Extension Roadmap Steering Committee Meeting Notes, August 11, 2021

Present:  H. Carter, A. Smart, J. Bolton, K. Yerxa, L. Wilson, M. Snowden, S. Baez., T. Tilton, T. Jackson, D. Harrington, L. Phelps, B. Foster, M. Glatter, R. Machado,
Not Present:  M. Bailey, R. Scott

  1. Carter discussed the “Combined Recommendation” document (document link removed, steering committee members may find the document in the Roadmap Steering Committee folder on Google Drive) that she began after the July meeting to begin to group recommendations for further discussion.  There was a question about the first item that focuses on the county coordinator piece and if guidance could be provided sooner rather than later.

It was then discussed that the committee would continue to review the recommendations, with the next step being:  1) to identify if this committee will further consider these recommendations and 2) if they are to be further considered, labeling each with as a short/medium/long term goal.

The committee continued to discuss the recommendations found in “Enhancing Collaborations” and “Programming for the Future”.  The committee began the process of discussing each of the theme committee recommendations with the intent of 1) further clarifying the item, 2) determining if it is something the Steering Committee could move forward and 3) possibly combining it with another item(s). 

The discussion was as follows and the items in blue were committee discussions, the items in red were comments from the Dean.

Enhancing Collaborations Continued:

  • Create an Events Calendar. A user-friendly format, intuitive, with a comprehensive tutorial for people who are new users (from committee member input). 
    1. This could be combined with the list of current projects/databases.
    2. UMaine is focusing on a new campus-wide calendar of events.  There is a possibility of utilizing this as our Extension Events calendar.
  • Connect Programs with One Another. Encourage collaborations among CEAs and Professionals from different programs who have the same target audiences, such as specific schools. It might be easiest to start at the county level by connecting staff from different programs with each other. If we start to encourage these collaborative relationships now, as new staff join Extension, it will become a normalized step for staff in various programs to work together and open the doors for more opportunities for combined programming. Opportunities for potential collaboration could be identified by program “leads” or program supervisors (from different programs), or by the staff themselves. Form a CEA group (like the faculty and professional groups) that meets regularly and includes in its charge identifying collaboration opportunities.
    1. A lot of discussion around this item:
      1. Why isn’t there a current CEA group?  Should we reach out to them to see what their needs are?  
      2. Grabbing their time is tough, since many work 20 hours or less.
  • New Employee Orientation. Review, revise, and expand new employee orientation to assure that new staff: 1. understand the diversity, breadth, and scope of Extension programs; 2. know how to use the full range of resources available to them to connect with programs and people (e.g. Plugged In, Extension Calendar, Staff Directory, and new Resource/Asset Map) and to visualize, evaluate and implement collaboration (i.e., new collaboration best practices resources); and 3. develop connections with their cohort of new employees. Please see the full set of recommendations found in the report.
    1. Recommendation was made to send this item to the Staff Development Committee
    2. New Employee Onboarding vs. Orientation
  • Clarify Expectations for Working with External Partners: Ensure that all Extension staff are aware of protocols, resources and existing documents to inform best practices and requirements when working with external collaborators (e.g., recognition for informal collaborations, financial management, contracts, grants, etc.). Develop updated tools and resources to ensure clear understanding of internal policies and best practices related to working with external collaborators (e.g., simplified flow chart of when honorariums or contracts are needed and what is needed from collaborators (vendors) in each scenario). Develop a letter of understanding /MOU template for staff to share with collaborating organizations for scenarios including informal partnerships, contract or honorariums, or grant collaborations. This would clarify timelines, required documents and expectations of the work.
    1. This item will be reviewed by the Dean, Finance Administrator, etc.  We will figure out how to best communicate these expectations and make available updated resources.  
    2. Also need to consider gift equipment.
  • Incentivize collaboration by offering recognition within Extension for these efforts. Regardless of the other possible outcomes of a collaborative effort, recognition is valued by many and does not necessarily include a budgetary cost. Offering a positive incentive for collaborations, without implying a punitive disincentive for avoiding collaborations, frees personnel to engage in or avoid collaborations as best suits their style of working.
    1. This item may be more about incentives than recognition.
    2. Consider both internal and external collaborations.
    3. Include with the “Entrepreneurship” recommendations.

Programming for the Future:

  • Conduct an organizational needs assessment to identify educational program priorities.  (The organization will move forward with this idea — this committee can provide input on how to best conduct this assessment.  It may be done jointly with NSFA as a priority of the new Dean.)
  • Develop a Program Leadership Structure and Program Structure.  (The Dean will be announcing her new ELT, this team will work with this committee to determine additional structures.)
    1. Combine with recommendation below “Redefine UMaine Extension’s Educational Program Structure”.
    2. Dean will configure new leadership team.  This committee could provide input on program structure.
  • Hire a full-time Instructional Designer dedicated to assisting with the development of learning opportunities for educational program staff.  (DONE!  First “win” of the Roadmap!)
  • Hire or reassign a position dedicated to coordination and training of remote and hybrid delivery technology.  (This committee should make the recommendations on what kind of training would be of most benefit to the organization.  The hiring of a position may not be possible, but what is most needed?  We may be able to work with DLL or CITL as well.)
    1. This is complementary to the Instructional Designer position.
    2. Need to identify needs.
  • Redefine UMaine Extension’s Educational Program Structure: Name specific programs as part of the Food System by topic area and/or by the audience (consumer vs. commercial): 4-H, Agriculture, Business & Community Development, Food and Health, Garden and Yard, Home and Family, Insects, Pests, Ticks, and Plant Diseases, Natural Resources, Climate Change.  (This is occurring as part of the ELT restructuring.  The committee can discuss appropriate topics/titles of programmatic areas and also if others need or should be included.)
    1. Will move forward in the combined recommendations document.
  • Redefine UMaine Extension’s Educational Program Structure: Adopt the focus area of One Health either to replace or as an addition to the Maine Food System. This may better encompass UMaine Extension’s current programs, including the food system. There has been widespread adoption in academia (UMaine) and at the federal level (CDC, EPA, USDA, FDA)  of the One Health model.
    1. Will move forward in the combined recommendations document.
  • Create a defined program leadership structure. Idea #1: Development of positions where half of the job includes combined responsibilities of a Program Administrator and Program Leader and the other half of the job is dedicated to educational program delivery.
    1. Will move forward in the combined recommendations document.
  • Idea#2: Development of Program Leader positions that represent program areas to inform administrative decisions about educational program offerings and staffing priorities. These positions would be separate from the positions of Program Administrators and would lead to the process of identifying the need for new educational programs, the elimination of some educational programs, and the identification of staffing needs.
    1. Will move forward in the combined recommendations document.

The committee will finish their review of recommendations during their September meeting.  The last section is “Successful Communications and Marketing”.