4.1 Agent Role
4.2 Staff Relationships
4.3 County Coordinators for Operational Responsibilities
4.4 Professional Expectations
4.5 Professional Development
4.6 Employee Work Schedules

4.1 Agent Role

While no two county Extension agent positions are exactly the same, there are job functions that are similar for all agents. The following responsibilities are common to all agent positions:

  • Work with county people in developing educational programs designed to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities.
  • Work as a team member in close cooperation with other county staff and state specialists in planning, implementing and evaluating programs.
  • Contribute to a well-balanced total county Extension program, including Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4-H Youth Development, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Community and Economic Development.
  • Provide technical research-based information to clientele.
  • Maintain and utilize appropriate advisory groups, Extension Councils and County Extension District Boards.
  • Identify, enlist, train, involve and recognize volunteers to help carry out program responsibilities.
  • Develop collaborative relationships with other organizations and agencies within the county.


4.2 Staff Relationships

The working relationships between professional Extension staff members, whether on a county, area, or state level, are extremely important in the pursuit of effective programming in the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service. Each staff member must give to other staff members his or her complete cooperation and support and receive the same in order to effectively and efficiently conduct educational programs and provide technical assistance to the people of Kentucky.

These types of activities are necessary for effective staff relationships:

  • Plan programs together as a total county staff
  • Hold regular county staff conferences to facilitate good communications among staff members with the minutes of these meetings sent to the District Director.
  • Coordinate individual efforts and programs with those of other county and district staff members
  • Maintain ongoing programs as effectively as possible when vacancies occur in any of the county staff positions
  • Keep other staff members informed of programs, events, etc. which are not joint program efforts
  • Assist new agents in becoming acquainted with the geography and people of the county, key leadership, past and current Extension programs, the general Extension philosophy, and the mechanics of doing the job
  • Request and accept assistance from area and state specialists for program planning, technical information, and teaching methods.


4.3 County Coordinators for Operational Responsibilities

To assist in effective overall county Extension programming, to expedite certain office functions, and to aid in the development of satisfactory county staff relationships, county contact agents are designated for specific operational responsibilities in certain areas, including but not limited to:

1. County Offices/Support Staff Coordinator

Secretary/Support Supervision, Affirmative Action, Office Management, Office Staff Conference

2. County Fiscal Coordinator

Fiscal Matters, Ordering Supplies, Office Petty Cash/Credit Card Management, Penalty Mail, Equipment Inventory

3. County Extension Council and Marketing Coordinator

County & Staff Extension Councils, Program Development & Reporting, Mass Media, Legislative, Student Recruitment/Ag Alumni

County coordinator assignments will rotate and are made at the discretion of the District Directors.


4.4 Professional Expectations

The term “professional” is regularly associated with an individual Extension staff member’s approach to his or her assignment. The concept of “being a professional” is recognized as necessary to effectively fulfill Extension’s programming role.

All Extension agents must acquire and practice the following criteria and personal traits generally associated with professionalism:

  • Placing service to others over personal gain
  • Developing a strong sense of public responsibility
  • Developing proficiency in a field of specialization and in communicating that knowledge
  • Being dedicated and loyal to the University of Kentucky and the Cooperative Extension Service
  • Working toward self-direction on the job
  • Working toward the improvement of colleagues’ welfare
  • Pursuing personal professional improvement plans
  • Working within acceptable ethical standards
  • Being knowledgeable of professional literature in specific Extension program and subject matter areas
  • Adapting Extension methods and programs when warranted
  • Exchanging information with colleagues
  • Understanding and practicing the language of the Extension profession
  • Creating a positive image in the community
  • Belonging to and supporting appropriate professional organizations and subscribing to professional journals
  • Follow the "Guide to Attire for Extension Employees"

As professionals, the normal work week for Extension agents will be at least 40 hours per week and the anticipation is that the average will likely exceed 40 hours per week with no allowance for compensatory time.

Extension programs and work with other community groups and agencies will require evening and week-end hours. Agents are expected to become an integral part of the community and thus are strongly encouraged to reside in the county in which they work.

Each agent’s schedule of activity and location must be recorded in the Extension Office each day. The secretary should be notified of any changes of schedule and should know where agents are at all times and when they are expected to return.

Agents must avoid work habits which could create doubt about whether they are conducting business other than Extension business during regular office hours, i.e., working at home, keeping irregular hours, conducting business other than Extension at the office, or shortening office hours to conduct personal business.


4.5 Professional Development

The Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service is committed to enabling all professional staff to reach their fullest potential both as individuals and as members of the Extension system. By supporting staff members in professional growth, both job performance and personal satisfaction are increased.

Agents are encouraged at all times to upgrade their professional competency. This is accomplished through participation in in-service training opportunities and advanced study programs. Requests for advanced study programs will be reviewed by District Directors and Assistant Directors. Approval will be based on appropriateness of training to current job assignment, time demands of course work and performance in current position. Agents requesting advanced study benefits must submit an Extension Individual Study Plan: Graduate Degree Approval Form which outlines educational goals and a time table for completion.

As a full-time employee of a publically funded university, agents are eligible for a tuition waiver of up to 18 hours per year. This benefit, as well as compensation for a competed Master’s, is described in section 6.1, Benefits.

Career Ladder Promotion

The Extension Career Ladder is one mechanism for encouraging continued professional growth and development of county agents. This professional promotion system rewards individuals for completing additional education and training and achieving a high level of job performance. There are four advancement categories which are referred to as: Level I, Level II. Level III, Level IV and Level V. Criteria and standards for the Career Ladder can be found in the document below.


4.6.a Agent Work Schedules

The purpose of this statement is to clarify expectations of the work hours of Extension Agents. The issue is whether agents are expected to work during the normal office hours plus evenings and weekends in conducting meetings and activities.  This document does not deal directly with what the university defines as flexible work hours or flexible work arrangements.

The Cooperative Extension Service supports the appropriate balance of work and personal life of all employees. Extension agent work schedules are often dictated by the availability of clientele and the nature of educational programs.  It is not unusual for agents to work during lunch hours, evenings and weekends.  While achieving work objectives, it is also important that agents maintain balance between work and personal time.  For example, if agents are working evenings or weekends to conduct meetings, it is acceptable for them to flex their time during the normal work day.  However, if clientele regularly visit the office or call during a particular time of the day, agents should make every effort to be available during those hours.

If an agent has a question about adjusting schedules, discussions should be held with the respective district director.  Adjusting schedules should not be designed to equatably compensate (hour for hour) for work outside the normal workday.  As exempt employees, agents do not qualify for compensatory time, although they are expected to work 40-hours per week, some of which are scheduled at times other than the normal work day.

Agents should always keep support staff apprised of their work schedules.  And, professional courtesy requires that agents communicate with their office team in advance when they will be adjusting their schedules.  Controlling one's schedule to best meet the needs of clients, while achieving a balance in work and personal time, is not only healthy for the individual, it is healthy for Extension as an organization.

4.6.b Hourly Employees Work Schedule

Support staff members are not exempt employees.  Hourly employees must follow the work schedule as assigned by their supervisors.  Hourly employees interested in exploring flexible work schedules, as defined by the University of Kentucky, should discuss their ideas with their direct supervisor and district director.

Reference materials may be found at:

UK Worklife Guidelines

Cooperative Extension Office Procedures Manual