The Power of Participation

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You have heard it said: “The world is run by the people that show up”. It is not clear who said it (and I found it attributed to a number of different authors) but it is true in almost every facet of life. Our leaders are often not the smartest, the most talented or even the best qualified. But they took steps to put themselves in the right place at the right time, usually over and over again. They showed up so often that they became part of a community that came to recognize that they “seem to be everywhere”. They were the person who first came to mind when there was a need that was in anyway related to their talents.

As we move through our lives it is important that we go out of our way to participate in activities and organizations that expose us to new perspectives, to network with others, and to contribute our energy to community efforts. We all know folks that will only put their passion into their own focused efforts. They often end up “successful”, but miss out on some key opportunities to become embedded in a community because they thought one activity or another was just not important enough to make their calendar.

As you evaluate where you are at in your career, think about your contributions to professional organizations. Most of us are active in some kind of a professional organization, mine is the American Society of Animal Science, and it is a great organization to be involved in. But, being all Animal Scientists it does not expose me to a broad array of new ideas. I am also involved in the American Forage and Grassland Council which is a collection of Forage Agronomists, Animal Scientists, and Conservationists. This is a more diverse group and I really like it as I learn a lot more from folks with these different perspectives than my own.

Recently I have joined the board of the North Carolina Association of Cooperative Extension Specialists, NCACES, which supports the interests of all Extension Professionals working beyond the County level, including Specialists, Associates, Program Managers, and Area Specialized Agents. This group of professionals needs to be represented within N.C. Cooperative Extension, and also provides a great opportunity to meet folks from completely different fields, develop collaborative projects, and perhaps, most importantly, to develop long-term friendships and contacts.

I have to say that many of the contacts I have made over my career here in N.C. Cooperative Extension was thanks to NCACES. It used to be a much larger and stronger organization than it currently is, but at this time we have the most active board we have had in decades and we are in a growth phase. The organization has two face-to-face meetings a year and one web meeting. We also give awards to our outstanding members for programming, and this is often very important recognition for young extension professionals. Our next meeting is, November 2, 2018, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. in the Brickhaven Building at NC State University, and I encourage you to take time out of your busy schedule and show up. If you don’t you will never know what opportunities passed you by.