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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dave Francis is helping to lead the maker movement within Cooperative Extension. His 2016 eXtension Fellowship project, "Maker Movement, Horticulture Fusion" focuses on the connection between the maker movement and local, small scale agriculture.
Dave also co-authored the Journal of Extension articles, "Extension and the Maker Movement" and "4-H and the Maker Movement."
We had a great conversation about the maker movement, Cooperative Extension, hipsters, horticulture and more. Enjoy!
First, an apology. I'm sorry for the recent radio silence. The holidays and a family-wide cold/flu epidemic have me well behind. So far behind, that I am just now posting this interview that was recorded last month.
Cayla Taylor, a program coordinator at Iowa State University, talked with me about the Journal of Extension article, "Examining eXtension: Diffusion, Disruption, and Adoption Among Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Professionals," which she co-authored with Greg Miller.
I think it brings up some interesting discussions about eXtension and its current rate of adoption among Extension professionals.
What do you think? Is eXtension being used in your state? Do you think the number of Extension professionals using eXtension tolls is a good measure of its success? Share your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!
The latest Working Differently in Extension podcast is a testament to working out loud. Justin Thomas, a family and consumer science agent with University of Tennessee Extension, gave the small gift of gratitude to Jamie Seger. Jamie, Program Director, Educational Technology, Ohio State University Extension, and Paul Hill, Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State University Extension, wrote the article, "The Future of Extension Leadership Is Soft Leadership," for the Journal of Extension. Justin emailed Jamie to express his appreciation for the article and invited Jamie to appear on his podcast, "Blue Ribbons & Boots."
Then it was Jamie's turn. Since Justin said he had a podcast, she decided to introduce him to me. In network building that's called, "closing the triangle." Jamie's connection with Justin forms one edge of the triangle, and her connection with me forms another. Jamie closed the triangle by connecting Justin to me to form the final edge.
I'm glad she did. Justin and I connected for an informal conversation about our podcasts, and agreed to an exchange program. Justin would appear as a guest on WDinExt, and I would join Justin on "Blue Ribbons & Boots." I got the first shot. Age before beauty, I guess.
Be sure out check out Justin's podcast on Facebook, iTunes, and/or Spreaker.
Here's my conversation with Justin. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Sara Axtell and Kari Smalkoski are two of the authors of the Journal of Extension article, "One Size Does Not Fit All: Effective Community-Engaged Outreach Practices with Immigrant Communities." When I first read the article, I immediately connected it to my interest in collective action networks. Community-engaged outreach practices prioritize relationship building, reciprocity and two-way sharing of knowledge. All of those priorities have a place in a networked approach to problem solving as well.
Cooperative Extension needs to do a better job of engaging the public, not just as audience members, but as co-learners and co-creators. As Sara said in the podcast, we need to think about where the ideas for our programs come from, what issues we are trying to address and about "partnering with communities and engaging with communities way before a program starts." Sara continued, we need to "remember that communities have their own priorities that might be different than our priorities." When we create programs first, without including the community in that creation, it's difficult to think of the community as anything other than audience, a group to be talked at and marketed to.
Photo credit: courtesy Ramsey County Minnesota on Flickr, https://flic.kr/p/9wsiYi