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Autumn (Fall) in America

This year has seen more international travel – for work and pleasure!  In the last blog, I reported on my last trip to Chile providing extension training – a great experience.  I have also had further opportunity to visit Hamilton in New Zealand with my DairyNZ monitoring and evaluation work – always a pleasure!

But travel has not always been about work.  In September/October, Robyn and I headed off to Canada to visit Vancouver and catch up with Ben (our IT and survey analysis guru), before heading off to New Brunswick to spend time with our grandchildren (and their parents of course!!!).  So between apple picking, admiring autumn leaves, reading and listening to stories – I managed to keep up on my Australian work when the others went to bed.  It was a good experience!

On our way back, we did an “autumn” tour of New England and snatched a few days in the Big Apple!  All first time experiences for us!  Who would have thought that in the North East of the USA there were so many forests, mountains, lakes, rivers, wildlife – and apparently so few people (away from the cities!).  People kept telling us how lucky we were to see the “peak autumn”!  And we were.  So many photos (looked great in the family calendar we put together).

Now planning the next visit already!

Closer to home, I have just returned from an APEN (Australasian Pacific Network) Forum in Armidale – about 4 and half hours away!  APEN was started at the first International Extension Conference held in Australia (I was the convenor) at the Gold Coast. I recalled that back in the late 1980s it was prophesised that extension was doomed.  The 90s saw moves to replace the word extension with all sorts of other names (such as:  Communication and Innovation; Community Facilitation; etc).  It was good to be at a national EXTENSION forum in 2011 in Australia with such a high level of government and practitioner interest and such a good program.  There is an increasing demand for training in extension by all sectors, for improved extension strategies (involving the new e-technologies) and for evaluation frameworks to demonstrate impact – all music to my ears.

A real highlight though, was seeing a “wild” Koala in a gum tree just outside of where the poster sessions and meals were held at the forum!  A real treat too for the Chilean guest that I had with me at the time.  As if this was quite normal for Koalas to be hanging from trees outside of conferences!

So – a really interesting time of challenge and learning in 2011.  Lets see what 2012 brings?