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Why I Didn’t Say ‘NO’ to SRM

Initially, I didn’t readily embrace the idea of taking on a leadership role within SRM; in fact, I said ‘no’ a couple of times. Like many of us, various factors made ‘no’ seem like the sensible choice: I was at an early stage in my career, facing financial constraints, deeply committed to institutional service, juggling personal responsibilities, and bound by the limitations of a 24-hour day.
The last time I was approached to run for SRM’s BOD was in February 2020. At the time, I was an associate professor of Cooperative Extension and a new mom of two children under the age of two, all amidst the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 
This time around, I didn’t rush my decision; I took about three months to carefully consider my options. I sought input from family, friends, and colleagues. Looking back, four key questions ultimately led me to not saying ‘no’ again:

While I won’t go into the specifics of my personal responses to these questions, they overwhelmingly led me to say ‘yes’ to running for SRM’s BOD.

Now that I am in my second year on the BOD, do I have any regrets? In the words of a rancher I once interviewed—who was initially hesitant about the interview—told me, “It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.” But in all seriousness, I don’t regret taking on this role. It has enriched me both professionally and personally. This overall experience has deepened my understanding of our organization, revealing a wealth of dedicated individuals within our membership, at all levels of leadership, and among our staff.
In my capacity as BOD liaison to several vital administrative committees, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with exceptional colleagues, both old friends and new. Together, we’ve worked to advance SRM in exciting ways. I’ve partnered with members of the Finance, Endowment, and Budget committees to explore innovative ideas for securing SRM’s long-term sustainability. Additionally, I’ve worked with the Diversity & Inclusion committee to implement recommendations from their society-wide engagement survey. Our collective efforts have also extended to fostering greater engagement among all SRM members and dismantling barriers to leadership roles. For example, the Budget Committee and BOD have recently committed to offering financial support to those with limited resources, thereby hopefully widening participation in the Society’s leadership. I look forward to working on additional new and exciting initiatives in the coming year!
I don’t know if this will immediately inspire anyone to step into an SRM leadership role, but I do hope it encourages at least a few more folks to pause and reflect on the unique contributions they can offer. Together, we can take SRM’s mission and vision forward, fostering an inclusive and forward-thinking organization committed to the conservation and sustainable management of our biologically and culturally diverse rangelands.

~ Director Leslie Roche
Associate Professor of Cooperative Extension, UC Davis Dept. of Plant Sciences

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