Finding a future

A group of nine people pose together. Three of them sit behind a table with WSU and 4-H swag, and five stand behind them, in front of the WSU meat truck.
WSU Extension was well represented at the Spokane Ag Expo last week. I have had several independent conversations over the past few weeks about WSU Extension and the importance of partnerships.

I am in Phoenix the first half of the week meeting with CAHNRS friends and supporters. Because of the trip, I missed the opportunity to deliver the promotion and tenure letters to CAHNRS faculty on Monday. Scot Hulbert had a great time meeting with the 10 faculty members. We are so proud of their accomplishments! Congratulations on your upcoming advancement!

I mentioned last week that I was attending Katie Forsythe’s human development class on cultivating curiosity. Admittedly, attending class and visiting museums are not on my “fun list,” but it was a great experience. One of the exhibits incorporated fiber arts and the other included basketry on loan from the WSU Museum of Anthropology. The students were thoughtful in their review of how the pieces made them feel, and Katie did a great job encouraging them to share. While I don’t see myself dropping into the museum often, I would definitely observe the class again.

When I return to Pullman, the associate deans and I have an extended planning meeting. We will gather present day data from units and faculty over the next month and also pull together historical data. At the same time, we will form a picture for a future state of CAHNRS that will align with the programmatic vision for a resilient Washington. The narrative for the vision is forming, thanks to the marketing and communications team’s work. I am excited about the plans for engaging stakeholders, partners, and friends with the work of CAHNRS.

Scot Hulbert shared that he was pleased with the first meeting of the strategic planning committee. Their work will certainly inform our plans. Planning is always a work in progress, following a continuous improvement approach. Walking through the museum, a quote from one of the featured artists resonated with me. Jeffrey Gibson says, “Don’t accept the circumstances you are in; acknowledge that you are in them and then find a future.” That’s why we plan.

I have had several independent conversations over the past few weeks about Extension. In one case, it was a conversation with early career faculty who are planning their Extension Program. I capitalize “Program” because we aren’t talking about an individual event or activity, but rather the sum of all activities intended to achieve a predetermined change in conditions, often through efforts to influence a change in knowledge and then behavior. Other conversations were about the purpose and function of Extension and how it works.

Common to each conversation was that Extension is about partnerships, whether they are within WSU, between Extension personnel and communities, or the tripartite partnership of federal, state, and local government that is the basis for the national Extension system. I continue to run the conversations around in my head. I will share thoughts as they come to me. I invite your thoughts, too.