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History and Purpose

History of WRPLC/WPOLC

In 1994, In response to a request from the Western Extension Directors (WED), a proposal for a Western Regional Program Leadership Committee was submitted to WED by the western members of the Program Leadership Committee (PLC) of ECOP (Judy McKenna-Colorado, Billy Dictson-New Mexico, Scott Reed-Oregon, and Bill Hambleton-California).  The proposal was approved in concept and accepted by the Western Extension Directors on February 25, 1995.

The purpose of WRPLC established at that time was to:

  • Provide greater program coordination and regional direction between and among states.
  • Encourage cross-state and multi-discipline programming.
  • Provide linkage with ECOP-Program Leadership Committee (Chair of WRPLC to serve on National PLC by appointment of WED).
  • Provide two-way (state and federal) communication in all areas of program leadership and development.
  • Provide information flow and discuss recommendations with Directors.
  • Develop joint state grant applications and opportunities for other funding.
  • Coordinate the delivery and integration of base programs and national initiatives.
  • Present integrated program issues to Western Directors.
  • Provide a forum for program groups to coordinate planning efforts.

Specific responsibilities of WRPLC included:

  • Provide representative framework for communication with Western Extension and program leadership in all areas of program delivery
  • Provide leadership for development of Western Regional multi-program area proposals that address existing or emerging issues through communications with program committees and/or establishment of ad hoc groups.
  • Monitor the need for Regional and National Programming in the Western Region to include:
    • The establishment of regional task forces or committees.
    • Recommendations to WED based on review of multi-program area proposals for regional activities.
    • Recommendations for regional activities originating in the program committees.
    • Communication with Western Directors.
  • Assist in coordination of Extension base program support and implementation.

Membership in WRPLC was to be one program person per state or territory with representation from the base program areas, if possible, plus the PLC members from the Western States and one Director as Administrative Liaison.

Specific operational guidelines included:

  • Receive and review Program Committee reports and prepare coordinated programming recommendations for Western Directors.
  • Distribute information related to Regional multi-program area activities to all state program committee representatives and Western Directors.
  • Assemble periodic assessments of program issues and refer to appropriate groups.
  • Stimulate seeking of additional resources for high priority initiatives.

While program leadership at the national level has changed, and PLC no longer exists, WRPLC has continued to represent the program interests of Extension in the Western Region.

In 1998, WRPLC surveyed Extension administrators in the western states on their view of Extension in the future; including new revenue streams, partnerships, structure and culture, delivery methods, and changes in the west which would affect programming.   At that time, WRPLC confirmed its roles in communication, collaboration, and cross-programming.

In 2000 WRPLC participated in a strategic planning process which identified a vision for Extension on which to build future program efforts.  That vision included:

  • Support from multiple funding sources
  • Full university buy-in to the outreach mission
  • Integration of functions; credit and non-credit offerings blended in seamless delivery
  • Rediscovery of the public commitment to the ‘common good’
  • State-wide understanding of local passions

In 2002, through a visioning process, WRPLC agreed on an updated mission/purpose:

“The WRPLC engages in cutting edge, future-focused discussions and projects, shared models, experiences, and resource materials relevant to the future vibrancy of Cooperative Extension in the Western Region.  The intended outcome of these discussions is to stimulate and coordinate responses to pressing issues.  The WRPLC engages in a limited number of high-priority, coordinated projects that serve to combine and deploy resources that advance Extension programs throughout the region.”

Since 2002, WRPLC has been actively engaged in discussion, planning, implementation, and evaluation around the following topics:

  • Western Extension Leadership Development Program (WELD)
  • The LOGIC Model and program planning-supported joint training
  • Online reporting system/Federal reporting
  • Homeland Security/Bio-Security/Agro-Security (white paper)
  • RREA
  • Flexibility in staffing
  • Recruitment and retention of staff
  • Cost recovery in Extension
  • Emerging diseases
  • Characteristics of an multi-state program
  • eXtension
  • 4-H Impact Evaluation
  • Workforce issues
  • Partnerships with NACO and Western Association of Governors
  • Excellence in Extension – a model for use at the State level (master gardeners)
  • Diversity best practices
  • Peer review of publications
  • Energy programming in the west (consortium concept paper)
  • A western model of Urban Extension (white paper)

In March 2021 the Western Extension Directors accepted a new name and updated description and purpose of WRPLC. The name was changed to the Western Program and Organizational Leadership Committee (WPOLC), to more clearly articulate the group’s role in the cross cutting organizational management and leadership functions for Extension. The new descriptor from the WEDA Rules of Operation is:

Western Program and Organizational Leadership Committee (WPOLC): The WPOLC shall be comprised of one person from each WEDA member institution who is able to represent all Extension administrative and program functions of their institution. The committee initiates and collaborates with the WEDA to identify, coordinate, and provide leadership for advancing WEDA regional and multi-state initiatives, exploring extramural funding opportunities to support those initiatives, and address operational and organizational issues of importance to member institutions. The WPOLC may appoint special committees and/or task forces with membership internal and external to the WPOLC to assist and help coordinate Extension initiatives, programs, and operational and organizational work. The WPOLC will report to and meet jointly with the WEDA at least annually to discuss activities and outcomes of the past year, and to initiate and discuss priorities for the future. WPOLC also conducts the selection process for the Western Extension Awards of Excellence, and the Western Extension Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award.

Extension program leader groups and Regional Centers like the Western Center for Metropolitan Extension and Research (WCMER), the Western Rural Development Center (WRDC) and others, will coordinate and collaborate, as is useful, with WPOLC.

WPOLC is currently providing initial leadership and oversight for the following regional initiatives:

  • Western Region Evaluation Network (WREN)
  • Western Farm Stress Initiative
  • Western Region Network for Mental Health
  • Extension Professionals Online Onboarding Initiative

JB 07/08
LH 06/21

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