Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes October 28, 2020

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
October 28, 2020
Virtual Meeting (9:00 AM – 12:00 PM)

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.

Meeting Notes

  • Dennis Harrington updated the ELT about the formation of an informal committee to explore a customer relationship management platform. The group (Dennis Harrington, Cindy Eves-Thomas, Michele Lodgek, Michelle Snowdon) will meet with Robin Sherman of UMS:IT and her team on Friday October 30th.
  • Hannah Carter reported that the November Board of Agriculture (BOA) meeting is postponed and will be rescheduled to January in hopes of meeting in person.  The spring meeting of the BOA typically takes place in Augusta.
  • Hannah Carter reported that there is a tentative date for the Hall of Flags event with the Maine State legislature. It is Tuesday, February 9, and it is not clear if it will be in person or other.
  • Lisa asked that Hannah remind the organization that it is important for everyone to know that HOC protocols may differ from county to county and that communication is important when planning cross-county interactions.
  • Through Hannah Carter, the President and the Emergency Operations Committee have communicated that as COVID-related situations change in parts of Maine the University will implement careful and targeted management of the situation and that it is unlikely there will be a blanket lockdown/shutdown. They also encouraged staff to continue to maintain their adherence  to HOC plans and safe practices including mask wearing and social distancing.
  • Jon Prichard reported that the two Maine Family grant proposals to the Maine Children’s Trust are complete and will be submitted this week.  Melanie Bryan and Jennifer Doherty prepared the proposals with support from the Office of Research Development and the Office of Research Administration.
  • Jon Prichard reported that the Brian Erickson, professional in Somerset County will begin on Monday, November 2.

ELT Participation in Faculty Meeting

The ELT joined the October 28 faculty meeting, at the invitation of the faculty Policy Advisory Committee.  The PAC developed the agenda, to which the ELT added additional topics:

  • Summary of key results from All Extension survey
  • Update on usage of Expense accounts
  • Alfond grant – Does Extension or Extension faculty have a role?
  • Update, if any, on Extensionships idea
  • How does the President’s Sept 28th Executive Order, “Combatting Race and Sex Stereotyping,” affect Extension programming?
  • Position priorities

ELT Meeting dates

The ELT scheduled upcoming meetings for November and December, as reflected in the meeting chart at the end of these minutes.

Extension’s Customer Relations Management (e.g. Mail Chimp and Constant Contact)

Our organization currently uses Mailchimp and Constant Contact as customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Recently, Dennis Harrington had conversations with UMS:IT, UMaine Admissions, the Extension Communications Team, and regional colleagues about the use of SalesForce as a CRM system, and the system was highly recommended by all. While it would be a significant transition, Extension is exploring SalesForce as a single CRM that would replace the services of both Mailchimp and Constant Contact, as well as our online registration & payment system. The University supports SalesForce and has significant resources to help in a transition period. There is general agreement that it is challenging and inefficient for Extension staff and administration to interact with multiple platforms of communication, and that an eventual transition to a sole CRM such as SalesForce is inevitable. The ELT dialogued with the Marketing and Communications Team about the continued use of MailChimp & Constant Contact during any CRM transition and we agreed that for now the organization will continue to use the two programs, and the ELT will support the necessary costs to maintain both during this transition. We are asking that all new projects requiring CRM use MailChimp, and Constant Contact is only used for existing projects already being used.

Brightspace Updates: Use by Extension to non @maine.edu users

Lisa Phelps met with UMS IT and Peter Schilling about Brightspace, the University of Maine’s learning management system that recently replaced BlackBoard. Joining the meeting from Extension were Michelle Snowden, Michele Lodgek, Cindy Eves-Thomas and Mari Glatter who all have relevant expertise in instructional design and support.

BrightSpace has the potential to significantly expand our ability to deliver a variety of online programming to all of our constituents.

It is now possible to use Brightspace for interactions with non-@maine.edu users. For now we have to enter users manually, but UMS IT is working on selecting a tool that will automate that task. We have agreed that the first course we will pilot is the Master Gardener Volunteer course that will start in March of 2021. Lisa has followed up with Peter Schilling to get training and support with Brightspace and Instructional Design/Technology. They will be meeting soon, updates to follow.

