Why Are We Here?

For this post, I went back to the comments I made during my first weeks at OSU. It is my hope, that this might remind you why I came and what this work means to me. I encourage you to consider why you’re here and what this work means to you too.

What do I care about?

My early childhood was overseas as part of a military family until I came to the USA as an early teen and lived with my Mennonite family in rural Iowa. While those environments seem extreme and there was some culture shock in coming from Brazil to Iowa (in February). Both families were defined by a strong belief in the importance of service, and that it is through service that we co-create the world.

A second thing you will discover about me is that I’m curious. I’m a question-asker. I have great comfort with “Beginners Mind,” which is that place you are whenever you start something new. I have great appreciation for diversity or conflicting ideas, and I can separate ideas from who I am. That also translates to a deep value for discovery, research, and education. In Extension, there is a creed which is meaningful to me, especially this line:

“I believe that education is basic in stimulating individual initiative, self ­determination, and leadership; that these are the keys to democracy and that people when given facts they understand, will act not only in their self ­interest, but also in the interest of society.”

No matter what topic of human interest, our work likely connects. We are one degree from nearly everything: food, ecosystems, trade, health, manufacturing, foreign policy, and I would argue even the arts. There can be no chance of nearly anything else if we don’t have food. We don’t have food without viable and productive agriculture. And we don’t have productive agriculture if we don’t sustainably manage our resources and preserve biodiversity. I simply can’t think of anything more important than that.

Why am I here?

I’d answer that with questions like why are we here? What can we uniquely contribute? I believe we have the capacity to have profound impact on the world. I believe we can be a place where people can be rewarded and valued for investing themselves in work that is meaningful. I believe there is no better place for a curious question-asker, committed to creating conditions for a better world. See you there.

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