What is an Advisory Committee?
Please see the article below which includes excerpts from ‘Advisory Committees: “An Essential Element in Extension Programming” written by Donald D. Kaufman retired District Director, Colorado State University.
A working definition offered by Cochran, Phelps and Cochran states, An advisory committee is a group composed primarily of individuals outside the educational profession who are selected from segments of the community collectively to advise educational personnel regarding one or more educational programs or aspects of a program.1
…Individuals selected for Extension advisory committees are those individuals outside the Extension profession who collectively advise Extension staff regarding educational programs. The primary purpose of an advisory committee is simply to advise!
…The question often arises as to what terminology should be used to identify the advisory group. Such titles as council, board, or committee are frequently used. Because advisory groups in Colorado are advisory in nature and not administrative, the preferable title is advisory ‘committee’.
Why Have Advisory Committees for Extension?
Upholding Grass-Roots Philosophy
Historically, Extension has been labeled as a ‘grass-roots’ organization… While it is true some programs are initiated from the state and national levels, it is generally accepted that local Extension programs are ‘born’ at the local level.
A local Extension Advisory Committee provides a basis for assuring the grass-roots concept remains a strong benefit to Extension. A local committee can be instrumental in sorting out local needs as they relate to broader issues identified by state or national advisory groups and the Extension staff.
Local Support System
In addition to providing program suggestions and determining program priorities for the local planning unit, an advisory committee provides a support base for Extension. A well informed committee which has taken an ‘ownership’ view of the local Extension program will provide support by communicating the impact of Extension programs to the public-at-large and governmental decision makers.
In times of limited financial support for public education and other services, a well-informed, influential group of individuals is essential to the continuation of funding and support for Extension and the programs it delivers.
Opportunity for Two-Way Communication
An advisory committee should provide a two-way communication between Extension professionals and the community. Advisory members who represent their local area are in an advantageous position to relay concerns and needs as expressed by their neighbors and community in general. Needs and concerns of various communities may or may not be the same. Differences and similarities can be expressed maintaining a broad perspective of the community- at-large.
- Leslie H. Cochran, L. Allen Phelps and Linda Letwin Cochran, Advisory Committees in Action, Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1980, p. 4.