Ideas around Endowed Positions

With the retirement of faculty supporting heritage agriculture industries such as the dairy industry, there was a discussion around the possibility of fundraising for “Endowed” positions, such as the “John and Jane Doe” UMaine Extension Dairy Specialist.  If the position were endowed, then it would be insulated from not being filled after it was vacant–the line would be there for perpetuity. We would solicit contributions to this endowment from industry groups and private businesses and individuals. Hannah is going to work with UMaine Development to learn more about endowed positions and report back in an upcoming meeting.

Ag topics for TV news coverage

At the October AgCom meeting, Dick Brzozowski learned from Mark Hutton that WCSH6 in Portland is interested in airing regular news stories covering topics of public interest related to Agriculture in Maine. There is a possibility that these same spots may be aired at the Bangor NBC affiliate. The ELT began to assemble possible ideas. These will be submitted to Mark Hutton. Because viewers are consumers, the suggested topics are consumer oriented.

  • State of the industry in Maine, calendar of production, issues
    • wild blueberries
    • dairy
    • potatoes
    • apples
    • aquacultureMaine maple
    • eggs
    • vegetables
    • small fruits
    • Christmas tree
    • wreaths
  • High tunnels
  • Overview of Maine livestock for meat – beef, goats, sheep, swine, rabbits, poultry
  • Grain in Maine
  • New crops – hemp, lavender,
  • Who are today’s Maine farmers?
  • The climate and its impact on agriculture
  • Farmers positioning for changes in climate
  • Precision agriculture – new technologies for Maine agriculture
  • The impacts of buying local food
  • Integrated pest management (IPM) –
  • History of Maine agriculture
  • Agricultural methods defined – organic, regenerative, sustainable, conventional, biodynamic, etc.
  • New Maine farmers – who are they?
  • CSAs, what are they?, many CSAs now delivering, including winter season (all seasons)
  • Online ordering and delivering
  • Women farmers
  • AgrAbility – farmers with disabilities, farmer veterans,
  • Is farming a feasible career path in Maine?
  • Careers in agriculture
  • The importance of agriculture to Maine’s economy

Announcements & Congratulations

Congratulations to UMaine Extension faculty members Dr. Jason Bolton and collaborator Dr. Robson Machado on the award of $58,307 from the USDA through a partnership with UMaine, the University of Massachusetts, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Rhode Island for a project titled Defining And Overcoming Economic Factors Hindering Adoption Of Food Safety Practices By Small And Medium-Sized Farms In The New England Region. The project will formulate a water testing/safety-focused case study to examine the comprehension of the rule and needs of farmers so they can comply with the Produce Safety Rule water requirements and help water testing laboratories become more familiar with the water testing requirements of the produce safety rule.

Congratulations to Ryder Scott on his award of $105,825 from the Lerner Foundation for the Aspirations Incubator project (year 4). In year 4, the project will expand by adding a fourth cohort of students (12-14 current seventh graders), providing mentorship and experiential learning opportunities focused on long-term mentorship and leadership development.

Paying for organizational memberships with COVID-related spending policies in place

Current UMaine purchasing policies do not allow for payment of organizational memberships, dues, or fees with University E&G funds (Education & General, often referred to as “base” funds). This includes Extension’s staff development and salary offset funds. Payment of organizational memberships, dues, or fees can be allowed when paid with gift funds, and some exceptions are allowed for revenue supported fund 12 chartfields. No matter what the sources of funds the expense must support COVID-19 response activity; online, remote, and current restricted programming; or be directly related to grant-funded, ongoing research. Please feel free to contact Dennis Harrington if you have any questions.

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.

Search Updates

4-H Science Professional (PT) (Andro/Sag) – Tom Mullin hired
Administrative Specialist CL2 (PT) (Somerset) – Screening applicants
Assistant Extension Professor and Fish Nutrition Specialist – Preparing to advertise
Nutrition Education Professional – Adult Curriculum Coordinator (Somerset) – Preparing to re-advertise
Nutrition Education Professional – Youth Curriculum Coordinator (Andro/Sag) – Offer made and accepted
Parent Educational Professional (Knox/Lincoln) – Hannah Pennington hired
Sustainable Agriculture Professional – Somerset County – Brian Erickson hired

2020 ELT Meeting Dates

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

Dates Facilitator Notes Location
November 16 Harrington Brzozowski Virtual
December 11 Brzozowski Sulinski Virtual