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Information Newsroom

Communication & Engagement Manager – Request for Applications

We’re searching for a Communications Manager!
Join our virtual team from any location
March 1, 2018, first round of application reviews

Communications and Engagement Manager
eXtension and NPSEC Partnership

national pesticide safety education center logoCommunication and engagement with the Cooperative Extension Service and other eXtension partners across the nation is critical to eXtension viability and future.  It is imperative the eXtension stay in touch with the people eXtension serves. eXtension is known for cutting-edge technological leadership over the past several years and now for our Impact Collaborative that is supported by innovation, collaboration, and evaluation.  The Impact Collaborative is creating measurable and visible impact at the local level through various strategies, to include Designathons One and Two.

Strategic engagement efforts and marketing are critical to the continued success of eXtension for programming, messaging, marketing, development of appropriate products, as well as continuing to keep the website up to date with information on the opportunities within eXtension.  eXtension will work collaboratively with NPSEC (National Pesticide Safety Education Center) in the support and guidance of this position.  NPSEC has similar needs for efforts from this position in the areas of strategic messaging, targeted communications, including on social media, marketing, and website maintenance.

The Communications and Engagement Manager will lead in the following areas for both eXtension and NPSEC:

  • Strategic Messaging
  • Marketing for Program Sharing, Fundraising, and Revenue Generating
  • Social Media
  • Website Management
  • Engagement with the Impact Collaborative to develop and sustain a supportive of innovative, engaged extension professionals
  • Graphics and Communications
  • Effective Communication and Engagement Strategies

For NPSEC:

Pesticide Safety Education Programs, State Lead Agencies, Federal Government and others to be identified

For eXtension:

ECOP (Extension Committee on Policy); NEDA (National Extension Directors Association), USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), State Extension Directors, Regional Extension Directors, some funders, and others to be identified.

Qualifications

  • Bacherlor’s degree in journalism or communications.  Master’s preferred.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of communications strategies, marketing packages and reach and ability to write with clarity in a fast-changing environment.
  • Knowledge of or experience in the Cooperative Extension, the audiences they serve and how this higher educational process works.
  • Knowledge of communication systems, including experience with graphics, social media, written media, fliers, brochures and ability to create communication pieces that convey the messages with clarity.
  • Knowledge and experience with managing networks and engaging them in co-creative efforts.
  • Personal computer skills required.
  • Experience in effectively working with and managing several projects at once and working with a virtual team across the country.

Specific Tasks and Responsibilities

  • Develop communications and marketing strategy and tactics with leadership team
  • Implement the communication and marketing strategy, tactics, objectives and plans.
  • Develop graphics and communications pieces to highlight the Impact Collaborative and eXtension
  • Work  with all facets of eXtension and NPSEC to develop marketing pieces and develop strategies for social media
  • Provide proactive communications and recommendations to solve communication needs as they arise
  • Write and produce documents for the eXtension membership campaign, eXtension Board, and NPSEC
  • Review, strategize and implement a social media plan for increased communications and marketing for both eXtension and NPSEC
  • Keep an updated database of new Extension Directors/Administrators for eXtension and state/territory/tribal Pesticide Safety Education extension staff for NPSEC
  • Keeps subscriber lists up to date
  • Writes posts/emails, a monthly “round-up” about the highlights of activities connected with eXtension and weekly ECOP Monday Minute items to distribute to the ECOP Executive Director.
  • Ensures that posts about upcoming events (webinars, online courses, etc.) and professional development hosted by eXtension.  Will require writing.
  • Update the content on the eXtension and NPSEC websites, including authoring new content, and creating new navigation as needed for both eXtension and NPSEC.
  • Review google analytics and take steps to optimize the user experience.
  • Work with the evaluation team to identify key data and successes for sharing on the website, written communications, and slide decks.
  • When practical, travel to eXtension and NPSEC face to face events and obtain photos, video, interviews, and other material needed to support communication and impact reporting and make sure others are capturing appropriate content as needed.
  • Provide leadership for developing a shared message and voice among eXtension staff and leadership team relative to programs, processes, and initiatives of the foundation
  • Author messaging for member institutions and keep them informed of the accomplishments of their faculty/staff relative to eXtension programs.

