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Different Perspectives of Storytelling for Extension Educators

ESP Scholarship Recipient Report 

By Colleen Gengler, ESP Life Member

September 27, 2017

Thank you to ESP, Pi Chapter, for the scholarship to attend NEAFCS Minnesota Affiliate’s Professional Development Day - Different Perspectives of Storytelling for Extension Educators. I was honored to open the day by sharing the family memoir I co-authored, Under Minnesota Skies.

My presentation was following by Mary Marzak and Becky Beyers talking about “The Art and Science of Storytelling.” I knew that given who the presenters were, I would go home with new resources and knowledge about storytelling. The session did not disappoint!

From time to time in book presentations, I’ve been asked how to get started in writing family stories as well as how our book came about. Mary and Becky talked about the process of telling stories and how they evolve. Mary used a graphic, which included the beginning or introduction, the meat of the story and then bringing it all together in the closing. That’s how storytelling is done.

The session reminded me of several things from my Extension career including 4-H demonstrations, telling a parenting story to illustrate a best practice and writing news columns. Mary shared several resources including books by Harry Wolcott and Jonathan Gottschall; both of which I am checking out (literally!). She also mentioned a delightful website from Khan Academy. It is Pixar in a Box - Introduction to Storytelling. The examples are wonderful because it is Pixar but storytelling points are all there.

My purpose for attending the day was somewhat different from the current Extension staff who attended the day to build skills in telling stories of their work to decision makers. My objective in learning was the how and why of storytelling was definitely met, These concepts will add to my own book talks. It was also enjoyable to connect with former colleagues, meet staff new to me and appreciate current Extension work.

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