Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes January 25, 2021

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
January 25, 2021
Virtual Meeting (8:30 AM – 11:30 AM)

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.


Dennis – It’s the season of financial reports and the budget hearing on Wednesday.

Fran – Training dates for testing observers are set.  Placed the order for the vault test kits for the county offices. Vault test kits may be taken home by off campus staff who may not be in the office on the day they are taking the test. If people have issues/questions with testing, please reach out to me.

Jon – This is the time of the year for impact statements and success stories. These stories are essential for our reporting to NIFA, UMaine, county government, and other stakeholders. We could also be using them for broader marketing efforts; there is so much more we could be doing with them. Ellen Baker begins in the Maine Families Program a week from today; she will be based in the Knox-Lincoln Extension office, and serving northern Cumberland County.

Dick – After 5 years of involvement, Richard Brzozowski has formally resigned from the Northeast SARE Administrative Council.

The Maine Ag Trades Show took place last week virtually. There were some issues/frustrations with the platform/format.  Caragh Fitzgerald did a great job and tried to keep things moving ahead.  The AgCOM piece “Maine’s Eye View on Agriculture” went well (30 participants). They did a second session on Saturday (6 participants). Our Communications and Marketing Team did a great job helping to support this effort with the creation of a postcard that was sent to all legislators inviting them to participate. Extension was well represented throughout the whole program.

Hannah –  Please remind folks about Zoom usage–personal use is OK, but setting up meetings for any other organization is not.  In addition to watching some of our Extension presentations this week during the virtual Ag Trades Show, I also presented at the annual MELNA meeting, which was held virtually.  Hannah was elected to the board of the Maine Woodlot Owners Association. This week, I’ll be part of the first meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on Agriculture and will have five minutes to introduce Extension. In addition, I’m part of a weekly meeting for units who are doing work in climate change. This is an informal group that was put together to better understand the people and programs who are working in this area for possibly leveraging in regard to potential funding. Our budget hearing is on Wednesday and I’m going into it with a positive attitude and the hope that we do not receive any reduction.

Lisa – Moving forward with the Internship Committee, hoping that in February we’ll have a system to pilot test. Continuing to connect with the UMaine Black Bear Paws team, there have been 3 students who have connected with Extension about possibilities. Working on exploring the possibility of 4-H Online 2.0 to switching over to Z-suites. 4-H Online 2.0 has had some problems.  Z-suites is half the cost and better customer service. We are meeting with other states who are using Z-suites for their experiences. I have some Executive Committee meetings this week. Also the GMRI grant launches this week and the AFRI grant is moving forward with great potential collaborations.

Update on New Positions

Since the last ELT meeting, there have been a couple of updates on positions.

  1. Dairy faculty position – The dairy position is moving forward and Rick Kersbergen is doing a great job as search committee chair.
  2. Ag Engineer position – The Ag Engineer position is going to be re-scored after we received additional information from the Advanced Manufacturing Center.

All Organizational Meeting – March 16, 17, and 18, 2021

Organizational Meeting times will be 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. each day. There will be a keynote speaker focusing on organizational change. Hannah met with the Committee Chairs two weeks ago and they are all doing a great job!  During that meeting, we discussed when the committee reports would be due to and decided on Friday, February 26th. They are also going to put together a cohesive report on the work of the committees and the outcomes. During the “All Org” Meeting, each committee will present their recommendations for changes and answer questions.  At the conclusion of the meeting, a website will be shared, where all members of Extension will be able to go in and “rank” the recommendations. This website will be open for two weeks and everyone will be encouraged to participate. A new committee may then be formed to examine the recommendations that rose to the top and then how to implement them.

Impact Statements (Success Stories)

Jon is finalizing these and inviting ELT members to review them and let him know if you see gaps; Jon is willing to contact staff and work with them as needed. During this week, Jon will send out a summary of “headlines” of impact statements and is asking ELT members to let him know if they see anything obvious missing. If there is, he will reach out to a staff member to try to fill in that void.


