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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Communiqué March 19, 2014


Featuring the Work of OSUE Field Specialists

The Communiqué has been spotlighting the work of our field specialists; in this issue we feature Carol Smathers (youth wellness and nutrition).

As an Extension field specialist, my focus is on supporting community-level efforts to promote positive health behaviors among young people. I coordinate the Ohio Farm to School program which offers training, resources, and information to help schools serve more locally produced foods and provide students with hands-on instruction about where food comes from and how food choices affect their health, environment and community. I also conduct community-based research related to childhood obesity prevention.

It is exciting to work with Farm to School because there is so much interest in locally-sourced foods and in improving the foods that are served to students. Additionally, I enjoy working across all four Extension program areas to enhance the lives of youth, local producers, and community leaders. From a public health perspective, it is great to be able to support interventions across multiple individual, interpersonal, and organizational levels.

This year, I will oversee coordination of six regional Farm to School workshops in partnership with the Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Department of Education, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Action for Healthy Kids, the American Dairy Association, Farm Bureau, and the National Farm to School Network. Workshops will be held in Perrysburg, Mt. Orab, Nelsonville, Canton, Columbus, and Cleveland. Workshop sessions will provide information and resources on the following topics:

  • Farm to School updates at a state, regional and national level
  • Purchasing local foods – the cafeteria perspective
  • Food safety related to Farm to School
  • Direct marketing — connecting producers, cooperatives, distributors with schools
  • The education connection—Farm to School in the classroom
  • Networking opportunities

Session details and registration information are available at:

My current research projects involve working with coalitions to foster community-level changes that create healthier environments, particularly for children. One important “hot topic” in obesity prevention is the need to decrease the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, especially among children. One community coalition I work with encourages “Water First for Thirst” through educational materials, sample policies, and technical assistance offered to organizations that serve families with small children. This year, I will collaborate with the 4-H Healthy Living Design team to develop a curriculum to promote healthier beverages through youth advocacy.

As a field specialist, I seek to serve as a resource for Extension professionals and community leaders on research-based information and strategies related to youth nutrition and wellness. One of the most rewarding experiences in this role was a recent opportunity to present survey research results to leaders of city departments. The leaders expressed great interest in the research findings and came up with some tangible policy or program changes they could make to address concerns that arose through the study findings.

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Quiet Transparency – A Leadership Skill

-Greg Davis, assistant director, Community Development

The future is a time for humble strength. - Bob Johansen

Traditional leadership skills are not enough for the future. So argues Bob Johansen, sociologist and futurist with the Institute for the Future since 1973, in his latest book Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World (2012). Johansen has identified 10 new leadership skills that can enable one to more effectively address the coming VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. Our focus here is on the skill Johansen calls Quiet Transparency.

What is Quiet Transparency? According to Johansen, Quiet Transparency is our ability to be open and authentic about what matters without being overly self-promoting. Its foundations are humility and authenticity; it does not mix well with the need for fame, celebrity or acclaim. The skill is rooted in what Johansen calls the Maker Instinct and is necessary for fostering deliberative dialogue (what Johansen terms Constructive Depolarization). We can exercise and increase our Quiet Transparency skills when we are deliberately quiet and listen, create calm, and listen for the future (Johansen, p. 125). Without trusting relationships, Quiet Transparency is not possible. It requires trust from both the leader and from those who choose to follow.

Why does Johansen identify Quiet Transparency as one of the 10 new skills? He claims that whether we want it or need it, we will have growing access to information resulting from ever-increasing advances in information and communication technologies. Our access to the continuous flow of information will require new and greater levels of transparency of leaders. According to Johansen, there is no such thing as absolute transparency. But how this transparency is defined will vary depending on the situation; and the bottom line is this: In the future, more people will be interested in why leaders do what they do. Prepare to be able to justify all decisions!

What are the implications for Extension? Johansen postulates that in the future “the most productive and happiest leaders may be those who are undiscovered and able to quietly practice their own forms of leadership” (p. 134). How can we re-think our mindset of organizational leadership to enable and encourage more “undiscovered” professionals to engage in leadership under their own terms? How can we cultivate a culture of shared organizational leadership that fosters opportunities for everyone to contribute, each in their own way?

Each of us has roles and responsibilities we must play for the betterment of our families, workplace, communities and society. As Johansen says, the future is a time for humble strength.

