Kopano ea sechaba ka temo. This Basotho phrase translates into, “unity of community through agriculture.”
Basotho is the name associated with the people of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, Africa. Lesotho is a country located in southern Africa, where I had the privilege of serving as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer from 2005 to 2007.
In February, I celebrated my 40th birthday by making my first return visit to Lesotho. The trip was highlighted by revisiting Molapo High School, which was the site where I served as a volunteer. I was able to be a part of morning assembly, teach a class to students and tour agriculture projects we established during my initial time in the country.
It was a profound experience to say the least. Words can’t do justice to the appreciation and admiration I have for my African family, friends and colleagues. They allowed me to stay in their homes, share meals and stories of this life we have together.
While visiting family piggery, poultry and vegetable farms in Lesotho, I couldn’t help but be grateful for the relationships I continue to have with agriculture-based families here in La Plata County. Agriculture families around the world share a unique bond with their land, animals and thus, their communities. They share traditions and knowledge that date back many generations.
For the last 9½ years, I have been proud to keep these traditions and knowledge alive in my small way by serving as your 4-H youth development agent. This public-servant position is administered through your local Colorado State University Extension Office. Extension and 4-H are much more than just agriculture, however. We are very much rooted and engaged in local youth, family, land and food programs.
In 2020, I will continue my journey with the CSU Extension program by taking on a new role as the director of the Extension program in Montezuma County. This position will allow me to expand my service work in community and economic development fields, while keeping a strong focus on local agricultural initiatives. In addition, I will continue to work on projects in the San Juan Basin.
In particular, I’ll collaborate with colleagues right here in La Plata County. Much appreciation over the years goes to the guy I call “boss,” Darrin Parmenter; past and present family and consumer science agents Wendy Rice and Nicole Clark; and office staff past and present Jane Zimmerman, Becky Hutchison and the one-and-only Angela Fountain. The residents of La Plata County are lucky to have such a wonderful Extension Office and staff. Thanks for putting up with me.
I will close with two of my favorite things in life, The Grateful Dead’s music and the Buffalo Bills football team. Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter passed away earlier this year, and I have always resonated with the closing lines to the song, “Eyes of the World”:
“Sometimes we live no particular way but our own.
And sometimes we visit your country and live in your home.
Sometimes we ride on your horses, sometimes we walk alone.
Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own.”
This year, I also got to return to my hometown in western New York state. The Buffalo Bills are making a playoff run. Let’s go, Buffalo. Go Bills.
Greg Felsen is the La Plata County 4-H youth development agent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6463.