Provide Educational and Leadership Opportunities
Connections that can help promote early success in a new position are extremely important in Extension. A sense of confidence, motivation and job satisfaction can stimulate feelings of success in new employees and better prepare them to have an impact on the organization.
Chi Epsilon Sigma supports mentoring as an important tool in developing employees to be successful and strengthen their commitment to Extension and the communities they serve. CES members have been active participants in mentoring efforts for support staff begun by Linda Kutelik in 1999. In 2006, a Mentor Coordinator position was added to the CES Board to support this effort.
By January 1, 2006, sixteen people from around the state had been trained to be mentors for support staff. By 2009, the number had grown to 22 - many of whom had been trained using an on-line training tool to prepare them for these responsibilities. In April 2012, Graham Cochran, Leader New Personnel Development met with CES Board members to discuss plans to revamp new employee orientation and onboarding. CES envisions being an active partner in this effort.
Prior to the All-Extension Conferences we enjoy today, CES provided Support Staff Conferences every October in conjunction with the fraternity’s Annual Meetings. Beginning in 2004, CES stepped up and requested permission to hold a conference for support staff and took the lead in planning the event. One notable constraint - event expenses had to be totally covered be registration fees. The following year with Teresa Funk as Committee Chair, the Conference expanded to include support staff from all areas of CFAES. In all five annual Support Staff Conferences were conducted.
Recognizing the difficulty travel presents to county support staff, CES worked with the Leadership Center to take professional development opportunities to them. Both expense and time away were cited as difficulties.
In spring 2012, StrengthsFinder Workshops facilitated by Beth Flynn were offered at 6 different locations throughout the state. CES members in each of these locations acted as host to participants and support for our presenter. Sessions were open to all Extension employees, not just support staff or CES members. This model was extremely successful and will be considered for future educational offerings sponsored by CES.
Support Staff Specializations Inventory
Connectivity across the state continues to be a challenge for support staff. In 2012 CES sponsored the data collection efforts for the Support Staff Specialization list. Our goal was to ensure that all support staff in the state were represented in the listing. In conjunction with Extension Human Resources, this list is now available on the HR website. Access to this information is expected to provide a conduit for learning, connections between counties for peer assistance, and enhanced professional development as needs become apparent.
CES is a standing member of the Association Presidents Meetings with Extension Administration. Along with representatives from OEAA, OEPA and Epsilon Sigma Phi, and now JCEP, our representatives meet quarterly with the director of OSU Extension. They are in a position to share the perspectives of its members and voice concerns in a confidential and dignified manner.
CES serves alongside JCEP representatives on the Extension Annual Conference Planning Committee. CES representatives include the current President, Vice President, Annalist and 2 additional members to serve on the Recognition/Awards and Education/Technology sub-committees.
Officers of CES serve on the selection committee for professional development dollars that are provided annually by administration for support staff. Also, CES representatives have served on numerous other committees: new employee orientation, retirement planning, all agricultural college conference planning, support staff mentoring, and most recently, the Strategic Planning Review committee formed in 2012.