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Think and Do The Extraordinary
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Joseph Donaldson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor. Extension Specialist, AEE Director of Graduate Programs


202 Ricks Hall


Area(s) of Expertise

  • Extension Education
  • Community Engagement
  • Program Development, Program Evaluation, and Research Methodologies in the Social Sciences
  • Human Resource Management
  • Career Development and Adult Learning


Dr. Donaldson is a teacher, scholar, program evaluator, and researcher. He teaches, mentors, and advises undergraduate and graduate students, and he works with Extension professionals and stakeholders to enhance community engagement and Extension education. 

As the Undergraduate Coordinator for the Extension Education major and minor, he works to prepare future Extension professionals for North Carolina and beyond. He also serves as an advisor to Agricultural Science undergraduates.  

An accomplished Extension professional, he was recognized by the Joint Council of Extension Professionals as the 2015 National Extension Professional of the Year (one of only six national awardees). Prior to NC State, he served as an Extension Agent, Extension Specialist, and Assistant Professor with the University of Tennessee. Donaldson has served in a number of professional leadership roles. He chaired the Research and Evaluation Committee for the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (2005-2007) and served as President of the Extension Journal, Inc. Board of Directors (2013). In 2010, he served as National Chair of the American Evaluation Association, Extension Education Evaluation Topical Interest Group. 

Donaldson is a native of Celina, Tennessee where he grew up on a family farm raising tobacco, beef, and sheep. In his spare time, he enjoys gardening, reading, and traveling.

Selected Publications

Brawner, S., Stephens, C.A., Yamagata-Lynch, L., & Donaldson, J.L. (2020). Leadership Attainment of 14 Women in Agriculture: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, 17(1).

Donaldson, J.L., Franck, K.L., & Baker, M.A. (2020). A Challenge to Bolster the Evidence-Base for 4-H STEM. Journal of Extension58(1). Available:

Donaldson, J.L., & Hastings, S. (2020). Overview of a Statewide Extension Strategic Planning Process and Unintended Outcomes. Journal of Extension, 58(3). Available:

Donaldson, J.L., Swart, J., Richards, J.K. (2020). Perceptions of Job Competencies and Mentoring Program Development for Extension Administrative Assistants: A Focus Group Study of Multiple Employee Groups. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension8(1). Available:

Franck, K.L., & Donaldson, J.L. (2020). Volunteer training needs for successful 4-H STEM programs. Journal of Youth Development, 15(4), 97-109. 10.5195/jyd.2020.856

Donaldson, J.L. (2019). Case Studies for Student Engagement in Undergraduate Extension Education Courses. NACTA Journal. Available:

Donaldson, J.L. (2019). Tools for a Statewide Performance Appraisal System for Extension Professionals. Journal of Extension57(6). Available:

Donaldson, J.L. & Franck, K.L. (2019). Promoting Healthy Lifestyles for Extension Employees: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 7(3) 92-114. Available:

Donaldson, J.L., Gallimore, L., & Swanson, D. (2019). A National Survey of Extension 4-H Professionals’ Perceptions of Professional Development Factors. Journal of Extension, 57(1). Available at:

Bradley, L.K., Behe, B.K., Bumgarner, N.R., Glen, C.D., Donaldson, J.L., Bauske, E.M., Dorn, S., Langellotto, G. (2017) Assessing the Economic Impacts of Consumer Horticulture. Hort Technology, 27, 591-598. doi: 10.21273/HORTTECH03784-17

Bumgarner, N.R. & Donaldson, J.L. (2017). Assessing the Tennessee Extension Master Gardener Program Using Both County Coordinator and Extension Volunteer Perspectives. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension. Available:

Downey, L.H., Peterson, D.J., Donaldson, J.L., Hardman, A. (2017). An Application of the RE-AIM Evaluation Framework. Journal of Extension (55) 3. Available at:

Reeves, K.T., Donaldson, J.L. & LeBleu, L. (2017). Youths Perceive Some Improvement in Substance Abuse Prevention Knowledge, Skills, and Assets from Participation in 4-H Health Rocks!. Journal of Extension (55) 4. Available at:

Donaldson, J.L., Bell, B.A., Toman, J.J., Hastings, S. (2016). Marathon Month Promotes Healthy Lifestyles for Extension Employees. Journal of Extension (54) 5. Available at:

Thomas, J.B. & Donaldson, J.L. (2014). Sugar Free with Justin T. Journal of Extension (52) 6. Available at:

Donaldson, J.L. (2014). Appraising the appraiser: Extension agents’ and county directors’ perceptions of their appraisers. Journal of Extension (52) 2. Available at:

Franck, K.L., Donaldson, J.L., Toman, J. & Moody, T. (2014). Moving beyond the program: Incorporating healthy living behaviors throughout 4-H. Journal of Extension (52) 4. Available at:

Donaldson, J.L. & French, R.L. (2013). Tennessee extension agents’ perceptions of performance appraisal. Journal of Extension (51) 3. Available at:

Piercy, F.P., Franz, N.K., Donaldson, J.L., Richard, R. & Westbrook, J.R. (2011). Consistency and change in participatory action research: Reflections on a focus group study about how farmers learn. Journal of Qualitative Research (16) 3, 820-829. Available:

Donaldson, J.L. (2010). Getting acquainted with free software. Journal of Extension, 48(3). Available at:

Franz, N.K., Piercy, F.P., Donaldson, J.L., Richard, R. & Westbrook, J.R. (2010). Farmer, agent, and specialist perspectives on preferences for learning among today’s farmers. Journal of Extension (48) 3. Available at:

Franz, N.K., Piercy, F.P., Donaldson, J.L., Richard, R. & Westbrook, J.R. (2010). How farmers learn: Implications for agricultural educators. Journal of Rural Social Sciences, (25)1, 37-59.

Programs and Initiatives

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • AEE 230: Introduction to Cooperative Extension
  • AEE 325: Planning and Delivering Non-formal Education
  • AEE 423: Practicum in Agricultural Extension/Industry
  • AEE 478: Advanced Issues in Extension Education
  • AEE 523: Adult Education in Agriculture
  • AEE 545 – Methods of Change in Agricultural and Human Sciences
  • AEE 491 – Seminar in Agricultural and Extension Education


  • BS., Agricultural and Extension Education, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • MS., Agricultural and Extension Education, Pennsylvania State University
  • PhD., Educational Psychology and Research (Concentration in Evaluation and Assessment), University of Tennessee, Knoxville