It's that time of year when the minds of 4-H storytellers turn to impact reports.
My understanding of impact has changed in the years since I first studied ag communications in the basement of Mumford Hall. It took real life to show me what my professors tried so hard to teach me.
Impact isn't what I did; impact is WHAT CHANGED IN OTHERS because I did something.
In my early days "doing" 4-H work, I thought it was enough that I held events. I counted heads in the room and thought I was doing my job. Thirty-five years later, I finally get it.
You can be busy and never create impact.
In Illinois 4-H, our impact statements are simply stated: 4-H youth see science as a solution to everyday problems; 4-H youth make healthy choices; 4-H youth improve their communities; 4-H youth are confident communicators who advocate for change; 4-H youth produce safe food to feed a growing world population.
It's one thing to fill a room with participants. It's another to see changes in attitude, behavior, and condition in others and our communities because of what happened in the room.
Whatever your position in life at this moment, ask yourself: "What is different today than yesterday because of something I did?" The difference you see is your impact on the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy Mae Bingman, University of Illinois Extension Marketing and Communications Manager
Judy uses powerful words and photography to tell the Extension story. She is a skilled communication strategist and storyteller with demonstrated success in building teams and creating strong organizational brand identities that deepen Extension’s impact among key audiences, build brand loyalty, strengthen employee talent, and expand public engagement. She is a frequent conference presenter at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents Conference and helps Extension staff across the nation tell compelling stories.