Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes September 20, 2023

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
Date: September 20, 2023
Time: 10 AM – 2:45 PM
Location: Hancock County Extension Office (Ellsworth)

Facilitator: Tori Jackson
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.

Meeting Focus

Agenda items relate to one of these three goals with corresponding action items and/or priorities.

  • Make Extension a sustainable, equitable and enjoyable place to work
  • Work on structural, (county offices, staffing patterns), cultural and leadership issues that will lead to this
  • Focus on employee experience
  • Restructure Extension
  • Right size based on budget
  • Mission delivery that is current, and responsive to changing demographics/community needs
  • Overall efficiency and effectiveness
  • Define focus areas
  • Make PFAS a priority for Extension (define what this means; not necessarily a piece of everyone’s job, but an organizational priority nevertheless).

Hancock County Extension Office Visit and Tour

The ELT met in Ellsworth today and had a good visit with staff who updated us on their programs and gave us a tour of their offices and grounds/gardens.


Jason started our meeting with a mindfulness exercise.

Welcoming Beth Hawkyard to the ELT

This week Beth became a member of the ELT, participating in meetings on Monday and Wednesday.  We enthusiastically welcomed her to the team!

Check ins

Who the ELT is and how we communicate

We had a conversation on ELT transparency and communications.  How do we make it clear to all staff so they are clear as to who is currently on the ELT?  And how does the ELT communicate with all staff?  We tend to be somewhat passive.  Is there a more active and direct way for us to communicate to all staff?  How do we disseminate information on a regular basis?


  • Recapped Monday’s UMaine “Town Hall”, including 3 themes
    1. Sustaining the health of our planet and confronting climate change
    2. Advance research and teaching for tomorrow’s innovators
    3. Growing a thriving and inclusive community of learners
  • Extension budget meeting on Sep 21 with Kelly Sparks (Corey Watson). Hannah and Michael will reinforce the uniqueness of Extension and our budgets and financial structures.
  • Weekly departmental “Presidential updates” due on Thursday – Can include events, news, etc.  How can we make this as efficient as possible?
    1. Email to staff – “news to report?”
      • “Hello!, If you have news to share this week, please send it to me at your earliest convenience.” (Link to Google Form)
    2. Standing Monday ELT agenda item
  • We are visiting our advertising plan/approach for new positions, with particular attention to immigration issues


  • Hancock/Washington MGV program staffing
  • Hierarchy issues with specialists & new faculty in similar areas


  • Planning and reporting testing and rollout
  • Franklin County temporary office coverage


  • 4-H Foundation Funding Proposals and upcoming meeting with Laurie Bragg
  • LENE Project and 4-H expansion
  • Exec Meetings – Washington County


  • Maine Outdoor School for All – brief update (5 mins)
    • LD 1817
    • Marketing and communication strategy;
    • New MOU with partner orgs. (will expand ELLMS)
  • Rural Futures Fund – Aspirations Incubator/NorthStar 4-H – New Balance Foundation; Oxford 4-H.


  • No budget communication regarding FY25 – On standby (all budgets)
  • Corey Sparks + Staff: Financial Analysis Capacity for Vetting Strategic Changes
  • Out next week, per shared leave schedule


  • Excited to be here
  • Search to begin for full-time, professional Staff Coordinator position
  • November Organizational Conference Planning in progress


  • Website – exploring the possibility of hiring a consultant to provide recommendations on navigation and UX design; Michelle and Matt are working to more clearly define roles for administrators vs roles for editors (other staff)
  • Social media – Lynne has mostly transitioned to horticulture full time; filling the gap with Tayla, Izzy, and Daisy; developing a detailed strategy for Extension’s social media

Discussion Items

FY25 Budget Process

We discussed and brainstormed ideas around the UMaine FY25 budget process.

Needs Assessment Update

  • Data assessment started this week
  • 161 people completed the portal
  • Next steps: Classes for Q-Sort, and Qualtrics Survey

Organizational Structure Updates

We reviewed final documents related to our Extension organizational restructure and made plans for a rollout to occur in mid-October and to be reinforced through a presentation and Q&A at the November 8-9 Organizational Conference.

