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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


The Future is Calling: Pick Up the Phone!

- Friday, August 14, 2020
cell phone - Cory Gaskin-Digital Trends

This past week I had the opportunity to hear the wisdom of Kirk Bloir, our 4-H Youth Development state program leader, talking with 4-H professionals and members of the Extension Leadership Team. I appreciate his ‘big picture’ mindset and ability to connect so many seemingly disparate pieces in ways that help make sense, especially in these tumultuous times. Like so many others in our organization, he has a special ability to feel where others are and meet them where they are.

He shared a variety of things in the context of our positive youth development efforts, and I found them so relevant and applicable to all Extension work. His underlying foundation is a belief in people and a never-ending optimism for the future; the same mindset that draws me and you to be Extension professionals. Because we are all about acronyms (you know, acronymnal appreciation is a prerequisite for Extension survival) he shared a new way to think of COVID: Creating Opportunities for Virtual Innovation and Determination.

The way we have collectively taken advantage of the opportunities to engage virtually speaks to our creativity and innovation. Let’s not slow down here. The tools, systems, and platforms to take us to the next level will eventually catch up (just imagine where we’d be if Thomas Edison had sat idle in his lab for power lines to be installed all across America). Not knowing what lies ahead, now more than ever we need to focus our determination on what we bring to people and communities.

Now more than ever we need to talk with each other and our Extension supporters about these things:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What do we do?
  3. What makes us special?
  4. Who are our partners?

These conversations are about you, your teams, your offices, your program areas, and about Extension. And in COVID we are afforded the opportunity to re-invent how we engage with others. All of us.

In the words of Kirk Bloir, “we have been responsible, nimble, and innovative… we need to remain optimistic…and continue to adapt”. Pick up the phone and talk to an Extension colleague you don’t talk to often. See how they are doing. Do the same with one of your program stakeholders. Talk about the future we can help create.

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