Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes April 11, 2022

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
April 11, 2022
Virtual Meeting 8:30-10:30 AM

Facilitator: Jon Prichard
Note taker: Lisa Phelps

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

PFAS Group

Make sure we document time spent supporting PFAS education, outreach, and research. Michael needs this information.

Extension Foundation (formerly e-Xtension)

Do we want to revisit being a member of the Extension Foundation?  From a recent email:
We hope you are doing well! We wanted to reach out to you regarding membership in the Extension Foundation for 2022. As you know, membership in the Extension Foundation provides exclusive benefits to your faculty and staff. Without membership, the University of Maine will be missing out on the chance to:

  • Enhance leadership potential of your faculty and staff
  • Increase innovation in projects and programs across your state through our Impact Collaborative program.
  • Gain special access to our network of Innovation Facilitators and coaches, a library of video resources, and special grant writing workshops.
  • Be first in line for special member-led national projects and coalitions to support short-term efforts that lead to system-wide solutions.

You can find more details about upcoming members-only benefits and professional development activities mentioned above here.

Notes:  The cost of subscribing to membership in the Extension Foundation is about $12K – $13K. We discussed if it is important for UMaine Extension to have access to these resources?  It appears staff were not utilizing this resource in the past.  We decided not to subscribe for FY22 and Fran will work with Beth Hawkyard to monitor use by and value of EF to our staff.

Participation in the Climate Smart Ag Grant (NIFA)

From Mike O’Neil in CT:

Greetings New England Colleagues –

We have a team at UConn developing a proposal for climate smart agriculture in New England. The focus will be on small farms implementing controlled environment agriculture (greenhouses, high tunnels etc.). Another dimension of our project is that it will enhance our existing partnership with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. They are interested in extending growing seasons for their food production.

We are considering expanding our concept to all New England states. Are you interested in partnering with us on this project? Are there particular topics/areas that your team members would like to address?

Let me know your thoughts and we will organize a video conference of some sort to have a conversation.

Notes: We considered whether the new Food Sovereignty faculty would be interested but they don’t start until Aug. 2022. [Update 4/28 – Unsure if we will be able to participate due to the grant deadlines.]

Attendance at National Conference

The ELT revisited organizational support for those who want to represent Extension at national conferences. We decided to continue our support as indicated in the following link (scroll to the bottom of this page). Here is a link to the current guidelines. ($2000).

Independent Funding Proposal

There are times that a staff member may have a programming idea or some other initiative that would benefit Extension and need funding. The ELT accepts independent proposals from staff.  For more information on how to submit an IP to the ELT see: https://extension.umaine.edu/plugged-in/policies-guidelines/policies-procedures-manual/section-four-programs-and-reports/4-6/#proposals. Once a proposal is prepared, the staff member should send it to their PA or a member of the ELT and we will consider the proposal at our next meeting.

Request from Senior Companion Program

Senior Companion Program Interim Director Michael Morang has requested that Extension consider assisting SCP volunteers in our county offices they are currently serving (Oxford, Androscoggin, Kennebec, Waldo, Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Penobscot, Washington, Hancock, and Knox).  He requests “a physical place that volunteers can go to near them and have someone to check in with for resources in the area or programs being offered, someone that can help with emailing documents to myself or one of my coordinators, help with faxing, mailing, etc. Sometimes our volunteers may need help with completing a form and to have a person near them that can help with that is huge. Down the road if staffing permits we would love to have extra sets of eyes on timesheets that come into us or help with completing timesheets, collecting paperwork to send to me. We will also be getting back into monthly trainings and hopefully would be able to use spaces in your offices to do these and get our volunteers more involved with your programs.”

Notes: We were concerned about the demands this would place on our county staff that are already stretched thin. We decided not to accept the request as detailed, although we could offer meeting space at these counties instead of staff time.

Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)

Lisa Phelps will become the Extension representative for EDEN, taking the place of Dick Brzozowski.

Follow-up to April 7 Positions Priorities ELT Conversation  

Our April 7 ELT discussion was broad with much thought given to possible long-term structural changes to UM Extension. Our conversation will continue at our April 21 ELT Retreat.

Meeting with EC Presidents and Staff Liaisons in March

Follow up from this very productive meeting as there were ideas for future meetings, information that was requested, etc.

Notes: Fran sent out a reminder on the survey and she will bring the survey data to this group for next steps.

PAC Follow-up on Part-time PA involvement at PAC meetings

After surveying PAC members, the majority feel part-time PAs should not be involved with full meetings. However, there will be more discussion on this and the PAC will be revisiting to find appropriate ways to include these PAs.

Notes: No updates, but Jason will follow up with Ellen Mallory.


