August 17, 2021
Six Extension Administrative Team System Initiatives
In my July 27, 2021 Tuesday Letter article, I made mention that the Extension Administration Team held a retreat earlier in July to discuss plans for the upcoming year. Part of this process was to prioritize initiatives that could produce program- and system-enhancing deliverables in 12 months or less. The six initiatives that rose to the top are:
• Career Development and Work Life Balance.
• Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
• Communication, Social Media, and Marketing.
• Focused Programming.
• Hybrid Meeting Methods.
Many of our positions in extension do not have many career ladder opportunities. Work-life balance issues and job stress challenges are also often cited as challenges to having an even more rewarding extension career. The focus of this initiative and the Extension Administration Team members assigned to shepherding this initiative will be to find and or develop career enhancing opportunities for our system’s extension professionals. The Extension Administration Team members working on this initiative will be led by associate program leader Laurie Chandler.
The initial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force made huge and important strides in identifying opportunities to enhance our system’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. The current Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Work Group is working to identify diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives to implement in our system.
The Extension Administration Team members working on the diversity, equity and inclusion initiative will take the initiatives identified by the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Work Group and determine how to best implement them across the system. Jennifer Wilson, our Leader of Extension Operations, will lead the Extension Administration Team members working on this initiative.
The demand for extension professionals to engage in facilitation services -- both in face-to-face and online settings -- continues to grow. The aim of the facilitation initiative is to provide our extension professionals with facilitation skill enhancing programs and resources to make them more effective at facilitating public meetings no matter the issue, venue or technology. Community Vitality program leader Trudy Rice will facilitate the Extension Administration Team members working on this topic.
We have made many great strides regarding our system’s marketing, social media and communication efforts over the past decade. Nevertheless, we have so much further to go to become effective at promoting our extension efforts and impact. Our public information officer, Meg Drake, will convene the group of Extension Administration Team members to work on enhancing our system’s marketing, social media and communication capabilities.
The tyranny of the urgent often strikes extension professionals. Yielding too often to that tyranny leads to a reduction on focused proactive programming efforts. The group of Extension Administration Team members working on the focused programming initiative, spearheaded by associate director for extension programs Rick Peterson, will look at ways to emphasize the importance of focused programming throughout and to develop systems to empower our extension professionals to engage in more focused programming.
We have learned a lot over the past 18 months about virtual and hybrid education and meeting delivery methods, but there is still a lot more to learn. Conducting hybrid meetings, whether due to a pandemic or due to trying to reach those who do not or cannot attend more traditional meeting formats, will continue to rise in popularity in the future.
The Extension Administration Team members working on the hybrid meeting methods initiative will examine ways to engage in hybrid delivery and develop professional development programs and resources designed to make our system’s extension professionals the best at implementing face-to-face, hybrid and virtual education and meeting delivery methods. Cheryl Boyer, leader and coordinator of the Agriculture and Natural Resources program, will guide the Extension Administration Team members as they work on this initiative.
If you have any questions or suggestions regarding these six initiatives, please feel free to contact me or any of the initiative leaders mentioned above. As usual, we will seek input from our Joint Council of Extension Professionals member associations, State Extension Advisory Council, or agent and specialist advisory teams before implementing any major changes regarding these initiatives.