Although we received some rain (and snow!) in the past few weeks, we will need more as we head into the growing season. I recently happened upon a conversation in a café in Independence about needing “rainmakers.” On my way back home, I began thinking about the power of belief in getting things done. Rainmakers aren’t just those who create rain; the term also refers to people known for achieving excellent results in a profession.
Adept faculty and staff, council members, and volunteers are crucial for success in ISU Extension and Outreach. Washington State University Extension, which also is moving toward a university-wide extension system, has focused on this concept of being a rainmaker. At Washington State, a rainmaker is someone who through his or her skills and abilities can bring people and resources together to meet the challenges facing extension now and in the future. Rainmakers are continual learners. They have an area of expertise, but also must be entrepreneurial and capable of working in multidisciplinary teams. They must be competent in establishing partnerships, able to empower constituents, and adept in developing relevant educational programs. Subject matter specialization is desirable, but “big picture” thinking is required.
Washington State even has published an extension rainmaker job description (http://ext.wsu.edu/careers/Rainmaker.pdf). Potential rainmakers must have appropriate academic degrees, but most of the job description lists the skills, abilities, and attitudes that rainmaking requires. However, rainmaking can be learned. These attributes can be gained through professional development.
ISU Extension and Outreach encourages and supports professional development and growth in faculty, staff, council members, and volunteers, because we seek to be a dynamic organization — and to become the university that best serves its state. As you plan for your professional development, think about what skills you can build upon so you can make a difference for Iowans. Let’s make it rain. See you there.