Date of this Version
A fledgling Extension Service learned a lesson early in this century; a lesson that is perhaps more valid today than when it was learned, and a lesson that may be particularly useful to professionals in wildlife and fisheries.
As improvements in agricultural production techniques and procedures were developed by the university agricultural experiment stations, there was an obvious gap between those who possessed the new information and those who needed to adopt it. To meet that need, programs were developed that resulted in professional change agents residing among farmers and ranchers in order to extend the universities' influence by one-on-one, face-to-face communication and actual demonstration.
But, as I remember the story, these initial efforts to cause individual members of the agricultural community to adopt innovation were not an overwhelming success. Then, whether by accident or design, Extension agents began to work with people in small groups instead of individually. And that clicked! Students of the adoption process noted that farmers and ranchers were more receptive to new ideas when they were able to work together and observe neighbors trying and successfully employing them.