This is a 1.0 FTE  contracted position or University buy-out with .7 funded by eXtension and .3 funded by NPSEC. This position will be for one year, with a possible renewal for an additional year with satisfactory work and appropriate funding. This is not an employee position. The position reports to the eXtension Chief Operating Officer and National Pesticide Safety Education Center Executive Director.

First round application review will be March 1, 2018.  The position will be advertised until the position is filled.

How to Apply

Please send your letter of interest and your resume to ceoassistant@extension.org by March 1 for first round reviews.  For more information on the position contact:

Dr. Beverly Coberly
Chief Operation Officer
eXtension Foundation
beverlycoberly@extension.org
573-239-9409

Or

Tom Smith
Executive Director
National Pesticide Safety Education Center (NPSEC)
smitht48@msu.edu
517-202-3019

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Diversity & Inclusion Fellowships Information NAEPSDP

Are you evaluating your program? Ask the stakeholders!

Julie Huetteman, Ph.D., is the Strategic Initiatives Coordinator at Purdue Extension. She is serving as the National Association of Extension Program and Staff Development Professionals (NAEPSDP) eXtension Fellow for 2017.

My role as 2017 eXtension NAEPSDP Fellow for Program Evaluation was launched with the Diversity and Inclusion Issue Corps (now called the Impact Collaborative) in Cincinnati. Since then, I have attended online sessions for those projects to share progress, challenges, and accomplishments. In addition, I have been included on the Corps evaluation team to learn of feedback from project teams.

A theme in this feedback was “stakeholder” involvement expressed as 1) key to their program goals; 2) instrumental to providing external input, perspective and support for their program; and 3) important in their next steps to move forward in their program planning, implementation and evaluation efforts.

In my online interactions with project teams, I found myself repeating, “Have you asked them?” I reminded many to “keep asking questions” of their stakeholders, audience, participants, and attendees to connect to those perspectives, interests, and insights.

We don’t have to have all the answers. Instead, consider asking questions of stakeholders to get those answers.

In education, the “expert” typically shares information or content. But do we know what is of interest to attendees? Do stakeholders understand what is being shared? Is the program of value to participants? How did the audience benefit from taking part in activities? Here is the break: We don’t have to have all the answers. Instead, consider asking questions of stakeholders to get those answers.

A lot is involved in planning, implementing, evaluating and reporting Extension programs, and we want to do the best we can. So, consider asking questions throughout and use feedback to inform your decisions.

  • Are you planning activities that encourage attendees to be active, involved and engaged? Check on current research for best practices, then ask the intended audience: “What activities would you find interesting to do?”
  • When deciding which topics are most important, check the literature, then ask a couple representatives of your future audience: “What topics are important to you?”
  • While planning the evaluation, check on practice guidelines, then ask stakeholders: “What questions might be asked to find out the value of this program?” Alternately, give them draft questions and ask: “Which ones work well to capture the value of the program for you?” followed by “How might you state a question to ask about its benefit to participants?”
  • In your outline or curriculum, schedule specific activities to involve and engage participants like asking verbal questions, posting polls, sharing questions on a slide, and so on. Some examples: “Is there anything that you need to be clarified?” “Was this activity helpful?” “What was most valuable to you?” Also: Keep questions going throughout; don’t wait until the end of the program to ask.

Avoid packing your program with so much content that you forget about — or don’t leave time or space for — getting to know the audience.

