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KSRE Tuesday Letter

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

June 20, 2023

Working as an Extension Professional in Kansas Provides Many Varied Opportunities Across the State

Submitted by Brian Rees

The responsibilities of a county or district agent will vary based on the needs of the county or district being served. One thing that holds true, regardless of location, is the importance of professional development throughout your career. Two of the biggest opportunities are with the extension professional associations and the Program Focus Teams.

I chose to become involved with the Kansas Association of County Agricultural Agents when I started with extension in 2004. Regardless of your role in extension – agent, specialist, or administrator – I encourage you to find a way to become actively involved in your professional development.

This April, I had the opportunity to participate in a national event in Washington, D.C. along with three agents, a regional specialist, five State Extension Advisory Council (SEAC) members and two individuals from campus administration. PILD – Public Issues Leadership Development – is a three-day event that focuses on the strengths of the cooperative extension system, and the simple fact that extension is a cooperative effort between the federal government (USDA-NIFA), state (through the land grant universities), and local (county, district, or parish) partners.

Many of us knew about the federal, state, and local partnership, but PILD helped expand my understanding of how the system works.

Much of the time, the concurrent sessions focused on advocacy and funding, which I will come back to later. The concurrent and breakout sessions also provided a good chance to meet and work with others from different areas of the state and country, with differing concerns and areas of expertise.

Building a network of colleagues is always important, whether within the state or across the country. Although this was my first PILD, I am certain the focus of the sessions will vary annually. On multiple occasions we were divided into smaller groups to discuss topics brought up during the presentation. The discussions were lively and led me to appreciate things I had not previously considered.

To me, this further emphasized the necessity and importance of listening to understand and discuss, and not to simply shout your opinion louder. I feel listening is something we need to focus on more as a society.

The third day of the conference was devoted to visits with our respective congressional delegations. I understand many states were only able to meet with aides of their representatives. Our entire group was able to meet with aides for Senators Moran and Marshall, and in fact Senator Marshall did slip in to meet with us for about 10 minutes.

The group I was with also met with Representatives Estes and LaTurner and their aides. I was extremely impressed with their knowledge and concern for extension and the work we all do. I also took a side tour with one of the SEAC members to observe part of the Farm Bill hearings. It was an interesting process, to say the least, to see how the committee leadership can slant the hearing to their own way of thinking.

Now to get back to the advocacy and funding discussions. That was one of the major reasons for the visits to Capitol Hill and the topic came out in more than one of the presentations on Monday. It is something we all need to work on at the local, state, and federal levels.

One recurring theme during a panel presentation was “Don’t be humble. Make the ask!” That is something that came out during our visits with the congressional delegations, as the Farm Bill was still in the works. It is something that maybe has already or will be coming out in your office as we near budget season.

Remember that we all do good work. Share the good work you do and be sure to ask for what you realistically need. Be responsible with your ask but be sure to make the ask! If you have ever worked in sales, I am sure you have learned that most often the worst answer you could receive would be a “No,” and you might be surprised with a “Yes!”

And finally, I want to thank my colleagues who I was told thought I would be the best person to write for this week. I do not know for sure who to thank, but I know that Jennifer Brantley, Rachel Clews, Susie Latta and Cade Rensink also enjoyed their PILD experience and would be happy to share more about their own PILD experiences if you see them.

In this issue

From KSRE Administration
Human Resource Information
Health and Wellness
Extension Professional Trainings
Calendar of Events