I had the opportunity to introduce one of our partners, Tim Smith, of Hills Bank and Trust, to my regional colleagues when he gave the capnote address at the North Central Cooperative Extension Association Fall Conference in Ames on Sept. 7. Whenever I talk with Tim, what I find fascinating is his concept of engaging partners who share the same mission and building a relationship based on that, rather than an alliance of convenience or where there are unclear benefits to those involved.
I came across an article quoting Tim that appeared in “The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers.” In the article he talked about the list of characteristics they look for in farmers with whom they can partner. I thought his points also made a really good list of things that we should be striving to embody as we seek partnerships with others. A good partner can access information and evaluate operations, is a good steward, is consumer oriented, sustainable, productive, and efficient. A good partner understands how to be interdependent and is ready and willing to deal with change, constantly seeking new opportunities and best practices.
In his capnote message, Tim said that the partnership between Hills Bank and Extension and Outreach works because both organizations share two basic ideas. First, we both believe education provides an effective way to address today’s challenges and best prepare for the future; and second, we both have deep roots in our communities. Community involvement allows the opportunity to build personal relationships. “You can always find something cheaper, but we want the relationship that goes along with it,” he said.
All in all, the Hills Bank and ISU Extension and Outreach partnership works because of both parties’ sincere interest in customer/client development, the willingness to invest resources, the commitment of time, communication, and trust — knowing the players and the ability to see from the other’s point of view. He says we share values and successes, as well as challenges. We have a shared clear mission. Turns out the better we know ourselves, the better partner we can be. See you there.