Summer 1990 // Volume 28 // Number 2

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Editor's Page


Change or Death?

At a state Extension annual conference, one state member reacted to a presentation I made on change by observing:

    Change! Change! Change! Well, there's one thing that hasn't changed in all my years in Extension. It has stayed absolutely the same. And that's annual Extension conferences devoted to discussion of change, change, change.

The tone in which this observation was made suggested more than a small degree of frustration. I suggested that when Extension stopped emphasizing change, there would be no doubt about what theme would replace it: Death. Death. Death.

This exchange came to mind when I read this issue's To The Point challenge from ECOP Chair Patrick Borich. His article will bring no comfort to those holding out until Extension finally figures out what it ought to be doing and stops changing. As Borich notes, just as some staff were beginning to figure out what National Initiatives are, they've already been changed. And he warns against settling in with the new list, because more change is on the way.

The alternative to change is death. There is no equilibrium in life, only in death.

Multifaceted Changes

This issue is filled with examples of how Extension is changing. Honadle analyzes new and emerging opportunities in tourism programming in relation to the rural revitalization National Initiative.

A special section on home-based businesses describes various Extension responses to one of the most pronounced and important trends of our time-working from home. Extension has more experience in this than any other organization since farming was the original home-based business. Now, Extension is involved in a multitude of home-based business developments. (One of those developments, Bed and Breakfasts, was featured in the Summer 1989 issue of the Journal.)

Change can bring stress. Schulman and Armstrong examine efforts to reduce stress among farmers. Taylor-Powell and Richardson examine how Extension staff in Texas have reacted to and been affected by the change to issues-based programming.

Change is also Extension's primary indicator of impact and success. Extension is an organization of change agents. Adamcin describes the dramatic changes that can be brought about in an inner city when change agents from several different agencies combine their efforts.

You'll find more on change in the other sections of the Journal-Forum, Futures, Ideas at Work, Research in Brief, and Tools of the Trade. It's enough to make me think we ought to change our name from Journal of Extension to Journal of Extension Change.

And instead of the Cooperative Extension System, we could be known as the "Ever-Changing Extension System." It sure beats being known as the Dead Extension System, or publishing the Journal of Extension Death. There are days when the possibility seems all too likely. And then, there are the days when I receive an article like "The Winds of Change," Borich's To The Point lead article, and I know Extension's rumored obituary is just that, a Mark Twain-like premature and fully unfounded rumor.