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In the simplest of terms, scholarship is sharing knowledge. It is material we create to inform others about what we know. It is the practical application of what we know or what we have learned.
We have an abundance of opportunities for Extension scholarship. Our various program efforts are informed by knowledge. These efforts involve materials. Whether factsheets, handouts, or videos, for example, the materials provide opportunity for scholarship. What we learn about our program effectiveness is knowledge. We have a responsibility to share this knowledge with others so that they might benefit from what we have learned. Such efforts can involve sharing with others via a conference presentation, peer-reviewed journal publication, poster or abstract, for example.
Federal Smith-Lever funding for Extension work includes the expectation for Extension scholarship. It is a key dimension of our work and really does include a wide range of Extension outputs that we need to create for a wide range of audiences (e.g. youth, adults, colleagues, program partners, general public, etc). Extension scholarship supports and advances our individual and collective efforts as part of the larger organizational mission. See a post on this subject from last summer here.
Finally, our scholarly efforts are made better when our outputs are reviewed by others (see Extension Scholarship and Review Process for Department of Extension Educational Materials here). We are in the business of collaborating with others in the creation of knowledge that can be readily applied to make life better.
Can you imagine a more wonderful place to be?
Last time we talked about our recent A&P Educator promotions and briefly described how applying for promotion in rank is like applying for a new job. Since that post, we’ve conducted follow-up workshops by program area to celebrate these accomplishments, talk about next steps, and get feedback on the promotion process itself. The conversations have been rich and the feedback insightful. If you joined in these conversations, thank you! If you weren’t able, we have them recorded (see links below). If you prefer a very abbreviated notes version, read on!
- Opportunity knocks - Your accomplishments as an Extension educator can be recognized via promotion in rank. The opportunity to apply for promotion in rank provides the framework for charting your professional path. Upon promotion to Educator IV, the opportunity to apply for a tenure-track faculty position is possible. And your path continues.
- Everyone is different - The professional path you take is a reflection of a variety of things which are different for every individual (e.g. area of specialization; programs created, taught, evaluated; applied scholarship and service pursuits). Your path is informed by ongoing conversations with others (e.g. your support team, peers and colleagues, etc); assessments of needs, opportunities, and concerns locally, regionally, statewide, etc; and your area(s) of interest/expertise. (Of course, there are other things that impact it as well. Who hasn’t started out on one trail and somehow gotten onto another and completely turned around in the woods?)
- Find your ideal pace - Our path and the rate at which we advance in rank depend on the above and the pace at which we want to push ourselves. See the A&P General Expectations table. Discuss in your conversations your plan of work within these dimensions (i.e. the row headings) within your current rank (i.e. column heading). Your task is to demonstrate excellence within these dimensions (i.e. the row headings) over time at a pace that recognizes the need for balance. It doesn’t make sense to miss out on the scenic views, wildlife, and opportunities to be present as you all-out sprint up the mountain, does it? The goal is to proceed at a pace that you can sustain, enabling you to travel the path to your ultimate destination.
- Travel together – While our exact paths may not be the same, advancing in rank requires us to hike the same hill. And, like any adventure, most of us would agree that this one is typically more enjoyable with others. Value colleagues you can travel with along the way. Seek them out and welcome their invites. Coach others who may be on the path you have traveled previously. Share the neat things you have seen along the trail as well as the pitfalls to avoid. Getting better is something we do together.
