This last week has brought forward many additional opportunities for us to think about who we want to be as professionals, colleagues, and community members. Our country is engaged in a great many conversations, protestations, testimonials, advocacy, and passionate initiatives to reveal, discover, and address racial injustice and disparities. We are moving thoughtfully and slowly into return to office sites across the state and working to be fully responsive to the needs of our employees and our clientele, while continuing to pay attention to the safety needs during a continuing pandemic.
We are working hard to anticipate and respond to the ever-evolving decisions around county fairs and trying to remain in compliance and alignment with state orders, local mandates, and university policy. We are expanding our research and Extension activities based upon currently approved exemptions to meet the essential and time-critical activities and needs of our clientele. So far, this expansion includes on-farm research, soil testing and diagnostics, pest scouting and management consultations, substantive food production community gardens for addressing food insecurity, canner testing, project book distribution, fair board planning and participation for fairs, and some limited access to the public (mostly by appointment) to address community needs and responsiveness. We are in the midst of budget planning for completing FY20 budgets and preparing for FY21, including the implications for what the recent COVID-19 impacts have contributed to the economic environment at all levels (local, state, and federal).
No one community or person feels the same about race relations, COVID-19, business sector mandates, mass gatherings, returning to offices, use of PPE (especially masks), university requirements, and many other facets of what we are living in and through right now. No one approach to addressing all of these complex issues will ease everyone’s fear, pain, discomfort, frustration, anger, or be an easy panacea. The only way we can make progress in any of these arenas is through transparency, integrity, and ongoing communication. I am calling on all of us to be proactive, positive agents for change, willing to name the problems but focused on contributing to solutions, and always assuming good intent. We are all in this together, with the same ultimate goals, the need to lean on one another; and I trust that each of us wants the best for our fellow professionals, our organization, and our communities. Thank you for your continuing efforts to meet the needs of Ohioans, to support one another, and to engage in conversations and actions to move us forward as an organization.