If there were one thing Paul Hill, millennial, Utah State University Extension assistant professor and 4-H agent, could change about the Extension culture it is convincing Extension workers and their bosses that each person should spend at least 10 percent of their time on social media.
“We are change agents trying to convince people to change how they garden or raise their kids but we can be reluctant to change how we do things,” he says.
Hill believes face to face contact remains important but social media helps continue conversations and build relationships. “We’ve been isolated in counties for a long time. Today we need to use new tools to be relevant reaching new audiences as well as collaborating with other agents,” he says. “We need to scale our services and move away from the mindset of this information is mine and this information is yours. Extension should be all about teamwork rather than a turf battle.”
Hill says eXtension is a tool with the infrastructure to reach more clients.
• He uses the https://search.extension.org/ function to find answers for his clients.
• He uses https://learn.extension.org/ for his professional development as well as sending pertinent recorded webinar links off to clients.
•He tells stories to his coworkers about what he has learned using eXtension (because they do ask how he knows the stuff he knows considering he has been in his job two years and he doesn’t have an agriculture background).
Hill has a story about goats and Christmas trees…and eXtension. A client asked him if goats should be fed Christmas trees. Hill tried a general search and the idea seemed to have merit. Then he used the Cooperative Extension search (https://search.extension.org/) and found peer-reviewed articles that had cautions about using the trees for the entire diet. Then he found cautions about cattle eating conifers. At that point, Hill submitted a question to Ask the Expert so the question he was asked would be public on eXtension.org and answered by a goat expert. Goats & Christmas Trees, https://ask.extension.org/questions/159811
Paul Hill believes Extension needs to move from an entitlement mindset to entrepreneurial mindset and he’s working hard to do that.
More about Paul Hill
His blog, Soft Leadership: Lighten up, Lead, and do work that matters, at http://www.paulallenhill.com/, has posts including “Extension is Broken” and “How to Fix Extension.”
About Paul Hill, http://about.me/paul.hill has links to his social media accounts.
Paul Hill’s interview with Bob Bertsch of North Dakota State University Extension, http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/agcomm/web-services/working-differently-in-extension-podcast-files/working-differently-in-extension-056-paul-hill.mp3/view
Utah State University bio, http://extension.usu.edu/experts/htm//memberID=7347