Updates on Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Efforts

Two DEI training and development initiatives are either continuing or just getting started. First the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) process has been taking place within the 4-H program and with EFNEP staff as well. Due to the success of the program (initially funded by a UMaine Libra Professorship grant), Extension is funding a continuation of the program for the next three years.

The second DEI program was funded by SARE and will focus on our agricultural staff. The program will begin with an organizational assessment, followed by recommendations. Extension will be working with a consulting firm and they will be talking with staff and our clients.

A third project in the final stages, is the adaptation of an LGBTQ guidance document. The UMaine Extension DEI Group adapted a guidance document that was focused on 4-H, for use organization wide. It has been reviewed by UMS Equal Opportunity and will be rolled out in the next few months with self-paced Safe Zone training for all staff who would like to know more about the guidance. Due to resignations and upcoming retirements, the Extension DEI Group will be reaching out to all employee representational committees to ask for nominations to the DEI Group. We’d also like to have members of the IDI team and the SARE steering committee connected to this group. We look forward to expanding the representation of this group in the Fall. If you would like to be considered you may reach out to Fran Sulinski.

Tour of Darling Marine Center on June 10th

Heather Leslie will provide this tour with Extension staff attending.


There is a UMSystem Strategic planning underway, including meetings in various parts of the state. Extension needs to be vocal and visible in this process and we encourage Extension staff to participate.

Hiring New Staff – Search Process and Support

When planning to hire a new staff member, please get in touch with Fran Sulinski and Beth Hawkyard before you develop a job description. They will help with a number of aspects of the search, one being a job description template. Using a template, and the other support from Fran and Beth will make the search process more efficient.

Salesforce Update from Monica Palmer

Setup of the Salesforce org has progressed very well over the past month. Many meetings with teams across extension have continued to take place and have led to fantastic discussions around how Salesforce can help streamline and centralize current processes. Some of the units met with were the Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and Home Horticulture team.

  • The Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab (PDDL) is the first official adopter of Salesforce! Monica will be building out an internal portal for the PDDL to use to manage incoming questions and photo submissions as well as a customer-facing form that will standardize these submissions. This solution will allow the PDDL to track open cases, report on case metrics such as what county samples were from, number of cases resolved, average time spent on a case, etc. as well as gather required information at the time of submission which will expedite resolution and facilitate better customer service. The tools are expected to go live by the end of the month. A workflow diagram for the portal and a screenshot of the portal are included below.
  • Mailchimp Premium will be the Salesforce-integrated email platform for Extension communication campaigns. More information about the migration to a single, organization-wide tool will be coming in the following weeks.
  • A communications plan is being developed to disseminate regular updates and information about Salesforce to the greater Extension community. This is expected to launch sometime this month.
  • Monica will be Hannah’s guest at the May Extension Connection meeting and will discuss what Salesforce means for Extension and how we can start to realize some benefits of such a robust platform in the coming months.
  • Please feel free to contact Monica Palmer with questions or input: monica.palmer@maine.edu

PDDL Workflow Example:


PDDL Issue Tracking Record Example:

Search Updates

Program Coordinator (2 positions) – Blueberry Cove and Tanglewood – Megan Maroney and
Bethany Nichols hired
4-H Science Professional – Pending Acceptance in HireTouch
4-H Youth Development Professional – Aroostook County – Posted External
Accounting & Operations Professional – Pending Acceptance in HireTouch
Administrative Specialist CL1 – Hancock County – Posted External
Administrative Specialist CL2 – Libby Hall Confidential – Pending Acceptance in HireTouch
Administrative Specialist CL2 – Cumberland County – Posted External
Assistant Extension Professor and Dairy Forage Educator – Posted External
Assistant Extension Professor and Extension Agricultural Engineer – Dr. Suman Datta hired
Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Assistant Extension Professor and
Small Business Specialist, Maine Business School – Posted External
Community Education Assistant CL1 – Androscoggin/Sagadahoc Counties – Pending Acceptance in HireTouch
Community Education Assistant CL1 – York County – Pending Acceptance in HireTouch
Community Education Assistant CL2 – Magic Lantern – Interviewing
Community Education Assistant CL2 – Hancock county – Posted External
Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional – Aroostook County – Posted External
Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional – Franklin County – Posted External,
Sustainable Agriculture and Horticulture Professional – Somerset County – Posted External,

2022 ELT Meeting Dates

Dates Facilitator Notes Location
April 21 Spring Retreat  8 AM – 3 PM UMA
May 9 Phelps Scott Virtual
June 13 Scott Sulinski Virtual
July 11 Sulinski Arndt Virtual
August 8 Arndt Bailey Virtual
September 12 Bailey Bolton Virtual
October 11 Bolton Carter Virtual
October 20 Fall Retreat 10 AM – 2 PM TBD
November 14 Carter Dill Virtual
December 12 Dill Harrington Virtual