agricultural households exist on income far below the average for all U.S. households and must rely heavily on alternative incomes (USDA, 2000). A lack of financial knowledge contributes to poor financial choices that can harm both individuals and communities. Households that lack basic financial management skills are more susceptible to high debt, damaged credit records, and overpayment or underpayment of financial products and services. Due to the changing structure of our economy, financial knowledge is an essential survival tool. Family instability, increased foreclosure risks, and decreased equity in homes and local businesses threaten lower-income rural communities (Woodstock Institute, 2000).

Wyoming has languished while other states have benefited from the economic boom that is sweeping the nation. In 1997, Wyoming reported the lowest overall employment growth rate of all states (Wyoming Employment Resources Division, 1998). The number of businesses failing with a loss to one or more creditors decreased annually from 1988 through 1994 but has increased annually since 1995. Wyoming’s economy is resource dependent. While agriculture and the extractive industries always will be important, the future of Wyoming communities depends upon the economic diversity and sustainability of its business climate and its people. The market downturn for our nation’s farmers and ranchers has affected Wyoming’s agriculture industry as well. From 1987 to 1997, total receipts from livestock and crops declined 28 percent statewide; total agriculture proprietor income has dropped 31 percent (USDA, 1997).

The 1999-2004 UW Academic Plan recommends that UW Extension expand its role in community resources and economic development. This mission and visibility in local communities will require greater citizen involvement in planning, implementing, and evaluating extension programs. UW Extension plays a unique role in addressing certain issues, because it is the only outreach arm of the university located in every county. Accordingly, UW Extension is committed to enhancing Wyoming communities and households.

Goal:
Enhance Wyoming communities and the financial well-being of households through relevant integrated educational and resource management programs.

Objective:
Community issues will be addressed using a multidisciplinary educational approach.

Justification:
Rural areas are more isolated from knowledge sources and often lack information necessary to economic decision making due to their smaller populations and more specialized economic base. External forces affect Wyoming communities as well. As the federal government gives more responsibility to states and state governments pass it to counties, problem solving and decision making will be vested at the community level. The need for a knowledgeable citizenry coincides with a responsibility to maintain economic, familial, and community integrity. Each community must decide whether and how it wants to seek economic growth and development.

The Wyoming Business Plan and Steering Committee notes that per capita income growth statewide from 1994 to 1996 was less than 60 percent of the national average. While neighboring states enjoyed a 13 percent job growth rate, Wyoming lagged behind with only an 8 percent growth rate. In a 1998 study of new business formation conducted by Wyoming Department of Employment, the survival rate of start-up businesses after four years in business with the same owner(s) was 38.4 percent. The national average was 47.3 percent (SBA, 1998). Wyoming communities must diversify their economies to provide a solid base for the future. This can be accomplished through multidisciplinary, system-wide approaches that yield long-term, positive results when dealing with change.

Strategies:
  • Identify emerging local and state issues and develop multidisciplinary teams to address these concerns through community collaboration and education programs.
  • Assist state and community leaders in planning for demographic, population, and related policy changes.
  • Provide leadership in educating Wyoming’s community leaders, individuals, and households to better address issues affecting them.
  • Analyze economic situations and policy changes to determine the economic impacts on local, county, and regional economies.
Outcomes:
  • Greater partnerships and collaboration within communities.
  • Improved problem-solving abilities through increased decision-making, leadership, and problem resolution skills in community leaders, youth leaders, and the volunteer support base.
  • Economically strengthened communities through integrated, multidisciplinary approaches.

Objective:
Decision-makers and enterprises will gain expertise to make better economic decisions,diversify economic activities, manage resources, and develop effective financial plans.

Justification:
Managing agricultural businesses and household finances offers some unique and complex challenges. Income is irregular and uncertain and often includes other in-kind benefits. The farm, ranch, and home competing for surplus cash and household expenditures are often co-mingled with business expenses. Agricultural households find it difficult to manage family finances because of the large expenses required to sustain the family agricultural business. The majority of limited-resource ranch households rely heavily on additional off-farm and ranch income. Although many rural people have skills and talents that could potentially generate income, they often do not have the information that can help them to develop economically viable alternative enterprises. New technology and the change from an industrial-based economy to a service- and information-based economy have dramatically increased opportunities for micro-enterprises and home-based businesses. These businesses are recognized as viable income generating opportunities.

Strategies:
  • Deliver educational programs in enterprise development, including micro-enterprises, home-based businesses, and agricultural financial management, designed to teach how to establish and maintain an economically viable business enterprise and develop decision-making skills.
  • Develop and support youth entrepreneurship and incorporate it into existing programs.
  • Utilize all media outlets to increase residents’ understanding of economics and the role of individuals, households, businesses, and institutions in building and maintaining a strong economy.
  • Deliver educational programs in developing alternative enterprises.
  • Deliver educational programs and training in integrated management designed to assist people inefficient resource management and alternative uses of existing resources.
Outcomes:
  • Improved business management skills, resulting in decisions that contribute to a sustainable,diverse economy.
  • Fostered entrepreneurial spirit in youth that can improve Wyoming employment possibilities and retain young people to fuel the economy.
  • Traditional agricultural enterprises will complement economic diversity.
  • Improved viability of existing businesses to compete at the national and/or global level.
  • Improved economic opportunities for alternative agricultural household incomes.
  • Increased opportunities for sustainable community development.

