CFAES Give Today
OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Communiqué February 19, 2014


Constructive Depolarizing - A Leadership Skill

-Tom Worley, director, OSU Extension Center at Piketon

In chapter six of Bob Johansen’s book, Leaders Make the Future, it outlines how to recognize and understand polarization and how to constructively address this growing tendency among various groups. Johansen supports his forecast for greater volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) in our world by identifying how increasing polarization results in various levels of conflict among groups. He explains that leaders will need specific skills to recognize and appreciate polarizing influences and to apply skills of cross-cultural awareness, grace and communication to lead in its presence.

The term polarization is associated with the idea of being so certain about an issue or causing groups to adopt a “knowing that we know” attitude. In extreme cases, a group becomes so polarized and believes so strongly in its position, that the group members conversely believe everyone else is wrong. Recent studies in neuroscience raise the possibility such rigidness of attitude may arise out of involuntary brain mechanisms similar to love and anger, thereby bound with emotion, the brain functions independent of reason. Polarized situations imply there is more than one group with divergent, strongly held positions; and it can become a leader’s role to work with such groups to constructively move beyond an emotionally charged situation.

When we encounter factions with differing positions in need of reconciliation, we are cautioned as leaders to avoid jumping to conclusions and to understand that polarized situations abound in varying degrees. Polarization can be rooted in cultural, religious, and economic differences and can be further magnified by age, gender, disability, ethnic and regional beliefs. The leader’s challenge is to work through situations involving conflict and to constructively depolarize it. Johansen defines this process as “the maker instinct applied to conflict, an effort to make polarization into constructive dialogue.” This sounds deceptively simple. As individuals, we need to recognize we may have our own complicating tendencies toward polarization (our own personal biases) and staying positive and constructive may not be our first instinct.  

Johansen outlines the following points to keep in mind when working toward depolarizing a situation. First, avoid any temptation to pick sides in the conflict. Second, recognize the situation as a drama to be played out rather than a problem to be solved. There will likely be many twists and turns in the plot. Third, there will rarely be a clear either/or choice to be made or even a definite conclusion to the matter. At minimum, the outcome will be the start of a dialogue which will move groups closer to an appreciation or understanding of the others’ view. Optimistically, the start of dialogue will lead to more constructive relationships, including further dialogue going forward.

In our Extension work, there are lots of issues and problems which present themselves as problems to be solved, when in reality they are dilemmas or situations to lead through constructively, even as complexities and ambiguities related to polarization linger. Leading through these situations requires lots of personal cross-cultural knowledge of the sources of polarization. A most important leader trait in dealing with polarized conflict is grace, which entails being willing, interested, nimble, poised and engaged in being constructive. Grace requires us to offer polarized groups consideration and respect whether we feel it is deserved or not. With enough grace, leaders can make it appear straight forward, even easy, to work among polarized groups. In summary, constructive depolarization is the ability to rethink and reimagine what may be possible. With an attitude of hope, readiness and willingness to strive for improvement, we have the most basic of abilities to continue to work successfully in our “VUCA” world.

Back to Top

OSUE Administrative Cabinet Recognition

Administrative Cabinet is pleased to recognize a few individuals for their particularly outstanding work on some key projects recently. We will publish the recipients’ names quarterly in the Communiqué. Cabinet acknowledged the following individuals during the final quarter of 2013: Karen Argabright – November and Don Ordaz – December.

Back to Top

Strategic Plan Update

-Bev Kelbaugh, Southeast regional director and Kirk Bloir, program director, OSU Extension

Progress is being made on implementing the OSU Extension strategic plan on many fronts! You have been seeing a number of training opportunities recently related to building capacity to more effectively address the needs of diverse audiences (initiative 10) and expanding our use of technology to deliver programming (initiative 5). As an organization, we’re in the midst of analyzing the data entered in RiV to be able to demonstrate the impact of OSU Extension programs (initiative 2). Each of you, in your own way, are working every day to cultivate partnerships that contribute to the solution of societal issues related to health and wellness, food production and security, and energy and the environment (initiative 3). Together, we are all making contributions to achieve the goals of our strategic plan.

Looking specifically at a few of the action steps that were due in January:

  • RiV training is now an integral part of the new employee onboarding process, with PDE working closely with Extension HR to ensure new employees are equipped to use our reporting system and tools effectively.
  • The ADs are actively working to review the indicators for each POA (plan of action) in RiV.
  • Signature program leaders are also working to review and/or identify indicators that are/will be included in RiV, along with a concurrent effort to ensure all signature programs have evaluation tools identified/developed.
  • PDE is working on developing a clientele/customer satisfaction training.
  • The guidelines for how to create and effectively work with county advisory committees are complete and will be shared at the April 16 County Extension Director in-service.
  • An advisory committee to identify equipment and technology needs and procurement strategies to expand eLearning and support programming has been convened.  Members include: Tim Barkley, Julie Fox, Teresa Johnson, Andy Londo, Brian Raison, and Don Ordaz.
  • The ADs are working to develop a definition of “eLearning” for OSU Extension.

