Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes March 9, 2020

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
March 9, 2020
Augusta – 111 Robinson Hall

Facilitator: Jon Prichard
Note taker: Dennis Harrington

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


Jennifer Doherty and Melanie Bryan, Maine Families Program

Retiree Recognition Banquet

Hannah Carter and Jon Prichard will represent Cooperative Extension at this year’s retiree recognition banquet on the UMaine campus. This year honorees will be Alan Majka, Kathy Hopkins, Linda Trickey and Wesley Neff. Congratulations and best of everything to them in their next phase of life!

Topic: “Year of the County”

  • The ELT discussed the challenges and opportunities of maintaining a statewide list-serve focused on communication with all executive committee members and the value of using it to publish a regular, periodic newsletter from the Dean and possibly the ELT.
  • The ELT discussed the idea of reviving a statewide meeting of County Executive Committee Presidents and agreed to take steps to hold a statewide meeting in the fall of this year.
  • We will be creating a GOOGLE folder with MOU’s and other items pertaining to county relationships from other states in the Northeast region, it would be good to review these documents and discuss moving forward in possibly revising our County Extension Act. Dennis Harrington will take the first steps.
  • Hannah Carter updated the ELT about the event at Laughingstock Farm in Freeport that will bring together UMaine Administration, County Commissioners, local Legislators, and County Executive Committees to hear about Extension programs first-hand, answer questions about Extension, ask how we can help them meet the needs of their constituents, and tell the story of how their support of Extension helps the communities they serve. It will be held March 18th and may serve as a model for future events in other locations.

Resources for County Financial Management

Dennis Harrington will be re-committed to creating a handbook and a web resource on Plugged-In for the Counties to address statewide issues that are common to financial management. At this time, it should be within our capacity to create answers to FAQs about finance and budgets including best practices for managing County funds and the financial interface between County funds and University practices.


Experts are saying it is inevitable that the Coronavirus will spread to Maine. For the near future, Fran Sulinski will be Cooperative Extension’s internal central point of contact for Coronavirus questions and issues. Fran is in touch with Dick Young from the UMaine Cutler Health Center who will provide campus guidance to the ELT as it evolves. Staff are encouraged to update their Emergency Notification Status at: https://www.maine.edu/information-technology/support/update-account-information/.

UMaine and UMS Information on Coronavirus

UMS employee information UMS have flexible and non-punitive leave policies for students and staff affected by COVID-19.

  • Employees are encouraged to stay home when ill and to leave work if they become ill
  • Employees may stay home and, if feasible, work remotely when sick or caring for sick household members. Employees should discuss remote work arrangements with their supervisor.
  • UMS will continue to monitor state and federal agency guidance and adjust work and leave practices as appropriate. In the meantime, information regarding paid leave and Family Medical Leave (FML) can be found at on the my campus benefits page.
  • Continue to encourage welcoming environments for ALL members of our community.

Additional Actions and Guidance from the ELT

  • Fran Sulinski will be Extension’s central point of contact for Coronavirus questions and issues.
  • The ELT will be purchasing and distributing posters that address prevention to all Extension offices. There will be plenty available, and they will be distributed by PAs and available by request.
  • There is a UMaine Coronavirus task force that is coordinating the UMaine response to the situation. This will help guide us in the potential for closing Extension locations if the situation merits. Hannah Carter is encouraging the ELT to create a coordinated response to each situation and is asking the responsible ELT member to do so, incorporating guidance from UMaine. They should include participation in events such as fairs and potential impact to various budgets.
  • Based on CDC guidance, the ELT is recommending that the statewide meeting of the Extension Homemakers planned for April be cancelled or postponed.
  • Extension staff who have made commitments to travel in the near future may choose not to participate, even if University funds may not be refundable.
  • Fran Sulinski distributed a paper copy of an emergency contact list which is also available to ELT members, UMaine Police and UM Safety and Environmental Management.

Regarding Canceling events

(from the UMaine Website as of 3/9/20): Do campus events need to be canceled? If you are sick, stay home from events. At this time, there is no requirement to cancel school or social events. At this time, there are no restrictions on public gatherings. Event planners should develop backup plans, consider how to incorporate social distancing, and other types of pivoting as regional confirmed case numbers increase. All members of our community should be prepared to adjust if restrictions on gatherings are adopted and implemented.