Objective:
Increase Wyoming residents’ knowledge and understanding of consumer and household economic issues by offering educational programs that focus on lifelong financial management and decision-making skills.

Justification:
The 1997 UW College of Agriculture Strategic Plan states that with the changes in family structure and educational systems, traditional sources of knowledge and skills basic to independent living are decreasing. Financial education is a necessity for reducing poverty. Low-income households are challenged by lack of basic financial skills. People with limited resources are often unprepared for handling financial emergencies. As available credit increases, many lower-income households have access to credit but lack the knowledge to handle debt. Income inequity among Wyoming households has increased since the 1970s. An analysis of income disparities by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute (January 2000) documented Wyoming as one of 18 states with large income gaps between the top fifth and the poorest fifth of families. Wyoming showed the largest gap—more than $5,600. The poverty rate in Wyoming increased from 7.9 percent in 1980 to 12.1 percent in 1998 (USDA, 2000). Credit card debt results in households that are more vulnerable to economic downturns, credit problems, and bankruptcy.

In some Wyoming communities, access to research-based, unbiased financial information and education is limited. Education for individuals at all income levels and at all stages of life is crucial for basic independent living, as well as quality of life enhancement.

Strategies:
  • Deliver educational programs in agricultural and household financial management, including low-income financial management and youth and young adult financial management programs, designed to develop solid decision-making skills.
  • Deliver educational programs and unbiased information to assist individuals in becoming smart consumers and making wise purchases.
  • Use all media outlets to increase residents’ understanding of economics and the role of individuals, households, businesses, and institutions in building and maintaining a strong economy.
Outcomes:
  • Improved financial behavior and resource management skills will result in decisions that contribute to a sustainable economy.
  • Improved consumer awareness, savings, and spending habits will increase net wealth and financial well- being of Wyoming households.
  • Reduced personal debt will strengthen the economic security of Wyoming households.
  • Improved decision-making skills.
es. Stable communities also attract investment and outside industries; businesses choose to locate in places where their workers can be productive and secure.

 

Wyoming residents are known for being independent and industrious. Stagnation of the state’s economy has deprived most Wyoming communities and their residents of the ability to prosper, and many communities have actually experienced a downturn (WY Business Plan and Steering Committee; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities Report, 2000). Historically, the economic viability of Wyoming’s small communities and rural households has depended upon the agricultural, mineral, and energy industries.These industries are no longer sufficient to sustain the economy and keep young people in the state. As a result, Wyoming residents and communities are and will continue to face fiscal challenges.

An estimated 70 percent of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. In 1996, the national consumer debt exceeded $1 trillion and one million households filed personal bankruptcies. Limited-resource agricultural households exist on income far below the average for all U.S. households and must rely heavily on alternative incomes (USDA, 2000). A lack of financial knowledge contributes to poor financial choices that can harm both individuals and communities. Households that lack basic financial management skills are more susceptible to high debt, damaged credit records, and overpayment or underpayment of financial products and services. Due to the changing structure of our economy, financial knowledge is an essential survival tool. Family instability, increased foreclosure risks, and decreased equity in homes and local businesses threaten lower-income rural communities (Woodstock Institute, 2000).

Wyoming has languished while other states have benefited from the economic boom that is sweeping the nation. In 1997, Wyoming reported the lowest overall employment growth rate of all states (Wyoming Employment Resources Division, 1998). The number of businesses failing with a loss to one or more creditors decreased annually from 1988 through 1994 but has increased annually since 1995. Wyoming’s economy is resource dependent. While agriculture and the extractive industries always will be important, the future of Wyoming communities depends upon the economic diversity and sustainability of its business climate and its people. The market downturn for our nation’s farmers and ranchers has affected Wyoming’s agriculture industry as well. From 1987 to 1997, total receipts from livestock and crops declined 28 percent statewide; total agriculture proprietor income has dropped 31 percent (USDA, 1997).

The 1999-2004 UW Academic Plan recommends that UW Extension expand its role in community resources and economic development. This mission and visibility in local communities will require greater citizen involvement in planning, implementing, and evaluating extension programs. UW Extension plays a unique role in addressing certain issues, because it is the only outreach arm of the university located in every county. Accordingly, UW Extension is committed to enhancing Wyoming communities and households.

Goal:
Enhance Wyoming communities and the financial well-being of households through relevant integrated educational and resource management programs.

Objective:
Community issues will be addressed using a multidisciplinary educational approach.

Justification:
Rural areas are more isolated from knowledge sources and often lack information necessary to economic decision making due to their smaller populations and more specialized economic base. External forces affect Wyoming communities as well. As the federal government gives more responsibility to states and state governments pass it to counties, problem solving and decision making will be vested at the community level. The need for a knowledgeable citizenry coincides with a responsibility to maintain economic, familial, and community integrity. Each community must decide whether and how it wants to seek economic growth and development.