June 23 - FCS recording
June 25 - CD recording
June 29 - ANR recording
July 1 - 4-H recording
A quick scan of these pages shows the word “promotion” has been used nearly four dozen times over the past year. Given that the blog is all about promotion in Extension and professional growth, this makes sense. Of course, we talk about the larger context from time to time, but if you have subscribed, I am hoping it's because you have an interest in working with others to help them grow or grow yourself professionally. If you have a colleague you know has not subscribed, please encourage them to do so by going here: https://extension.osu.edu/blog
Today we celebrate professional growth recognized in the form of A&P educator promotion in rank. I am happy to report that 38 Extension Educators were recently recognized for their accomplishments in Extension teaching, creative work, and service. Colleagues promoted in the 2021 class include:
A&P Educator I to II (5)
- Alisha Barton, Aubry Fowler, Kenzie Johnston, Catelyn Turner, and Courtney Woefl
A&P Educator II to III (13)
- Brooke Beam, Lesley Cooksey, Allison Cooper, Trevor Corboy, Christine Gelley, Whitney Gherman, Janessa Hill, Erika Lyon, Clifton Martin, Jamie McConnell, Ashlee Meardith, Amanda Raines, and Jacci Smith
A&P Educator III to IV (20)
- Mark Badertscher, Tom deHaas, Audrey Dimmerling, Amanda Douridas, Lorrissa Dunfee, Ken Ford, Candace Heer, Jacqueline Kowalski, Ashley Kulhanek, Emily Marrison, Gigi Neal, Sarah Noggle, Patrice Powers-Barker, Andrea Rees, Melissa Rupp, Beth Smith, Gwynn Stewart, Rebecca Supinger, Kathy Tutt, and Kate Wells
The process of applying for promotion is like applying for a new job. You document your qualifications, skills, experience and meaningful accomplishments. You also describe what you have achieved in ways that enable others to reasonably assume you can succeed in the role for which you are applying. Why do we do this? You want to continue to be challenged and grow as a professional. Your employer wants to ensure you can be successful when tasked with higher level responsibilities. We all want to get better.
To celebrate our recently promoted educators, discuss next steps, and address questions, 90-minute Zoom workshops have been scheduled for each program area (schedule below). All are welcome. Please feel free to direct any questions you have to your AD or me.
- June 23, Wednesday, 9:00 am FCS
- June 25, Friday, 1:00 pm CD
- June 29, Tuesday, 9:00 am ANR
- July 1, Thursday, 1:30 pm 4-H
Our goal is to help each other continue the upward trajectory. Who have you helped today?
I can’t begin to count the number of conversations I have had over the past months about what we do (or did, or should do…) about work and life. As mentioned in the previous post, we have talked about so many things with regards to life/work balance, returning to offices, how we work, roles and responsibilities, etc, especially as we near what is beginning to feel like the end of this pandemic.
For many Department of Extension colleagues, we mark the beginning of another chapter in this story as transitioning to a face-to-face work environment via Extension county offices begins today. Whether you were part of a county office that had already initiated some sort of a transition or not, there is no question that re-opening will require a little bit of extra attention.
Changing our routines can be fun and exciting (think of a two-week vacation). It can also be stressful (who wants to re-live March 2020?). What some of our county-based colleagues are dealing with today is akin to family reunion. How awkward are those as you try to make your way around to get re-acquainted with everyone as people arrive? And who among us hasn’t wondered at some point “how soon can I leave?” : )
I would prefer to think of today as the first day on the job. For some of our pandemic-era new hires, it may be just that (and for those I say thank you for hanging in there). While we are like family and this may feel like a family reunion of sorts, I would encourage you to also think about our return to ‘normal’ as a reset.
We have been blessed with so much opportunity to learn so much about ourselves, our work, about what is important. If you are a county educator, what aspects of your work are most suitable and appropriate for the county office setting? What aspects are better suited done or require you to be elsewhere? How can you improve or strengthen relationships with your office colleagues, each of them serving in a variety of critical roles? How can they better support you? How you can you better support them? It is a perfect time to ‘reset’ how you approach your work.
Every one of us plays a critical role in carrying out our mission. We have the potential to exponentially increase our abilities if we use our county office spaces as places for cultivating highly productive and collegial relationships with colleagues, stakeholders and clientele.
Welcome to your first day…how will you invest yourself?
When you try to live in the moment, one would assume the blurring of time would be expected. That has generally been the case for me. But the blurring of time and events since March 2020 has taken that feeling to an entirely new level. It takes real effort to piece together the memory of key events and accomplishments. It has been surreal. And it has been eye-opening.
Many I have talked to have told me how useful this past year has been. It has forced them to re-envision how they engage their audiences, co-workers, team-mates, family, and friends. They have explored teaching tools and technologies more deeply than they would have otherwise. They have taken better care of themselves with more nutritious meals, intentional exercise, and planned social events. They have taken better care of those they care about.
As we collectively begin to venture back into the world we knew pre-pandemic, we continue to be reminded of how much has changed. And yet one could argue that really nothing ever changed other than our perspective (Queue Robin Williams' character John Keating in the 1989 Dead Poets Society).