A strategic plan is a living document. As such, modifications can be made to reconcile current realities with projected expectations. Two such modifications have been made. 

The first involves changing plans for having a needs assessment conducted by the end of this June, to having a plan in place for the needs assessment by the end of June.  This modification was, in part, necessary given the current realities of our regional director searches and interim appointments. 

The second change is adding an action step to explore OSU Extension’s current compensation structure to Initiative 8: Foster career and professional development. This additional action step was the result of conversations Keith had with the Director’s Internal Advisory Committee and ongoing conversations in Administrative Cabinet.

Look for regular updates throughout the year on strategic plan implementation progress. If you have any additional questions or suggestions about the OSU Extension strategic plan, please feel free to contact Bev Kelbaugh (; 740-584-2516) or Kirk Bloir (; 614-557-9788). OSUE strategic plan webpage:

Back to Top

Extension Reconsidered

OSU Extension is part of the national Extension Reconsidered initiative. Along with 12 other states, we will be hosting a reflective and deliberate discussion on Extension and its potential in the future. Participants in the Extension Reconsidered event will explore key questions chosen by the planning committees of their own states. State events will help inform a longer-term national initiative devoted to developing and supporting new ways for Extension to strengthen democracy by engaging people and methodologies from arts, humanities, and design fields. They will also contribute to research for a book that will be published in 2016, titled Extension Reconsidered. “Organizing opportunities for people to come together to address public problems and express and pursue their hopes and ideals has been a central part of what Extension has done throughout its first century,” said Scott Peters, Imagining America’s Faculty Co-Director and director of this national project. “As it begins its second century, we should take time to work through different views about how this legacy can best be carried forward.”

Karen Bruns and Ken Martin are facilitating Ohio’s participation in Extension Reconsidered . Members of the planning committee include David Civittolo, Susan Colbert, Rick Livingston, Sonia Manjon, Stephen Myers, Dave Patton, Jamie Seger, Greg West, and Jackie Kirby Wilkins.

For more information, see

Back to Top

Ohio Cooperative Extension Centennial Updates

-Cheryl Buck, executive assistant to the director, OSU Extension

Information about the 2014 Cooperative Extension Centennial is posted online at The “go link” is case-sensitive. You will find information about:

  • National Centennial News
  • Ohio Centennial Activities – including state activity dates, Centennial logo files
  • County Centennial Celebrations
  • Memories and Milestones of OSU Extension

The information on these pages is updated regularly, especially the county celebration information. Please send a short description of your county plans – finalized or just your tentative ideas so far – to Cheryl Buck ( to post.

Centennial Proclamation – County Template
The national proclamation language has been adjusted slightly to highlight the importance of the county partnership in the Cooperative Extension System. County directors – you can work with your county commissioners or other local officials to develop a local proclamation if you want that to be part of your county celebration. The county template is attached for your use and is posted online.

Centennial Displays and Media Kit in Process
We have had several requests for a traveling display about the Centennial. OSUE Administration will be providing a banner for each county; the banner can replace the previous Extension banner and fit into your existing banner stand. The order for these will be placed after the Legislative Luncheon, and more details will be available soon.

We are also working on a basic media kit for each county with several general Smith-Lever background items and more. This will include a general press release template that will be created at the national level.

We have determined that Ohio should use the national Centennial hashtag -- #ext100years, so please use this when tweeting about any of your Centennial activities.

Back to Top

OSU Extension Permanent Nametags – Survey Response due by Feb 20

-Cheryl Buck, executive assistant to the director, OSU Extension

Tomorrow is the deadline to respond to the survey about what name and type of fastener that each Extension employee prefers for his or her nametag.

All regular employees with Extension funding are expected to have a current OSUE nametag. If an employee has any use for an OSUE nametag in his or her daily work, he or she should not refuse this nametag offer. We cannot use the Extension branding/logo that is on previous nametags; and the nametag shown in the survey is the only OSUE nametag now available for our use.

These nametags are meant to show our main affiliation with the university, and the OSUE identifier in the scarlet band and the Ohio State logo provide credibility for each employee. The basic nametag is intended as a conversation starter. The nametags do not include position titles or unit names, to make them more universally applicable for our employees who report to more than one college or unit, as well as employees who are promoted, change position, or move to another OSU Extension unit/location.