Announcements & Congratulations

Congratulations to Kathy Savoie who was recently honored with the Association of Northeast Extension Directors’ 2023 Exceptional Local Educator Award.  The highly competitive award is given annually to celebrate a Cooperative Extension educator who provides leadership for the delivery of a program that focuses on the community level, responds directly to local issues or needs, and engages in exceptional program planning and assessment.  Kathy received the award for the program “Building Agricultural Literacy through an Immersive Culinary Art Experience.” Kathy, along with Rob Dumas, food science innovation coordinator at UMaine, created, designed and delivered a program which provides four types of experiential learning for Maine culinary arts instructors and their students. It includes classroom visits to infuse agricultural literacy into mainstream culinary arts curricula, mini-grant funds to support experiential learning and an innovative local food competition. Since its inception 18 months ago, the program has already reached 650 learners and 21 culinary arts instructors. Participants in the program increased proficiency in all five National Agricultural Literacy Outcome benchmarks, which help track student progress toward the goal of understanding the source of our food and how agriculture affects our quality of life, by 90%. Kathy will showcase her programming during the Association of Northeast Extension Directors’ annual awards celebration in early 2024.

Congratulations to the UMaine 4-H Pride Committee – Mitch Mason, Sarah Sparks, Alisha Targonski, Tara Marble, Dana Dotson, and Lyndsey Smith – on receiving a regional award (Diversity & Inclusion: Expanding the 4-H Audience) from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (NAE4HYDP)

Congratulations to the Maine 4-H Communication Science Team – Cathy Bartlett Gray, and Sheila Norman on receiving a regional award (Excellence in Communication and Expressive Arts) from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (NAE4HYDP)

Congratulations to the Multi-State Northeast Region Public Speaking Team – Cathy Bartlett Gray, Tara Marble, Emily Mott, Sheila Norman and others from Maine and the Northeast Region on receiving a national award (Excellence in Teamwork) from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (NAE4HYDP)

Congratulations to the Social Media Package/Campaign Team – Jen Lobley, Allison Smith, and Kelly Campbell on receiving a national award (Volunteer Impact Social Media Campaign) from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (NAE4HYDP)

Congratulations to Barbara Baker, Retired 4-H Educator, Penobscot Piscataquis Counties on receiving a 4-H Life Member Award from the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals (NAE4HYDP)

Search & Hire Updates


  • 4-H Youth Development Professional, Oxford


  • Assistant Extension Professor of Horticulture and Ornamental Horticulture Specialist 3 of 7 approvals as of 8/31
  • Research Assistant, Veterinary Histology Professional, Penobscot / DRL 3 of 6 approvals as of 8/31
  • Administrative Specialist CL3, Agriculture / Horticulture, Cumberland, 3 of 6 approvals as of 8/31
  • Extension Professional in Farm Business Transition, Penobscot approved, staggering posting


  • Labor Education Professional, Penobscot (CE/BLE)
  • Admin Specialist CL3 4-H, Cumberland (*previously approved as CL2, changed to CL3 in July) 3 of 6 approvals as of 8/31
  • Assistant/Associate Professor, Seafood Technology, Food Safety Specialist, Penobscot (Extended posting in July)


  • Asst Professor Sustainable Agriculture and Ornamental Horticulture Educator, Faculty, York County / Southern ME (offering, in consideration by candidate)
  • Parent Education Professional, Maine Families, Knox/Lincoln (offering)


  • Postdoctoral Research Associate in Tick Borne Disease Research, DRL – Olivia Choi, Nov 1
  • Oh YEA! 4-H Professional, Cumberland – Dana Dotson, Sept 15th
  • Research Assistant in Sustainable Agriculture, Penobscot – Abby Novak, Sept 5th
  • Open Air Classroom Program Coordinator, Tanglewood – Reed Bridge-Koenigsberg, Sept 5
  • Assistant Extension Professor and Applied Molecular Specialist – Thomas Rounsville, immediate
  • Asst Professor, Maine Sustainable Agriculture and Farm Business Management Educator Knox/Lincoln/Waldo – Brett Johnson, Sept 1
  • Asst Extension Professor, Maine Sustainable Agriculture and Livestock Educator, Hancock/Washington – Rachel White, Sept 1
  • AgrAbility Coordinator, statewide – Izzy Ruffin, Sept 1
  • Parent Education Professional, Maine Families Visitor Cumberland – Cathy Bartlett Gray, Aug 23
  • Communications Professional, Penobscot – Daisy Ratzlaff, Aug 15
  • Oh YEA! 4-H Professional, And/Sag Margaruette Seguin, Aug 2
  • Assistant Diagnostician and Accreditation Program Manager, Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab Stephanie Shea, Aug 1

2023 ELT In-Person Meeting Dates

Dates Facilitator Notes Location
October 16 Jackson Prichard Virtual
November 15 Prichard Phelps York
December 20 Phelps Scott Virtual