April 5, 2022
As I am writing this, it is early morning on the first day of the Joint Council of Extension Professionals Public Issues Leadership Development Conference (PILD) in Washington, DC.
When I arrived at the venue yesterday, I was struck by the sense of camaraderie as I entered the hotel. I met extension professionals and volunteers from Texas A&M Agri-Life, Penn State Extension, Oklahoma State University Extension and the University of Illinois Extension.
We all had an instant common ground. We were old friends even if we had just met. We knew the challenges and rewards associated with what we do. We all loved our profession and its mission, helping people to improve their own lives, livelihoods, and communities through the power of extension’s research-backed education programs. We respected and appreciated each other’s work and each other.
We were connected.
Does your office, center or department have the same sense of collegiality, respect and appreciation? If not, why? If a group of like-minded but largely disassociated people can come from all over the United States and find instant kinship through Cooperative Extension’s mission, why not your team?
Yes, those meeting at a conference are not together long enough to really know us warts and all. Colleague A made a decision I never would have. Colleague B signed out the suburban when they knew I had a bigger group activity. Will Colleague C ever throw away their rotting food that is in the refrigerator?
Nevertheless, the PILD delegates realize the most important part of extension collegiality and professionalism. If you connect around and focus on the extension mission--serving our public and profession, and respecting and appreciating each other – good things happen.