So many hats. What is it you do again?
In a previous post, I talked about wearing two different hats. You know this is not unique to our work. Depending upon the day of week and your audience, you might be wearing your Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator hat, your committee chair hat, a hat that fits you as a peer reviewer, or the hat you model when taking on one of your stewardship roles.
Why so many hats you ask? For one, our work affords us the opportunity to serve in many different roles. Whether we spend time at a desk, in the woods, in a field, or knee-deep in rows and rows of an Excel worksheet, it's people work that we do and we relate to them in a variety of ways. Our work also involves engaging with others at a variety of levels, each level with its own unique hat.
I was once told by now-professor emeritus J. David McCracken that an Extension professional is a ‘missionary of sorts’…and this makes total sense to me when I think of the land-grant mission. At this level, Extension is very much a ‘mission-area’ of every land-grant institution. When you consider the implications of this statement, we might say that every employee of OSU (and every other land-grant institution) could be considered an Extension colleague – and we are all on a ‘mission’. This is Extension at the highest level.
Extension could also be thought of as a formal organization. Extension from this perspective involves an org chart which includes a variety of positions (and variety of hats). Viewed through this lens, Extension involves ties and connections throughout the formal organizational structure.
If mission area and organizational structure aren’t enough, consider Extension as a department within the formal academic structure of OSU. The Department of Extension is one of literally dozens of departments (each defined by their Pattern of Administration) within the 15 different colleges that comprise the larger university. As a department, Extension has tenured and untenured faculty and staff wearing a variety of Department of Extension hats as they carry out their work throughout Ohio.
So many ways to think of Extension. See now why it is so hard to describe your occupation to others?!? What can you do to help create a greater clarity?