Like many parts of our society, attitudes about agriculture have become more polarized, which presents a challenge for Extension educators.
Michael Martin, Colorado State University, wrote a great commentary in the Journal of Extension about this polarization and how educators work within it. I think this is a critical issue for Extension, so I was excited to talk to Michael about his thoughts.
I hope you enjoy the conversation. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
When I read about Anindita Das, refugee coordinator for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, I was interested in the idea of an Extension professional focused on the refugee community. I have not heard of another Extension organization with a full-time position dedicated to serving the refugee community.
While we did discuss how and why Extension should be reaching out to the refugee community, I was surprised by how much of our conversation connected to Extension's potential to work within collective action networks.
Anindita's works with a coalition of organizations many of which have served the refugee community for years. Anindita is working to connect these organizations, help them coordinate and help them show the impact of their collective work. Her work reminded me of my conversation with Jame Bain, Noelle Harden and Stephanie Heim, in which we talked about the ways Extension could contribute to existing networks.
When Anindita talked about how the refugee organizations could help connect Extension with the refugee community, I though of my recent conversation with Jessica Beckendorf and Sandy Liang. Jessica and Sandy got connected with the veterans by working with their county veterans service officer.
Anindita had only been on the job for 6 weeks when we spoke. I really appreciate her willingness to talk about her work, when she was still figuring it out.
Jerry Thomas last appeared on the Working Differently in Extension podcast in fall of 2013. Jerry's long been one of my go-to contacts for information on innovation and leadership. We recorded the podcast below just after the 2016 InnovateOSU event at the Ohio State University.
Both events were outstanding experiences, but I was especially happy to find time to record a podcast with Jerry. Jerry is the leader of Innovation and Change at Ohio State and the leader of the eXtension Innovation Lab. We had a chance to talk about eXtension's innovation efforts, the ECOP Innovation Task Force and what Cooperative Extension can do to be more innovative.
I've been struggling with this post for a couple of months. Post-literacy emerged as a theme in the conversation referenced above, but I'm still trying to make sense of it. Is it purely hypothetical as it is described on Wikipedia?
"A postliterate society is a hypothetical society in which multimedia technology has advanced to the point where literacy, the ability to read or write, is no longer necessary or common" -Wikipedia
Is post-literacy old news? Are we already living in a post-literate society as Marshal McLuhan described it almost 40 years ago?
What's the relationship between print literacy, media literacy and digital literacy? Is post-literacy emergent or, as mentioned in the conversation below, has reading in America been dead for 90 years?
I'll continue making sense of post-literacy because I believe it is an important theme in the future of Extension. As part of academia, much of Cooperative Extension's information delivery and virtually all of it's library is alphabet-based. What happens if the majority of people become incapable or, at least, uninterested in consuming information through reading? Academia can exist (does exist?) talking only to each other, but Extension, by definition, must converse with "the public," and "the public" has largely devalued alphabet-based information.
13 minutes before the start of the 2016 NFL Draft, a video was released of offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil smoking marijuana through a gas mask. The morning after, several analysts talked about how the fact that there was video of the incident influenced the public perception. They noted, correctly in my opinion, that had this incident been detailed in an alphabet-based medium, without the video, the public would have largely dismissed it.
This is more than "seeing is believing." It's more like "seeing is caring."
If so much of Extension continues to alphabet-based, can we remain (become?) relevant? Is there any hope of moving away from alphabet-based information if Extension remains part of academia?
Over the past year, I've had the good fortune to get to know Jessica Beckendorf. Jessica approaches her work with great energy, empathy and sense of community.
I was excited to find a post on the Military Families Learning Network blog in which Jessica and her University of Wisconsin Extension colleague Sandy Liang, describe their work with the County Veterans Service Officer in their community to build capacity to address PTSD and Criminal Justice Response to Veterans in Crisis.
I've written before about how important I think networks are to the future of Extension. The work Jessica and Sandy are doing, work that builds the capacity of a community to deal with complex issues, is a great example of Extension working in a networked way. Their willingness to play a supporting role, to connect people and organizations, and to encourage community ownership of the project are all indicative of a network mindset.
I was anxious to talk with Jessica and Sandy about their work. I hope you enjoy the conversation.
Jami Dellifield and Amanda Raines from Ohio State University Extension - Hardin County are spreading the word about the positive impact Cooperative Extension professionals could have just by being aware of how to interact with someone dealing with a mental health issue. They are encouraging Extension educators and agents to attend Mental Health First Aid training.
In the conversation below, Amanda and Jami make a compelling case. When you hear about their experiences and think of the difference you can make just by being able to recognize when someone might be dealing with a mental health issue, it's difficult to disagree. What do you think? Have you had an experience like the ones Jami and Amanda described? Share your thoughts in the comments.
One of the most common questions I get about social media and working out loud is, "How do I keep my personal and professional life separate online?" I have to admit that, while I understand the question, I've never been able to relate to the feeling behind it. I've always seen my work life and personal life as intertwined. I held my newborn daughter in my arms while hosting a classical music program on public radio (she was our first and very quiet, something I can't say for the two boys that followed). I've tried to bring my passions to my work and to make my work personal.
Victor Villegas has found ways to bring his interests in technology and aeronautics to his work with Oregon State University Extension. He has even combined his passion for music with his interest in drones as the DroneSinger.
Victor and I talked about bringing our personal interests to our work in the most recent Working Differently in Extension podcast. We also talked about his drone parody songs, his involvement in unmanned aerial systems in agriculture, drone regulation and more. Enjoy!
Here's the last of our conversations recorded at the National eXtension Conference in San Antonio. Jamie Seger, Ohio State University Extension, and Paul Hill, Utah State University Extension, are two of the leaders of the eXtension Educational Technology Learning Network (edtechln). They have done great work in providing spaces for Cooperative Extension professional to discuss new tools and in bringing new tools and technologies to Cooperative Extension.
Jamie, Paul and the edtechln have also been very supportive of the Working Differently in Extension podcast. I'm glad we had the opportunity to record this conversation about tools and trends in Cooperative Extension. I hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I did.
I had the opportunity to record 3 podcasts at last week's National eXtension Conference. You may have already heard the first, featuring John Stepper and Kevin Gamble. The last of the 3, with guests Paul Hill and Jamie Seger, will post Thursday, April 7. In between is this week's interview with Christine Geith, CEO of eXtension.
We first heard from Chris last summer, shortly after she joined eXtension. In our most recent conversation, about 10 months later, the direction she has set for eXtension is more clear. We are starting to see tangible evidence of eXtension's new focus on issues, innovation and impact. I was in the room for one day of the I3 Issues Teams "Design-a-thon," and was impressed by the overall energy in the room and with the thoughtfulness of the team members I spoke with.
John Stepper, author of "Working Out Loud," received a really positive reaction to his presentation and workshop at the 2016 National eXtension Conference in San Antonio. I was lucky enough to sit down with John Stepper and Kevin Gamble, who is bringing working out loud to Cooperative Extension, for a conversation on working out loud, Extension, generosity, relationships and more.
I've been participating on one of the working out loud circles Kevin is facilitating, and it really has been a rewarding experience. The practice of intentionally seeking out connections, making small contributions out of generosity and working to strengthen connections has changed the way I work. It has encouraged me to record more Working Differently in Extension podcasts and to post more often to this blog. Finally, working out loud has lead to new connections, conversations and collaborations. I hope you'll find the conversation below helpful, and that you'll seek out your own path to engaging with working out loud.