Home Again, but Homesick for Iowa

With a tear in my eye, I said goodbye to the 2023 AM/PIC in Des Moines. For like a friend that I have come to know, I didn’t want to leave the relationships, the camaraderie and the excitement of learning and enjoying. Iowa will forevermore be a special place where we came together for many reasons, but in the end, to grow. And what great opportunities to grow we had!

Simon Estes and Phil Durst.We came and we learned! We learned from peers and from leaders. We learned from seminars to super seminars, posters to trade talks, discussions with trade show exhibitors to conversations with peers, and general sessions to professional improvement tours. We had tremendous opportunities to learn and grow in Iowa!

We came and we experienced! Not only did we experience the heart-pounding drums of the Isiserettes on Sunday evening, but also the voice, dance and signing of 4-H youth in talent features. We laughed with Jolene Brown, as she taught us about communication and leadership and we were challenged by Ambassador Quinn to be practical in our work because it matters. Then we loaded the buses and vans for tours to farms, processing plants, manufacturers and local points of interest where we experienced not only the clientele of Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, but the diverse culture of the state, as well.

We came and we joined together! This year our state flag presentation added to it the flags of all six of the US island territories, with those of Puerto Rico and American Samoa being carried by extension professionals from those islands. We came together in unity of purpose, while in diversity of background, style, life and perspectives. Youth playing piano at the 2023 NACAA conference in Des Moines.

We came and we honored our peers! We recognized Distinguished Service, Academic Achievement, and excellence in programming and communication. We welcomed four new members of our Hall of Fame. We did more than give our peers the tribute they deserve – we also learned from them so that we can achieve even more.

We came and we ate! We spooned into ice cream on both Sunday and Monday evenings, tasted great meals during our meetings and at local establishments, such as Buzzard Billy’s, and finished it up with dinner in the Sukup End Zone of Jack Trice Stadium. In all that, we were treated to some great Iowa commodities including pork! We took eating to a whole new level when we went to the Iowa State Fair, where you can find anything fried on a stick.

Large growd at the 2023 NACAA conference in Des Moines.We facilitated more learning when we raised more than $20,000 in the scholarship auction while enjoying the fun of bidding and being outbid! We recognized our members who received scholarships for conferences, travel or graduate work.

And above all, we came together as friends! We rejoiced to see old friends and to make new ones. Oh, the sweetness of friendship that we experienced together! We learned to know the wonderful ISU Extension and Outreach professionals who made everything flow with the lubrication of care and smiles.

I shall not forget the time we spent together. It was my pleasure to speak to you and to join the ranks of those who have received the presidential cowboy hat from our colleagues in Oklahoma.

So, keep in touch with those you met. Send them a note today. Thank our hosts on tours and from Iowa who helped us along the way. Take something you learned and try it in your work; build on it and make it yours, putting that knowledge to good use. Be sure to tell your colleagues and clients back home about the great conference in Iowa and I hope to see you in Dallas in 2024!

— Phil Durst, past NACAA president