The survey is individualized, and every Extension employee should complete the survey by February 20. If someone in your office did not get the e-mail, contact Cheryl Buck ( If you or anyone else in your office has completed the nametag survey and needs to change ANY of their responses, they may do so by using the link in either the original invitation or confirmation e-mails. If you have discarded the e-mails, please contact Debby Lewis ( immediately to reactivate the link to the survey.

The nametags should be delivered to administration by mid-March. They will then be delivered to you as soon as possible.

Note: This offer does not apply to student/temporary workers or most short-term employees. If offices would like to purchase nametags for student or temporary employees, county Extension directors can do so by contacting Amy Fovargue(.1) after February 28. Also FYI – all new 100% Extension employees will receive a new nametag after they start. New department and state specialist nametags will be determined on an as-needed basis.

Back to Top

Disability Access for Extension Programming

-Kathy Lechman, leader of diversity development, human resources

What do I do if a program participant needs an accommodation?
Recently some questions have risen regarding accommodation requests for clientele attending programs or training sessions that have a disability or disabilities. All programs who OSU Extension and its affiliates conduct are open to all people, and registration materials should include a contact name and number for participants to use to request an accommodation to enable participation. Registration forms should also ask if there are any dietary restrictions or meal accommodations needed. When there is an accommodation request made, the department/unit is responsible for covering the cost however, the university’s ADA office is a good place to start for assistance. If the cost for the accommodation creates a “hardship,” the head of the unit can contact Kathy Lechman, program director, Diversity Development, to request financial assistance. Program planners can contact Kathy Lechman about other questions in addition to checking the diversity resources webpage ADA FAQs .

Back to Top

Signature Program Submissions – April 1 Logic Model Worksheet Deadline

Those involved with programming which meets the expectations of the signature program criteria must discuss their potential signature program with the appropriate assistant director(s) and/or the associate director, programs by April 1. Download and complete the “Signature Program Logic Model Worksheet” - outlining/identifying program goals and objectives, inputs, outputs, and outcomes ( to use as the basis for your discussions. You will be directed to upload this completed logic model worksheet pdf with your online proposal.

Following the discussions with the assistant director(s) and/or the associate director, programs, the completed proposal should be submitted at the signature program online RFP site ( by May 1. The submitted proposals will be forwarded to Administrative Cabinet and to the signature program proposal review committee for review. A copy of the 2014 Signature Program Guidelines are located online at

Back to Top

OSU Extension Web Project

-Ryan Schmiesing, director, Communications, CFAES

As you might be aware, there has been discussion regarding the Extension web environment and CFAES Communications implementing a project to move from the Plone environment to the Drupal environment. As you can imagine, this is a rather significant project that will require a great deal of resources from the design, development, training, and content loading perspective. With several other projects being completed over the past month, recent alignment of human resources, and brand requirements in place, we are ready to initiate this project in the coming weeks. Specific communications about the project will come, in the future, from Cheryl Buck as she works directly with Kelly Zachrich, CFAES Communications project manager. Much of the initial work we have to do will focus on setting up the project, developing timelines, and creating roles/responsibilities; these are steps/tasks that you'll not necessarily see, but please know they will be happening.

In the coming weeks, Cheryl will be convening a small work group to assist her in this project, so that we ensure we are meeting the needs of our faculty, staff and clientele to the best of our abilities and within the parameters we all have to work.

Back to Top

Promotion for Faculty and Educators

Extension faculty seeking a promotion to associate or full professor, educators requesting transfer to the tenure track and educators seeking a promotion (level II and above) must submit a letter requesting promotion and/or transfer to Ken Martin, department chair, ( no later than March 3.

Refer to the 2014-2015 Faculty Guide to Promotion and Tenure or the 2014-2015 A & P Guide to Promotion at Per the guidelines, faculty and educators shall also provide a Research in View dossier report for review by the faculty Promotion and Tenure Committee or the A & P Promotion Committee in the spring. The committees will review promotion requests and determine if it is appropriate for the fall review to take place.

Back to Top

Action Leadership Retreat – May 13-14 and November 4-5

Participants are currently being recruited for a professional development opportunity in 2014 called Action Leadership Retreat.  Designed for Extension educators (or others with similar responsibilities) with 18 months to three years experience, the Action Leadership Retreat is a professional development opportunity built around simulated on-the-job experiences. Led by a facilitator and two experienced Extension professionals who are trained as observers, ALR is designed to help you evaluate and reflect on your skills in 12 key areas (e.g., conflict management, communication, and interpersonal skills) important for success as an Extension professional.

This year, we will offer Action Leadership Retreat on two occasions: May 13-14 and November 4-5.  Space is limited to seven participants for each date. Registrations will be accepted on a first come, first-served basis! For additional information and to register, click here.

For questions or additional information, contact Kayla Oberstadt (, graduate research associate, or Graham Cochran (, Extension Human Resources.

