Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is conducting a statewide needs assessment to better understand the issues facing underserved urban and rural communities in North Carolina.
The assessment will include interviews and focus groups with Extension stakeholders including farmers, community, business and religious leaders, elected officials and educators. Its goal is to identify community strengths and weaknesses, solicit recommendations to address gaps in services and barriers to participation, and identify statewide commonalities and key findings that pertain to specific regions or communities.
North Carolina residents 18 and older are invited to participate in this process by completing a brief Needs Assessment Survey.
“The needs assessment is critical to our success,” said Dr. Rosalind Dale, administrator of Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T and associate dean in the university’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. “First, it helps us understand how we can help North Carolina’s small-scale farmers and limited-resource youth, families and communities. Second, it guides us in translating those needs into programs that have a real impact.”
Dale added that the needs assessment data will also be used to update the organization’s strategic plan and will be shared with CAES faculty, who will then develop research projects designed to find solutions to challenges identified in the needs assessment.
Thomas P. Miller and Associates will conduct the needs assessment and collect and analyze the data. TPMA provides comprehensive consulting services throughout the United States and internationally, working with nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, communities, local and state governments, and industry associations.
“We will engage stakeholders across the state and want the process to be inclusive. Ultimately the goal is to improve outcomes in the communities we live in, and that starts with understanding needs and gaps. We applaud the Cooperative Extension for taking this on,” said Nithya Pramekumar, the senior consultant at TPMA who will manage the initiative.
North Carolina has two land-grant universities that provide outreach across the state through Cooperative Extension programs. Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T has a mission to work with small-scale farmers, families, and youth in limited-resource and underserved communities throughout the state. Successful programs depend on understanding the needs of these audiences. Extension at A&T conducted its last statewide community needs assessment more than five years ago.
The new needs assessment will run through June and will renew and update Extension at A&T’s understanding of communities, their needs and concerns.