In a recent conversation with Pam Montgomery, she combined perspective with this notion of balance. At some point over the past year, I think a feeling of balance is what many realized was missing. It required a change in perspective to even notice it. And for many I've talked to, we didn’t even know how imbalanced we had become. Perspective is a wonderful thing indeed.
Our time here is limited and there is no shortage of ways we might spend it. How do you want to spend your time with work, family, friends, yourself?
It is hard to believe it was March 16 when we last met on these pages. My apologies to you, but higher priorities called. Well, it was largely you, and to be honest, although it has been hectic, I have enjoyed nearly every moment of it.
What am I talking about? Put simply, your path (here’s where you may want to reference a late February post focused on educator opportunities for professional growth and advancement.)
Through the faculty annual review process and A&P educator promotion reviews, I have had the chance over the past month or so to learn so much more about our educators and their professional paths. I have read about your accomplishments and your plans for the future in your own words as well as the words of your colleagues and external stakeholders. In addition, reading the written comments of your annual review letters enables me to visualize your professional growth similar to time-lapse photography. Thank you all for making the most of your opportunities to document growth and opportunities for improvement using your words.
Seeing such a broad cross-section of Extension educators, from our recently hired A&P I and II promotion candidates to our 30+ year professors, from this perspective has been a joy. It fills my heart to see among the documentation of our junior A&P colleagues peer evaluation of teaching letters authored by many of our most accomplished senior level faculty. To read about our plans for the future, especially considering everything we learned about ourselves and our work over the past year, gives me the greatest hope and confidence that we will continue to make a difference in the lives of many.
To read about you like this has strengthened my awareness of your work and your unique contributions. Many are just starting to walk their path and many others have already covered quite a bit of ground. I appreciate each of you. Remember that there is no one ideal or perfect path to make a difference; each path is as unique as each of us.
What a beautiful way to spend one’s day. I look forward to helping you create your path!
Despite the sleet and snow that you may have seen yesterday, know that Spring is here. March 20 may be the official start in the northern hemisphere, but I know just last weekend I saw the earliest spring flowers reach up out of the cold earth to mark the start of another season.
Spring is an exciting time. The sun feels warmer. Birds welcome the day with singing and enthusiasm. Their excitement and the longer daylight hours always give me a bit more energy for my to-do list. And I really begin to look forward to events and activities scheduled and yet-to-be planned over the months ahead.
No doubt we have endured a great deal over the past year. We have also learned so much. We have stretched ourselves and grown as individuals and as an organization. I am grateful for the opportunity we have had to re-think how we go about our mission. Each of us has had the chance to reflect on different ways to engage Ohioans and each other, as individuals and in teams. We have reached new audiences and served our traditional partners in new ways as well.
I am full of energy and hope and sense that we are on the verge of breaking out. I am hopeful that it is just around the corner. To what extent will we embrace the opportunity? It is up to us.
“How am I doing? How does my work compare to all the others you supervise?” After walking to the downtown ice-cream stand, chatting about the weather and other small talk, this is what I asked of my supervisor at my first or second annual performance review meeting. Sitting at a picnic bench in the sunshine as cars and trucks idled by, my supervisor said, “You are doing great, just keep doing what you are doing.”
I went to the Extension promotion workshop a few weeks later and nearly every year after that to better understand the expectations of an Extension professional. In these workshops I learned so much more about, for example:
- the various forms of Extension teaching, scholarship, and service,
- the different types of peer review and why we value it,
- the purpose of evaluation (of our teaching, programs, curriculum, initiatives, etc), and
- the formality involved in the promotion process and why it is that way.
These things are the essence of Extension work and key among the responsibilities we have to OSU’s Office of Academic Affairs as members of the Department of Extension.
With these responsibilities also come opportunities for growth and development that can span an educator’s career. Here you can read more about the Two-Track System for Extension Educators in the Department of Extension and other material describing professional advancement in Extension such as:
- the annual review process for faculty,
- peer review process and guidelines, and
- the A&P educator promotion process.
Our system is designed to challenge our growth and development. Our task is to seek balance in teaching/programs, scholarship, and service, while growing ourselves in all three areas.
