Intercom Online......February 25, 1999

New outreach initiative could
prove to be model for the state

A Penn State Outreach and Cooperative Extension Center will be opened in Lewistown as part of a pilot program University officials hope will become a model for improving lifelong learning opportunities for other areas across the state.

Last week, in close collaboration with Mifflin and Juniata county governments, Penn State and the Greater Lewistown Corporation announced plans to open the center that will serve residents of Mifflin, Juniata and surrounding counties. David Filson, Mifflin County extension director, will be the director of the new center.

"Nationwide and within the Commonwealth, workforce development needs stand as a barrier to productive businesses and families," said James H. Ryan, vice president for Outreach and Cooperative Extension. "The center will provide education that will better enable Mifflin and Juniata county residents to compete in today's changing economic environment and provide access to resources for lifelong learning."

Last year, community leaders approached Penn State about developing an enhanced presence in Mifflin and Juniata counties. Following a comprehensive needs analysis study, Penn State agreed to develop the center as a new model for extending and expanding outreach services in this community, particularly in the area of workforce development. The new Outreach Center will provide formal courses for existing employees and skills training for adult learners who want to increase their employability.

Filson, who will assume responsibility for all outreach programs delivered through the site, believes the center will offer more opportunities for networking with individuals, organizations and businesses in the community while mobilizing University resources and expertise to respond to local needs. Filson also will maintain an extension office in Juniata County, allowing him to continue his physical presence in both counties.

In addition, Outreach and Cooperative Extension administrators see great benefits in opening the new location, noting that Penn State can now house a wide array of educational opportunities in one permanent site with customized and cutting-edge learning facilities.

Once open, the Outreach Center will provide continuing education credit and non-credit courses, certificate programs, technology transfer programs, undergraduate course and Cooperative Extension programs. Such programs might include in-service training for area teachers, professional updates for health care providers, management development courses and more. The center also will contribute to making life better for area youth who would like to enter higher education part-time by enrolling in introductory undergraduate, credit courses, such as college writing, economics or psychology.

"We are extremely optimistic about the future center's success," said Ted Alter, associate vice president for outreach and director of Cooperative Extension. "The community has embraced this partnership with universal support. There's a real sense of community involvement in this initiative."

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