On January 22, 23, and 24, a group of would be evaluators will gather in Tucson, AZ at the Westin La Paloma Resort.

Even though Oregon State is a co-sponsor for this program, being in Oregon in winter (i.e., now) is not the land of sunshine, and since Vitamin D is critical for everyone’s well being, I chose Tucson for our capstone event.  Our able support person, Gretchen, chose  the La Paloma, a wonderful site on the north side of Tucson.  So even if it is not warm, it will be sunny.  Why, we might even get to go swimming; if not swimming,  certainly hiking.  There are a lot of places to hike around Tucson…in Sabino Canyon ; near/around A Mountain (first year U of A students get to whitewash or paint the A)  ; Saguaro National Park ; or maybe in one of the five (yes, five) mountain ranges surrounding Tucson.  (If you are interested in other hikes, look here.)

We will be meeting Tuesday afternoon, all day Wednesday, and Thursday morning.  Participants have spent the past 17 months participating in and learning about evaluation.  They have identified a project/program (either big P or little p), and they participated in a series of modules, webinars, and office hours on topics used everyday in evaluating a project or program.We anticipate over 20 attendees from the cohorts.  We have participants from five Extension program areas (Nutrition, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Family and Community Science, and 4-H), from ten western states (Oregon, Washington, California, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, and Hawaii.), and all levels of familiarity with evaluation (beginner to expert).

I’m the evaluation specialist in charge of the program content (big P) and Jim Lindstrom (formerly of Washington State, currently University of Idaho) has been the professional development and technical specialist, and Gretchen Cuevas (OSU) has been our wonderful support person.  I’m using Patton’s Developmental Evaluation Model to evaluate this program.  Although some things were set at the beginning of the program (the topics for the modules and webinars, for example), other things were changed depending on feedback (readings, office hours). Although we expect that participants will grow their knowledge of evaluation, we do not know what specific and measurable outcomes will result (hence, developmental). We hope to run the program (available to Extension faculty in the Western Region) again in September 2013.  Our goal is to build evaluation capacity in the Western Extension Region.  Did we?

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