*WINNER* The Impact Social Capital has on Communication within Extension Education


  • Lisa Ellis


Social capital is important within all communities – rural and urban, and especially important in Extension education. Social capital is defined as the network among people within a given community/society that work together for the common good. Extension personnel serve communities/societies through educational programming and support networks. More specifically, Extension education is an outreach program that provides non-formal education and learning activities to homeowners, youth, and agriculture producers. Therefore, strong communication; informed educational programming will be more impactful in communities/societies where social capital is increased. Social capital is important in rural areas – it has the potential to create opportunities within smaller communities that would not be as likely. With strong social capital, education and communication will be increased between the local Extension office and the community. This may lead to enhanced 4-H youth development, improved agriculture and natural resource practices, and more impactful and effective family and consumer sciences programming. Through a meta-analysis of the literature published the past 20 years on the effects of social capital on rural communities/societies shows that there will be more community involvement associated with church groups, 4-H, county fairs, county events, and extension education courses. According to research, without the trust and communication between community leaders and the citizens of the community: there will not be an increase in social capital and the community will work against one another. Results can include lack of community support and involvement through expenses, volunteerism, and education.