Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes June 10, 2019

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
June 10, 2019
102B Libby Hall – Orono

Facilitator: Fran Sulinski
Note taker: Lisa Phelps

Guests: Toby Ahrens, Amanda Ashe, Jared Whinery

Please note: Due to the confidentiality and sensitivity of some agenda items, these ELT minutes do not represent the full content of each meeting.


  • 4-H Camps
    • Dennis, Jared, Jon, Chris Boynton at Bryant Pond Monday, 6/17
    • Fran providing summer camp staff training in EO realm on 6/19 & 6/20
    • Summer camps start Saturday, 6/22
    • HC & Pres. Ferrini-Mundy to visit to Bryant Pond on Wednesday, 6/26
    • HC camps tour Wednesday/Thursday, 7/10-11
    • HC & Pres. Ferrini-Mundy visit to Tanglewood & Blueberry Cove Monday, 7/24
    • Building permits are in place for the new Blueberry Cove Learning Center
  • Maine 4-H Foundation
    • The Press release for the Magic Lantern has been sent out and is being picked up by several media outlets. Susan Jennngs is busy working on the ribbon cutting ceremonies for Greenland Point (June 22) and the new 4-H Science and Engineering Center (June 28).
  • The Maine Food and Agriculture Center – several research projects are underway
  • Marketing 4-H was the featured topic on 2 radio shows the week of June 3 (WGAN Portland Positively Maine, MPR Maine Calling).

The ELT met with Former NIFA Program Leader Dr. Toby Ahrens. Toby grew up in Yarmouth and has returned to Maine with his family.  Since leaving NIFA, he has continued to work in microbial bioproduct development and with the Small Business Innovation Research Program

Toby shared the following:

  • Maine NIFA Rep is Ed Kaleikau. Jon Prichard has already connected with Ed, and Toby is willing to serve as an additional conduit to Ed, as needed.
  • Seed and Equipment Grants through AFRI. It’s also important that when applying for certain grants that if there is an opportunity to “check the box” and indicate that Maine is an EPSCoR we should do that as it increases our potential for successful funding. We do not need to work through Maine EPSCoR to do that.
  • NIFA Aquaculture Connection – Gene Kim
  • There is funding for aquaculture, and it is very competitive, with perhaps 4 grants funded per year.
  • Critical Agricultural Research and Extension (CARE): The CARE program is less competitive, and addresses local, regional, or national, and problems that often call for work in one or more scientific disciplines; and need immediate attention to meet producer needs. Finding solutions to these critical problems requires partnership and close coordination among researchers, extension experts, and producers. CARE projects are designed to yield solutions or practices that can be rapidly implemented to meet pressing needs limiting agricultural production.
  • Education and Workforce Development EWD and the focus on Workforce Development. Are there EWD funding possibilities for Maine?
  • University Support for Economic Development – Universities can still play an important role in support of economic development – Could Extension focus more on being that go to resource to help answer questions for small businesses?

There are a lot of ideas and enthusiasm for new business ideas in Maine, but sometimes that is not matched by the reality of the entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses that have obvious gaps in their business plans, etc.

As to business support needs, businesses need quick(er) response on some non-technical questions, or businesses will just go to private sources. If Extension could have such business support in the Portland area that would be very valuable. Examples of non-technical support:

  • Barriers to commercialization; IT; regulatory; management; personnel; business support; etc.
  • MOFGA – beginning farmers program.
  • SBDC – Portland office and others around the state.
  • St Joseph’s College is attempting to grow in its infrastructure in this area.
  • Extension’s Role in Helping Ag-based Businesses navigate some of the non-technical aspects of commercialization and entrepreneurship. There are a number of support programs for this in the State, but there seem to be some gaps as well.

Guest: Amanda Ashe, Export Control Officer, Office of Research Compliance.  Amanda met with the ELT to help us understand the scope of export control regulations. (Amanda was named the Director of Research Compliance starting July 1st. In this role she will be overseeing the operational aspects of the Office of Research Compliance.)

Export Control Regulations (ECR) constitute a body of law enacted by the federal government to protect national and economic security and advance U.S. foreign policy goals by prohibiting the unlicensed transfer of items  that are subject to trade restrictions or have proprietary, military, or economic applications to foreign nationals.

