When trying something new we’ve not done before, it doesn’t take us long to realize that proficiency requires a dedication to practice and in most cases a good bit of patience. And, you might say that Extension professionals work in teams all the time. It is not often, however, that we work together in national conference planning.
CD professionals have been practicing teamwork and leadership skills around a singular focus since June 2014. That’s when the idea of hosting the annual conference for our professional association, the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (a.k.a. NACDEP), was first shared. After learning of our proposal’s success about 18 months later, even more opportunities to practice really kicked. For example, as a team, we have:
- Participated in the past three NACDEP conferences like never before (i.e., ‘What does it take to put this on?’)
- Encouraged colleagues to serve on the national NACDEP board (thank you, Nancy Bowen, treasurer; David Civittolo, president-elect; and Brian Raison, north central representative)
- Served on a variety of prior NACDEP conference sub-committees
- Worked together to identify our conference location (Cleveland) and venue (Renaissance Cleveland Hotel – Downtown)
- Brainstormed and investigated the best things to experience in Cleveland
With Ohio JCEP’s support, a couple of weeks ago we were able to practice our teamwork and leadership skills in a face-to-face retreat at the conference venue in Cleveland. During this two-day retreat, we:
- Investigated potential conference mobile learning workshop (MLW) ideas in small groups
- Explored the conference hotel and surrounding areas
- Continued our subcommittee work focused on sessions, speakers, sponsorship, publicity, hospitality, MLWs, etc.
This work required our best leadership and teamwork by subcommittee chairs and co-chairs, MLW investigation leaders, and situational leaders too. Even better, we were able to team up with members of the national NACDEP board in this work as they overlapped their annual face-to-face retreat with our conference planning retreat at the 2018 NACDEP Conference venue in Cleveland.
No doubt, there has been much to learn throughout this conference planning process. And when we consciously make the time for it, there is much to learn beyond the ins and outs of how to produce a top-rate NACDEP conference. Every day we have countless opportunities to actively and deliberately practice our skills necessary for working with others. Opportunities to strengthen our skills and build proficiency. The work that lies ahead will require our best teamwork and leadership.
Regardless of the task at hand or the challenge you face, how you go about practicing your skills is up to you.
Let’s ‘suit up!’
Greg Davis is a 2018 NACDEP Conference planning committee co-chair and Extension Assistant Director, Community Development.