August 7, 2018
Benefits of Being an Extension Professional
Thanks to Gregg for entrusting me (and next week's surprise guest contributor) with the responsibility of writing the lead Tuesday Letter article.
He asked us to write about the benefits of being an Extension professional.
I will be retiring December 29, 2018 so it’s been interesting to reflect on the benefits based on a full career with K-State Research and Extension. I've been able to experience the organization from several perspectives - the first half as an agent in Pawnee and Finney Counties and the last half as a member of the administrative team.
Here are the benefits that I've experienced.
The team – I have a great appreciation for the benefit of being part of a productive KSRE team. The longer I have worked, the more appreciation I have for the unique role of each individual who is employed by KSRE. I don't know everyone but I do know lots of you. When someone is missing, something isn't happening.
Occasionally over the years I might have heard someone downplaying the responsibilities of another person or group of people. From my perspective that's harmful to all of us! I've found that it's far more productive to be "for" my colleagues, whatever their role, rather than "against" them. Others can do something I can't do.
The people - We are in the people business so it would follow that the opportunity to serve people would be a benefit. Our clientele can hear and read lots of information from many sources. Our unique niche is that we can facilitate engagement with and application of that information - whether it is youth making decisions at 4-H camp, adults and youth improving their health by participating in Walk Kansas, ag producers increasing profit margins by using KSRE's decision making tools or local residents carrying out goals to re-vitalize their communities. People choose to participate in our programming!
The mentors - I am thankful for the benefit of those who have mentored me - both formally and those who may not have known that I was watching and learning from them. I've shared this story before in mentor workshops, but one thing I will always remember about my first assigned mentor was her positive attitude. She told me how great her Extension colleagues were and how fun it was to go to camp and to work at the state fair. Well, I learned that those events might involve elements that weren’t always fun. However, I am thankful that she let me figure that out on my own. All of us influence others - how can we use that influence in a positive way? Especially how can we be a positive influence for our newest colleagues?
The changes - I appreciate the benefit of being part of an organization that changes. While universities may sometimes be described as slow to change, believe me, we are a different organization than we were years ago - as we should be. While I have experienced plenty of the discomfort of change, I’ve challenged myself by asking "Where are we headed and how can I be a positive contributor to that change?" I look forward to watching the changes that KSRE will make to continue to be relevant and reliable.
The professional development - When we do agent exit interviews, professional development is almost always mentioned as a benefit of employment with KSRE. I am thankful for the professional development that has allowed me to acquire new skills and knowledge and to challenge my thought processes and assumptions.
Thanks to K-State Research and Extension for providing these benefits and being my employer of choice!