Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes September 17, 2020

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
September 17, 2020
Virtual Meeting (8:30 AM – 12:00 PM)

Facilitator: Lisa Phelps
Note taker: Hannah Carter

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

Priority Positions

Provost Volin is asking for a list of Extension’s priority positions.  Please see his email:

“As a follow up to our Council of Deans meeting, while Extension did not have any faculty positions on the June attrition list, there may be current openings from retirements as well as faculty that have left the university that you may be interested in prioritizing for potential hires. If this is the case, please provide your thoughts on prioritization on how you would like Extension to potentially move forward with positions this year.

In prioritization, please keep in context SVV and Define Tomorrow. I would also encourage you to engage with your Dean colleagues where appropriate, potentially giving consideration to cluster hires. These considerations will help in prioritization of positions across the university and in our overall justification to the system.”

The ELT discussed and compiled a list of priority faculty positions, using this template that is due to the Provost by Monday, September 21st.

The ELT discussed the recent retirements of Gary Anderson and Kathy Hopkins and the needs of both the dairy and maple industries in Maine.  In addition, with Jim McConnon’s upcoming retirement, there will be a void with ag economics and small business development which has been discussed at great length in conversations around industry needs due to COVID.

In looking to the future, we ought to consider positions around outdoor leadership/rural youth development, climate change, ag engineering, workforce development, food safety and nutrition at the consumer level, and increasing needs in aquaculture.

The provost indicated a priority would be given to those positions that were interdisciplinary.  Moving forward, it would be a hope that other units across campus would include an Extension component in their positions for “outreach” and we also need to think about how we can partner with units to address the needs we have for faculty lines.

Hannah – Looking towards the future

I have been collecting information for over a year in regards to our organization–from visiting all our facilities, to meeting with individuals and groups, collecting data from the organization, from looking towards the future in regard to UMaine, the state, and how to best address both the issues and opportunities we face as an organization, and I wonder if our current administrative structure is both meeting the needs of the organization and also able to take advantage of opportunities in the future?  Let’s begin to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our current structure.

In looking to Extension’s future, we have begun thinking about organizational change–the first step is the survey that was sent out in July.  From an administrative perspective, where are our greatest needs?  Our greatest opportunities?  We decided since this topic was just introduced at this meeting that we would continue to discuss at an upcoming meeting and really give some thought of our current structure and what makes most sense from an organizational perspective.

Libby Hall Offices and ARI

Debbie Bouchard, in the role of Director of the Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI) on campus, is asking for space in Libby Hall for ARI. They have begun sharing staff with Sea Grant and would find it more convenient if located in the same building. From Debbie: “We essentially need 4 offices, a hallway space or entry way to display material and also a storage space.”

We likely have space available and will work with Debbie on her needs and then figure out the best utilization of space.  Moving forward, the PAs might not need separate offices and they could share space.

This is the time to think about our physical space and the future needs.  Whether it’s in Libby Hall, another Extension facility on campus, or in our county offices, let’s think about purging our spaces of all the miscellaneous unnecessary “treasures” (aka old typewriters, equipment, etc.)

COVID Testing Monitors

From Bob Norman: This is a “your choice” situation and how comfortable your staff is with testing themselves for COVID with remote direction. If all are comfortable, then no local tester would be needed. Personally, from what I have seen at UMaine, a friendly face to give direction & assure oversight is usually better than going it alone. The qualifications are simply watching a 20 minute video. Perhaps one per office/location? Let me know what you think.

Per Lt. Norman, staff can test themselves without a monitor.  We can send an email message to the counties to see if there are individuals who want to be trained as volunteers to help oversee the tests.  Fran will check with Chris L. about the approach and then report back.

9/21/20 Update – Fran is a certified monitor and can help administer these tests and/or answer questions about becoming a monitor.

Maine Calling on September 25

Topic is “How to help during the pandemic” and they are looking for ways that UMaine Extension is helping (and has helped) communities and our broader statewide efforts to help.  We would like to brainstorm some suggestions for programs to present/discuss for the call in radio show (a 60-minute show aired live on weekday afternoons).  The ELT brainstormed a list of several potential talking points, which only provided another reminder of the incredible work that our faculty and staff have done to help serve the people of Maine and the communities around the state.

Update as of 9/21/20 – This episode of “Maine Calling” will be rescheduled.