Back to Top

Scholarships still available for North Central Leadership Conference – April 28 – 30

Registration is now open for the North Central Leadership Conference to be held April 28-30 in Omaha, Nebraska. The registration deadline is April 6.

The theme of the conference is “Next Generation Leadership: Pathways Towards Our Future.” North Central region Extension professionals have the opportunity to refine their leadership skills, share best practices, and build networks with our colleagues. OSU Extension professionals are encouraged to attend the conference.

OSU Extension is pleased to be able to offer 10 $500 scholarships to support OSU Extension professionals' participation in the conference. The Gist Chair in Extension Education and Leadership is sponsoring five of the scholarships for any OSU Extension employee, and the Ohio Joint Council of Extension Professionals/Ohio Alpha Eta Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi is sponsoring five of the scholarships for any Ohio JCEP/ESP member. The scholarships are available on a first come, first-served basis. As soon as the 10 scholarships have been awarded to attendees, the OSUE system will be notified that the scholarships are no longer available.

Process – register for the conference online using your own chart field, and the scholarship funding will be transferred by the Business Office after you have attended the conference and submitted your expense report for the conference. When you register for the conference, also send an e-mail to Amy Fovargue ( with your chart field information and T number (if available), so we can track how many scholarships are being used. Please mention “North Central Leadership Conference” in the subject of your e-mail.

The conference will be hosted by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, and sponsorship is being provided by the North Central Cooperative Extension Association (NCCEA). Schedule, registration and hotel information are posted online at:

Back to Top

Ohio State Culture Survey

-Joseph E. Steinmetz, executive vice president and provost

Every three years since 2008, Ohio State has performed a culture survey to help inform the university’s strategic goals and guide university leaders in creating a positive culture and high-performing work environment. As in the past, all faculty and staff are asked to participate in the survey, which opened on February 11.

Everyone is encouraged to participate in the electronic survey, which takes only a few minutes to complete. To have the most helpful results, we need participation across the university and from within all units. The survey gives us great information that’s important for faculty and staff recruitment and retention. It also helps us identify best practices that can be replicated across the university.

The survey results will be available in late spring on the Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) website. In addition, representatives from IRP will be available to discuss the results with you. If you’re interested in what earlier survey results look like, they are posted on the IRP website; passwords can be obtained by contacting Julie Carpenter (, assistant vice president and director of IRP.

Thank you in advance for your help with this important initiative.

Back to Top

Strengths Finder (online workshop) - March 5

As a leader, it is important to know what talents you possess, what you bring to the leadership table. Do you know what strengths you possess? Every leader possesses her or his own unique set of talents. According to the Gallup Organization, "we spend too much time focusing on our weaknesses, trying to make them stronger rather than recognizing our strengths." When you focus on your weaknesses, you miss out on utilizing what you do best for your organization.

By focusing on your strengths, you increase your effectiveness as a leader. Participants in this workshop will take the Clifton StrengthsFinder™ inventory to learn their five strongest talents.

What is the Clifton StrengthsFinder™ inventory?
"Marcus Buckingham, coauthor of the national bestseller First, Break All the Rules, and Donald O. Clifton, chair of the Gallup International Research and Education Center, have created a revolutionary program to help readers identify their talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy consistent, near-perfect performance. At the heart of the book is the Internet-based StrengthsFinder™ Profile, the product of a 25-year, multimillion-dollar effort to identify the most prevalent human strengths. The program introduces 34 dominant "themes" with thousands of possible combinations, and it reveals how they can best be translated into personal and career success."

  • Gain a better understanding of yourself
  • Identify your top five strengths
  • Learn how to maximize your strengths to increase your effectiveness as a leader

Beth Flynn is facilitating this workshop on March 5 from 9 to 11 a.m. The fee is $60 per participant. To register and make payment, go to

Back to Top

Strengths Finder and Colors of Your Personality - Now What? - March 13

As a leader, it is important to know your strengths and what you do well. We spend a lot of time taking different leadership and personality assessments which allow us to learn more about ourselves. However, very little time is spent combining the different assessments so leaders can leverage their strengths to make the best impact they can as a leader.

This workshop will focus on how participants can use their top five strengths from the Strengths Finder assessment and their color spectrum from Spectrum Temperament Development together.

You must have participated in a previous Spectrum Temperament Development workshop and also a Strengths Finder workshop to register for this program. Beth Flynn is facilitating this workshop. As a certified Spectrum Temperament Development as well as a certified Strengths Finder facilitator, Beth has worked with many organizations and individuals during the past 13 years. Please contact Beth Flynn if you have questions, or need to find out when the separate workshops are offered.

The workshop will be on March 13 from 9:15 a.m. to noon in room 105 of the Agricultural Administration building. The fee is $60 per participant. To register and make payment, go to

Back to Top