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Ohio State University Extension


Looking Forward to 2021

As we watch 2020 drift into the past and we embrace the new year, 2021, I want to take a moment to reflect on the many successes that came during 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic. Those words have almost become too easily part of our vocabulary… global pandemic…Think about that for a minute. We all started the year off with particular plans of work in mind, and then the sands shifted quickly and often under our feet. March introduced us to telework and a much more expedient introduction to virtual learning, web conferencing, and digital engagement at-large. We navigated through virtual clubs and camps, dramatically modified fairs, and a virtual Farm Science Review. We continued our applied on-farm research initiatives and food production activities to ensure ongoing data collection and application of knowledge for sustainable agricultural and food security. We took all of our programs to new technological approaches and reached many new audiences who had never heard of us before. We created workspaces at home and across our statewide campuses that allowed for flexibility, while keeping us and our clientele safe and healthy. It has been quite a journey, and we have so very much to be proud of as a result of our efforts in 2020. We thrived during a global pandemic. Take a moment to soak that in…

I know we all have high hopes for 2021 being better than 2020; and we certainly have some things to look forward to as the new year begins. We have a COVID-19 vaccine being distributed; we have a nation that is reflecting on where we are and where we can head together (with many lessons learned about health and wellness, race relations, civil discourse, and the power of unifying for a better tomorrow); and we have a bit of optimism about the financial landscape in Ohio. As you saw in the dean’s update, we received word that some of our state funding was restored. This means it will not be necessary to reduce our state budget any more than the 5 percent we have already planned for in our current budget roll-out. Our counties have, for the most part, remained level or seen a slight increase (for those who have reported so far). This support from our funders speaks volumes about the trust and confidence our commissioners and state legislators, as well as our clientele have in OSU Extension. This is evidence of your continued commitment to meeting the mission of Extension AND to addressing the timely and urgent needs of our communities. Thank you!

I am looking forward to seeing what 2021 brings for us and our work. It is not going to be easier overnight. Flipping the calendar page to a new year doesn’t magically make the obstacles disappear. But we are a stronger, wiser organization; and we will take the lessons we have learned and the muscles we have developed and co-create an Extension that stands the test of time and challenges. We will do this together, with opportunities to share ideas about our future and our priorities, our hopes and our plans for accomplishing our mission, and how we will continue to embrace change together and lift one another up through it all.