Communiqué August 28, 2013


Featuring the Work of OSUE Field Specialists

Throughout the year we will be spotlighting the work of our field specialists. In this issue we feature Eric Romich (energy development).

During my tenure as a community development educator in Wyandot County, I became heavily involved and interested in renewable energy education. In 2009, a renewable energy company approached the Wyandot County commissioners to develop a utility-scale solar farm. The initial level of interest was low to moderate. However, community leaders had a number of questions on solar energy, renewable energy policy and community economic impacts; and they turned to Extension for answers. Collaborating with Extension colleagues, we worked to develop a renewable energy program that includes fact sheets, bulletins, and a role-play workshop to provide local leaders with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions on the project.

Based on Extension’s energy programming with local leaders, the Wyandot County commissioners successfully developed a 12-megawatt solar farm that is the largest solar facility in Ohio. One of the neatest things I’ve experienced since being with Extension, was to realize firsthand the positive impact of Extension education to the communities we serve. In addition, these experiences have allowed me to better understand the development process as well as the social, economic and environmental debates that accompany large-scale energy development.

Personally, I have always enjoyed taking part in new challenges, and the opportunity to work as a field specialist is extremely exciting. I feel the field specialist positions are uniquely positioned to leverage talent and resources from across the university to develop educational tools and programming, and to partner with county-based educators to deliver programming across Ohio.      

As an Extension field specialist in energy development, my programming focus is in renewable energy development and shale energy development. I truly enjoy delivering energy programming to client groups statewide, with a specific focus on elected officials, community leaders, and business leaders to guide informed decision making on energy development and facilitate local conflict resolution.         

A prologue from the 2012 Public and Land-Grant Conference on Energy Challenges proceedings reads: “Turn a switch and turn on what may be the most important problem facing humanity. At a minimum, by mid-century, we need to find some way of generating an incredible amount of energy, 10 terawatts in a sustained fashion and for worldwide prosperity, it has to be cheap.”  While this summarizes the energy challenges from a global perspective, how does this apply to Extension and the counties across Ohio in which we serve? As with most large-scale development, energy development often presents rural communities with social, economic, and environmental impacts, positioning global environmental interests against the welfare of local preservation.  Many times, controversies centered on energy and the environment are emotionally charged and have the potential to divide a community. 

For example, in western Ohio, large-scale wind farm development generates emission-free electricity, significant lease payments, and local tax revenue to Ohio communities. However, many residents have concerns about property values, visual impacts and noise levels. Meanwhile in eastern Ohio, shale energy development has yielded significant economic impacts including 88 new millionaires in Harrison County and 550 new millionaires in Carroll County. However, as oil and gas activity expands across Ohio, it brings a wide array of local community issues such as community service needs, population growth, environmental concerns and infrastructure impacts. 

A major component of my plan of work for 2013 aligns with these issues and includes four grant/partnership-funded projects:

  • Wyandot County Survey of Renewable Energy and Environmental Issues
  • Utility-Scale Renewable Energy Development - Project Siting and Conflict Resolution
  • Preparing Communities for Shale Development through Sustainable Planning
  • Building Sustainable Communities in Ohio’s Shale Region: Leveraging Manufacturing Clusters and Local Assets with Strategic Planning

I sincerely enjoy working as part of a team and building new relationships with Extension colleagues. Over the past year, I have worked on collaborative projects that include partnerships with all four Extension program areas; the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering; the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics; the School of Environment and Natural Resources; and the Center of Automotive Research. In addition, multi-state collaborations have been established with Extension educators at Michigan State University, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University, Colorado State University, University of Illinois, University of Arizona, University of Wyoming, and Purdue University. 

Extension educators have a growing responsibility to address energy challenges by providing research-based data to support our communities in the planning and decision-making process. I encourage anyone who has an interest in energy education to contact me ( and we can work together to develop a program that meets the needs of your clientele. 

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OSUE Administrative Office Update

-Keith Smith, associate vice president, Agricultural Administration and director, OSU Extension

I am pleased to welcome LaVerne Kidd to our team as my new executive assistant, following Betty Watkins' retirement. LaVerne will be my primary contact for calendar and other requests, as well as meeting preparation. If you need to schedule or change an appointment, or if you have questions for me, you can contact LaVerne at 614-292-1842 or

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Leaders Make the Future Book

-Keith Smith, associate vice president, Agricultural Administration and director, OSU Extension

As a follow up to the book Leaders Make the Future – Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World, by Bob Johansen (2009) that was purchased with Gist Funds and distributed to our country Extension directors, I would encourage all of our employees to read and discuss this book as the Shelby County Extension staff have. They have made it a part of their staff meeting to discuss the book. Laura Norris, CED and 4-H educator, reports that she and her colleagues have had good discussions on skills needed in the future. I enjoyed learning about this from Laura during our recent congressional assistants' tour.

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Extension Annual Conference RFPs are due by September 25

You are invited to attend and participate in the OSU Extension 2013 Annual Conference on December 4. To kick off the 100th year of the Cooperative Extension Service, this year’s theme is “Moving Forward, Looking Back: A celebration of history and possibility.” Proposals are due by 11:59 pm on September 25. Proposals may be submitted to present in one of the following formats: half-session, full-session, or poster. Save the Date Postcard

To submit a proposal, go to Please be sure to read the instructions located here ( BEFORE you go to the website to submit. There is a new registration process for RFPs this year!

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Conflict Management Workshop for Managers, Supervisors, and Team Leaders - September 26

Leaders set the tone for others within their respective organizations or companies on dealing with conflict. Leaders who increase their knowledge of conflict management have a stronger capacity to help others develop their own conflict skills and abilities. Leaders will leave the workshop with specific information and tools that can be immediately utilized by themselves and others within their organizations or departments.

Description and Objectives:
Conflict is a part of our daily lives at work or at home. How we manage conflict has a direct impact on how fulfilled we feel about work, the quality of our own work, and the quality of work from our respective teams or units. Effectively dealing with and using conflict as a positive tool is a major component of success in current or future leadership roles.  

Leaders of organizations and units also realize the impact of conflict on an organization's or team's culture. Do we have an environment that allows for differences of opinion to be openly shared? Do you or your team members have the knowledge and skills to work through conflict situations rather than allowing conflict to undermine the team's or unit's effectiveness? This workshop will provide participants with a greater understanding of how conflict affects one's work and strategies to develop one's conflict management skills. Participants will also complete the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) assessment to identify their preferred mode of conflict management and understand individual and team implications to their style.

Jeff King will be facilitating this workshop on September 26 from 9:15 a.m. to noon in room 105, Agricultural Administration building. The fee is $60 per participant, which includes the TKI assessment. To register and make your payment, go to

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The university's presidential search is underway, and the search committee would like to receive input from faculty and staff across our college and particularly those who are not campus-based. Join search committee member Deborah Merritt TODAY from 1-2:30 pm to receive information about the search, offer your input and have your questions answered. This forum will be delivered via web conference. Participants can connect to the forum by clicking on this link:

The search committee is seeking suggestions from students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. Please share your ideas through the presidential search website. There, you can see when other public forums will be held, suggest a potential candidate, offer thoughts on qualities needed in our next president, or comment on Ohio State's unique opportunities.

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