Last year, Jessica Hufford, Michigan State University Extension 4-H program coordinator in Gladwin County, made and built a strategic connection while she attended the Fall Extension Conference (FEC) Expect to Connect workshop and Michigan Capitol visit in Lansing.
During the workshop, Jessica enjoyed learning about the process of government on a more personal basis.
“I learned that we must be very intentional about making those connections with our representatives in government,” Jessica said. “They have a lot of constituents they are responsible to and I can help them to better understand by reaching out and providing them with info.”
Workshop participants were encouraged to try to make an appointment so that they could visit their representatives or senators as part of the tour. When Jessica reached out to Rep. Joel Johnson’s office, his scheduler said that he would not be available during the time frame, but Jessica agreed to meet with his legislative assistant and drop off materials.
When Jessica went to the office, it turned out that Rep. Johnson and his wife were in the office, and Jessica had the opportunity to speak with both of them.
She was able to reconnect with Rep. Johnson at the county fair and also with his wife a few weeks later at another county event.
“The little bit that I can do to inform them on what I am doing to help youth in the county will help them,” Jessica said.
Rep. Johnson is a supporter of the youth in the county and is a long-time buyer at the livestock auction. His support of 4-H has helped to keep Extension programs going in his counties.
This is a great example of how to form strategic connections. Make time to connect with your government leaders in their offices, even if you only have a chance to talk to their legislative assistants. Also, attend community events to keep solidifying your connections.
I hope that Jessica’s story encouraged you about attending the workshop and showed what the beginning of relationships building can look like in your own county and district.
For the second year in a row at FEC, we will be offering the Expect to Connect workshop and Capitol visit. I encourage you to seriously consider attending this workshop to learn tools to embark on making your own strategic connections. Make sure you register for your spot before they are all filled.