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Dear Purdue Extension Community Development Colleagues and Partners –
We have all heard the old saying, “Change is the only constant in life.” Spoken 2,500 years ago in Greek as “Panta Rhei (πάντα ῥεῖ) or “Everything flows,” I am reminded of it every year when the new semester begins and our campus is flooded with students. While traffic snarls and restaurants fill, this flow also brings a powerful wave of kinetic energy that always feels invigorating.
In terms of our work, the annual meeting of the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals is another source of inspiration and energy. Being surrounded by colleagues from all over the United States offers us the opportunity to exchange ideas and experience new things firsthand. Similarly, over the last two years, I have had the good fortune of actively participating in the World Community Development Conference a unique blend of community development professionals from all over the world gathered in extremely interesting learning environments. Closer to home, we have Purdue Extension’s Professional Development Conference (PDC, December 2-3, 2019) when the entire Purdue Extension family reunites to learn together and celebrate our successes.
While these venues provide us the opportunity for professional development and networking with a broad array of colleagues, there is one time of year that has – in the recent past – served as a catalyst for change, fostered camaraderie and strengthened our bonding social capital: Community Development Retreat.
This year, we will gather on September 17-18th at the Clifty Falls Inn in Madison, Indiana. A lovely venue for some deep thinking and collegial bonding as we move into a new chapter for the Purdue Extension Community Development program. The first day will be a time to reflect on and learn more about hidden bias, measurement/evaluation, and data analysis. Each of these topics is very timely and they all have a significant effect on where we conduct our work, what issues need to be addressed and how we conduct and account for the impact of our programming. The second day will be dedicated to planning for the future of our program area. We are joining the College of Agriculture, Extension and the Department of Agricultural Economics as we all enter into a strategic planning phase. I am excited about this and the Regional Community Development Educators have been putting together a highly interactive process agenda to serve as a guide. As always, we have some fun planned as well. Be prepared for a fantastic dinner, a trolley ride and another fun-filled fire pit! A family reunion, indeed.
The Community Development retreat is a time for looking forward. Concurrently, I will be spending the majority of my time this month looking back as I will be going through evaluations of staff members on our Community Development team. Generally, this is a time to celebrate individual and programmatic success. It is also a time to identify areas for growth and discovery. In support of my evaluation activities, I will be hitting the road at the end of September and early October. I aspire to see as many of you as I can along the way.
My door is always open. Moreover, with Steve Yoder and Tamara Ogle joining us at Schowe House this month, there are two more reasons to stop by when you are in town! In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing most of you at the CD Retreat and the whole team at PDC.
Michael Wilcox is a Purdue Extension Assistant Director and Program Leader for Community Development , Purdue Extension Community and Regional Economics Specialist, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Senior Associate at the Purdue Center for Regional Development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.