BOZEMAN — Montana State University Extension is using the results of a statewide needs assessment to help prioritize programming, inform strategic investments, consider new collaborations and partner with communities and stakeholders to address needs and issues facing the state.

“The results of this needs assessment are already being used by our MSU Extension faculty and staff as they continue to offer programs and resources,” said Carrie Ashe, MSU Extension associate director. “We are excited to see the responses as we use this information to help plan and prioritize local and statewide programming and invest in continuing to meet the needs of local communities.”

Nearly 2,500 Montanans from all counties and reservations completed the needs assessment survey. More than 800 others participated in listening sessions and interviews coordinated by MSU Extension county and tribal agents. Participants included people who use MSU Extension programs, as well as non-users.

Survey participants identified water quality as an extremely important issue, and the responses showed that people were most interested in attending home gardening programs. Overall, needs were determined by combining measures of importance and dissatisfaction on a variety of issues.

The top 10 identified community needs were:

  1. Affordable housing options
  2. Affordable food options
  3. Counseling or mental health services
  4. Development of life skills for youth
  5. Youth career readiness
  6. Rural community vitality
  7. Child care options
  8. Health care services
  9. Safe/accessible community infrastructure
  10. Agricultural profitability

Participants were most likely to prefer receiving information from MSU Extension through in-person workshops; other preferences included websites and online classes.

Local MSU Extension offices that conducted listening sessions and interviews compiled a report representing statewide themes from those local results. It can be found HERE.

MSU Extension released the results of the needs assessment during its annual fall conference, held Oct. 17-19 in Bozeman. The results were presented to more than 100 faculty and staff who serve across the state.

Ashe said the mission of MSU Extension is to provide unbiased, research-based information and education to Montanans.

“One of the fundamental practices of MSU Extension is meeting locally identified and statewide needs,” Ashe said. “At MSU Extension’s core are the needs of the people and places of the state.”

- by MSU News Service -

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