"When is the best time to plant a tree?" I'm sure was a common question for county agents back when people used to visit their local Extension office. The answer according to an old proverb answers, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”
Now I'll ask, "When is the best time to fix Extension?" The best time was 20 years ago, but the second-best time is now. Extension professionals could have been early adopters of the Internet back when it was commercialized in the 1990's - but we didn't. And Extension could have jumped all over social media in 2004 - but we didn't. What could we do right now that we're not?
The past several months I've been serving on the Visioning Committee for the future of the Cooperative Extension System in Utah. The diverse committee has spent a great deal of time working on root definitions that will guide us for the next 100 years. We're also working on a list of improvements that we will recommend to the VP of Extension. Everything is on the table. We're taking input from everyone as we work transparently to improve and refine the way we serve and educate.
Participating in this committee has been a tremendous learning experience for me. I'd like to share what I've learned about the process of sharing ideas.
I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Utah Farm Bureau's Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Conference in Logan, Utah. It's always a pleasure to be amongst the great people who make it possible for us to eat.
At the request of several people at the conference, here my slides and notes for my keynote and workshop.
Paul Hill, Ph.D.
I design, plan, and evaluate economic development programs for Utah State University.
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