Condemnation, and Extension’s Commitment to Inclusion

Over the past few months we’ve seen a lot of incredible acts of kindness during the COVID-19 pandemic that demonstrate the human spirit and compassion for others. Unfortunately, the incident last week that involved the senseless and shameful killing of George Floyd demonstrates the worst of human behavior and cannot be tolerated under any circumstance. The UW-Madison Division of Extension condemns the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department that resulted in this tragic loss of human life. There is no excuse for such violence. We support and urge action to protect all members of our communities and create healthy environments for everyone. Communities of color should not face fear of aggression from those meant to keep them safe.

This is yet another example of racial discrimination and these types of actions and attitudes cannot be tolerated. The purpose, vision, and values of Extension are in stark contrast to these types of actions and attitudes and we need to strongly support our colleagues, communities, and constituents during these challenging times. Through our work and actions across Wisconsin we will continue to strive for a society that is free of racism, bigotry, and bias. We are committed to working with community members and leaders to improve our efforts across the state. Strengthening collaborations between Extension and our community partners includes efforts that reduce trust gaps and improve relations between law enforcement and Wisconsin communities.

I also want to underscore our ongoing commitment to inclusion both in Extension as a workplace and in all spaces where we carry out our programs and services. Extension’s mission and values embody being a partner that strives for positive change within communities across Wisconsin. Our efforts at the state and local levels aim to create a positive, collaborative culture that includes and incorporates community voices and input. More than 100 years ago, Extension was founded on the principle of reaching out to everyone across the state. And as our mission has evolved over the years, we realize that we still have work to do in this area. That being said, our organization is better positioned to help us move forward than at any other point in our history.

Our best path forward is one where we are together serving as a connector for all community voices. It’s a path Extension has walked for more than a century and one that will continue to shape the impact of our work around the state.

– Karl Martin, Dean & Director, UW-Madison Division of Extension