Recent Blog Posts
Our work is people work. We do it in partnership and collaboration with others. There is no doubt that our professional relationships have been in some way impacted since March. Have you stopped to think about all the different colleagues you haven’t seen face to face? I miss the routine of getting up and going to the office. I miss seeing the people I know and others who are part of the institution, each connected in their own way.
Yes, we have more time (who else has struggled with knowing the date and day of the week?) How are we spending it? Specifically, what steps have you taken to cultivate and nurture communication lines internally and externally? What happens if we neglect the need to maintain these lines? Our team strength and ability to succeed depends on the strength of our relationships with program partners, teammates, and co-workers throughout the organizational, reporting, and supervisory structures.
I think it was a few weeks ago that we talked about how we’ve adjusted the way we work in the Age of COVID. As we continue to adapt our approach to Extension work, have you made time to think about what you are doing differently and how you have continued to grow as an Extension professional? How have the changes we have and continue to face impacting what you are trying to achieve?
Working now in the Age of COVID, how have you re-examined your role, your professional goals and the progress you have made and communicated these things to the people that matter most to your success? How have you revised your plan of work for 2020? How have the past several months informed what you might do in 2021? How often have you involved colleagues and supervisors in such conversations? We have been growing for over 100 years. What do you have planned?
The Extension mission is supported by many, and as a result, our efforts are funded a wide variety of ways. For over a century, Ohio’s Extension efforts have been made possible by a cooperative arrangement involving federal, state, and local funding (historically county-based). More recently, these three funding sources have been joined by another funding source which has become an ever-increasing share of the total – called “Other”.
“Other” funding has really enabled us to go farther. It includes what you might charge as a program fee or meeting registration and helps to cover the cost of the meeting room, materials, travel expenses, etc. It includes what we think of as “fees for service” or contracts for specific trainings or types of engagement (think of Pesticide Education, SNAP-ed, BR&E programs, etc). This “Other” category also includes all of our funding administered through the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) that helps cover the cost of our scholarly efforts.
When we engage in Extension scholarship we are trying to learn or investigate something. We typically do this in collaboration with others (e.g. farmers, campus-based researchers, other Extension professionals in Ohio and beyond, etc.). When such scholarly efforts receive funding that is coordinated through OSP, we are considered investigators and at least one of our team must serve in the role of principal investigator (PI).
Faculty automatically have PI status upon hire. All other Extension professionals who pursue such OSP-coordinated Extension work must apply for PI status. Like getting your passport well in advance of any specific plans to travel abroad, having PI status well in advance of your pursuit of such external funding makes a ton of sense too (who wants to be far from home standing in line at customs without a passport???).
Let’s get you ready to travel! You can learn more about the process at https://extension.osu.edu/policy-and-procedures-handbook/iv-financial-and-business-practices/principal-investigator-status. And if you can’t remember if you applied for (and received) PI status previously, you can verify at https://orapps.osu.edu/studyteamlookup/ and/or simply contact Terri Fisher (fisher.456).
For most of us, the world as we know it was turned on its side about four months ago. Listing all the various ways is not necessary here – you are all too familiar with what you have experienced and what we continue to endure. My mission in this post is to help you think differently about your work.
Over the past four months, I have watched as we have reacted and adapted the way we carry out our Extension mission. From my viewpoint, we have immediately responded using every digital communication tool available to us (OSU-approved or not – I love the innovative spirit!). We have capitalized on opportunities to engage with teammates to update materials and generate new timely creative works. We have focused our thoughts and energies on how we can effectively engage with our program partners and clientele – how we ultimately carry out our Extension mission in a world where we are largely restricted from engaging them physically face to face.
But I sense that collectively we are growing weary and struggling to realize that we can continue to engage our program partners, clientele, and stakeholders. I know we miss our people and the relationships that we have cultivated. For many, we miss the satisfaction of planning and delivering programs face to face. We miss the satisfaction we feel when we are driving home from the office after a super-productive day or the workshop that went even better than we hoped.
Our Extension programming in the ‘Age of COVID’ consists of phone calls, Zoom meetings and webinars, web-page updates, blog posts, social media, etc. It involves tons more screen time (your eyes hurt too, right?). This ‘socially-distanced’ Extension approach may not be your preference, but this is what we currently have. And, if we still believe in the Extension mission, I believe that now more than ever we need to embrace it.
Whether you are struggling with our virtual engagement approach or not, please realize that we are reaching others via these approaches. In fact, we have demonstrated that we can reach many more people than we did previously, in some cases.
