“Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences.”
– Norman Cousins (American writer, 1915-1990)
ISU Extension and Outreach provides ongoing access to education. One of the ways we make this contribution is by anticipating emerging trends and percolating situations. Extension has relationships and connections all across the state. We often are at the forefront, hearing conversations as they are just beginning to brew, or as trends are starting to emerge, or as situations are beginning to require reaction. So we have the ability to anticipate the issues Iowa will be facing, the questions we need to consider, and the education and information delivery methods that may emerge. We can guide the conversations with Iowa’s youth and their families, our agricultural producers, community leaders, small businesses and manufacturers so they start thinking today about what is going to be important for them to thrive and succeed in the future.
Our ability to anticipate — enhanced by our local perspective, our relationships throughout the state, and our connections to colleagues at other land-grant universities across the country — gives us a true advantage, which, in turn, gives both our institution and our state a true advantage. As we head toward our upcoming leadership summit, let’s be ready to anticipate the issues and share our big ideas so we can move Iowa forward. See you there.
“Whenever a piece of work comes to the point where maintenance of the organization is the principle aim, it begins then to lose its direction.”
— Liberty Hyde Bailey
That bit of advice is from “America’s father of modern horticulture.” Liberty Hyde Bailey began the first department of horticulture in the United States — at Michigan State — and later helped establish a State College of Agriculture at Cornell. Bailey also was a pioneer in extension work, playing a key role in formalizing extension across the United States.
In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt named Bailey chair of the newly appointed Commission on Country Life. The country life movement, as Bailey described it, focused on “the desire to make rural civilization as effective and satisfying as other civilization.” The Commission gathered data from public hearings and other meetings throughout the country and more than half a million questionnaires. The Commission’s report offered three recommendations: a campaign for rural progress; continuing fact-finding surveys (which fostered the development of agricultural economics and rural sociology in universities and the federal government); and a nationalized extension service, which became law with the passage of the Smith-Lever Act in 1914.
The Commission on Country Life lasted six months — from initial appointment in August 1908 to the final report that Roosevelt presented to Congress in February 1909. But think about what it accomplished! The Commission wasn’t concerned about its own maintenance; it was focused on the work it needed to do.
Five weeks from now, we’ll be coming together for our ISU Extension and Outreach leadership summit. This is the time to focus on big ideas. It’s time to focus on our mission and explore partnerships we could build, learning opportunities we could create, and the structures that would be most efficient to best serve Iowans and our institution in the years ahead. Liberty Hyde Bailey and the Commission on Country Life envisioned an extension service that connected people with land-grant colleges to take advantage of everything research-based knowledge had to offer. We can reclaim that vision. See you there.
Welcome to See You There, a blog for ISU Extension staff and county council members. My posts are intended to spark conversation on issues affecting our organization. How do they apply to your county, region, or program area? How are you addressing the issues? Let’s make this blog a gathering space for a meaningful exchange of ideas.
I’ve linked a few key resources here as well. For example, take a look at the Morrill Act on the Library of Congress website. It’s inspiring to view the document as our Thirty-seventh Congress saw it. Also see the County Agricultural Extension section of the Iowa Code, Iowa State’s Strategic Plan, the Journal of Extension, and information on public value. As this blog progresses, please suggest additional resources that relate to the issues and would be helpful to staff and councils.
Please join the discussion regularly. Together we can make this blog a valuable resource for ISU Extension. See you there.