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Professional Development Philosophy, Policy, and Procedures

Effective October 10, 1994

(This replaces previous philosophy, policy, and procedures related to staff and professional development.)


Learning is expanding our ability to produce the results we truly desire in life. Learning together is continually expanding our capacity to create the future for ISU Extension. (Senge, 1990) Based on this definition, both professional and personal development is learning, and is not distinct, one from the other.

People grow both in their person and their profession as they learn. Individuals learning how to learn builds the capacity for the ISU Extension organization, and is fundamental in being healthy, viable, and client centered. Continuous learning creates staff who can change, generate new solutions to recurring problems, do something they were never able to do, perceive the world and their relationship to it, and extend their capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life.

ISU Extension aspires to be a learning organization, and one that empowers the individual to take responsibility for continuous learning through personal and professional development. Learning is not defined by structured activities.

Organizational Implications

  • ISU Extension will support individual learning opportunities and supply organizational learning opportunities. This is congruent with our philosophy, and assures the organization that individuals are receiving learning opportunities needed for strategic improvement.
  • ISU Extension may assist with the financial cost of some learning opportunities by providing financial assistance and/or time off with pay, as agreed upon with their supervisor. In addition to this support, staff will be encouraged to use other resources, such as Excellence in Extension, tuition grants, ISUEA grants, and personal resources.
  • Because ISU Extension values learning, there is no need for a policy requiring graduate credits. The number of days of in-service education or hours of credit are irrelevant when learning is the central value. (Exception: Certain staff will be required to complete a masters degree within eight years of hire.)
  • Because we value empowerment, there is no need for monitoring credits earned or days of in-service education attended.
  • Learning is not only receiving new information. Teaching is not only information delivery. And in-service education is not the only way to learn. (Learning is expanding our ability to produce the results we truly desire.)
  • We must live this philosophy if we are to become a learning organization.
  • Personal and professional development (i.e., learning) is for all staff.
  • Additional information about P&S and Merit Tuition/Professional Development Grants can be found at:

Policy Statement

Everyone will mutually agree to a Personal Professional Development Plan with his or her supervisor.


The format of the plan must meet the need of the individual staff member and the supervisor. The format can be a form, outline, narrative, mind map, process map, or graphic representation of any form.

  • The elements of the plan should include:
    • Staff person's learning need(s)
      Specific learning plan for meeting the need(s)
      A method for recording and evaluating progress
  • Examples of system supplied learning opportunities
    • Learning/Teaching Systems In-service education
      Extension annual conference Computer courses
  • Examples of system supported, not supplied, learning opportunities These can be non-structured or structured, active or passive, group or individual, formal or informal learning opportunities.
    • Study groups
      Extension association meetings
      NELD program
      Visiting companies/organizations
      Fellowships (i.e., Kellogg)
      Volunteer work
      Audio/video tapes
      Synthesizing the work of others
      Journal writing
      Community building groups
      Non-extension association meetings
      Computer networks
      Conferences/workshops/ seminars
      Community college classes
      Time spent in reflection
      Building own model or adapting
      Problem solving teams
      Graduate credit courses