Ask your audience to 1) help clarify your planning efforts, 2) give feedback during your implementation, and 3) craft questions for debriefing, or 4) review and express the evaluation results. Avoid packing your program with so much content that you forget about — or don’t leave time or space for — getting to know the audience. Include questions to get their ideas on, the perceived value from, and experience of the program. Key questions to get started might be: “Has the program met your needs?” “Is this activity/program of value to you?” “Is this of interest to you?” “What is important to you?” “How have you benefited from this presentation/program?”

Ask questions, then listen. Audience responses and feedback can guide your next steps for planning and evaluation. Make time to get to know, and connect with, the audience by asking about their thoughts or perceptions. Ask your audience – before, during and after your program – so that their perspective is the focus of your planning, activities, and evaluation.

Julie can be contacted at jhuettem@purdue.edu

Categories
Newsroom

Communications Specialist – Impact Collaborative

impact collaborative logoeXtension is seeking an individual or a team to develop a communications strategy.  This will be a retainer agreement for a 5-month project. eXtension will commit between $25K and $30K to the approved individual or team.  The scope of work expected is noted below.  Individuals or teams interested should develop a proposal for this project (two pages maximum, including links to sample work) and submit to CEO Assistant (Brenna Kotar) (ceoassistant@extension.org) at eXtension by July 28, 2017.  Proposals will be reviewed by August 5 and contract will begin August 15, 2017.  University buyout arrangements are preferred, but individual contracts will be considered.

We are looking for an enthusiastic Communications Specialist, or a team with a lead contact, to create and implement a communications strategy including collateral materials and products for eXtension and our flagship program: the Impact Collaborative. You will promote a positive public image and control the creation and dissemination of information and graphic materials on eXtension’s behalf using existing branding and brand personality messages as a base. We are seeking an individual or a team to bring together our existing work into a consistent and forward-moving initial five-month campaign.

Responsibilities

  • Initial Deliverables:
    • Write and design (using our brand messaging, logo and colors) for a customizable/editable 1-page handout with infographic for each region – such as “eXtension and the X Region”
    • Write and create the graphic design for Editable PowerPoint/Google Slide decks for presentations for each region and each state.
    • Develop and implement a social media strategy for the Impact Collaborative.
  • Work with the Leadership Team to develop effective corporate communication strategies for eXtension’s Impact Collaborative.
  • Author internal communications (memos, newsletters etc.).
  • Draft content (e.g. press releases) for mass media or eXtension website.
  • Bring the capacity to lead these items if/when needed:
    • Organize media initiatives and plan press conferences as needed.
    • Liaise with partner media and handle requests for interviews, statements etc. as needed.
    • Produce copy and graphics for advertisements or articles as needed.
    • Perform “damage control” in cases of bad publicity.

Expected skills:

  • Proven experience as communications specialist.
  • Experience in web design and content production.
  • Experience with digital graphic design.
  • Experience with social media strategy execution.
  • Experience in copywriting and editing.
  • Solid project management experience.
  • Working knowledge of G suite, MS Office; photo and video-editing software is a plus.
  • Excellent communication (oral and written) and presentation skills.
  • Outstanding organizational and planning abilities.
  • Proficient command of English.
  • BSc/BA in public relations, communications or relevant field.
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Success Stories

Pollinator Spaces: Promoting Pollinator Conservation and Sustainability

Becky GriffinBecky Griffin’s i-Three Issue Corps project is dedicated to creating gardens that support pollinator habitats and provide hands-on pollinator education throughout Georgia. The impact she is seeking is to increase pollinator awareness in her state by facilitating the development of school and community gardens and supporting the effort with high-quality, engaging communications. At the NeXC2016 Conference, she gleaned advice from key informants that she applied to achieve an award-winning gardening blog and to integrate management of her social media to facilitate message delivery across platforms. Finally, she applied what she learned about story mapping to create a map showing the many locations and photos of the completed pollinator spaces–a visible, measurable evaluation of her project’s progress and results. Becky is a community and school garden coordinator with the University of Georgia Extension.

