Extension Roadmap Steering Committee Meeting Notes, November 9, 2021

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

The committee has discussed the 45 recommendations that the five theme committees developed and reported on during the March organizational meeting.  The focus of this meeting was “What are the other considerations we need to be aware of as an organization as we move forward?”

Here are the discussion points from this question:

  • Salary ranges are not competitive at all levels.
    • How do we make people “whole”
  • There is less money, longer duration of work (asking people to do more)
    • Flexibility is desirable
    • 20-30 hour positions?  (More hours is more stable)
  • Job descriptions are not accurate
    • More standardized skillsets for job descriptions
    • Creating job descriptions is cumbersome
  • Impending retirements
    • Entry-level – severe mismatch with 30-year retirements
  • County coordinator roles and job descriptions
  • Regions of the state
    • Increase communications between offices/regions
    • Streamline information
    • 1 person managing different sites (supervision)
    • How can we best support our physical locations and staffing?
  • How do we best meet our needs?
    • Is our current structure the best for meeting our needs?

How do we improve efficiency and organization within Extension?

How do we reframe the way we think about things?

  • Flexibility – hybrid/remote
  • Consulting opportunities
  • “Sell” the position – create a narrative (in regards to attracting new employees)
  • Culture of organization – we need to sell it
    • Create a video (30 seconds) that talks about all the great things that go along with working with the university and Extension
    • Discuss retirement benefits
  • Search committees – look at the process
    • Members of these committees should be happy about the opportunity

What do we start doing/stop doing?  How do we let go of things?

  • Even harder with a split appointment – living up to expectations
  • Being pulled in a lot of directions
  • We should not have to justify it (stop doing things) – wonder what our peers perceive as our work?
  • For faculty, research and writing takes time – you can’t be there for all meetings and educational programs
  • Focus on employees and not the programs themselves
  • “Sacred cows” are tied to people and to stakeholders
  • We need to rely on data and impact for the things we stop doing

We (Extension) needs to be aware of:

  • UMS Transforms – the Alfond gift
  • Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee Plan
  • That we may have opportunities that other parts of UMaine or the UMS don’t have or can’t do

UMaine Extension Professionals are tired

  • They may not think they have the level of freedom to make decisions that faculty do
  • It was acknowledged that the professionals may have more freedom than they think they do

We need to:

  • Address the culture of the organization
  • Tap into the resources on campus
    • Students doing video work
    • Inter-university contract work
  • We know that some resources are not available to counties or to extension programs

Culture of the organization

  • What is our cultural identity?
  • Will it be a living document
  • Can be used for recruitment
  • Service – we are here to serve people; service to others
  • Need to celebrate and recognize accomplishments

Combined Recommendations

  • Counties – define the future of the counties
    • Roles, coordinators
    • Visual – where our offices are and the populations of the counties
  • Offices and responsibilities
    • Combine resources
    • Not replication of efforts
    • Existing staff – what skills do they have to support the entire organization?
    • Redefine roles?
  • The last time Extension made a big change — Food Systems & 4-H, this was driven by budgets

Needs Assessment:

  • Programs to add or to stop doing
  • Resource inventor of our own people?

Our next meeting will be Tuesday, December 14 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. 

The agenda will be as follows:

  • Discuss the timeline of the Steering Committee and the next steps in this process.
  • Other thoughts/items to consider

Future Meetings:

  • January 11, 2022 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

**Meetings will be scheduled for February, March and April