Texas AgriLife Extension Service and San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo have teamed up to sponsor the San Antonio Livestock Exposition-Leadership Extension Program (SALE-LE). This model program allows for a two year, four session (some 90 hours of actual training) comprehensive leadership development program for 32 Extension faculty. Since 1991, the program has utilized some of the most noted experts in leadership development and management techniques as resource people to transform 193 Extension leaders into a group ready and able to assume new leadership roles at the local, state, and national levels.
Texas AgriLife Extension Service is well known for its highly competent technical subject-matter-based personnel. Since the nature of most positions in the organization carry the requirement for strong technical competencies, both hiring and professional development of staff are targeted in this direction. Staff utilize these competencies in working with clientele on problem solving, as well as when they present educational programs in person or through mass media methods.
However, today’s county Extension agent enters a career that almost immediately demands leadership and management skills. Organizing and managing the 4-H club program requires that the county Extension agent immediately assume leadership in the recruitment, training, and management of volunteer leaders in order to involve more youth in the 4-H program. Most college degree programs focus on technical subject-matter training which is understandable. The real world demands not only competencies in technical subject matter, but competencies in leadership and management. SALE-LE fills a significant void in the agents professional development that helps them to meet these demands at the county level.
Texas AgriLife Extension is committed to the concept of youth leadership development through its many related program and activities. The 4-H program alone reached more than 658,810 youth in Texas. Much of this was done through the effective recruitment and training of more than 42,764 adult volunteers. Every county in Texas has an active 4-H and youth program that is conducted under the direction of the county Extension agents. The county Extension agents reach thousands of youth through traditional 4-H clubs and projects, but also reach thousands of youth in short-term projects and activities that are outside the traditional 4-H club program. By concentrating on those issues that effect our youth, the county Extension agent, supported by the 4-H and youth specialists and assisted by a cadre of trained volunteer leaders, teaches life and leadership skills that prepare our youth to be responsible citizens and leaders in the future.
The San Antonio Livestock Exposition-Leadership Extension program is a comprehensive training program for Extension professionals in leadership and management that greatly enhances their abilities to work more effectively and efficiently in the management of programs and volunteers in both youth and adult areas. These skills are transferred to the volunteers and youth to assist them in expanding their skills to reach more youth in the country. If we are to make a significant impact of this ever growing youth audience, every Extension professional must ultimately reach 10,000 people by effectively utilizing volunteer leaders who are trained and knowledgeable about their tasks. Consequently, leadership and management skills are critical to the effectiveness of an agent.
SALE-LE is a proven program for leadership development. A prototype of the SALE-LE Program was developed in 1989. District Extension Directors in Extension were used as a pilot group for the Leadership Extension Program participating in three-day in depth-training sessions from November 1989 to May 1991.
The prototype was extremely successful and became the model for SALE-LE I conducted from November 1991 to November 1993, SALE-LE II conducted from April 1994 to May 1996, SALE III conducted from November 1996 to November 1998, SALE LE IV from May 1999 to May 2001, SALE-LE V from November 2001 to November 2003, SALE-LE VI from May 2004 to November 2005 and SALE-LE VII from May 2006 to November 2007. In 2004, the program was changed from five three day sessions for 30 months to four, four-day sessions that would begin in May and end two years later in November. The curriculum continues to be refined and adjusted as new issues in leadership evolve. Comprehensive evaluations of the prototype for district Extension directors and of SALE-LE reflect the tremendous need and success of these programs. The program has attracted so much attention both in Texas and nationally that a doctoral student, has completed his doctoral research and dissertation on the program. Additionally, several other states are following the example set by Texas by developing Extension leadership development programs similar to our model.
- Improve leadership and management skills.
- Enhance communication skills.
- Improve efficiency and effectiveness in carrying out supervisory and programmatic responsibilities.
- Become aware of contemporary leadership and management issues.
- Develop comradery and trust among participants to enhance teamwork.