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OSUE Permanent Nametag Update

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

As previously announced, OSU Extension administration is providing permanent nametags to all Extension employees to help offset one of the costs of complying with the Ohio State brand update.

Thanks again to everyone who completed the survey confirming your name to be used on the nametag, as well as the type of fastener. The bulk order is being processed by our vendor, and administration should be receiving the nametags soon. The nametags will then be delivered to you as soon as possible.

Please remember, the new nametag layout is the only officially approved nametag style that will be used for Extension professionals.

County directors – if you would like to purchase nametags for student or temporary employees, you can do so by contacting Amy Fovargue(.1). Also – all new 100 percent Extension employees will receive a new nametag after they start. New department and state specialist nametag needs will be determined as needed.

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Campus Campaign Testimony

-Mark Light, 4-H educator, county director, Hardin County

When I worked at Ohio Northern University, I never wanted to give to a campus campaign. I thought, “why would I want to give to a place that is paying me?” and “Why would they ask employees?” I held this attitude for a long time until a person in development explained it this way.

He said, when they ask big donors for donations, often times they will ask, “what percent of your own employees are giving back?” If he answered only 30 percent, then the person might not be likely to give a donation, as the employees don’t even believe in the cause. He also said if everyone just gave one dollar per month, then he could say 100 percent of our employees give back, it made a difference when they solicited donors.

That is what caused me to give. At OSU it is even better, because you can choose the fund/cause you want your money to go to. There are 114 different funds with 4-H in the name! If you have not given before, think about just giving a small amount this year. I just did mine through payroll deduction online by visiting

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State 4-H Office Updates

Thomas M. Archer, assistant director, 4-H Youth Development

Hannah Epley has accepted the state 4-H specialist, older youth/camping position. Since she is finishing her Ph.D., with an anticipated latest completion date in August , she will be appointed to a 12-month position at the rank of assistant professor beginning on September 1. We will continue with interim assignments for that position then, and as Hannah makes the transition. These include: Robin Stone – state 4-H Teen Advisory Council; Cassie Turner – Ohio Capitol Challenge; and Gwen Soule – 4-H camp program director training. Hannah will continue this summer in the interim appointment as director, state 4-H Leadership Camp.

Katie Feldhues has accepted the position of Ross County 4-H educator, and her last day in the state 4-H office as program manager, Operation Military Kids will be March 28. We will be posting that position opening as soon as we can.

We will also be posting the position of program coordinator, Ohio 4-H Foundation for a two-week period, with hopes of identifying a person to fill this role by May 1. Lisa Oberer will continue as program assistant, Ohio 4-H Foundation.

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The Art and Science of Facilitation – March 27

A good facilitator can make the difference between the success and failure of a group. Did you know there is an art and science to facilitation? A successful facilitator utilizes a variety of tools, processes and skills to lead a group to make decisions, solve problems and be most effective. This hands-on workshop focuses on learning and practicing the stages and characteristics of group facilitation. Participants will learn tips and techniques for dealing effectively with groups including dealing with conflict in a productive manner. Participants will: 

  • Understand facilitation and the facilitator roles
  • Assess and manage group dynamics, incorporate group problem-solving processes
  • Understand the roles of diversity, power and ethics
  • Recognize the importance of humor and working miracles as a facilitator

Rose Fisher Merkowitz and Treva Williams will facilitate this workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in room 105 of the Agricultural Administration building. The fee is $135 per participant. To register and make payment, go to

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Leading Strengths-Based Teams – April 2

“The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”

This advanced strengths-based workshop (must have attended a StrengthsFinder™ awareness workshop), will help teams go further in understanding how their strengths help the team achieve success. Our individual talents help influence how a team cooperates and communicates to reach success. The more that teams collaborate and utilize the partnerships that result when strengths are combined can move a good team to a great one.

No one person works in a silo, therefore, we need to work together, by tapping into each person’s strengths. If you find teammates who have strengths that complement yours, and you can work together, you will accomplish more than if you work independently.

Participants in this advanced strengths workshop will:

  • Increase their awareness of building strengths-based teams
  • Gain awareness for individual and team efforts focusing on strengths
  • Apply strengths-based principles to strengthen the team

Beth Flynn will facilitate this workshop from 9:15 am to noon in room 105 of the Agricultural Administration building. The fee is $60 per participant. To register and make payment, go to

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