From the Outside Looking In

I’m an avid Husker football fan….yep, and I was there last weekend too!  I stayed until the last second.  It didn’t matter that we were behind….I was going to be there no matter what!  And, yes, I sat there from my vantage point clearly seeing missed receivers, and missed blocks.  After all, everyone around me saw the same things from our vantage point….I know this, as they were loudly screaming and pointing.  But this blog post isn’t about football, it’s about how sometimes you can see what needs to be done from a vantage point, but it’s not so easy to implement as it appears from the outside looking in.

I’m sure that I see a lot of stuff from my vantage point on the bleachers, that if my 5′ tall frame was standing on the field with 200+ lb players running at me, would miss!!!!  In fact, there are very few of us that “give advice” from the bleachers/blow up social media that actually ever stepped foot on the field during a live game…let alone at the college level.  …I think that’s just wrong!

In Extension, we have a lot of people telling us what to do and when, calling play after play, and watching what happens from box seats.  After all, they are just asking us for a “couple hours of teaching time”.  I’ve reflected on this for several years now.  And, I realize now that from the outside looking in, the time investment they are requesting they believe is just the two or three hours they are asking for a workshop on (fill in the blank).  And, yet, as Extension educators, we know that the two or three hours they are asking for doesn’t allow you to do (fill in the blank) well.  You have time figuring out a safe location, available time, coordinating with competing events, reserving the location, marketing the offerings, taking registrations, reserving equipment, getting keys, finding funding, purchasing materials, figuring out if you need to have refreshments and if any of your participants have food allergies, how your going to evaluate impact…and not to mention…if you are in a really rural county, having to travel hours to get supplies….before you even begin to prep whatever the content of your workshop is.  You typically field countless questions about whatever the topic is both before and after the workshop.  And, when working with youth, you also may field questions about who legally can pick up the child and/or take home any artifacts that the child produced in the workshop, and whether or not it’s okay to post pictures of the event and participants on social media.  This all takes time, and it takes a lot of time if you intend to really have your ducks in order and do it correctly.  I keep going back to advice my adviser in college gave me…it takes three hours of studying for every hour in class in order to attain a satisfactory grade.  …Confusing concept to relatives if you are a first generation college student.  …And, I suppose, confusing concepts to campus faculty and administrators we collaborate with as they have staff to help them do these things, and just about anything they might need right down the street….including a UPS office!

I know that you Extension educators know this, and I know that you are all doing your best to make sure you have done all of the things you have to do along with all of the things you are supposed to do….but as I watched the Husker football team, I felt a strange sensation of allegiance with Scott Frost.  You see he needs time to build greatness, and I’m certain he doesn’t just invest 3 1/2 hrs per week to the endeavor.  Neither do Extension educators.  It takes more than a couple hours for us to implement a great program, let alone get a sense of the capabilities of our team members (both on and off campus) and how we can collaborate with them to capitalize upon their unique skills and abilities to provide the best possible (fill in the blank) workshop. Each year team members will change, so the skills and abilities shift as well…but I look forward to what UNL is building, both on the football field and off!

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