April 25, 2023
Volunteers and K-State Research and Extension
It was fitting that last week was both the Joint Council of Extension Professionals Public Issues Leadership Development conference (PILD) and National Volunteer Week.
Representatives of our professional associations and I traveled to Washington, DC to attend PILD with some of our volunteer State Extension Advisory Council (SEAC) members. At PILD, we learned about public issues leadership and advocated on behalf of Cooperative Extension.
I am sure our professional colleagues on the trip would agree that our SEAC representatives did us proud as they communicated to our senators, representatives and their staffs about K-State Research and Extension’s impact on the state of Kansas, our nation and our world. When government leaders hear about the Cooperative Extension Service's impact from our volunteer leaders, the impact is more eagerly received and supported. The annual PILD trip would not be as impactful without the assistance of our volunteer SEAC representatives.
Similarly, K-State Research and Extension programming would not be as impactful without our volunteers. Our volunteers extend the capacity of our agents, specialists and system. Last year, our volunteers made 140,356 educational contacts, almost 2,700 per week. They also contributed 141,465 hours of their time to K-State Research and Extension, equivalent to 64.3 full time positions. These volunteer metrics are underreported. They typically do not include the hours contributed by our local extension boards, Program Development Committees, ad hoc volunteer time contributions to our programs, or those simply not reported (Laurie, other examples?).
Volunteers donate their time to K-State Research and Extension because they believe in our mission, the work we do and our impact. They are essential to us. Their work includes, among other examples, providing leadership to our system, helping to deliver educational workshops, leading 4-H clubs, answering technical questions on a help line and sometimes setting up tables and chairs. All of it is critically important to us and Kansas.
Please join me in thanking our thousands of volunteers for the work they do for K-State Research and Extension.