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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


OSU Extension Signature Program Guidelines

At The Ohio State University, needs continually emerge that require ongoing quality education, rapid response, and proactive planning. In the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, academic signature programs are intended to direct future success in education and research. Such efforts also demonstrate the leadership and institutional proficiency that better ensure the college’s status as a top-tier academic institution.

OSU Extension supports the college’s focus on excellence by developing Signature Programs that provide the opportunity for community engagement. Introduced as an important initiative of OSU Extension’s strategic plan, Signature Programs sustain the college’s efforts to respond rapidly with educational outreach programs that address current critical issues among Ohio’s citizens. When issues affect major clientele groups and when OSU Extension has the programming resources and expertise that can be used for the purpose, Signature Programs will be identified that reflect OSU Extension’s capabilities.

What are Signature Programs?

OSU Extension “Signature Program” is a designation given to a small number of programs that complement the impacts of OSU Extension’s existing portfolio of core programs. Signature Program status elevates and highlights successful, replicable programs that have appropriate curriculum and a history of documented impacts or potential to move beyond the current level to achieve significant impacts.

The Signature Program effort is designed to:

  • Demonstrate the ability of OSU Extension to address educational needs associated with Ohio’s most pressing critical issues;
  • Communicate significant impacts of statewide OSU Extension programs;
  • Elevate the status and perceptions of OSU Extension as a dynamic educational entity; and
  • Promote high-quality OSU Extension programming across the state.

To achieve the above-stated goals, programming efforts tagged with the Signature Program designation will receive a one-time rapid cash infusion of $10,000 from Extension Administration and close collaborations with the Marketing and Communications and Program Development and Evaluation (PDE) units to add a heightened level of polish to program materials, to design and implement a comprehensive marketing campaign, and to refine and augment data collection and reporting. In addition, funding is provided for a 3.5-year appointment at 25 percent for a signature program leader. The cash can be used for marketing, travel, workshops, training, incentives, videos, in-services, and other activities in support of the program.

Why have Signature Programs?

OSU Extension recognizes the value of existing core/base programs that are well established and have a history of making significant, documented impacts. The Signature Program effort is an intentional strategy judiciously implemented to help OSU Extension better publicize the organization’s ability to carry out its mission. Signature Programs focus on establishing and promoting the impacts and relevance of OSU Extension to all Ohio residents, legislators, and key stakeholder groups to strengthen perceptions of Extension’s capacity to respond rapidly to critical needs and demonstrate significant impacts. Signature Program status should not be seen as a negation of other equally important OSU Extension programs, but as an opportunity to:

  • Focus on the most relevant, timely, key issues via greater emphasis on in-depth program delivery and evaluation
  • Capitalize on innovative ideas, materials, and/or methods
  • Demonstrate evidence of impact
  • Promote and market OSU Extension

Signature Program Criteria

Efforts designated Signature Program status will address the following 10 criteria. Submit responses to the following items at the Signature Program online Request for Proposal (RFP) site ( by May 1. The first time you visit the RFP site, you will have to register with your name and email address to submit your RFP. You will be given the opportunity to upload supporting documentation (including a citation list file) to the RFP site.

Relevance and Significance:

  • Addresses a critical need or issue relevant to a significant proportion of Ohioans.
  • Has the potential to significantly elevate the public’s knowledge of OSU Extension (may upload marketing materials as a PDF).
  • Aligns with one or more of the impact areas of OSU Extension, the signature areas of CFAES, and the OSU Discovery Themes.

Collaboration and Participation:

  • Is easily replicable and enables employees (faculty, A&P educators, program staff, CCS) throughout Ohio to play a role in planning, delivery, and evaluation of the program.
  • Enables and increases cross-disciplinary participation and collaboration.
  • Employs innovative ideas, materials, technologies, and/or methods in planning, delivery, and evaluation to maximize program participation.
  • Has the potential for cost recovery.

Evaluation and Impact:

  • Has formal or informal curriculum materials designed to achieve significant outcomes and impacts (upload curriculum materials as PDF or share URL where materials are posted).
  • Has impact data instrumentation and a history of significant documented impacts (may upload impact evaluation instrument as pdf).
  • Can achieve the anticipated short-term, medium-term, and long-term changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, practices, behaviors or conditions within two to four years.

Application Process

Those involved with programming that meets the expectations above 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 online 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.

What are the benefits of becoming a Signature Program?

“Signature Programs” will be approved by Extension Administrative Cabinet and will receive a rapid cash infusion from Administrative Cabinet to “polish” program materials. Additionally, Signature Program leader(s) will have at least a combined 25 percent FTE appointment at the state level for the duration of Signature Program status to fulfill those responsibilities and to work closely with Marketing and Communications, Program Development and Evaluation, EERA program contacts and others, as necessary.

Signature Program Annual Evaluation Criteria

Administrative oversight for Signature Programs comes from the associate director, programs. Signature Program leaders will be asked to submit an annual report each year using the four areas of evaluation to organize their report and document their accomplishments. A review committee chaired by the associate director, programs, will review the Signature Program reports and make recommendations as to continuance based on the four evaluation criteria listed on the next page.

Areas of Evaluation

  1. Extent to which the program is implemented across the state (e.g., who, where, how, how many, how long, etc.)
  2. Extent to which the program achieves the anticipated short-term, mid-term, and/or long-term changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills, practices, or conditions
  3. Extent to which the program elevates the public’s knowledge of OSU Extension
  4. Extent to which proposed program marketing, communication, implementation and evaluation methods and strategies are followed


  • April 1 --- Deadline for discussing completed logic model worksheet with assistant directors and/or associate director, programs. Logic model worksheet is located at
  • May 1 --- Deadline for Signature Program RFP submission online. Complete the online request for proposals at
  • May 30 --- Signature Program Review Committee recommends new Signature Programs and graduation of current Signature Programs to Administrative Cabinet.
  • June --- Administrative Cabinet approves new Signature Programs and graduation of current Signature Programs.
  • June 30 --- Regional Director/supervisor submits new Signature Program leader appointment letter to Human Resources.
  • July 1 --- Implementation of new Signature Programs.
  • December 31 --- Graduation of Signature Programs not continuing into the next year.
  • March 15 --- Deadline for Signature Program leader(s) to submit annual report based on the Signature Program Evaluation Criteria and Areas of Evaluation as noted above. Reports are due to Greg Davis, department chair and associate director, programs.

For questions, contact Greg Davis at

Click here for a printable PDF of the guidelines.

Updated – March 2015