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We are NDSU Extension Service: Creating Change (9/14/2015)

Change. The word can be used as a noun or a verb. Sometimes it’s a difficult word to hear or to take action on. But it’s an important word, and being able to adapt is a vital characteristic for Extension professionals and for the organization as a whole. In the continuing series of blog posts on the culture of the NDSU Extension Service, we’re switching from the broad topic of ‘Mission’ to ‘Adaptability.’ And today’s topic is ‘Creating Change.’

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”  ~Mahatma Gandhi

‘Creating Change’ is what Extension is all about. The tagline “Extending Knowledge, Changing Lives” sums it up nicely. We work to create positive change in our clients and in our communities. And as our Vision Statement puts it, “To achieve that vision, we will strive to be innovative, adaptable and willing to take risks to create new ways of thinking, learning and addressing issues.” We’ve heard many stories over the years of grateful clients returning after a program to speak about how they’ve applied what they’ve learned.

‘Change’ is exciting. And sometimes it’s scary. Nevertheless, the way we provide education has definitely changed over the years and a lot of great things have happened. We’re using tons of new techniques and tools every day. Live streaming, using Social Media to connect with clients, and online event registration are just a few examples.  Additionally, the horticulture/forestry group has been using online meeting software (we’re on our third program) for several years to provide weekly updates during the growing season. Agriculture Communication’s Communications Camp provides professional development opportunities and the Innovation Team is exploring new techniques and delivery methods in an effort to be a part of current trends.

Again, ‘change’ is both exciting and scary. Creating change is risky. But in the modern age of instant communication, there is no room for doing things ‘the way we’ve always done it.’ As an organization, we must be adaptable to the world around us. Extension Administration has worked to create positions in Soil Health as well as in Community Vitality to meet the needs of the citizens. Internally, one example of the organization changing is the upcoming switching of nearly all publications to a mobile-friendly format. We must listen to our clients (part of Habit 5?!) and try to anticipate the evolving needs of North Dakota. The next blog post will discuss the importance of focusing on our customer.

Creating change is not always easy, whether it’s in ourselves, our communities, or within Extension as whole. And if you want to see change happen, model that change and great things will happen.

Every day is a new opportunity.

Joe Zeleznik, Extension Forester and Administrative Intern

Mike Hanson, District Director, Northwest District

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