Join, Get Involved, Enhance Your Network, Broaden Knowledge and Give Back . . .

As an OSU Extension professional, it is the time of year that we receive invitations to join or renew membership in professional organizations. I have been a member of one of those organizations, Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) for many years. For me, getting more involved in ESP meant that I was selected to present an IGNITE session at the 2016 National ESP meeting. This year my involvement in ESP included participating in the National Meeting as the Ohio ESP President Elect and an Ohio voting delegate.

The ESP National Meeting gave me numerous opportunities to enhance my network and broaden my knowledge. The event offered tours to learn about the local economy and special areas of interest as well as educational sessions for professional development. In addition to increasing my knowledge of local development and change, meeting new colleagues with similar interests from other states was a key benefit. From West Virginia to Maryland to California, the new professionals I have met provide a new and different perspective to my work. As new colleagues, we have maintained ties through social media and have even had fun participating in football tailgating.

This year, the ESP National Meeting initiated a mentoring program as a way for seasoned professionals to give back to the organization. Mentoring provided a means to share ideas and ask for advice. Other avenues for contributing to the profession include joining or leading a committee at the state, regional or national level. As over half of the participants at the ESP National Meeting were also serving as voting delegates for their states, giving back to the organization was clearly a priority for many of the attendees.

Whether you are looking to learn about current events and initiatives, network in a professional community or make the most of meeting new people, joining ESP is a step in accomplishing this.

Cindy Bond is an Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator in Guernsey County (Crossroads EERA).

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