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KSRE Tuesday Letter

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

August 24, 2021

Focus on Our Mission

Submitted by Gregg Hadley

Extension professionals and volunteers are not only public educators, but we tend to be people pleasers. I know, because I tend to be a people pleaser, too. We want to take people’s challenges away as fast as possible, preferably in the blink of an eye or snap of a finger. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to take people’s pain away.

Nevertheless, we cannot kid ourselves. People are stressed these days. They are stressed by and angry with COVID-19. They might be mad about having to wear a mask or about getting vaccinated. They might be mad about someone not wearing a mask or not getting vaccinated. They may be mad at how they feel society treats them. They could be mad about how we pulled out of Afghanistan, or they may be mad that we were even there in the first place. They may be mad about the current group of elected officials or the previous group of elected officials.

Some of the challenges people face today are beyond most of our capabilities to make disappear. We are not going to be able to step in and magically take away the torment people feel due to these big, nasty societal stressors. We need to cut ourselves some slack for that.

What we can do is provide people with the science-backed education, information resources, and facilitation to help people address issues relating to our five grand challenges (community vitality, developing tomorrow’s leaders, global food systems, health, and water & natural resources), so that they are better enabled to improve their lives, livelihoods, and communities. We need to re-focus on this mission. It is our role. It is the value we provide our society. It is our mission.

Extension is celebrated for how it helped people to improve our society, but those improvements did not happen overnight. It happened over decades of focus on and dedication to our mission. If you want to help society through this all, do not wish for a magical cure. Focus on our mission. Our educational programs, informational resources and facilitation services, over time, provide the knowledge and inspiration people need to address those big, nasty, societal stressors.

Focus on our mission.