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Outreach

Online education allows Extension professionals to earn a CSU degree without coming to campus

September 23, 2009

CSU's unique online graduate program allows students to further their educational and professional goals while keeping their job, staying in their hometown, and maintaining their family responsibilities.

Balancing education and career
While working as an extension agent, Elisa Shackelton knew that continuing her education would advance her career, but she wasn’t sure how to achieve both at the same time. Shackelton was concerned the pursuing a graduate degree would be difficult while balancing both family and career responsibilities. When she discovered the online Master of Agricultural Extension Education program through Colorado State University Continuing Education, she jumped at the opportunity.

“I have learned so many things in my Master’s of Agriculture program!” says Shackelton. “I use the knowledge I gained almost every day, both at work and at home!”

The Master of Agricultural Extension Education is an online interdisciplinary professional degree program that offers specialized coursework that can be completed in a flexible and convenient way. Designed for students interested in a variety of education and communication professions, the Agricultural Extension Education program is one of few programs in the country that offer a degree in this multidisciplinary area, and one of even fewer that offers the program entirely online.

“While working full-time as a CSU Extension Agent in northwest Colorado, I realized the only realistic way for me to earn my Master’s degree was to take online courses,” says Shackelton.

CSU’s unique online graduate program allows students to further their educational and professional goals while keeping their job, staying in their hometown, and maintaining their family responsibilities.

“My spouse and I were both happily and fully employed, had affordable housing, and the kids were still in school,” says Shackelton. “CSU’s Continuing Education online courses allowed me to earn a Master’s degree without disrupting this delicate balance!”

Flexibility in scheduling & curriculum meets student needs
The Agricultural Extension Education degree program allows flexibility not only from a scheduling standpoint, but also from a curriculum standpoint, allowing students to select courses that best suit their goals and interests. Areas of focus include natural resources, community development, youth development, adult education, and range management.

“The Ag Extension Education program allowed me to tailor my coursework to topics that both fit my professional development goals and pertained to local issues addressed through my job,” says Shackelton. “Nearly every course had some application.”

The program also gives students the flexibility to take courses in the order that best meets their needs, without a strict timeline or schedule for completing the courses. The curriculum for the program draws from CSU’s on-campus program and is taught by the same renowned CSU faculty. Students have various opportunities to engage in discussion and group work with professors and other students, and to build lasting relationships with others in the program.

“[The program] helped build new relationships professionally for me,” says Shackelton. “Not only did my courses help me create new local partnerships, but they also helped me become better acquainted with CSU faculty that I could later draw upon as experts for news stories and programs.”

Education builds skills for a range of career fields
Shackelton was pleased with the flexibility and customizability of the program, and also with the transferability of the skills and knowledge she developed. Employed as an extension agent while pursuing her degree, Shackelton has since shifted her career to alumni outreach for CSU.

The skills and knowledge from the program applied to both her extension and alumni outreach positions, says Shackelton. “The move from Extension to Alumni was pretty natural for me.”

Shackelton has already seen the results of this program in her daily work, and is now considering pursuing additional certificate programs offered through Continuing Education.

“I was able to immediately put to use the skills and knowledge gained from my Ag Extension program,” says Shackelton. To those considering an online program with Continuing Education, she says, “Get started and stick with it – you’ll be done before you know it and glad you did!


Contact: Jeanna Nixon
E-mail: jeanna.nixon@learn.colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-2817