Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Julia Torquati

Date of this Version


Document Type



Benavides, R. Y. (2017) Cultural self-identification among Extension educators' and cultural competence in cooperative Extension.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Julia Torquati. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2017

Copyright © 2017 Ruddy Y. Benavides


As immigration and globalization are increasing, the number of people in our country who speak more than one language is also increasing (Center for Public Education, 2012). These trends are creating needs for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students and families in schools, specifically, the need for culturally responsive pedagogy and culturally competent teachers. In addition to formal educational contexts, non-formal educational contexts such as Cooperative Extension need to adapt to cultural changes as well. The purpose of this study was to explore the personal beliefs and professional experiences of present Extension Educators (EEs), and the techniques they practice in outreach to CLD families and youth. Few studies have examined beliefs and practices related to cultural competence in Cooperative Extension professionals. A purposive sample of Kansas EEs (n=10) participated. Participants were 60% female (40% male) and represented counties from all over Kansas and all areas of Extension Education. Four major themes emerged across the interviews regarding the meaning of culture, the perceived cultural similarities and differences in the clients served by the participants, and specific practices that EEs utilize in their work with culturally diverse families and youth: (1) definitions of culture, (2) importance of families, (3) newcomers and norms, and (4) the concept of time. EEs also identified three areas that need to be met by Cooperative Extension in order to successfully engage CLD families and youth in their counties: (1) the challenges for the EE when serving CLD clients; (2) the needs of the EEs to better serve their CLD clients; and the resources required to overcome these challenges and meet the needs of CLD clients.

Advisor: Julia Torquati