When Becky Griffin first learned of eXtension’s i-Three Issue Corps initiative in fall 2015, she immediately recognized an opportunity to expand the impact of her gardening program for 2016.

“Being part of the Issue Corps is one of the best things I’ve done in my professional life,” Becky says.

Becky, who is University of Georgia Extension’s community and school garden coordinator, worked in the past primarily with food gardeners. However, for 2016 she envisioned introducing education on pollinators and their habitat needs into her work.  Increasingly in past years, her community gardeners, both rural and urban, were experiencing a decline in typically abundant crops, such as cucumbers and squash, that require pollinators.

Addressing the Needs of Pollinators

The decline of pollinators—not just domestic honey bees (which most people think of as the pollinators), but wild native bees, wasps, butterflies and even birds and bats—has been so alarming in Georgia that the state has developed a statewide plan to promote public awareness and proactive stewardship of its pollinator workforce.

Through her Issue Corps Pollinator Spaces Project, Becky set out to create experiential learning opportunities for students and community members about the needs of pollinators by adding pollinator habitats into their gardens statewide. Her project required exceptional energy and project management skills, covering communities and presentations throughout the state. It also required strong communication outreach.

Becky looked to her Issue Corps experience to provide her with professional development in using the right mix of social media effectively. She needed to support her volunteer gardeners with educational resources, to record and share photos of the new gardens and to inform the public about these special gardens and their purpose: to address the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations.

Agility in the Face of Change

Green Meadows Community Garden Pollinator Plants
Green Meadows Community Garden Pollinator Space

Georgia had an early planting season in 2016, making it easier for Becky to travel the state giving presentations to schools and community gardening groups, gaining their commitment and capturing information for tracking their progress. This was the first step in her goal of creating behavior change—getting them to deliberately include pollinator spaces in their gardens.  As an inducement, she distributed seeds for Sulphur Cosmos, a pollinator-favorite flower.

Early in the growing season, however, concern about the mosquito-borne zika virus gripped the state, prompting gardeners and public members to begin heavy spraying of pesticides.

“It was what I call a light-bulb moment—a teaching moment,” says Becky. “Most people, including many of my project gardeners, didn’t understand that mosquito-targeting pesticides can kill all sorts of insects. I found myself unexpectedly having to focus on pesticide education: ‘Don’t ever spray on the blooms. Don’t spray during the pollinator’s working hours between early morning and sundown.’”

“Pesticide management is critical,” Becky adds. “Georgia is still not seeing the butterflies we were hoping for. Education about the habits and homes of native bees is essential—they can be mistaken for pests and attacked with pesticides.  I’ve also created classes on protecting honeybees,” says Becky who is a certified beekeeper.

Then, unexpectedly Georgia experienced record heat and went into a drought. Mosquitos all but disappeared. Becky’s education focus had to shift to emphasize planting heat and drought-tolerant varieties (Sulphur Cosmos luckily are), recognizing symptoms of heat stress in a garden and responding with proper irrigation practices.

Communication Strategies That Delivered

Becky credits her i-Three Issue Corps experience and eXtension’s March NeXC2016 Conference, particularly the day spent with key-informant experts, for her agility in adapting her messaging while maintaining the momentum of her social media outreach to her many followers. At this writing, she has more than 80 gardens and hundreds of volunteers in her project.

“Being part of the Issue Corps is one of the best things I’ve done in my professional life,” Becky says. “There are so many things I can point to that helped me. A key-informant reviewed my blog website and urged me to ‘use more voice’ to make the content more friendly, personal, sharing my failures as well as successes with my own garden.” This advice alone led to a big increase in hits, and Becky’s gardening blog website was selected in July as Number 20 among the top 100 gardening blog sites.

Other benefits she cites are the Impact Statement Reporting Course on eXtension.org, “where I learned how to measure impact and behavior change.” She also praises the social media expert group at NeXC2016 who taught her “how to be smarter with social media, how to report more judiciously on Facebook, and how to run it all from my website.”