Export Control Regulations (ECR)

Export controls can impact University activities on-campus as well as abroad, including, but not limited to:

  • International travel, fieldwork & conferences
  • International shipping
  • International financial transactions
  • Hosting a foreign visitor/scholar
  • Foreign national participation in research activities
  • International collaboration
  • Using 3rd party proprietary information/restricted materials
  • Teaching courses abroad or online

If any of the above apply to you, please use the resources on this site to learn more about export control regulations and contact the Export Compliance Officer for assistance. When the information from the Office of Research Control is made public as an ELT we will reinforce this information with Extension staff.


  • Hannah and Dennis gave brief updates from the recent Northeast Extension Directors (NEED) meeting they attended in Washington, D.C. Hannah appreciated meeting other Directors/Deans and learning more about NIFA. Dennis and Hannah made a connection with UNH Extension Dean Ken LaValley, and the ELT will plan to meet with UNH Extension Leadership after the summer.
  • Extension is planning a joint staff meeting with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry this fall, to promote and to continue partnerships between the two organizations.
  • Hannah and Dick attended the Board of Pesticides Control meeting on Friday, June 7, 2019.
  • The Mental Health First Aid training took place last week in Augusta. Twenty-two people participated in the day-long training. The ELT may offer another training to accommodate Extension staff who were on the waitlist, and others who are interested.
  • Year-End Approvals – It’s important to review the year-end approvals for PCards and TCards ASAP. And also please pay special attention to the chartfields to be sure they are correct.
  • A Handling Difficult Dialogues workshop will be held June 14th in Augusta. Fran Sulinski and Leslie Forstadt will be the instructors for this workshop.

Hannah’s Broad Goals / Areas of Focus:

  1. Priorities for visits with county offices, programs, people, events, etc.
  2. Organizational Survey/Needs Assessment (Google drive draft by next ELT meeting)
    1. Internal (to be done first)
    2. External (to be done second)
    3. Extension Customer Satisfaction Survey (likely based on UFL survey as a model)
  1. Organizational Plan
  2. Alignment with UMaine strategic plan- Aligning our work where it makes sense with the UMaine Strategic Plan (draft due soon from President F-M)
  3. Programmatic Focus (Is Extension involved in more than two program areas?)
  4. Examination of administrative structure and how to best meet needs of programs/staff/county offices/etc.
  5. Organizational Communications
  6. Monthly zoom
  7. Communications Director
  8. Increased transparency- including with our ELT minutes

Extension Organizational Structure and Plan of Work

The ELT has begun to explore how our organizational structure and Plan of Work align with the UMaine Strategic Vision and Values.  As a first step in that, the ELT is developing internal and external organizational surveys/needs assessments.

Organizational Communications

As a way of connecting with the organization, Hannah will be offering more frequent organizational updates through zoom, and ELT members and other guests will be invited to present on special topics.  We are also committed to increasing the transparency of our ELT meeting minutes.


Congratulations to PI Leslie Forstadt who has been awarded $1,133 by the State of Maine Department of Agriculture (pass-through funding from the U.S Food and Drug Administration) for her “How Clear Vision and Communication Can Improve the Inspection Process with Producers” project. The purpose of this training was for inspectors and outreach staff to develop shared vision and purpose for the work, build communication skills, receive instruction about farmer learning stages, and practice cold calls and farm visits.

Search Updates

Extension Crops Entomology Specialist – Initial search failed,  New search to start soon
Program Coordinator – Bryant Pond and Greenland Point – Advertising
4-H Youth Development Professional – Oxford County – Advertising
4-H Youth Development Professional – Waldo County – Advertising
Administrative Specialist CL1 – Libby Hall – Interviewing
Administrative Specialist CL2 – Cumberland – Preparing to interview
Administrative Specialist CL2 – Waldo – Preparing to interview
Community Education Assistant CL1 – Somerset – Advertising
Community Education Assistant CL1(Horticulture) – Oxford – Interviewing
Community Education Assistant – Hancock – Search committee being formed

2019 ELT Meeting Dates

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

Dates Facilitator Notes Location
June 27 Phelps Prichard Orono: 102B Libby Hall
July 22 Prichard Harrington UMA: 111 Robinson Hall
August 14 Harrington Brzozowski Orono: 102B Libby Hall
August 28 Brzozowski Sulinski Orono: 102B Libby Hall
September 16 Sulinski Phelps UMA: 111 Robinson Hall