January 21, 2020
A Challenge to Do Small Things in a Great Way
Yesterday we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King once stated, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”
That question is easily answered by Extension professionals. Our chosen profession centers around providing the research, education, and facilitation that empowers people to make decisions and act in ways that improve their lives, livelihoods, and communities.
I have a few questions for you to consider. First, are we doing enough for all peoples, or are we just focusing on doing great things for those that we typically serve? Second, have you gone past the often stated “our programs are open to everyone in the public” to actually engage people who we currently do not serve well.
My belief is that we focus on doing great things for those we currently serve. I hope that this is unintentional, but our data shows that we do a poor job of reaching beyond our typical clientele.
I believe we need to put a greater emphasis on broadening our effort to reach out and engage those we typically do not serve. It is our legal duty, and, more importantly, it is the morally correct thing to do.
In the past, I have given you a few challenges. The first was the Shout Out initiative, and you responded beautifully by pointing out the amazing things they do. Second was the Reporting Initiative, and you responded incredibly. This past fall, I asked you to be innovative and to tell us how you are being innovative. While we have not heard from a lot of you, yet, we are starting to hear about innovations taking place (Note: if you did not participate in last week’s Every Third Friday Celebrate Innovate! about the Youth Community Perceptions program, you really should listen to the recording!). I am sure we will be hearing about more innovations in the future.
The next challenge I am going to give you is to reach out to an audience you do not usually serve. Ask thought leaders among them how Extension can better serve their community. Listen. Listen to understand. Listen to understand so you know how to reach out and better serve that community, and do so. Then, tell us about it.
Admittedly, while this challenge will be daunting initially, it is a small thing when compared to how far we need to travel to achieve equality. Nevertheless, Dr. King also once said “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
I encourage you to do these small but magnificent things. Go out and engage a community you have not worked with well in the past. Learn how to better serve them. Do so. Provide them with the research, education, and facilitation they need so that they, too, can improve their lives, livelihoods, and communities.