Extensionships (Extension Internships)

President Ferrini-Mundy has convened a group to discuss how to keep deferred students engaged with UMaine.  Hannah proposed Extension internships (aka “Extensionships”) and discussions are continuing.  This could be a great way to engage students with Extension work around the state.  There will be more information possibly forthcoming about what these opportunities may look like and details if you would like to possibly work with a student either virtually or in-person.

There will be a meeting on 9/18/20 to discuss the topic of keeping deferred students engaged and Extensionships will be on the agenda.  Moving forward, questions around providing a stipend for those who work with students, whether this would be for college credit, etc. will have to be answered.

Outside of the discussion around deferred students.  We would like to move the concept of Extensionships forward as it would be a great opportunity to:  A) engage with students, B) provide meaningful “real life” opportunities, C) increase our capacity, and D) show that there are wonderful career opportunities within Extension.

The further discussion mentioned that AgrAbility has internships for OT students. They have developed a menu of opportunities depending on the student’s interest and time availability.  Such a menu could be a sample or model for other programs or disciplines?

How to Address Possible Staff Covid Exposure

Unfortunately there will be situations of possible Covid exposure faced by our staff. UMaine has a flow chart to assist staff and their supervisors to assess the appropriate next steps. It is available at https://mycampus.maine.edu/documents/10217/12774925/COVID+19+Workflow+07202020+updated.pdf/f5bebbee-1e1f-6f8b-4007-9f941a312e8e?t=1595596689971.

Staff members may also call the UMaine Covid hot line at 207-581-2681, if they believe they may have been exposed to the virus and have questions.

 Change in Accounting Practices and Policy for Payment of Federal Benefits

Working with NSFA, we have negotiated a change to the way the UMS charges benefits to Smith-Level and RREA capacity awards. For the future, the maximum amount allowable will be directly to each award, with the balance being charged to our E&G payroll account. For this year the amounts are 46.4% charged to Federal and 8.46% charged to E&G, and the ratios will change each year. Dennis will explain why this is good for us.

4-H Camps Monthly Update

The camps are actively engaged in school programming, at varying degrees at each 4-H Center, they are having good success in generating revenues, are maintaining a lean staff, and hiring only as needed to support programs and meet grant requirements.  Since receiving one-time support from both the ELT and the 4-H Foundation, 4-H Center staff have shifted their attention to nurturing existing relationships with local schools. Several exciting new and continuing partnerships have come to fruition for the fall.  Extension/4-H Centers got some great positive PR in recent statewide media, including this piece on outdoor learning experiences that aired on the television station WVII Bangor last week. 4-H Camp staff are managing several current grant projects in various stages.  They have expended $67,081 of their one-time funding subsidy.

Maine Election Worker Recruitment

The Maine Town and City Clerks’ Association and the Maine Municipal Association have communicated the need for help in administering elections in communities across Maine. Their Website [https://www.maineelectionworkers.org/] says: Citizens are needed to work at the polls on Election Day as well as in advance helping to process absentee ballots. Municipal clerks can explain more details about the work involved with election administration. Training is provided for all positions. The hours of work will vary in each community.

 The ELT is supportive of staff taking personal time when possible to volunteer for this work and will do whatever we can to support your efforts.

Crop Protection and Pest Management Program

Dr. James Dill received a 3rd-year authorization award of $185,415 for the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program grant from USDA/NIFA. The overall goals associated with this program includes minimization of pesticide use in Maine agriculture and communities, increased crop yield and profitability, increased awareness of pest issues, and increased implementation of integrated pest management practices. Information generated from this project is disseminated to stakeholders through a variety of outlets including newsletters, factsheets, websites, and training sessions. Collaboration with stakeholder groups and the other Northeast integrated pest management coordinators provides regional impact.

Search Updates

4-H Science Professional (PT) (Andro/Sag) – Offer made and accepted
Administrative Specialist CL2 (PT) (Somerset) – Advertising
NorthStar Program Coordinator – Bryant Pond 4-H Center – On hold
Nutrition Education Professional – Adult Curriculum Coordinator (Somerset) – Screening applicants
Nutrition Education Professional – Youth Curriculum Coordinator (Andro/Sag) – Screening applicants
Parent Educational Professional (Knox/Lincoln) – Preparing to interview
Sustainable Agriculture Professional – Somerset County – Offer made and accepted
Research Associate – Highmoor Farm – Peyton Ginakes hired

2020 ELT Meeting Dates

Meetings are from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, unless otherwise noted

Dates Facilitator Notes Location
October 13 Carter Prichard Virtual
October 28 Prichard Harrington Virtual