Last week, we talked about your “Home Team” and the importance of having a connected team at the county level. We stressed meeting regularly for discussion and sharing about your work and issues of common importance. This week, I want to give you a local agenda item for your next (or perhaps, first) meeting.
Do you as a staff have at least three strong stories (at any point in time) that really explain the value that Michigan State University Extension brings to the local county? These stories should not just tell about a program and the number of people who attended it, but should reflect ongoing work within the community to address a particular issue or concern. How did research-based information make a difference? What role did MSU Extension play in facilitating a process of identifying the issue, bringing people together, gathering information and encouraging action? Can you document the impact? These stories may have been part of the county report the district coordinator shared or will share in the future, but they are also important to have handy as examples when talking with policymakers at the state and federal level, the media and more.
Identifying such stories should be a regular part of staff meetings. Update these stories frequently to keep them fresh, and be sure you can represent the entire Extension program portfolio from the county you are based in. Show commissioners in your county you are grateful for the base funding they provide MSU Extension for supporting your operating budgets, your space and more. They are very important partners to us! These are strategic connections we all need to make!