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I Like Pie

November 17, 2011

When my daughter Wren was in second grade, her class began studying mottos and proverbs—words of wisdom, truth, or morals based on common sense or practical experience. Our dinner conversations were sprinkled with sayings such as Money doesn’t grow on trees, or The early bird catches the worm. To finish the lesson, each student created a poster of a favorite saying. There were many drafts as Wren sat at her desk, crayon-scribing words to live by.

The night of the school open house arrived and we strolled through the classroom reading posters extolling honesty, planning ahead, and other virtues. And then I saw it—a large drawing of a pie with big, red cherries popping out of it, and underneath, the carefully drawn letters spelled out Wren’s words to live by: I like pie.

Now some would think Wren missed the point. At first I thought so, too. After all, a motto about pie? But then Wren came home and started pestering me to teach her to bake pies. She started with pumpkin, mastered cherry; then moved on to lemon meringue. Now, at 13, she is known for her pies. Her poster, indeed, offered words to live by. Because Wren doesn’t just like eating pie; she wants to share pie with others.

Guy Kawasaki says there are two kinds of people and organizations in the world: eaters and bakers. Eaters want more of the one pie that currently exists; bakers want to make more pie so everyone can have some. If you’re an eater, you believe whoever gets the biggest slice wins. A baker is concerned about making sure everyone gets to eat.

In Extension and Outreach, we are making more pie- as it were. Last week, I announced the Strategic Initiatives funding for four projects and this week, we received word on the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill. House and Senate negotiators reached agreement and will keep most of our Extension programs funded at their FY 2011 levels, rather than the 12-15% cuts predicted. The conference report is expected to be approved in both chambers within the next few days and sent to the President for his signature. We owe a huge thank you to many of our friends who spoke up about our work and convinced legislators that Extension and Outreach in Iowa serves as a baker- assembling all the right ingredients- from various sources- and making sure everyone gets a piece.

In ISU Extension, we strengthen our partnerships and create win-win outcomes. We listen carefully to what our partners need and want, and we find where that overlaps with our mission. It’s not about just eating pie; it’s about sharing what it takes to make pie for everyone. See you there.



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