Board Excellence Newsletter, July 2020
On June 1, all our local unit civil rights reviews were due. I found myself shaking my head at the irony of that due date considering the weekend before was marked with protests and, in a few cases, riots following the death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers.
Many of us understand the need for civil rights reviews and understand the underlying "Why?" of the protests. Others believe that our society and organization offers a level playing field with regards to both programmatic and employment opportunity access. These people question the need for such reviews in our organization and protests in our society regarding social injustice.
When no one questions the need to reach out to the underserved, there will be no need for civil rights reviews and social injustice protests.
When the makeup of our organization's participants, volunteers, Extension Councils, workforce and administrative leadership naturally and always resembles the makeup of our society, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews and social injustice protests.
When the spelling or sound of a name on an application, resume', or curriculum vitae is no longer explicitly or implicitly used to screen candidates in a search and screen committee, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews and social injustice protests.
When all in society know that having an understanding of and appreciation for diversity only makes our society stronger, there will be no more need for civil rights reviews or social injustice protests.
What can an extension board member do?
- Check with your local unit agents to make sure that they have participated in Navigating Difference training. While this is one component of our agent onboarding process, many of our more experienced agents and specialists have not taken it.
- Your local unit just completed the civil rights review. Use the information learned to improve our inclusiveness and our appreciation for diversity. Make plans to reach out to an underserved audience with extension programs.
Dr. Rick Peterson joined the K-State Research and Extension family on June 1 as the Associate Director for Extension Programs. In his new role, Dr. Peterson will provide leadership to guide Extension programming endeavors.
Dr. Peterson’s vast professional experience includes farming, serving as a Crisis Intervention Specialist with the Farmer Assistance and Training Service (the forerunner to our Kansas Agriculture Mediation Services), and as an Extension specialist at Virginia Tech University, Colorado State University, and Texas A&M AgriLife. His focus as a specialist included mediation and family life education. His professional experience has made him extremely knowledgeable and visionary regarding local unit programming, distance and digital Extension program delivery, inter- and transdisciplinary programming, and non-appropriated program funding generation.
Dr. Peterson is a Kansas native and is no stranger to Kansas State University. He earned his Bachelor of Science (Agriculture), Masters of Science (Human Development and Family Therapy), and Doctor of Philosophy (Human Ecology Family Studies) at Kansas State University.
As we are nearing the July 4th holiday, this date is also significant to our local agents and boards in relation to extension programming. Since mid-March, the K-State Research and Extension system suspended all face-to-face extension programs, meetings and events through July 4. (There continues to be a ban on most face-to-face meetings on campus until July 31st.)
Thank you for the support you provided to the extension professionals as they quickly worked to provide their traditional programs utilizing innovative strategies. After July 4, the protocols for off campus extension programming include:
- External meetings must meet the requirements of your local public health authority (or KDHE depending on which is the prevailing authority at this time).
- We highly encourage that internal off campus meetings comprised of members from multiple local units, centers or departments be held virtually until the COVID-19 and budget challenges are resolved.
In addition, the following guidance for longer term, large event, face-to-face programming includes:
- KSRE employees should practice safe procedures including masking, hand washing, and social distancing.
- All parties (educators, support staff, and visitors) need to wear masks at KSU facilities.
- Agents, as KSRE employees, should be wearing masks in their office building.
- We should discourage gatherings of people from different communities for our meetings
- We should explore all alternatives to a face to face meeting due to COVID-19 and budget issues.
Are your local extension educational programs reaching everyone they should be? K-State Research and Extension has a legal and moral obligation to ensure our programs are available to all and that we remove as many barriers to program participation as possible.
Your extension board should have reviewed your local unit’s program parity as a part of the recent civil rights compliance review. Parity is the way we measure how well we are doing at reaching people of all populations that live in a local unit. For example, it tells us if the proportion of Hispanics reached with local extension programs match the proportion of Hispanics within the local population. We measure parity for race, ethnicity and gender and must be reaching 80 percent of a population in order to considered “in parity”.
If the review of your local unit’s parity statistics revealed areas where parity was not achieved, you should be asking—Are we making All Reasonable Efforts? This process involves identifying who is not participating in extension programs, why they are not participating and forming a plan to overcome barriers to participation. It’s true that everyone in our community has an equal chance to participate in our extension programs, but equality doesn’t always mean fair. When we employ an equity mindset, we see that sometimes we have to work harder to help some populations gain access to our programs. This video from the Rising Tide Center provides a great lesson on equity vs equality.
If you’ve not already, please take time at an upcoming board meeting to discuss underserved audiences in your local unit and how we can get them involved in extension education.
An important factor in the sustainability and efficiency of your local unit is getting highly qualified and enthusiastic volunteers to serve on your Board and PDC. Overwhelmingly, people want to serve on boards of organizations that make a difference. Identifying the right leaders to serve is essential for success.