Whether you are a more-recent hire or advanced in rank, how do you proceed? Take some time to reflect on where you have been and where you would like to go. Really look at your accomplishments to date in relation to the General Expectations (for A&P or faculty). Talk to your area leader, assistant director, and/or me about your work.
Don’t do this alone. Together we’ll work to identify specific areas for growth and further development. We travel this path with others!
Life is full of questions and these days it seems there is clearly no shortage. As Extension professionals this is our business. It is what we do. When talking with others about our work, we may also encounter this one: What is the difference between outreach and engagement? And (c’mon, you know it is coming), how is Extension different?
I was in a couple of meetings this week where these questions were asked. That makes sense, right? It’s cold and snowy. It’s mid-February. We work at a land-grant institution. We have meetings. Our business is all about finding answers to questions.
Writing is fun when the author is inspired. Given that I’ve been thinking on these questions more and more lately, they seemed the perfect inspiration for this post. Quick side note: I have learned that this comes to your in-box at all hours of the day and night; not because that’s when I write it, but rather our little digital assistants that make up the delivery system seem to take hours upon hours to package and forward the material. I don’t write it then, send it then, or expect you to read it then.
Outreach, engagement, and Extension are considered a critical mission area of land-grant institutions. In many ways they are similar. But how are they different? Let’s look at congressional testimony provided on the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Smith-Lever Act. Celebrating the centennial of the creation of Extension, Scott Reed, former Oregon State Extension director, noted the organizational learning (and evolution) that took place over the first 100 years. Reed said that Extension work involves more than simply conveying information through outreach channels. It also involves engagement of audiences and partners. Reed said, “Outreach begins with an answer; Engagement ends with one.”
If teaching, research, and service are key foundational principles of a land-grant institution, we could say Outreach to communities is all that service that involves taking knowledge gained through our research out to others (“I have the answer”). To Engage would imply we have in some way partnered with these audiences to inform our shared inquiry (i.e. research) that leads to “we have answers” (and more questions, of course). So, what is Extension? In addition to the ways it has been described in this previous post, might it also be considered the best of both and the brand name given to such efforts funded cooperatively, at least in part, since 1914?
Ready to think and discuss more on this? Next Tuesday (Feb 16, 3:30-4:30) we have time to do just that. Let me know if you would like the connection info. It’s cold and snowy, remember?
February 1 is just around the corner and a key date for A&P educators who are interested in being considered for promotion. I am so happy to see a steady flow of draft three-page narratives and nominations*. Terri and I expect this to continue leading up to the deadline and want to make you aware of what comes next in this post.
If you haven’t or don’t plan to submit this year but want to learn about the A&P promotion process, please review our November 18 blog post. Terri Fisher has also posted resources focused on educator expectations, writing your narrative, the timeline and review process, and step by step instructions online.
Initial review - February 1 to March 1. Your supervisor, assistant director/s, and associate chair will discuss eligibility and accomplishments illustrated in the draft narrative. This review committee will determine whether you move forward after which you will receive notification (and further instruction) from Terri Fisher. A member of the review committee will contact you regarding suggested revisions to your three-page narrative, if applicable, as well.
Final submission - March 15. If you are invited to move forward this year, you will submit your final three-page narrative and evaluation documentation, including peer evaluations of teaching and annual performance reviews.
Review committee recommendations - April. Committees will meet to consider documentation and render recommendations to the Extension Director. Your supervisor will author the review committee recommendation letter addressed to the director of Extension on behalf of the associate chair. You and the Director of Extension will receive this letter by May 1.
Final determination - May 1-15. The Director of Extension will make the final determination on promotion and notify the candidate regarding the promotion decision which becomes effective September 1.
Please remember that much of this process is new. Please feel free to work through it in ‘evaluation mode’ with me and Terri Fisher and share feedback and suggestions for improvement at any point you see fit!
*The nomination is as simple as a note to Terri Fisher (fisher.456 and cc’d to the other team members) stating, “I would like to nominate XYZ for consideration for promotion.” Should you nominate yourself? That’s not my ideal, but the option exists in cases where your review team members don’t feel able to do so. Let me know if you want to talk more about this. Three-page narratives should be sent to Terri Fisher (fisher.456 and cc’d to your review committee members).