How do we know? We keep count. If you have not already, please begin counting and tracking numbers and topics the same way you would if you were conducting F2F programs. You hold a MGV meeting virtually? Count the participants. Create a short educational video you post to the Internet? Count the subscribers to that FB page or YouTube channel. Take a call from a homeowner with a black ant problem in the house? Track that too. This is how you are engaging. This is Extension! Let’s keep counting!
Last week we started to break down what we mean when we use the term “Extension program”. Included in that discussion was the role that materials and resources informed by research and evidence (such as factsheets, bulletins, curriculum, webpages, and other published media like videos and webinars) play in programming. These creative works are a form of Extension scholarship and generally involve a good bit of work to produce. And, they are typically made better when reviewed by others. It is this practice that we refer to as ‘peer review’.
Peer review can be formal or informal and neither type need be difficult. Both types help us collectively get better. For example, let’s say you crafted some ‘one time use’ educational materials for an event you plan to conduct next week. You might contact a few colleagues to share some background info on the event, describe the audience and your anticipated outcomes, and ask them if they are willing to provide some informal feedback. This approach can often be helpful in showing us something overlooked.
Other forms of scholarship warrant more formal review. For example, our creative outputs of a more ‘lasting nature’ can benefit from a more systematic review process to ensure quality, consistency, accuracy, etc. When we are involved in the production of materials as part of a larger on-going effort, we do well to think through and describe the review process in writing to inform authors and reviewers of our specific expectations regarding such creative productions. One such example that immediately comes to mind is the e-Fields Research Video review process, scoring criteria, and 'review squad' (yes, we are even creative in how we name our committees!)
Making the time to create such educational materials is hard enough. Trying to understand and navigate the process of peer review shouldn’t make it any harder. To help simplify this aspect of Extension scholarship, we have recently revised and updated the background information and step-by-step guidance found here. I encourage you to take a moment to become familiar with what is shared and feel free to contact me or the appropriate assistant director if you have any questions. Let’s get better together!
What a fantastic question (thank you for asking, blog subscriber!) Here is a question that could very well require the full subscribership to adequately address. To get the conversation started, here are two of the most common ways we see “Extension program” described:
- An event and/or a collection or series of events
- An initiative or effort designed to address an issue, concern, and/or opportunity
We know such events and efforts pack a full range of resources that are intentionally and strategically invested to yield an anticipated outcome or result. The Extension program logic model provides a framework for organizing these resources and evaluating their impact. Using this model to describe our efforts, our programs are the product of:
- financial support (think federal, state, and local – as well as grants, contracts, and fees)
- stakeholder input and support (such as advisory committees, program committees, commodity groups, etc)
- materials and resources informed by research and evidence (such as factsheets, bulletins, curriculum, webpages, and other published media)
- our time! (think of time spent planning, coordinating, communicating, engaging, teaching, tracking, evaluating, reporting, etc)
If we really stop and consider the full range of what we do, in some way or another, all of us engage a wide variety of partners to build better lives, businesses and communities throughout Ohio. This is Extension programming. This is the essence of how and what we do to fulfill the engagement aspect of our land-grant mission.
So, now it is your turn. What is an Extension program?
I have heard many of you say you like your work because every day is different. That holds true for me too since I get to do this work wearing two different hats. One is as chair of the Department of Extension, the other is as associate director, Extension programs. Like any two hats, these roles have some elements in common. For example:
Both play a part in helping with faculty and A&P promotion.
- As chair, I am responsible for naming the department’s promotion and tenure (P&T) committees and guiding probationary (untenured) faculty through the P&T process as well as tenured faculty pursuing promotion to professor. This process and the key criteria for promotion are outlined in the department’s Appointments, Promotion & Tenure Criteria and Procedures document.
- As associate director, I am responsible for the A&P promotion process; a benefit that applies to every one of our A&P I-III educators. I also get to work with our A&P IV educators who take advantage of the opportunity to apply for an untenured faculty position without a national search.
Both play a part in guiding Extension programming.
- As Extension department chair, I am charged with “representing the faculty of the department (currently 69) in dealing with the dean or others in the university administration” (OAA 3335-3-35). This role also involves working with each faculty member’s direct supervisor and program leader (assistant director) to guide and evaluate annual performance and identify goals via formal letter.
- As associate director, I help to identify and connect our various resources (i.e. human, funding, programmatic, etc) to advance our programmatic mission. This might be helping A&P educators gain PI status needed to conduct research and apply for grant funding. It also includes working with Extension assistant directors, area leaders, and faculty and staff in other departments, colleges, (and sometimes states!) to assemble and support multi-disciplinary and cross-programmatic teams to address issues and opportunities. Leadership for comprehensive program reviews is also part of this role.
