Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes March 1, 2021

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
March 1, 2021
Virtual Meeting (8:30 AM – 11:30 AM)

Facilitator: Hannah Carter
Note taker: Jon Prichard

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


UMaine 25 Task Force
This task force has been convened by President Ferrini-Mundy. Extension is not yet on it, but we may yet be invited.

The New Normal Committee
A “New Normal” group formed by President Ferrini-Mundy will be looking at how departments have adapted during the pandemic. There may in the future be more localized decision-making. She is looking for leadership, and Hannah wonders if Extension might bring someone onboard to support this effort. This effort is something that could be funded by the System.

New Positions Progress
We are in various states of moving forward on the new faculty positions in Dairy Specialist, Ag Business, and Climate, as well as professional positions in Ag Engineering, and in Instructional Design.

Organizational Meeting
Agenda and zoom links will be going out this week.

Upcoming Legislation in Maine
Three upcoming legislative bills are of interest: an Act to Establish the Maine Healthy Soils (LD 437) Extension has been addressing healthy soils with educational programming and research.  Is there a need for another layer of government to serve as a clearing house of information; Constitutional Right to Food Amendment (LD 95 Resolution); and Summer Learning. As always, University policy is that while we may provide educational information we don’t take positions on legislation.


Summer Programs & HOC Updates
Summer HOC guidance has come out, and the only real differences relate to camping programs, as well as the reality that we can do more outdoor programming in general. We agreed that most of our HOCs are pretty well set already, with no changes needed. If any HOCs need to be changed, please propose changes by mid-March. We are changing the checklists to April 1 (from March 1).

Here is the guidance on travel:  https://www.maine.edu/together/community-guidance/travelers/.  We can ask for exceptions to be made to travel together, please reach out to Hannah if you would like to make such a request.

Pursuing a Center of Excellence Designation – Aquaculture
We are exploring the idea of  “Center of Excellence (COE)” in Aquaculture for UMaine, recognizing various benefits to such a designation, including that it would provide help in securing future grants from USDA and NIFA in aquaculture (and in other Extension programs).

Tanglewood Community Garden Coordinator (temporary, April – October)
The ELT supported Tanglewood’s plans to hire a temporary (April-October) Community Garden Coordinator who would also support educational programming.

Tidewater Farm Tech Operations (temporary, May – October)
The ELT supported hiring a temporary position in the Cumberland County office to support Tidewater Farm, with 100% of the funding coming from County funds.

Flexible Staff Development Criteria and Process
The ELT is revising Section 3.4 Professional Development Change Criteria 2 to read: “Flexible Staff Development (FSD) Funds Form must specify how the activity will be used in the delivery of a more effective Extension program or to benefit the professional development (rather than the personal development) of the employee. This form must be completed by the employee and approved by the supervisor and administration before FSD funds can be spent.”

If a staff member is seeking to use FSD funds to attend an Extension program, it may be possible for the staff member to “audit” the class and therefore attend at no cost or for the cost of any supplies. We encourage that route be taken if possible.


Supporting Staff Presenting at National Conferences
The ELT is exploring staff development opportunities to support staff who present (or want to present) at national professional conferences.


Lessons Learned Exercise
At its February Board of Agriculture meeting, the BOA established a subcommittee to work on developing a “Lessons Learned” document and would include the following organizations and agencies (Extension, Experiment Station, and the DACF). Topics might include staffing; programming; security; health; communications; reporting; accessibility; and entering time. The ELT is creating a list of lessons learned from Extension’s experience since the pandemic began. We will also integrate the information from the Theme Teams.

Extension Internship Program Update
Caitlin Ramsay and Lisa Phelps are working on the final resources needed for the Extension internship website. Our hope is that the website will be live on Monday, March 8. The pilot program will consist of up to 8 interns for summer and fall and those mentors have already been identified. Once the website is live others who are not part of the pilot can still use the resources if they have other sources of funding. The ELT expresses their thanks to Caitlin Ramsay and the entire Extension Internship Committee for their work on this program.

Exploring Cross-institutional Sharing of Resources, People, and Programs
Northeast Extension Directors (NEED) is exploring cross-institutional sharing of resources, people, or programs, and logistical/structural issues that could be addressed to make sharing work better and more efficiently. The ELT discussed and will share our ideas with the group.   Hannah welcomes thoughts from any staff member.


Future ELT Meeting Dates
The ELT set future meeting dates through April 2021.

Announcements & Congratulations

Laura Wilson has accepted an invitation to be an Associate Member of the new Maine Center for Genetics in the Environment (MCGE), at the University of Maine.

Congratulations to principal investigator Dr. James Dill and co-principal investigator Griffin Dill on the award of $70,000 from USDA/NIFA through the University of Idaho to monitor for the presence and abundance of aphids that may vector recombinant strains of potato virus (PVY); to monitor plant stress from the disease; and to create a comprehensive PVY and aphid monitoring guide to benefit growers.

Congratulations to principal investigator Kathy Savoie on her award of $299,352 from USDA/NIFA for a project titled “Building Agricultural Literacy through an Immersive Culinary Experience”. The project will focus on professional development experiences for Career and Technical Education (CTE) Culinary Arts Instructors to increase their agricultural literacy and enhance the connectedness between agriculture and food service.

Congratulations to Ron Fournier for his award of $150,000 from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife that provides financial assistance for young people to attend in-person and virtual programs in conservation education that includes hunting, boating, and ATV safety programs.

Congratulations to Melanie Bryan on the award of $243,264 to support Cooperative Extension’s Maine Families Home Visiting in Waldo County. The Maine Families program provides home-based services to vulnerable pregnant and parenting families. Focused on family strengths, the program is part of Maine’s strategy to ensure healthy futures for children by improving health, economic stability, parent-child attachment, school readiness,  and by reducing child abuse and neglect.

Search Updates

Agricultural Engineer Professional – Awaiting approval to advertise
Assistant Extension Professor/Dairy Specialist – Accepting applications
Assistant Extension Professor and Fish Nutrition Specialist – Advertising
Climate Services Specialist/Assistant Extension Professor (search waiver) – Position approved and pending acceptance
Research Assistant, Lowbush Blueberry Research and Extension Program – Offer made

2021 ELT Meeting Dates

Meetings are from 8:30 am to 11:30 am via Zoom – unless otherwise noted

Dates Facilitator Notes Location
March 25 Prichard Harrington Virtual
April 12 Harrington Brzozowski Virtual