Archive for Working Differently in Extension

Encouraging Civic Engagement: A WDinExt Podcast

I found out about the “Get Engaged! A Guide to Getting Involved in Your Community” program on Twitter. Eric Walcott, a State Specialist with Michigan State University Extension’s Government and Public Policy programs, was sharing his experience offering the program in Grand Traverse County, Michigan. Here are the 2 tweets that prompted me to reach out to Eric.

Our conversation for the podcast covers the “Get Engaged” program, but also Eric’s work talking with local governments about real engagement. As we talked, I was reminded of this Gapingvoid illustration:

A post shared by gapingvoid® (@gapingvoid) on

Eric referenced the Public Participation Spectrum from the International Association for Public Participation as a resource for increasing public engagement. I think it’s a great resource, not just for governments, but for Extension programs. Eric wrote a series of articles on the public participation spectrum. This is the first article in the series: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/public_participation_beyond_public_comment_at_open_meetings and here’s the last onewith links to all the prior articles: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/engaging_the_public_in_local_government_decisions_empower.

Listen to the podcast

Helping 4-H Kids Learn About Healthy Relationships

Alex Chan, University of Maryland 4-H Youth Development Educator for Prince George’s county, is teaching high school students about healthy romantic relationships. He’s a great example of bringing one’s whole self to Extension work, bringing his experience as a marriage and family therapist to his current work.

I found out about Alex’s workshops through this NPR Education article. Here’s our conversation.

Redefining Learning: A WDinExt Podcast

An important article came out in the June 2017 edition of the Journal of Extension.

Redefining the Concept of Learning in Cooperative Extension” is a thoughtful, challenging conversation starter. I recently discussed it with the NDSU Extension Innovation team, and it sparked several questions from the practical to the existential.

After that conversation, I could hardly wait to talk with the authors, and they were kind enough to oblige. Here’s my conversation with Steven Worker4-H Youth Development Advisor, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources; Kristy OuelletteAssociate Extension Professor, 4-H Youth Development, University of Maine, Cooperative Extension; and Alexa Maille4-H STEM Specialist, Cornell University, Cornell Cooperative Extension. I hope it gets you thinking.

What’s a Community of the Problem? – A WDinExt Podcast

The latest Working Differently in Extension podcast features a conversation with Dave Campbell, Community Studies Specialist in Cooperative Extension and associate dean for social/human sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of California-Davis.

Dave says the goal of his work is “to deepen the practice of democratic citizenship in California communities.” That goal speaks directly to my interests in equity, engagement and collective action. It also speaks to Extension’s legacy of empowering citizens. We talked about whether that legacy still plays a central role in Extension.

We also talked about what Dave means by forming a “community of the problem.”  It’s really about turning a private problem into a public problem. Can people faced with the same problem come together to define the problem and work on it together? Dave is looking at that possibilities around the issue of food waste.

Here’s our conversation:

Backhauling to Connect Small Farms With Wholesale Markets: A WDinExt Podcast

Kathy Draeger and her colleagues at the University of Minnesota had a brilliant idea.

Every week or more a loaded semi truck arrives at every rural grocery store in Minnesota to deliver the food needed to stock their shelves, but all of those trucks return to the food distributor’s warehouse empty. Kathy and her colleagues wondered if there was a way to load those trucks with the garlic, potatoes and strawberries being grown on small and medium-sized farms near those grocery stores. It’s a powerful idea that could significantly impact the sustainability of the farms, while benefiting the grocery stores and the wholesalers. So they set out to do it.

I spoke with Kathy to find out more. I hope you enjoy our conversation.

How Extension Enabled a Community Foundation to Save Lives: A WDinExt Podcast

I had to hold back the tears in a small meeting room at Big Sky Resort. Jennifer Anderson, Montana State University Extension Agent in Rosebud and Treasure Counties, was wrapping up her incredible presentation, “Community Foundation and Extension Building Capacity Together: One Community’s Story,” at the 2017 NACDEP/CDS Conference. Her enthusiasm and sincerity had the room mesmerized. When she said, “We know our community foundation has saved lives,” the emotion in her voice had people leaning forward in their chairs. At the end, she quoted Devine Carama. At our general session just a hour or so before, Devine had said, “We are arrogant to believe we will see the impact of our leadership while we are alive,” and he challenged us to build a legacy that would live beyond us. As Jennifer ended her presentation, she said she knew this, the Community Foundation of Northern Rosebud County, was her legacy. I wasn’t the only one moved to tears.

Please listen to Jennifer’s inspiring story below.

Brokering Relationships Around Critical Community Issues: A WDinExt Podcast

Myra Moss, Ohio State University Associate Professor & Extension Educator, has been involved in helping Ohio communities plan for sustainable development. In our conversation (below), she shares her insights about and experience in that work, as well as her work building collaborative partnerships as the city of Columbus and the ag producers from outside the city try to understand each other’s concerns about the watershed they share.

Shaping Cities with Locally Sourced Capital: A WDinExt Podcast

Image: Fostoria 4 by Willy Nelson, https://flic.kr/p/9gcUdm, CC BY_NC 2.0

I met Partick Kirby at the 2017 NACDEP/CDS conference. He participated in a pre-conference session on Working Out Loud, and his contributions to the conversation were so valuable that I had to find out more about his work.

He presented at the conference on crowdfunding real estate development, which as you’ll hear below not only provides important funding for projects in rural cities, but can also give the community a sense ownership and pride in a project.

After hearing about that work, I knew I had to get him on the podcast, but later I learned he’s also directing perhaps the only legislatively-created, state-focused brownfield assistance center in the nation. In short, Patrick is doing important and innovative work, and he kindly shared some of his experience below.

Youth and Community Development: A WDinExt Podcast

Neil Klemme‘s belief in the abilities of young people is rooted in 4-H. Neil’s a 4-H Youth Development Educator in Iron County, Wisconsin. He grew up in 4-H. His mom and his sister also work in 4-H. He’s acting on that belief by getting 4-H members involved in community development in their county.

He’s gotten youth involved in a community First Impressions survey, in creating a campaign for attracting and retaining young people to the county, and in designing the Iron County Regional Trail project. He even invited 2 of the kids to co-present with him at the NACDEP/CDS international community development conference.

Here’s what one of his 4-H teens said about him, “I was really surprised how (the others groups) were presenting on how to get youth involved, and some of them were doing longitudinal studies on how to get youth involved and what makes them want to be involved,” she said. “And here Neil is – we go up and present and we have youth there. Start to finish, youth was involved and this was the final product. That was really impressive. I just assumed everybody else did the things Neil did, and they don’t.” – Felicia Herlevi quoted in the Daily Globe (Ironwood, MI).

In the latest Working Differently in Extension podcast, I talked to Neil about Iron County, his work with youth and what a “charrette” is.

Data Jams: A WDinExt Podcast

Over the last year-and-a-half people throughout Cooperative Extension have been creating spaces for conversation and collaboration. eXtension Issue Corps designathons, Working Out Loud circles and Innovate events in Ohio, Utah, North Dakota and Oregon have all given Extension professionals the time and intellectual space to come together to create change.

Data Jams at the University of Wisconsin create the same kind of space. Based on Game Jams, where game developers gather to rapidly develop prototypes of games, Data Jams, bring together researchers, program teams and evaluation specialists to analyze large amounts of data and collaboratively produce write-ups, models, initial theories and visualizations.

Here’s my conversation with University of Wisconsin Extension qualitative research specialist Christian Schmieder about the Data Jam Initiative.