Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes January 16, 2024

Extension Leadership Team Meeting Minutes
Date: January 16, 2024
Time: 10 AM to 2 PM

Facilitator: Melissa Arndt
Note taker: Michael Bailey

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, purposeful 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)



  • 29th BOT Meeting
  • Vilsack meeting on Jan. 8th in Portland
  • Administrative Review Conclusion
  • Annual Leave – Jan. 31st – Feb. 2nd
  • ORA issues documents due to John by January 16, 2024
  • There may be another delay in the February 26th needs assessment presentation


  • Attending Mental Health Training for Extension today (so absent from ELT meeting)
  • The Staff Development Committee met to discuss building a foundation for the committee which will include mission, values and goals for the great professional development opportunities we’ll bring in 2024 and beyond.
  • Extension Exchange sessions are lining up for the year.
  • Beginning February 1st, Emily Bofia will support Staff Coordinator-related tasks and work directly with Beth for 10 hours each week. Continue to reach out to Beth with any questions or needs.


  • The Planning and Reporting Team has started to explore phase 2 of the new reporting system (phase 1 was the quick rollout of the 2023 system, given the surprise “retirement” of the old system). The new 2023 system is essentially a reporting system to capture staff effort numbers and impact narratives; it has been very successful.  Going forward in 2024 we will be integrating planning and evaluation components and improving its use as a marketing resource.  We are also exploring its use as a tool/resource for faculty and professional promotion packets.


  • Oxford County 4-H Position search process is moving forward.
  • Community First Responder Program- Husson is no longer working with the project. Brad from URI, who is a grad student supporting this project, traveled up to Maine to staff the booth at the Ag Trade Show. A huge thanks to everyone for making Brad feel so welcome at the Ag Trade Show.
  • Reviewing contracts by legal- what is our process now? Per Check-in conversation: Contracts need to be reviewed by Tom Connolly and a Program Leader/ELT member needs to submit the agreement/contract to legal for review and Michael needs to be copied on the email.


  • Working with Monica to create a comprehensive list of everyone who creates and sends email newsletters and what software they use in preparation for the move to one single centralized platform that works with Salesforce.
  • Reminder that all registration forms need to be created with the new Titan/Salesforce tool.


  • Grants Update – Congratulations!
  • County Billing – Expect Delays
  • Computers – The UMaine Office of Financial Planning and Analysis in conjunction with UMaine IT has shared information about the new Computer Refresh Program (CRP)
  • Accounts Payable (A/P) – Procurement Steering Committee Update via Kevin Carr
  • NDAA889 Certification (aka Beware of Federal Telecoms Regulations) – Signed by ORA
  • Central UMaine Finance/Accounting – Paula Shannon, Corey Watson, Beth Morin, and Liz Perry (Budgeting Strategy & Fund Usage)
  • Reporting – EFNEP/RREA (Federal Capacity Funding) & General Extension


  • KPE 396 a success!
  • John A Benedetto Memorial Scholarship Fund for Bryant Pond
  • Gary Proulx’s last day on Friday. We will need to hire for BP summer camp director.  Nicole Nelson taking over as State 4-H Shooting Sports Coordinator; she will be going to national training in Oregon
  • Summer Camp 2024 registration has launched – 600 registrations in the first 3 hours at TW/BBC alone – 361 for Bryant Pond
  • Daycare licensing for Blueberry Cove moving forward
  • MOSFA Network signing – Educator in Residence program


  • Potential new York County office space at the York County Courthouse in Alfred
  • Ankit Singh starts today in York County
  • Ornamental Hort Specialist Interviews start tomorrow
  • ATS was successful for Extension, despite the short day on Wednesday
  • Onion sale is going forward, with changes thanks to E-CASH
  • Pushback from Specialist not wanting to interact directly with clients
  • Great meeting with Alisha on Friday

Discussion Items

DEI Update

Alisha joined our meeting today to discuss her new .5FTE role as Extension’s DEI coordinator.  We discussed her role which includes Civil Rights Compliance (minimum requirements) and beyond (best practices).  She discussed IDI (Intercultural Development Program) & Other Initiatives, and shared the results of the EFAC (Extension for All Collaborative Internal cultural survey results:

  • Positive: Leadership supports DEI, as evidenced by actions; staff are allowed to be themselves (74% agree)
  • Goals for the Future: Fairness (equity) in internal hiring processes, professional development funds (availability); connecting emotions with defensive reactions (emotional intelligence); translation services needs (web, etc.)
  • How we get there: Action Plan and facilitating conversations bringing DEI issues to front of mind (what is DEI and how do I help?)

