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PILD experience is excellent (5/7/2013)

Since 2005 the NDSU Extension Service has sent a team of staff members to the Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) conference that takes place each April at Washington, DC. The Extension Leadership Team (ELT) selects participants from recommendations made by the presidents of the NDAAEA, NDEAFCS, NDAE4-HYW and ESP. A member of the ELT attends as the group contact.

Calli Thorne, McKenzie County Extension Agent; Karla Monson, Bottneau County Extension Agent; Todd Weinmann, Cass County Extension Agent; Becky Koch, Ag Communication Director; and Chris Boerboom, Extension Director, attended this year, April 21-24. The conference provided an opportunity to learn about the political process at the national level and meet with elected officials as well as key leaders from the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Plus, it offered opportunities to learn best practices for advocacy from other states. They all agreed that a highlight was the Capitol Hill visits where they had an opportunity to share with our congressional delegation the need to restore our federal Smith-Lever funding. Here’s what they said  about the experience:

PILD 2013 group photoCalli — “PILD introduced me to a whole new side of Extension that I was really unaware of, particularly at the national level, and how funding changes can directly impact us here in North Dakota. I also became more aware of how different Extension can be from state to state regarding set-up and locations (county-based, regions, etc.).”

Karla – “Agents in Georgia have developed a professional-looking newsletter to report their efforts to decision-makers. The agents use a one-page template to highlight four programs monthly. The highlights tell how their efforts have impacted their clients and provide a brief, but detailed, description of the programs. I’d like to try this approach for our county narrative.

Todd – “I now have a better understanding of the importance of meeting the legislators and their aides.The experience was a learning one in which I found common ground with the people there, even though our goals varied.  The most important thing I learned was that only through compromise can people achieve their goals and the goals of others.”

Becky –  “The PILD speakers reinforced to me that every one of us always needs to be prepared with two communication tools: a 30-second elevator speech to tell our Extension story literally in the short time you’re in an elevator with a decision maker and a three-minute stump speech that provides a bit more time to give an example. Also, we need to  point out how what we’re sharing or asking for benefits them or their constituents, not just us. And don’t be afraid to ask. Specifically say, ‘I hope you’ll support this because it will benefit these people in this way.’”

Chris – “We need to be able to communicate the public value of our programs to people who may not even participate in our programs. These people pay for Extension and benefit from the public value (e.g.strong ag economy, healthy communities, etc.) even though they may not be direct participants.”

PILD 2014 will be held April 6-9. Stay in touch with your association president if you’re interested in attending.

Chris Boerboom, Extension Director

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