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WSU Diversity Training Named a Program of Distinction

PULLMAN, Wash. – A Washington State University diversity training designed to increase knowledge and skills to work with a variety of cultures has been accepted for publication in Extension National Programs of Distinction.

L-R: Mary Katherine Deen, Louise Parker, Melynda Huskey
L-R: Mary Katherine Deen, Louise Parker, Melynda Huskey. Click image to download high-resolution version.

Navigating Difference: Cultural Competency Training for Outreach Professionals is a competency-based, experiential curriculum which focuses on developing skills in the five key cultural areas of awareness, understanding, knowledge, interaction and sensitivity.

“Participants who have completed the Navigating Difference training found the knowledge they gained extremely useful in understanding themselves and others with whom they work,” said Mary Katherine Deen, WSU Extension Diversity Director/Family and 4-H Youth Development Specialist and co-developer of the training. “The expanded communication and mindfulness skills have led to increased programming in their communities with diverse cultures, and spreading the knowledge of the land-grant university system to a broader audience,” said Deen.

Deen, along with colleagues Louise Parker, WSU Extension, and Melynda Huskey, WSU Student Affairs and Enrollment, designed the program to increase information and skills that can be used when engaging in any new culture, rather than focusing on specific cultural knowledge.

As of December 2010 over 160 Extension professionals attended the program from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, North Dakota, Nevada, Kansas, Alaska and Guam. All five modules have also been presented to staff from state and local social service agencies and one school district. In addition, four “Train the Trainer Retreats” have been held with a total of 51 participants from seven states which will enable more staff to present the Navigating Difference modules.

Programs of Distinction is a peer-reviewed database which publishes programs of exceptional quality developed by Extension professionals (

The next session of Navigating Difference will be April 12 – 14 in Everett. For more information, please visit