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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

September 25, 2018

An Office Professional’s Kansas State Research and Extension Perspective

Submitted by Ashley Wurtz

One of the things my Better 7/8ths and I love is to hear people discuss their jobs. It is fascinating to learn about their unique expertness, their challenges, and their passion for what they do. To that end, I have asked Wabaunsee County’s Ashley Wurtz to share her perspective on being an office professional and valued team member of K-State Research and Extension. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. (GH)

K-State Research and Extension has become a part of my family over the past four years, and I’ve become a part of theirs. My face and voice have joined with many others in offering the first impression to Extension around the state of Kansas and within my county. We are the first impression that consumers see and hear when they contact our office. They are in need and we hold the keys to helping them find their answers.

If they are looking for a Radon Kit, we often are the ones selling it to them. If they are in need of borrowing a forage or soil probe, we are the keepers of the books that track them and the helpers that offer them quick tips from our agents to keep our customers moving forward with their task. Often, we are the ones answering the questions from exhausted parents regarding the simple and much needed information on how to enroll in 4HOnline. Office Professionals multi-task a great deal, and, if we can keep our lives in balance, we are a huge asset to those around us.

It takes my agents and myself working together as a team to keep us functioning not just at the mundane “functional” level, but at a proactive, progressive and creative level that we seek together. Where one agent’s training benefits the other and vice versa, the Office Professional gets to be glue that helps hold all of the functions together. Our office does not simply operate based on each of our own agendas but on a collective vision for our county Extension office as a whole.

We work hard to understand within our office how each of us function and we use our strengths and our weaknesses as assets, not liabilities. We also work hard to find the balance and understanding of where our hearts and our priorities are, within our personal lives. When one of us walks through a more challenging season, we have never used it as a weapon to turn on the others. We show each other grace. We offer understanding, and we help each other remain focused on what must be done at work.

There have been times where I personally have needed reminded that sometimes you have to take care of yourself first, before your job, so that your job does not suffer. My agents have covered for me when I was needing to be a mom to my kiddo who needed stitches from an accident at school. Because of the kindness and compassion I’ve been shown by my co-workers, I do not worry when I need to step away and take care of personal business. This kindness is reassuring to me; it helps my work ethic and my drive to do a good job and be better at my job, knowing that what I do matters. It is easy to look down at yourself when your job is more clerical and less academic than others’ jobs. The benefit for me is when my co-workers and KSRE look at me and do not label me as less, but give me the opportunity to be more and to truly make a difference within my office, KSRE and my community.

I love my job. I love working with the individuals within my office, KSRE and our community, and I really do feel like it has made a huge difference in my life. When I walk out my office doors at night, I get to see the lives that I’ve touched, I get to know more of the people within my community, and I get to be a part of something bigger than myself, or an image on a screen. And because of this, I get to share it with my family and know that this life of mine as an Office Professional really is a blessing to us all.