Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael F. Burnett


The purpose of this study was to identify the professional competencies needed by the Cooperative Extension agents in Louisiana as perceived by extension agents. Additional purposes of the study were to identify when the respondents believed the identified competencies should be acquired and to describe the responding agents with regard to selected demographic variables. One-hundred forty-one professional competency items were included in a questionnaire that was divided into two parts. The competencies were divided into nine categories that were designed to measure participants' perceptions as to the importance of need for the competencies by extension agents. A five-point Likert-type scale was used. The second part of the questionnaire related to the perceived time acquisition of each of the competencies. The four possible responses were: before entering the job; during further formal education; Cooperative Extension Service In-Service; and on the job. Demographic data collected included: age; highest attained educational level; undergraduate major; if they had previous 4-H experience and if so, how many year; total number of years employment with the Cooperative Extension Service; and major area of assigned responsibility. The population for this study consisted of 292 extension agents currently employed by the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service with more than one year experience. A minimum random sample of 126 participants was drawn with a two percent margin of error. The majority of the competency items (77.3 percent) were rated as having importance. The remaining competency items were rated moderate importance (9.9 percent) and very high importance (12.8 percent). The mean age for respondents in this study was 40.9 years. Master's degrees were held by 71.7 percent of the respondents and the most common undergraduate major was Home Economics. The most common major area of assignment was 4-H (48.2 percent). The primary choice of time of acquisition of the competencies was on the job (77.9 percent). An educational content outline was developed for each of the levels of competency acquisition.