The Wyoming Business Plan and Steering Committee notes that per capita income growth statewide from 1994 to 1996 was less than 60 percent of the national average. While neighboring states enjoyed a 13 percent job growth rate, Wyoming lagged behind with only an 8 percent growth rate. In a 1998 study of new business formation conducted by Wyoming Department of Employment, the survival rate of start-up businesses after four years in business with the same owner(s) was 38.4 percent. The national average was 47.3 percent (SBA, 1998). Wyoming communities must diversify their economies to provide a solid base for the future. This can be accomplished through multidisciplinary, system-wide approaches that yield long-term, positive results when dealing with change.

Strategies:
  • Identify emerging local and state issues and develop multidisciplinary teams to address these concerns through community collaboration and education programs.
  • Assist state and community leaders in planning for demographic, population, and related policy changes.
  • Provide leadership in educating Wyoming’s community leaders, individuals, and households to better address issues affecting them.
  • Analyze economic situations and policy changes to determine the economic impacts on local, county, and regional economies.
Outcomes:
  • Greater partnerships and collaboration within communities.
  • Improved problem-solving abilities through increased decision-making, leadership, and problem resolution skills in community leaders, youth leaders, and the volunteer support base.
  • Economically strengthened communities through integrated, multidisciplinary approaches.

Objective:
Decision-makers and enterprises will gain expertise to make better economic decisions,diversify economic activities, manage resources, and develop effective financial plans.

Justification:
Managing agricultural businesses and household finances offers some unique and complex challenges. Income is irregular and uncertain and often includes other in-kind benefits. The farm, ranch, and home competing for surplus cash and household expenditures are often co-mingled with business expenses. Agricultural households find it difficult to manage family finances because of the large expenses required to sustain the family agricultural business. The majority of limited-resource ranch households rely heavily on additional off-farm and ranch income. Although many rural people have skills and talents that could potentially generate income, they often do not have the information that can help them to develop economically viable alternative enterprises. New technology and the change from an industrial-based economy to a service- and information-based economy have dramatically increased opportunities for micro-enterprises and home-based businesses. These businesses are recognized as viable income generating opportunities.

Strategies:
  • Deliver educational programs in enterprise development, including micro-enterprises, home-based businesses, and agricultural financial management, designed to teach how to establish and maintain an economically viable business enterprise and develop decision-making skills.
  • Develop and support youth entrepreneurship and incorporate it into existing programs.
  • Utilize all media outlets to increase residents’ understanding of economics and the role of individuals, households, businesses, and institutions in building and maintaining a strong economy.
  • Deliver educational programs in developing alternative enterprises.
  • Deliver educational programs and training in integrated management designed to assist people inefficient resource management and alternative uses of existing resources.
Outcomes:
  • Improved business management skills, resulting in decisions that contribute to a sustainable,diverse economy.
  • Fostered entrepreneurial spirit in youth that can improve Wyoming employment possibilities and retain young people to fuel the economy.
  • Traditional agricultural enterprises will complement economic diversity.
  • Improved viability of existing businesses to compete at the national and/or global level.
  • Improved economic opportunities for alternative agricultural household incomes.
  • Increased opportunities for sustainable community development.

Objective:
Increase Wyoming residents’ knowledge and understanding of consumer and household economic issues by offering educational programs that focus on lifelong financial management and decision-making skills.

Justification:
The 1997 UW College of Agriculture Strategic Plan states that with the changes in family structure and educational systems, traditional sources of knowledge and skills basic to independent living are decreasing. Financial education is a necessity for reducing poverty. Low-income households are challenged by lack of basic financial skills. People with limited resources are often unprepared for handling financial emergencies. As available credit increases, many lower-income households have access to credit but lack the knowledge to handle debt. Income inequity among Wyoming households has increased since the 1970s. An analysis of income disparities by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute (January 2000) documented Wyoming as one of 18 states with large income gaps between the top fifth and the poorest fifth of families. Wyoming showed the largest gap—more than $5,600. The poverty rate in Wyoming increased from 7.9 percent in 1980 to 12.1 percent in 1998 (USDA, 2000). Credit card debt results in households that are more vulnerable to economic downturns, credit problems, and bankruptcy.

In some Wyoming communities, access to research-based, unbiased financial information and education is limited. Education for individuals at all income levels and at all stages of life is crucial for basic independent living, as well as quality of life enhancement.

Strategies:
  • Deliver educational programs in agricultural and household financial management, including low-income financial management and youth and young adult financial management programs, designed to develop solid decision-making skills.
  • Deliver educational programs and unbiased information to assist individuals in becoming smart consumers and making wise purchases.
  • Use all media outlets to increase residents’ understanding of economics and the role of individuals, households, businesses, and institutions in building and maintaining a strong economy.
Outcomes:
  • Improved financial behavior and resource management skills will result in decisions that contribute to a sustainable economy.
  • Improved consumer awareness, savings, and spending habits will increase net wealth and financial well- being of Wyoming households.
  • Reduced personal debt will strengthen the economic security of Wyoming households.
  • Improved decision-making skills.

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