Spring 1993 // Volume 31 // Number 1 // To The Point // 1TP3

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Impact Through Cooperation and Technology

...more dollars must be spent to support the existing staff. We can't continue talking to ourselves....we must be willing to risk some uncertainty.

Ruth A. Pirch
President, National Association of Extension Home Economists
County Agent
Jackson County, Missouri

This is an exciting time to be involved in Extension! With the current public interest in families, health and wellness, resource management, and youth development, we have the challenge and opportunity to be recognized for what we do. However, Extension won't be recognized if it's not identified as capable of having an impact on families. Home economics isn't the only program that should be identified with educating families. Extension must combine all of its human resources to truly make an impact.

Unfortunately, we don't have to look far to see many fewer human resources in county offices than we had in the past. In my own state, there are now about 200 fewer Extension staff than when I began my career. To achieve the plans we have for counties or regions, Extension professionals will need to cooperate in new ways. We'll rely on co-workers for expertise and energy. The co- worker may no longer be in our office. He or she may be someone from a cluster, region, district, some other part of the state, multistate region, or even the nation. We may not know this person, but can still share Extension program resources. If we develop an outstanding program, we should be proud to see it replicated in other locations.

Extension is just starting to develop its technological capabilities. Perhaps the universities haven't invested the resources in training us to use the technology or even in convincing some staff members that it's possible to provide quality programs using new technology. As Extension professionals, we must strive to stay with the times! While there may be fewer dollars for staff support, more dollars must be spent to support the existing staff. I'm convinced that with the right equipment, proper training on technology transfer, and a good marketing plan, we can provide quality educational programs. It'll require continued networking and coalition building at all levels. We can't continue talking to ourselves. Our local efforts must be combined with those of existing agencies and organizations. We must not be so concerned about who receives the credit for our efforts, but work on a meaningful and productive process of providing education.

As Extension professionals, we must be willing to risk some uncertainty. Do you have office co-workers who aren't using computers, who don't know how to downlink satellite programs, or who haven't participated in joint program efforts lately? Maybe "they" are uncertain about their capabilities or maybe "they" are really us. Assistance, support, and encouragement among professionals can go a long way in bringing us all closer together in our Extension efforts.