Announcements & Congratulations

Grants Announcements

Congratulations to Dr. Lily Calderwood for the award of $500,00 from Maine Technology Institute for the Piloting Innovation in Wild Blueberry: Reducing Harvest “Shrink” project.  The team will provide best harvesting practices based on applied research and educate state producers about the retrofits and modifications and provide a clear path for the designs to commercialization.

Congratulations to Griffith Dill and Dr. Tom Rounsville for the award of $2,500,000 from the US Department of Agriculture Animal & Plant Health Inspection for the Tick Surveillance Program Expansion.  This comprehensive one-year initiative aims to expand tick and tick-borne pathogen surveillance in northern New England, with a particular focus on emerging tick species such as the Asian longhorned tick and the lone star tick.

Congratulations to Dr. Alicyn Smart and Dr. Stephanie Shea for the award totaling $577,800 from the US Dept of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture for the NPDN Regional Hub Lab project.  The National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) is a premier diagnostic system with the ability to quickly detect and accurately identify plant pests and pathogens and to communicate timely and accurate information. The Northeast Plant Diagnostic Network (NEPDN) will carry out the three overarching goals of the NPDN: Detection, Diagnosis, and Reporting.

Congratulations to Dr. Jason Bolton and Dr. Hannah Carter for the award of $5,000,000 from the United States DOC National Institute of Standards and Technology for the UMaine PFAS Analytical and Detection Center.  The project is requesting appropriated funds to support the design and creation of a state-of-the-art PFAS Analytical and Detection Center in an existing building at the University of Maine, Orono campus. The Center will include laboratory space for analysis and office and meeting space for laboratory staff, researchers, and student workers. It will be a two year project that will allow the Purchase of instrumentation and equipment for the center to provide UMaine researchers with PFAS analysis and quantification.

Congratulations to Jessica Decke and Elizabeth Clarke for the award of $43,205 from the ME Dept of Education / US Dept of Education for the Summer 2023 Coastal Science and Marine Trades Program.  This project request is for the expansion and enhancement of these programs to include participants at Bryant Pond in western Maine. Over 182 young folks across Maine will benefit from this program in some capacity, with 96 participating in multi-day immersive experiences.  Programs will include opportunities for them to engage in authentic, interdisciplinary marine/coastal ecology experiences focused on innovative design processes, environmental stewardship, community science, leadership, and career development.

Search & Hire Updates


  • Summer Camp Director, Bryant Pond (with UMS HR for final review)


  • Executive Director of Extension Operations (2 of 6 approvals, justification in revision)
  • 4-H Youth Development Professional, Waldo (3 of 6 approvals)
  • Community Education Specialist CL2, Aroostook (part-time, 3 of 6 approvals)
  • Administrative Specialist CL3, Kennebec (replacement Diana Hartley)
  • 4-H Community Education Assistant CL2, Kennebec (part-time, partial backfill Alisha Targonski’s work, 3 of 6 approvals)
  • Staff Coordinator (3 of 6 approvals)
  • Extension Professional in Farm Business Transition, Penobscot (approved, staggering posting)


  • Lead Facilities Maintenance Worker CL2, Blueberry Cove
  • Community Education Assistant CL2, Washington (part-time)
  • 4-H Science Professional, Penobscot (extended)


  • 4-H Youth Development Professional, Oxford (2nd round interviews)
  • Administrative Specialist CL3, Agriculture / Horticulture, Cumberland (interviewing)
  • Assistant Extension Professor of Horticulture and Ornamental Horticulture Specialist (interviewing)


  • Extension Professor & Aquatic Animal Health Specialist, DRL – Dr. Sarah Barker, July 1st
  • Labor Education Professional, Penobscot (CE/BLE) – Dr. An Thuy Nguyen, Jan 22nd

2024 ELT Meeting Dates

Dates Facilitator Notes Location
February 21 Bailey Bolton TBD
March 20 Bolton Carter TBD
April 17 Carter Dill TBD
May 16 Dill Hawkyard UMF
June 19 Hawkyard Jackson TBD
July 17 Jackson Phelps TBD
August 21 Phelps Prichard TBD
September 18 Prichard Scott TBD
October 16 Scott Arndt TBD
November 20 Arndt Bailey TBD
December 18 Bailey Bolton TBD