Cost Recovery Criteria        

At the request of Hannah Carter there is a group of faculty, led by Rob Machado, who are discussing cost/recovery/revenue generation and cost recovery in Extension programming. The group asked for clarity about guidance that is currently posted on Plugged-In. The ELT agreed that the site needs merits review and updating. Dennis Harrington will do this review.

Professional Pathways

  • There is a group of faculty and professionals that are working on pathways for professionals moving to faculty when merited. Fran Sulinski and Hannah Carter met with the group and discussed the reality that it is only possible for a professional to be considered for a faculty position with a full search OR a search waiver which requires the circumstance includes the fact that the person we would be seeking a search waiver for, has unique expertise that cannot be found via a search. The ELT supports this, while acknowledging that these instances are very rare.
  • The ELT has been asked about the possibility of adding a Level V step to the Professional Career Ladder. There is a group of professionals that will be researching these aspirations as it relates to employment contracts and will get back to the ELT.

Somerset County Ag/Maple Faculty Position

Kathy Hopkins is retiring July 31st. Her role has been to support the Somerset County agriculture program and undertake statewide research and educational programming for the maple industry. The ELT supports this position being filled at the faculty level and will seek approval from the Provost to refill it. Jon Prichard will update the job description, share it with Hannah Carter asap, and then guide the process going forward.

Maine Families Program Update

The ELT was joined by Jennifer Doherty and Melanie Bryan of the Maine Families Program to who discussed changes at the State of Maine level for how their grant funds will be awarded in upcoming cycles.  Jennifer is the program manager for our program based in the Knox-Lincoln Extension office, and also serving Sagadahoc. Melanie is the program manager for the MFP program based in the Waldo Extension office. They shared that the funds will be competitive in the future and not automatically awarded to existing programs, with the anticipated start date for these changes being January 1, 2021. The Maine Children’s Trust has been the central administrative entity overseeing the award in Maine and will be required to compete for this role in the future. DHHS identifies “health districts” (typically encompassing 1, or 2 or more counties) that may serve as organizing structures for future awards.

The MF program is research-based education and by virtue of the education delivered to parents in their home and is a natural fit within the Extension and University portfolio.  Our discussion covered possibilities for restructuring our current programs and the potential for expanding. Our current structure would likely be combined, and the full amount of the award be administered as a UMaine grant. The ELT affirmed our support for maintaining the current overall program and supporting competition for these funds in the future. Jennifer and Melanie will continue to dig deeper into the process for competing for funds to support expansion into other health districts. The ELT expressed our appreciation and continued support for the important work of the Maine Families Program, and its relevance and place within Extension.

Content Insurance in County Offices; MOUs

UMS Risk Manager Gretchin Catlin has reversed previous UMS Risk Managers and says that UMaine insurance covers building contents for University-owned or leased facilities where we have “care, custody, and control”. At this time this coverage does not extend to other offices, but the UMaine Council’s office and Risk Management are collaborating to define the parameters for an MOU with the owners of other County offices that would address our tenancy and liability.

Announcements & Congratulations

Congratulations to Dr. Lily Calderwood and co-investigators Beth Calder, Brian Perkins and Jennifer Perry. In collaboration with Cornell University and Dalhousie University, the team has been awarded $292,716 as part of the USDA/NIFA Critical Agriculture Research and Extension Program. The project will benefit Maine wild blueberry growers through exploring berry quality development in the field for value-added end uses.

Search Updates

Assistant Financial and Operations Manager – Interviewing
4-H Science Professional (Andro-Sag) – Preparing to advertise
4-H Youth Development Professional – Washington County – Offer made and accepted
4-H Youth Development Professional (Community Central) Advertising
Crops Entomology Educator in Aroostook County – Advertising
Extension Crops Specialist in Aroostook County – Advertising
Sustainable Agriculture Professional – Aroostook County – Advertising

2020 ELT Meeting Dates

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

Dates Facilitator Notes Location
April 2 Harrington Brzozowski Zoom Meeting
April 29 Brzozowski Sulinski Zoom Meeting
May 11 Sulinski Phelps UMA: 111 Robinson Hall
June 4 Phelps Carter Orono: 102B Libby Hall