Board Excellence Newsletter - Summer 2016
Information for Local K-State Research and Extension Board Members
Volume VI, Issue 3 — Summer 2016
From the Associate Director
We are facing tough financial times. Tight financial times bring on tough questions and out-of-box thinking:
- “Is there a better way to … ?”
- “Why do we need … ?”
- “Can’t we just … ?”
These questions and others like them are good to ask. Asking such questions can lead to solutions that can improve K-State Research and Extension.
As we encounter and even entertain such questions, it is imperative that we understand who we are and why we exist. What does it mean to be Cooperative Extension? Can a county go it alone? Can Kansas State University go it alone? The simple answer to these questions is “No!”
We are a cooperative system, both in terms of what we value and as designed in federal and state law. To refresh our memories about our cooperative system and to learn about why we function like we do, I encourage reading the Handbook for County Extension Councils and District Governing Bodies provided to every board member.
We have difficult and challenging issues facing us during these changing times. I encourage all of us to remain focused on our foundational principles, guidelines, and core values — no matter how challenging it may seem. While the times are tough, our core mission and purpose is as relevant today as it was when Cooperative Extension began in 1914. Cooperative Extension in Kansas will prevail and, once again, thrive!
— Daryl D. Buchholz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Review Board’s Local Fair Responsibilities
Fairs are important environments for many K-State Research and Extension educational programs. They provide opportunities to evaluate and recognize individual achievements. A long history and variety of local traditions exist among fairs in Kansas. There are county, community, multicounty, and 4-H fairs. They vary in terms of funding and structure but are often the cooperative responsibility of local extension and fair boards.
Generally, the local extension board, agents, and volunteers are responsible for:
- coordinating 4-H fair events and activities;
- communicating about 4-H fair events to members and their families as well as to judges and volunteers;
- maintaining regular contact with the fair board regarding specific 4-H fair policies and procedures;
- designing exhibits that reflect the learning experiences of 4-H Youth Development; and
- ensuring that reasonable accommodation exists for individuals with disabilities.
Local fair boards are usually responsible for:
- providing accessible facilities, equipment, and personnel to operate the fair;
- maintaining, managing, and providing security of fair facilities;
- managing open-class divisions;
- providing clerical support for the local fair board;
- arranging for premiums and awards for exhibits;
- securing commercial exhibits and entertainment; and
- managing the livestock auction.
During the past several years, K-State Research and Extension has had a renewed emphasis on the importance of the Program Development Committees (PDC) in strengthening local programming. Following is an example of a success story shared by an agent:
“At the beginning of the year, I set up a meeting with all the PDC members and the area specialists. This meeting helped new and returning members learn more about their responsibilities. After meeting as a group, each of the four PDCs met separately with an area specialist to discuss the direction for the local program.
“At the conclusion of the evening, we came back together and shared each PDC’s goals. The members commented how there were common goals among the four PDCs. Members stated that this meeting was very useful to them. Many had not realized that they had a role with implementing programming. Just having this new awareness is the first step to moving forward with our PDCs.”
For more information see the Program Development Committee website.
Recruiting Board and PDC Members
It is time to think about recruiting members for Program Development Committees (PDC) and boards. A tool to help is the Recruiting Board and PDC Members module.
This module provides a step-by-step guide to help identify potential board members. John Forshee, River Valley district director, says, “The Board Recruitment Module helped our board discuss characteristics of effective leaders. We were able to identify potential new board members who were encouraged to file for election in our district. The result was an engaged board that better represents a cross section of our population.”
This is one of 14 modules developed to help extension board members enhance their leadership skills. Board members can explore topics about effective leadership as part of the monthly board meeting, or through self-directed learning. Learn more at the Board Leadership website.
K-State Research and Extension — Johnson County began talking four years ago about starting a Kansas Master Naturalist (KMN) program. This was in response to discussions with local park departments, cities, nature centers, and other natural resource based organizations about the ever-increasing need for programming targeting the natural resources of Kansas. At the time, Sedgwick County was the only county in Kansas with a KMN program.
Under Dan Lekie’s leadership, the first group of Johnson County volunteers were trained in 2013. Currently, there are approximately 70 Johnson County Kansas Master Naturalists who have completed or are in the process of completing the training to become certified. Certification requires 40 hours of classroom time, 10 hours of advanced training, and 30 hours of volunteer service. Volunteers have invested more than 2,500 hours to provide natural resource and natural history education to more than 7,500 individuals. Projects include controlled burns, native seed collection and planting, bluebird nest box monitoring, invasive plant control, bird and wildflower walks, rain garden maintenance, and water quality testing.
In addition to the need for natural resource education, the KMN program resulted in an additional outcome — the development of a group of active, passionate, and vocal extension supporters and advocates.
Access to farmers markets is growing across the state. These markets continue to be an important source of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy, and other value-added agricultural products. The number of Kansas markets has grown from 26 in 1987 to more than 130, and that number is expected to increase. Research shows that access to high-quality, local foods positively affects consumers’ diets, particularly the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables in young families, children, teens, and older adults with limited resources. Farmers markets also stimulate local economies and support local farmers.
In 2015, K-State Research and Extension, in cooperation with other state agencies, presented regional farmers market vendor workshops at four locations across Kansas. Follow up evaluations were conducted with attendees six months later. Everyone attending indicated they had gained new food safety knowledge or skills, 67 percent had made changes to their operation related to food safety, and 89 percent had made other changes including new marketing practices.
Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service
K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer