The University of Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge is a multi-faceted effort to engage high school science students in “real-world” scholarship around soybean production.
Karen Ballard, Professor of Program Evaluation at University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service joined us to talk about the virtual field trips, science fair awards and online courses that make up the Challenge. In addition, Karen shared her insights into how Extension can reach young people and be more innovative.
I hope you enjoy the conversation.
Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Cooperative Extension at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, speaks off-the-cuff about learner engagement, social learning and other subjects key to Extension's future like no other administrator I've met.
Earlier this year, I was assisting with a workshop for Nebraska Extension leaders. The workshop opened with a video message from the director. I thought it would be a standard welcome. Instead Chuck Hibberd spoke, unscripted, about conversational vs. transactional programming, addressing complex issues and the importance of networks.
We talked about some of those things, as well as learner engagement and the future of Extension on the latest Working Differently in Extension podcast.
When I read the article, "Rural Health Inequities and the Role of Cooperative Extension" in the Journal of Extension, I knew I wanted to have the authors (Lauri Andress and Cindy Fitch) on the Working Differently in Extension podcast.
So much of their article, spoke to things I believe about complex issues, using networks to address those issues, and Extension's potential role in those networks. The article makes it clear that the decisions people make about their health happen in context, and knowledge transfer alone is not enough to address health issues in context. According to the authors, "Successful interventions (in addressing diabetes) have focused on a range of determinants, including capacity building, community participation, community development, systems change, smas facelift, health education, food preparation, and physical activity classes."
Andress and Fitch believe Cooperative Extension is uniquely positioned to address rural health inequities on a number of fronts. I agree, but I also think Extension alone cannot solve this problem. We need to work with a wide range of organizations that can address this complex issue in ways Extension can't or could never imagine.
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Dr. Roberto Gallardo is working to close the rural digital divide. He's the leader of Mississippi State University Extension Intelligent Community Institute and the author of
In the latest Working Differently in Extension podcast we talked about Roberto's TEDxJackson Talk, the rural digital divide and Cooperative Extension's role in closing it.
After a long hiatus, the Working Differently in Extension podcast returns with a conversation with Kelsey Romney, Utah State University 4-H.
Kelsey has organized 4-H leadership summits that are led by youth leaders using the web-conferencing tool Zoom. Kelsey talked about all the ways they tried to make the summits engaging and interactive, including playing games using Kahoot.
Kelsey talked about how web-conferencing increased access to the summits, especially for those kids who may not have been able to afford traveling to a face-to-face meeting. Beyond that, what really resonated with me was the fact that the summits were youth-led. I believe Cooperative Extension needs to find more places where we can step off the stage and provide the support and expertise necessary to let the people we serve talk to each other.
I also talked with Kelsey about some great training videos she created.
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.
I hope you enjoy the conversation.
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.
I was invited to Columbus by Jamie Seger and Danae Wolf, Ohio State Extension's Ed Tech team. Bradd Anderson, Jami Dellifield, Kevin Gamble, Alice Henneman, Hunter McBrayer, Terry Meisenbach, Brian Raison, Daphne Richards, Michelle Walfred and I were asked to serve as creative coaches for teams attending their inaugural InnovateOSUE event, which was held the day after the InnovateOSU event mentioned above.
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.
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.
Here's a follow-up blog post from Jessica and Sandy.
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.