Be clear about the role of the board and what the expectations of being a board member are. Recently upon request from SEAC the Extension Board Member Position Description was updated to provide a more comprehensive set of expectations, qualifications and time commitment needed. As you are working to recruit members for your open positions use this document so that all understand the expectations.
Board recruitment is important and challenging. The job of building a board is about more than just filling slots. It is about finding leaders who have skill sets and perspectives that align with your organization’s mission. Another useful tool you can use is the Recruiting Board and PDC Members module.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that persons with disabilities be provided “reasonable” accommodations and prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. All K-State Research and Extension program announcements and marketing materials should include the appropriate disability accommodation statement and any request for accommodation should be given appropriate attention.
An interactive process between the community member, local office, KSRE’s ADA coordinator, and K-State Human Capital Services is in place to assure that appropriate measures are taken. Accommodations are generally considered reasonable if they do not change the fundamental nature of the program or alter the essential criteria for participation. Accommodations that meet these standards should typically be provided.
For local programs, the local unit is responsible for the cost of making reasonable accommodation unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the unit or a particular program. However, before concluding that an accommodation would impose an undue hardship, the KSRE Disability Accommodations Committee along with local unit leadership will consider whether there are alternative accommodations that would not impose undue hardship. Local units shall not charge a higher fee, or a surcharge, for the cost of accommodations. Accommodations can be funded with the local unit’s budgeted programming dollars, non-appropriated funds or reserves.
Specialists in Agriculture Economics provided a series of webinars beginning in late March and continued through late May to keep producers and industry stakeholders informed as marketing chains were disrupted, packing plants were closing, and in general the agriculture economy experienced unprecedented volatility. Nearly 2,500 viewers participated in at least one webinar. The number of webinar recorded viewings totaled 15,232.
Featured above is a recording of
“Follow-up to Farm Financial Skills for Kansas Women in Agriculture: Addressing Concerns Among COVID-19.”
Other topics included:
Women in Agriculture
SBA Payment Protection Program
CARES Act / Agriculture Update
Kansas Land Values
More Livestock Markets
More Grain Markets
2019/2020 Kansas Farm Income
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)
In addition, 32 short videos were recorded and posted to the AgManager.info website during the same time frame in direct response to the COVID-19 situation and its impact on agriculture. To date, these 32 videos have had collective viewings of 8,569.
Many teens and tweens were immediately pressed into roles of providing care for younger children while adults worked at home or continued to go to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Family and Child Development agents and specialists quickly identified and responded to the need for safe and healthy childcare.
Suddenly in Charge targeted helping older children learn the best ways to handle what may have been new roles in taking care of younger children, whether in their own homes or those of a neighbor or friend. The team published a total of 14 fact sheets in both English and Spanish languages, along with creating Spanish and English websites.
The Kansas Department of Education also distributed the Suddenly in Charge materials to all school districts in Kansas.
Emergency Programs to Help Small Businesses and Displaced Employees during COVID-19 (Secretary Toland of Commerce, Secretary of Labor Delia Garcia, and Director of Unemployment related relevant information for community members.
LOCAL Responses to COVID-19 (Community Foundations, Beloit Visitors Bureau, K-State Research and Extension on Food and Public Safety in reopening Kansas).
Creating a Quality Online Presence for Sales in a Hurry (Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement).
If you would like to find out more about First Friday e-calls or would like to view the recordings, check out the First Friday e-Calls website.
When Rebecca McMahon, Sedgwick County Horticultural Foods Crop Agent, saw a newspaper article in March indicating that garden stores in Wichita were already selling out of supplies, she had an idea what was going on. The state’s stay-at-home order as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was inspiring many homeowners to plant their own garden.
So McMahon quickly made plans to help out. In April, she launched an eight-week online gardening course, titled Victory Garden 101, to set up aspiring gardeners for success. The concept of a ‘Victory Garden’ dates back to World War II when Americans were encouraged to plant a home garden to provide a certain amount of their food during a time when many of the country’s agricultural products were being used to support the military.
The topics were geared toward first-time gardeners. Starting with week one, Victory Garden 101 led gardeners through preparing a site, planning the garden, growing your own salad, tips for great tomatoes, using vertical space, watering, and dealing with insect and disease problems. In addition to participating in the live classes, participants had access to all the materials on the website, email updates and weekly recordings.
More than 800 people from across the United State signed up for the course. For more information regarding gardening, interested persons are encouraged to join the Victory Garden 101 Facebook page.
Check out a recording of the first zoom meeting on Preparing Your Garden 101!
Kansas now has 20 Extension Districts. Effective July 1, 2020, Finney and Scott Extension Councils have formed West Plains Extension District #19 and Dickinson and Marion County Extension Councils have created the Chisholm Trail Extension District #20. Congratulations to the agents and staff, the extension councils and county commissions of these counties for their efforts to work toward more efficient, effective and sustainable extension programs with the formation of the districts.