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We've Tried That Before Book and Gift BoxThis is the last in a series of podcasts featuring the new book, "We've Tried That Before: 500 Years of Extension Wisdom." The book, inspired by T.J. Talbert's "Extension Worker's Code" (1922), features the insights of 30 Extension professionals from 15 states (including me!). You can order the book in a gift box at https://wttbgiftbox.eventbrite.com.

In this episode, we hear from Bradd Anderson, State 4-H Leadership & Communication Specialist with Missouri University Extension. Bradd wrote 5 sections of the book, “Valuing Others’ Opinions,” “Be Loyal and Always Speak Well of Others,” “Be Virtually Professional,” “Present Simply & Establish Context,”  and “Don’t Send That Emotional Message.” We'll also hear what role lead authors Paul Hill and Jamie Seger hope the book will play in Extension's future. The episode ends with a bit about "bumping the lamp."

We've Tried That Before Book and Gift Box

This is the 3rd in a series of podcasts featuring the new book, "We've Tried That Before: 500 Years of Extension Wisdom." The book, inspired by T.J. Talbert's "Extension Worker's Code" (1922), features the insights of 30 Extension professionals from 15 states (including me!). You can order the book in a gift box at https://wttbgiftbox.eventbrite.com.

In this episode, we'll hear from 2 co-authors talking about change. First, Michelle RodgersAssociate Dean and Director Cooperative Extension and Outreach at the University of Delaware, talks about her section, “Be Flexible. Adjust to Change.” Then, Danae Wolfeeducational technology specialist with Ohio State University Extension, talks about the section, “Reach People Where They Are.” Danae talks about reaching people and setting them on a path of engagement.

We've Tried That Before Book and Gift Box

This is the 2nd in a series of podcasts featuring the new book, "We've Tried That Before: 500 Years of Extension Wisdom." The book, inspired by T.J. Talbert's "Extension Worker's Code" (1922), features the insights of 30 Extension professionals from 15 states (including me!). You can order the book in a gift box at https://wttbgiftbox.eventbrite.com.

In this episode, Some of the book's authors discuss being energetic, avoiding jaded colleagues, finishing what you start and collaborating. You'll hear from Hunter McBrayer from Alabama, Daphne Richards from Texas, Scott Matteson from Michigan, and Eric Stafne from Mississippi.

We've Tried That Before Book and Gift Box

Paul Hill and Jamie Seger are the editors and co-authors of the new book, "We've Tried That Before: 500 Years of Extension Wisdom." The book, inspired by T.J. Talbert's "Extension Worker's Code" (1922), features the insights of 30 Extension professionals from 15 states (including me!). You can order the book in a gift box at https://wttbgiftbox.eventbrite.com.

This conversation with Jamie and Paul kicks off a series of podcasts in which we'll hear from several of the book's co-authors and discuss some of the important themes the book addresses.

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:

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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

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:

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.

Cooperative Extension is making a difference, but does it show?

I talked with Dena Wise from The University of Tennessee Extension about that very question. Dena authored the Journal of Extension commentary, "Evaluating Extension Impact on a Nationwide Level: Focus on Programs or Concepts?"

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!

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