Friends – The last few weeks have been incredibly packed with opportunities to share the blessings and challenges of working in Extension and at Ohio State. Members of our cabinet and I participated in national and state-level meetings about how Extension can assist with immunization education and address a variety of other healthcare and health disparity issues as part of our Ohio expertise and as part of a national land-grant Extension system. Adam Ward and I met with a half-dozen legislative offices to discuss our college and Extension initiatives and strategies for helping them meet the needs of Ohioans. An Extension team met with the university’s Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities, where we highlighted OSU Extension efforts, 4-H programs statewide, our work in communities of color, and how we might partner to meet the needs of underserved audiences. We provided testimony at the statehouse on our 4-H program and how we have met the needs of youth during COVID-19; and we shared how Extension is prepared to continue to serve as we partner together to build additional capacity. I met with Central State University Extension leadership and discussed how we can continue to improve our communication and increase our collaborative efforts. We are in the process of updating our memorandum of understanding, and I feel very confident that we have much opportunity to explore avenues of partnership for our Ohio Extension efforts.
Greg Davis and I have been spending a great deal of time meeting with department faculty and chairs, as well as Extension faculty to discuss Extension as a mission across the college and how we can meet the needs of the legislative mandate while serving our communities and one another in ways that bring value to all. Our Extension Leadership Team (Cabinet members and area leaders) has recently identified common areas of priority for our 2021 plan of work (more to come on this soon), and we spent dedicated time last week discussing strategies for achieving this work over the next few months and throughout the year. Finally, I have had the pleasure of engaging with a number of you during open office hours to discuss successes, ideas, concerns, and solutions for Extension. A broad list of topics have been covered: shift differentials, performance reviews, peer-review processes, joint-use agreements with community partners, marketing Extension, and incentivizing various aspects of work during COVID-19 and beyond. I really enjoy these sessions and hope you will continue to sign up and share your thoughts and ideas with me. Our organization has so many strengths, champions, and highly proficient and dedicated professionals. It is a pleasure to engage in these conversations (internally and externally) and to build awareness about our efforts and impacts. We have so very much to be proud of and yet so much opportunity to continue the conversations on how we evolve and adapt to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Thank you for participating in these conversations and in this journey!