ELT Minutes, November 25, 2013

Extension Leadership Team Minutes
November 25, 2013
Orono – Libby Hall 102
9:00 – 3:30

Facilitator:  Dennis Harrington
Note taker:  Fran Sulinski

ELT Check-in Information

John shared highlights of the Aroostook County Annual Meeting and spoke of the many positive events and interactions.

ELT will be attending the annual meeting of the Maine Agricultural Extension Agents and will be available for an open discussion with the membership to discuss the current state of agricultural programming, what is going well, and what ways it can be improved. This will be an opportunity for the ELT to discuss the future direction of Agricultural and Food System programming in Maine with the agricultural/food system staff in attendance.

Lisa reported that 4-H Science future planning took place recently and was facilitated by Jane Haskell. It was a very productive day and the work will benefit focused activities and programmatic outcomes for the future.

Fran is looking forward to presenting the Handling Difficult Conversations workshop to the approximately 20 staff registered. Fran presented a portion of this workshop to the Knox/Lincoln/Waldo and Sagadahoc County Parent Education staff members and they reported having appreciated and benefited from the content and activities they experienced.

Dennis and Travis are closing the federal fiscal year. He and Travis have experienced some technological glitches that they are working through.

ELT met with the Maine Association of Extension Agents Annual Meeting. The following minutes of the joint meeting were taken from the minutes of the Maine Association of Extension Agents Annual Meeting Minutes

What is going well?

  • Sare funding success
  • Freedom to pursue projects of interest to producers
  • Availability of Dr. Mike Eckardt to assist us in pursuing funding.  He is connecting to the Extension client groups to see what they think about Extension and what they expect for the future.  He wants to find out what people’s needs are.  He will be finding out what is working well or not well.  The goal is to make Cooperative Extension more and better for the future.  His office is in 107 Libby Hall and we can suggest groups to him that he might contact.  Mike is working as a volunteer because he likes Extension.  County Commissioners are an important client group if he is willing to contact them.  Contact Mike at Michael.eckardt@maine.edu or call him at 581-3116 or stop in at 107 Libby to help with this project.
  • Beginning Farmer Resource Network has given us connections to all the players in the agriculture arena.

What could be improved?

  • Improve communication around topic areas:  Have an Ag program leader?  Improve communications with Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation.
  • Need a staffing plan that will address coming retirements in the next ten years and to prioritize – are we county staff anymore or are we counties with expertise in certain areas?  To outsiders, it looks like we are specializing rather than supporting general ag.  With the communication tools we have it is easier to have specialties in areas.  We are now hiring aide staff to cover “general ag” questions.  Future staffing needs to reflect that the public still wants to see applied research results.  The financial future will include regular budget cuts so we need to think about staffing for the future.  Reality is that we will continue along the lines of expertise because of the requirements of the continuing contract process.  We need to evaluate what really requires a PhD and what can be filled in another way.  Need to build a sense of collegiality.  What are the critical core competencies that we need to support and what can we put out in Youtube or other media for the pubic?  John may develop a structure to collect information on strategic replacements for faculty retirements.  As Maine and society evolves, how do we evolve to be meaningful?

Camp Updates

Dennis, Jon and Cathy Elliott recently met with Tanglewood staff to discuss financial management of the camp and working to ensure their management is in harmony with UMaine and UMS financial management expectations.

 iPET Group Quarterly Update

The group is experiencing a large amount of collaboration and is very happy to have Patrick Gill as a new member. They look forward to collaborating with the ELT on the new Marketing Position. iPET is working on selecting project tracking software. More than a dozen integrated program projects are in queue. Cindy has agreed to serve as the Project Manager. The group decided to abandon the project intake form they tested and the rotating project manager position that they tried. Michele talked about the possible use of Moodle (interactive course software). This system is being explored.   We also discussed “pivoting” away from eXtension. The iPET group has participated in their professional development activities and this would be a loss. How does the team deal with after hours support needs for staff doing webinars? This issue needs more work.

Future Leadership of the Parent Education Program Staff

The Parent Education Programs of Waldo, Knox and Lincoln Counties will undergo a supervisory and management transition as Nadine Reimer retires. The ELT discussed the need to secure the future of this group and follow-up meetings with both groups will be planned.

Future Funding Picture

The last UMS Board of Trustees meeting had a financial projection for the next five years based upon flat state funding, stable (but not increasing) tuition, and increased employee compensation.  The overall financial projection is negative.

Future Agenda Items:

First quarter of each year: Updates from Tanglewood/Blueberry Cove, and Bryant Pond camps

Announcement Invitation:

The ELT invites you to submit items to be included in the minutes/announcements of the next regularly scheduled ELT meeting. This is an opportunity to share with the ELT and the rest of the organization any of the following:

  • Notable programmatic accomplishments
  • Development or fundraising success
  • Significant new partnerships and/or opportunities
  • Important transitions

Please take the opportunity to share your good works through this avenue.  Keep it brief…approximately two to four sentences would be appreciated. To submit an announcement, please contact your PA or appropriate member of the ELT.

Please remember to visit University of Maine’s news site for additional University of Maine Cooperative Extension highlight.


Congratulations to Ellen Mallory, who has been awarded $34,253 from the University of Vermont and USDA Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Evaluation for the third year of her project, “Fostering New Ways of Communicating, Engaging New Types of Farmers: Social Media Trainings, Reading the Farm, and SARE Outreach in Maine”.

Tech Wizards Grant funded for 2014 at $164,000 and will include one new site in Auburn and Lewiston. The staff involved with the project grant success includes: Susan Jennings, Kristy Ouellette, Ryder Scott, Bethany Pelletier, Ryan LeShane, and Phil Catanese.

Dennis will be attending the March National Extension Director’s meeting to represent Maine and to present information about the northeast reporting system.

Search Updates:

  • POS#208 Small Farm Business Professional – Failed Search – Search will be reopened in late December
  • POS#211 Crops Specialist – Accepting applications
  • POS#212 Special Projects & Compliance Professional – Accepting applications
  • POS#213 4-H Youth Development Professional – Awaiting approval to advertise

ELT Meeting Dates – 2013 – 2014

Meetings are from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm – unless otherwise noted

November 25 Harrington Sulinski Orono — 102B Libby Hall
December 18 Sulinski Phelps Orono — 102B Libby Hall
January 6 Phelps Rebar Augusta
January 27 Rebar Prichard Orono — 102B Libby Hall
February 13 Prichard Harrington Orono — 102B Libby Hall
February 27 Harrington Sulinski Augusta
March 19 Sulinski Phelps Orono — 102B Libby Hall
April 2 Phelps Rebar Orono — 102B Libby Hall
April 24 Rebar Prichard Augusta
May 16 Prichard Harrington Orono — 102B Libby Hall
May 29 Harrington Sulinski Augusta
Sulinski Phelps
Phelps Rebar
Rebar Prichard
Prichard Harrington