Bryant Pond Program Coordinator II

The ELT approved filling a Bryant Pond position – Program Coordinator II – as it is a critical leadership position developed to support the growing year-round programming needs of both Bryant Pond and Greenland Point 4-H Camp and Learning Centers. For 2021, the position’s Bryant Pond work will focus on major program areas such as Lakeside Classroom, Conservation Education, grant funded programs such as Tech Wizards, and summer camp leadership. At Greenland Point, the position will provide a crucial resource to an underserved population that includes the Passamaquoddy tribal populations at Indian Township and Pleasant Point, as well as youth within the surrounding rural communities in Washington County. The work at Greenland Point remains ongoing with continued networking and relationship building, and collaboration with the Washington County 4-H YD Professional, Brittany Foster; recently, they have been involved with developing virtual programming and learning kits, and there are other programs planned for the site that include the OPTIONS program for incoming UMaine freshmen students, and several workshops and trainings. This position has remained in the Bryant Pond budget since it was vacated in August 2020; the salary band is $34,594 – $35,000.

While we did not fill this position when it was vacated due to the pandemic and loss of camping revenue, Camp leadership staff have been assuming roles on expanding grant projects, so they need support to help support core programming and operations at the camps. The ELT approved advertising this as a one-year fixed length position with the possibility of renewal.

Supporting Organic Dairy Farm Research

An Organic Dairy Farm in Central Maine has been shown to have milk contaminated with PFOS/PFAS chemicals at a level 2-3X higher than the allowable limit. Soil/milk/water samples have been taken sporadically over the last 2-3 months to try and identify the source (fields spread with material from Kennebec Sanitary District in late 1980’s). Currently, the only sampling being done is a monthly sample of the milk so the farm can receive indemnity payments for the milk being dumped. MDACF and Maine DEP have done most of the sampling, with the farmer doing some themselves. Rick Kersbergen will lead a research effort to collect samples on a weekly basis. Additional testing will be covered by DACF.

Rick will submit this as a research project through the VPR to get approval for travel on a weekly basis to collect samples, etc.  The ELT discussed ways to possibly support Rick with this project since he is in phased retirement.


Extension’s 2020 Online Presence

In 2020, UMaine Extension’s website at extension.umaine.edu – a composite of 58+ interconnected websites – received more than 2.8 million pageviews. More than 50,000 followers followed or were subscribed to UMaine Extension’s 58 county and program-specific social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. More than 93,000 web visits were referred from social media. More than 400 educational videos were available to visitors on our YouTube and Kaltura channels or embedded in our web pages. More than 8,350 clients used our online registration system to register for classes, workshops, events, and more. In the wake of COVID-19, UMaine Extension quickly moved its workshops, classes, and events online. Between March 1 and December 31, 2020, unique pageviews on the UMaine Extension website increased nearly 30% over the same period of time the previous year.

These numbers are impressive and can be used in a number of ways. As just one example, they will be utilized in a UMaine budget hearing presentation that will happen this week.

Announcements & Congratulations

Congratulations to Ryder Scott who has been awarded $10,000 by the National Science Foundation through the Maine Math and Science Alliance. These funds will allow Ryder to participate in an advisory group to develop and implement the STEMPorts program, an augmented reality game for community-based STEM learning and workforce development.

Congratulations to Esperanza Stancioff, on receiving a 2020 Mitchell Center Sustainability Award. Mitchell Center Sustainability Awards have been presented annually since 2013. They are designed to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of researchers, students, and external partners who have helped advance the values and principles at the heart of the Mitchell Center’s stakeholder-engaged, solutions-focused, interdisciplinary projects and partnerships.  Esperanza was recognized for “Outstanding contributions toward the development of a solution by a researcher or research team”.

Search Updates

Administrative Specialist CL2 (PT) (Somerset) – Christine Gettig hired
Agricultural Engineer Professional – preparing to upload to HT
Assistant Extension Professor/Dairy Specialist – preparing to upload to HT
Assistant Extension Professor and Fish Nutrition Specialist – Advertising
Climate Services Specialist/Assistant Extension Professor (search waiver) – HT approval process pending
Parent Educational Professional (Knox/Lincoln-Cumberland) (search waiver) – Ellen Baker hired
Research Assistant, Lowbush Blueberry Research and Extension Program – Advertising

2021 ELT Meeting Dates

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

Dates Facilitator Notes Location
February 25 Carter Prichard Virtual (1:00-4:30)