And yet they are distinctly different too:
- The department chair is appointed by (and reports to) the dean of the college subject to formal approval of the executive vice president and provost, president and board of trustees. Deans determine the terms of appointment. Chairs are normally appointed for a four-year term. Chairs are subject to regular review and may be removed before the end of their appointment.
- The chair is charged with revising the department’s Appointments, Promotion & Tenure and Pattern of Administration (APT & POA) documents when necessary (or when assuming the role of incoming chair). The associate director connects with Extension’s assistant directors (think ‘state program leaders’) and others working in Ohio’s land-grant institutions to help identify, develop and evaluate our Extension efforts as a mission area (‘mission area’?...think of Extension as a ‘function’ of the land-grant institution, rather than a department).
There is so much more to share and learn here. But in short, like you, I enjoy the seemingly endless opportunities to wear different hats and work with others to make life better. Every day is different. Could there be a more fulfilling way to spend one’s career?
I assumed the roles of associate director, programs, and chair of the department of Extension in August 2019 (a future post will highlight these roles and how they relate to this blog.) Prior to this position, I served as the assistant director-community development (AD-CD) for nine years where I focused primarily on engaging with CD professionals in developing programs, curriculum, and partnerships in pursuit of applied scholarship and funding/revenue. Interwoven throughout these program efforts was a focus on the professional development of faculty and staff.
Prior to CD AD role, I provided statewide leadership to Extension community economics and business programs via a collaboration between the Departments of Extension and Agriculture, Environmental, and Development Economics (AEDE) from 2005-2010. In this role I had the opportunity to engage with roughly 80 Extension professionals throughout Ohio serving the needs of roughly 12 million Ohioans, of which roughly 45% were employed in manufacturing, services, and trade. Collaboratively we focused on community-based applied research, teaching, and service focused on empowering individuals, groups, organizations, and communities to better understand their economy and methods for strengthening it. Key programs included business retention & expansion, retail market analysis, and economic impact analysis.
I also have served as a district specialist (CD in the 17-county northwest district) and a county educator (CD in Fulton and Crawford counties) after having been hired as the last “agent-in-training”. Throughout these roles, I have also had the opportunity to serve in various interim leadership capacities such as director of Extension, director of CFAES government affairs, assistant director – ANR, and district specialist.
I grew up mostly in northwest Ohio (Hancock County) and still have family roots there and in the coal-country of southwestern Pennsylvania (Fayette County). And while I really enjoy my Extension work, I also really enjoy getting away from it on a regular basis. When I do, I like to relax with family and friends doing most anything outdoors (boating, fishing, biking, running, hiking) and enjoying tasty breakfast foods at every meal.
Welcome to the Extension Promotion blog. Here we will share and discuss all things related to faculty and A&P promotion (and so much more). In short, the goal is to help improve our understanding of what it means to be an Extension professional. In practical terms, we will focus on promotion-related things like the process, timelines, deadlines, roles, and responsibilities. We will talk about why promotion matters and connect you to the resources you will need. And, as changes occur that may impact your journey as an Extension professional, they will be highlighted here.
Because telling the story about your contributions and accomplishments is at the basic core of faculty and A&P promotion, this blog will also share and discuss all things related to Extension programs. We will talk about Extension teaching, scholarship, and service and how they work together to comprise what you might refer to as your Extension Program. We will also include other important elements of being an Extension professional such as extramural funding (e.g. training grants and contracts, program fees, research funding, etc.), stewardship and administrative leadership roles, and program team involvement, for example.
I am excited to create this space for learning and discussion and will serve as the editor/publisher in my official Extension capacity as department chair and associate director, programs (more on those roles in future posts). Because there is much to share and learn, I have already asked many of you with similar interests and expertise to share in posting content and will continue to invite others as we get underway.
Finally, why a blog format? To improve our understanding of A&P and faculty promotion and what it means to be an Extension professional we have tried and will continue to try a variety of engagement strategies (e.g. static webpages, face-to-face in-services, live/recorded Zoom webinars, one-on-one/individual instruction, etc.). For this blog, you can expect to regularly receive concise posts whose relevance can be quickly and easily assessed (think of this post as an example for future posts). Posts may link to more in-depth video, podcasts, infographics, etc. They may also include a discussion thread. After the first few posts (to be sent to all-Extension), only subscribers will receive notification of new posts. I hope you choose to subscribe!