Thoughts from the Director

Hi friends...
Thank you once again for your steadfastness during this challenging time. We are seeing the COVID-19 numbers going up all over the U.S. and have seen some particularly troubling upward trending in Ohio. I continue to be grateful for your dedication to the mission of Extension and your compassion and concern for one another as we walk this journey together. No one could have imagined in March that we would still be assessing, week by week, how we would be planning and implementing programs, engaging our clientele, juggling changing priorities, and balancing life/work. We are starting to see some increasingly hopeful news about vaccines and perhaps some evolving relief from the virus as we enter and move into 2021. In the meantime, I want to express my fullest appreciation for your efforts and commitment to your work. I recognize that for some weeks that means you are experiencing powerfully productive moments, while other days and weeks may feel more like you are spinning your wheels, or even standing in place—happy to simply have gotten through the day. I want to clearly express some realistic expectations for 2020. We will be talking about more specifics as it relates to performance over the next few weeks, but I want you to know the following general realistic expectations (bear with me, I know this is long, but I think it is important to express):  

We know that 2020 has often been brutal and exhausting: There are goals we thought we would achieve that have been displaced, replaced, or realistically realigned. That’s ok. Changing policies, procedures, processes, and health orders have kept us safe and ready to serve another day.   

2020 has also brought unanticipated benefits: We have learned more about one another, met each other on a more personal and real level, and learned and tried things we may never have attempted if not for this disruption in our normal.  

We must have realistic expectations for ourselves and one another: Every program, county, and person will have a different set of circumstances, life experiences, current capacities, and resources. There will be times when certain aspects of a program can be continued, while others may have experienced constraints. COVID has had an impact on normal productivity. It’s a reality, and a hard one, but we can still accomplish what is realistic and be comfortable that we did what we could in the place where we were at the time.   

We must demonstrate caring and respect for our peers: If you have a concern with a colleague, respectfully and privately share that concern and its impact with that person. Have a dialogue about what may be contributing to the concern and what might resolve it. Ask yourself, what might I be doing or failing to do that could be contributing to this situation? How can I help by being part of the solution? If this doesn’t work, then seek out a supervisor for assistance and support. Ask yourself, is what I am putting out there my best presentation of me and offered with a useful solution or is it likely to create a larger divide? We are a team! We need to have each other’s backs and best interests in mind. Continue to ask yourself, how do we grow and support one another during these challenging moments?  

We must bring our best self, whatever that looks like each day, to the business and work of Extension:   

We might not be knocking it out of the park each day and some days we strike out, but we need to bring our best effort to each day. We have all been hired to advance the mission of Extension and strengthen our community. We are doing our best to remain as flexible as possible and to ensure we meet the needs of our clientele and our fellow colleagues. We must each take a realistic look at what we are accomplishing. Are we performing the roles and responsibilities of our positions to the best of our abilities in the current circumstances? Are there adjustments needed to county plans that are fluid and meet the changing needs of programs and clients, as well as employees? Are we using the technology effectively so we can accomplish things seamlessly from home and at the office? Are we reaching out if we need more tasks or projects to accomplish while teleworking? Are we communicating with one another to identify opportunities to help others or ask for help when we need it? What can we each be doing to achieve what needed for those we serve?  

We won’t be in this situation forever, even if it feels like it sometimes. Let’s work together, plan for success, and pull each other up to ensure we emerge from this stronger as an organization and as a team than ever before.