1. Kansas State University
  2. »K-State Research and Extension
  3. »KSRE Tuesday Letter
  4. »The Extension Journey

KSRE Tuesday Letter

Other publications

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

May 28, 2024

The Extension Journey

Submitted by Mary Sullivan

Everybody has a unique journey through life. Sometimes we think of it like a roller coaster with highs and lows, and yet it’s over in a blink of an eye. Sometimes it is more like a hiking trail with paths to choose, and a beautiful view after climbing some hills.

My extension journey started as a 4-H volunteer. Next, I stepped on to the path of extension board member and then the State Extension Advisory Council. When the Grant County family and consumer sciences agent position became available, I took a chance on that path.

That path allowed me to make a difference in my community, and help guide people in making positive changes in their lives, with a flexible schedule to never miss my children’s games and school activities.

Just a few short years ago, another fork in the path provided the change to become the western regional director. This path has provided highs and lows, and – like that rollercoaster -- will be over in the blink of an eye.

This is an exciting time in extension. We went from the best kept secret to front page news. New opportunities are opening for engagement with communities.

I encourage you to take advantage of the facilitation trainings and opportunities to enhance your skills in connection, communication and engagement. These skills prove invaluable regardless of the paths you choose to follow.

Here are my top six reasons to choose a path as an extension professional:

  1. Be able to make a positive difference in the lives of so many people.
  2. The resources and knowledge of all of K-State, fellow colleagues, specialists and researchers to aid your work.
  3. Flex time to attend family activities.
  4. Colleagues that become your closest friends.
  5. Every day is different and can change directions with a conversation.
  6. Your voice heard and valued.

We may have shared a few months, years, or decades on the extension path together, but you have helped make so many memories and contributed to my growth. I want to express my appreciation to local boards, office professionals, extension professionals, and the best “right hand” executive assistant, Lynn Harshbarger.

A special shout out to the Extension Administration Team. I will miss all of you and our interactions, problem solving, sharing experiences, hard work and dedication. And yes, I will miss Gregg’s ice breakers, which he so faithfully offers each time we meet.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the opportunities this career has afforded me for personal and professional growth. The opportunities for travel through professional conferences, a cultural trip to Mexico, NELD and travel to Costa Rica. These were all life changing experiences through extension. I’m thankful for the encouragement from colleagues that gave me the courage to choose these adventures.

The passion I see in each of you for this work assures me that extension is in good hands for the future.

Oh, the places you will go in your extension journey! Enjoy the ride, make great memories, serve your communities, be innovative and be a difference maker.

Thanks for the memories,

Mary Sullivan


Mary is retiring in June, after serving more than 22 years in K-State Research and Extension.