I mentioned during annual conference that my word for the year would be reflection. I've been doing quite a bit of that lately as I reflect on where we've been in 2020, what we've accomplished, and where we are headed in this new year and beyond. One thing I've noticed is, while we have been through an incredible journey this last year, faced with so many unanticipated challenges, we have demonstrated extraordinary resilience, innovation, and hope for ourselves as an organization and those whom we serve.
As I was preparing for a recent South Centers Chat and providing information to the dean for today’s CFAES State of the College address, it was very clear that not only did we step up to the challenge to serve our clientele well, but we distinguished ourselves through the work we did, the ways in which we engaged our audiences, and how we've expanded our reach and our competencies. At the end of last year, I had shared the following about how we approached 2020:
2020 Year in Review
“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” – Stephen Covey
We made choices this year….
- We chose to face the challenges this pandemic brought
- We chose to care and show compassion for one another and our clientele
- We chose to protect the health and well-being of those we work with and serve
- We chose to innovate and adapt
- We chose to learn and to grow, personally and as an organization
Many of the choices we made last year will be quite similar this year, with a focus on protecting health and well-being, adapting and innovating, learning and growing, and doing all of this through a value system of caring and compassion for one another and our clientele – though the context in which we make these choices may evolve. Turning the calendar page did not immediately relieve the trials of the last year. 2021 has begun with challenges around the pandemic, political tensions, economic pressures, and racial and social injustice at the forefront of our consciousness and within our daily lives. However, the lessons learned from 2020 will be tremendous building blocks for 2021 and beyond. We can take the knowledge gained this last year into 2021, as we begin to consider what the Extension of the future looks like.
I look forward to our forthcoming conversations about who we want to be for whom, and how we want to fulfill our mission to all Ohioans. Each of you will have a unique perspective and a voice we want to hear as we review our values; consider the workforce and approach to work for the future; identify our key priorities around people, partners, programs, and processes; engage our stakeholders; achieve our goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion; and deliver on our land-grant mission. I am looking forward to 2021 and beyond, and the future of Extension. I don’t simply have blind faith that the future is bright; rather, I know there is an end to the pandemic and we are on the verge of a renewal spurred on through innovation and attending to the right things, at the right time, and for the right reasons. Our mission is strong, we have tremendous talent and expertise, and we will serve with commitment and distinction, as we have for 100+ years. You are valued and appreciated, and NEVER underestimated. Thank you for all you do and for who you are!