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Board Leadership

Extension Board Leadership

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Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas 66506

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Board Excellence Newsletter - Fall 2015

Information for Local K-State Research and Extension Board Members
Volume V, Issue 4 — Fall 2015

From the Associate Director

Local extension boards find it beneficial to review and complete the Excellence in Board Leadership assessment. This leadership assessment came about as the State Extension Advisory Council discussed strategies for strengthening leadership skills of local extension boards. Leadership and commitment of each board member has a great deal of influence in the excellence of the local extension program.

Discussing this assessment helps your local board measure its board development, management, public relations, programming, and personnel skills. Use the assessment for goal-setting at the beginning of the year and as a way to recognize accomplishments at the end of the year.

Assessments are due to the area extension director by January 1. Boards that achieve a standard of excellence for 2015 will be recognized at January 2016 Partnership Meetings.

The board assessment is available at: www.ksre.ksu.edu/boardleadership. Click on “Excellence in Board Leadership Assessment” at the lower left of the screen.

— Daryl D. Buchholz, dbuchhol@ksu.edu


Like many counties across Kansas, Shawnee County 4-H enrollment declined from 2007 to 2013. As a result, K-State Research and Extension 4-H began looking for ways to recruit more youth. A strategy introduced in 2013 was the Special Interest (SPIN) club, which allowed youth to meet and study one 4-H project for a minimum of six sessions and be a member of 4-H.

The SPIN club model makes the 4-H experience more of a season for families instead of a yearlong commitment. Not only does it take some of the stress away from families who are unable to make a yearlong commitment, it also makes finding volunteers easier. Volunteers know the beginning and ending of their volunteer commitment.

In Shawnee County, 19 4-H SPIN club members participated in 2013, 53 in 2014, and 58 in 2015. Community club enrollment also has grown since 2014.

Candis Meerpohl, K-State Research and Extension 4-H Youth Development agent, Shawnee County, reports that members of the Quincy Elementary SPIN club, which started as a part of a summer program at a local elementary school, have decided to become a community club that meets year round. According to a teacher, who is also coordinator of the after-school program, “Quincy is the most impoverished school in the 501 district. With 4-H, our students receive those special life experiences that other students throughout the city have better advantages of getting. 4-H equals the playing field a little for our students by giving them more opportunities.”

Watch for Links to Agent’s Performance Review

The most important responsibility of a board member is giving input to an agent’s performance review. Soon after October 1, board members will receive an email with a link to the agent’s Impact Report, Performance Review Self-Assessment, Professional Development Plan, and Action Plans for the upcoming year.

The Action Plan helps focus the agent’s educational program and leads to more measurable impacts.

A Professional Development Plan is a proactive plan intended to enhance the agent’s effectiveness through participation in professional association meetings, workshops, graduate study, or in-service opportunities. In the Performance Review Self-Assessment, agents provide specific examples of their efforts in five categories: program planning, professionalism, volunteer management, communication, and administrative.

Board members review the documents, respond with comments, and submit them to the appropriate administrator. Feedback is shared with the agent during the annual performance review. Performance review information is confidential and not to be discussed with anyone other than the agent, board members, and the appropriate administrator.

For more information, visit: Agent Performance Review Module:

Grand Challenge: Health

Thirty percent of Kansas adults are obese and 19 percent of Kansas children live in poverty. For these and other reasons, health is one of the five grand challenges being addressed by K-State Research and Extension.

Some current health programming initiatives include identifying and implementing practices to help prevent obesity, providing options to help families understand health-care options for elderly Kansans, and educating consumers on safe food handling practices.

Results include 16,000 Kansans participating in Walk Kansas, senior citizens saving more than 1.7 million in prescription drug costs, and 355 food service managers and 738 food handlers trained in ServSafe classes.

For more information on K-State Research and Extension’s five grand challenges see: www.k-state.edu/challenges/.

Best Practices for Program Development Committees

The summer edition of the Board Excellence newsletter included best practices for Program Development Committees. Below is a list of some other ideas for PDC members and agents as they identify issues that might be addressed by extension programming.

  • The PDC chair and agent should work cooperatively to develop the agenda for each meeting. Send it to members ahead of time so they have time to prepare for discussion. See PDC Suggested Meeting Topics for suggested agenda topics.
  • PDCs can be expanded by appointing additional members with interest and expertise in specialized areas of programming such as horticulture or nutrition. Expanded membership might include demographic groups not represented on the committee. The board must approve the expanded membership. See PDC Guidelines for Expansion.
  • Periodically have all PDC members meet to identify issues. Committees might organize the discussion around K-State Research and Extension’s grand challenges – global food systems, health, water, community vitality, and developing tomorrow’s leaders. This can be done at the annual meeting or another time early in the program year. See PDC Basic Facilitation: Tools for Generating and Prioritizing Ideas.
  • PDC members are encouraged to review and discuss demographic data such as census reports, agricultural statistics, and related information as they identify local issues that might lead to extension programming.
  • Have a PDC member report committee progress at each board meeting.

Agents recently attended the workshop, “Agents Engaging Program Development Committee Members,” where they learned about these and other resources. See the PDC Website for more information.

Volume V, Issue 4 – Fall 2015
Click here for a link to the weekly K-State Research and Extension Tuesday Letter.

Kansas State University Agriculture Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer