There’s perhaps a certain anticipation to see the end of each year and the dawning of a new one. That speaks to optimism and hope many have.
While covid changed many things in 2020, there’s many positive things that happened too. One has been watching families, communities, and neighbors rally around each other as hard times and losses were realized. I hope that’s something that never changes within our communities. Both personally and professionally, covid also provided an opportunity for increased focus and intentionality on what was genuinely important in my life. Perhaps for others as well?
In Extension, and most likely for all, the challenges forced us to stretch, learn new technologies, and think outside the box more. For example, video production via smartphones out in the fields, pastures, and feedlots exponentially increased and more of my colleagues learned video production/editing. The 4-H, Family, and Food/Nutrition teams brought many virtual learning opportunities to family living rooms and provided fitness challenges for families. We also made some changes for county fair that worked better. Being forced to think outside the box was beneficial in many ways!
I’m also so grateful for my administrators allowing and trusting me to do my job in serving people in the midst of covid. That may sound strange to say, but I have colleagues in other states who weren’t allowed to leave their homes for work…essentially research shut down and anything done Extension-wise happened virtually. So I’ve been incredibly grateful that much of my job remained the same with field visits and conducting on-farm research studies!
As we approach a new year, how can some of the challenges and positives of 2020 impact our 2021? Are there things in our lives that aren’t necessarily bad, but are keeping us ‘busy’ and taking time from the more ‘important things’? What realistic yet necessary goals should we individually set for 2021? Here’s wishing you a blessed 2021!
Business IQ may be one key to success in the 2020’s: This may perhaps help with some goal setting. In a recent webinar, Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus Ag and Applied Economics from Virginia Tech, shared a ‘Business IQ’ spreadsheet with 15 key performance indicators ranging from knowing cost of production and having a written marketing plan to one’s attitude. It’s an assessment where farmers (or any business owner) can honestly score oneself. He then suggests to write down 3 areas to continue and 3 areas to improve (no more than three each). I’m unsure I can share it on a website, but am willing to email or print a copy if you’re interested.
He also shared two poll results. In the first, 976 ag lenders were polled in the summer of 2020 on “Characteristics That Are Important to Agricultural Producers for Resiliency & Agility”. The top three answers included: knowing cost of production (62%); executing a marketing risk management plan (58%); and strong working capital (41%). In the second, 300 Kansas farm and ranch women selected their top three “Specific Actions You Are Taking in Your Business, Family & Personal Life for Resiliency & Agility”. Their collective top three answers included: Reexamining goals-business, family & personal (68%); Building cash and working capital (41%); and Refining family living budget (39%). If you’d like to learn more, his recorded presentation is available till January 10th at: https://go.unl.edu/dec10recording.
Extension Survey: It’s also that time of year for annual reporting. If you could please help me out by completing this 5 question anonymous survey, I’d appreciate it: https://app.sli.do/event/s8g48y8z. Thank you!