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Professional and Staff Development and Training

Below are SNAP-Ed personnel support resources. They may also be applicable for staff in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), and Families First: Nutrition Education and Wellness System (FFNEWS). Although they are designed mainly for new employees, experienced staff are encouraged to review these resources periodically to ensure continued expertise and to guide professional and paraprofessional career development. Administrators, too, may find these resources helpful for hiring, training, and performance management decisions. While these resources focus specifically on extension, they may also be useful to individuals in other educational programs and network settings. For a full list of individuals who contributed to the development of these resources see the archived list of committees, groups, and team members (PDF).

Engaging and Strengthening Partnerships

These two documents are appropriate for use by both SNAP-Ed and EFNEP coordinators.  They were created by the SNAP-Ed Program Development Team to assist in increasing communication and building lasting relationships.  The documents are each one page and provide guidance for new and existing personnel.

State Nutrition Coordinator

Core Competencies — These nutrition program coordinator core competencies identify skill sets needed to be a successful state program coordinator. These competencies were developed to help state coordinators identify current strengths and areas for future professional development.

  • Background (PDF)
    Six core competencies and associated tasks were identified as essential for state nutrition coordinators. Development and verification of these competencies are described here.

  • Assessment tool
    This self assessment tool helps self-assess interests, performance, and areas of potential growth with respect to each of the state nutrition program coordinator core competencies.

  • Resource List (PDF)
    This list includes skill development materials, organized by core competency. The resources were recommended by the core competencies committee and national program leaders. State coordinators are also encouraged to recommend resources by submitting recommendations to the webmaster. Please indicate the core competency that the resource should be associated with and detailed information such as author, title, year of publication, and media (book, video, CD, etc.). If you recommend a Web site, include its name and address.

  • Orientation Manual (PDF)
    Although this orientation manual was developed for new state program coordinators, it may be useful to coordinators at any stage in their career. Additionally, while some sections focus on extension, others focus on general coordinator tasks and may be useful to individuals in other settings.

  • Mentoring Handbook (PDF)
    As administration of EFNEP and SNAP-Ed has become increasingly multi-faceted, program coordinator responsibilities have changed markedly. New coordinators experience a rather steep learning curve and can benefit greatly from pairing with skilled coordinators who can guide them through situations and issues important to establishing and operating an effective nutrition education program. This handbook provides basic mentoring information, suggests ways to start a mentoring relationship, and provides mentoring activity ideas.


Core Competencies — These core competencies identify skill sets needed to be a successful paraprofessional nutrition educator. These competencies were developed to guide state coordinators and program supervisors in hiring, training, and performance management decisions.

  • Core Competencies (PDF)
    Paraprofessional competences were developed through a research process involving state program coordinators, local supervisors, and paraprofessional staff. These competencies were created to reflect the full range of responsibilities, i.e. to consider the full position, not just content knowledge and teaching skills. Supporting skills specific to each competency area vary depending on the paraprofessional's experience and expertise in the position. Some skills can be quickly achieved by new employees; others require more experience.

  • Core Competencies Training slides (PDF) and comments (PDF)
    Land-grant university SNAP-Ed coordinators were introduced to the paraprofessional core competencies in January 2006. They also learned of the development process and potential applications for using the competencies with paraprofessional staff.

The above resources were created by national program leaders at NIFA and professionals from various institutions. Financial support came from the land-grant universities and colleges and from NIFA.

In 2001, a national committee was convened to identify core competencies for state program coordinators under the direction of Larry Jones, Karen Konzelmann, and Wells Willis (former National Program Leaders). Gloria Green facilitated development of these competencies, and Terry Egan created an orientation manual, mentoring handbook, and core competency resource list, using the core competencies as a frame of reference.

In 2005, Susan Baker and Meredith Pearson provided leadership, along with Helen Chipman, in developing competencies for paraprofessional staff conducting SNAP-Ed. Also contributing were an expert panel of state coordinators and local supervisors, and paraprofessional staff that they recommended.


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