Perhaps the showcase of her expanded communication skill is her just-completed story map, developed with coaching from eXtension Innovation Project Awardee Shane Bradt of the University of New Hampshire. Becky met Shane, leader of eXtension’s Geospatial Technology community, at NeXC2016.  She was referred to him after asking if anyone knew a strategy for using photos, like those of the pollinator spaces she was collecting, for evaluating a project.

Becky’s story map communicates the spirit and achievement of her Pollinator Spaces Project far better than any article, such as this, can. Clearly, Becky’s project and innovative approach to sharing it throughout Georgia suggest a model that other Extension professionals might adopt for increasing pollinator awareness and protection in their states.

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Success Stories

A Down-Home Approach to Meeting a Global Challenge

Alice HennemanAlice Henneman’s i-Three Issue Corps project promotes personal awareness and behavior change to reduce consumer food waste. Using educational tools consumers are familiar with, such as food audits, daily logs of food wasted and recipes that teach them new shopping and meal considerations, she is developing a whole new curriculum that she is rolling out locally for statewide and, potentially, national adoption. At the NeXC2016 conference, she networked extensively with other Extension professionals to test her concepts, collect suggestions and refine her project plan. Through working with the key informants she gained the confidence and tips encouraging her to “think bigger” and build plans for scalability into her project that are being realized as the project progresses. Alice is an RDN and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Educator. She serves Lancaster County in Nebraska.

Throughout her life, Alice has had a close relationship with food from growing up on a farm to embarking on a career as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who chose to focus on consumer food concerns. As an award-winning educator with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County, she is now recognized nationally and locally as a leader and innovator in food, nutrition and food safety education for communities, families, and individuals.

When eXtension announced the i-Three Issue Corps in late 2015, Alice anticipated it could provide the support she needed to develop an innovation for her program and organizational food website, food.unl.edu, which serves Nebraska as well as national and international visitors.

Making a Ginormous Task Personal and Doable

In particular, Alice values the time she spent with the key-informant experts, and how they provided a one-stop, multi-topic consultation. The Designathon helped her expand possibilities while also recognizing parameters, resulting in a more precise and concise roadmap for her project.

The innovation Alice was eager to pursue was ignited by an article in National Geographic Magazine on “Feeding 9 Billion” and the projection that by 2050, we’ll need to feed two billion more people.

Through research on the topic, Alice learned as much as 40 percent of the overall edible food produced in the United States is wasted each year. In response to this, Alice proposed an Issue Corps project to develop and add a comprehensive new education component to the food website, promoting awareness and practices for reducing food waste. Her hope for the project was that it would be scalable for use by the entire Cooperative Extension System.

“While many people think the solutions are mainly agricultural and commercial interventions and innovations, they really don’t realize consumers also CAN do something about it in their own food practices. They can be part of meeting the challenge, and each person can go home and begin immediately.”

An important tool in her education and behavior change plan is a food audit. Alice notes that there’s a laundry list of food waste reduction practices people can be encouraged to do, but that some are quite complicated and not scalable.

“Like with fitness or other habits, it helps if you keep track of what you waste as you do it,” she says.  “Better to do a simple audit for a day or week—similar to keeping track of what you eat–then you can go back and really think about it. Then you realize it’s YOU, and you can see what you can do about it. Awareness becomes personal.”

Moving Forward Quickly with a Multi-Faceted Approach

Alice is now working on developing resources, like the food waste audit tool to add to the food website and use in programming in Lancaster County and beyond. She credits the Issue Corps and the NeXC2016 Conference experience for moving her original concept rapidly into development.

In particular, Alice values the time she spent with the key-informant experts, and how they provided a one-stop, multi-topic consultation. The Designathon helped her expand possibilities while also recognizing parameters, resulting in a more precise and concise roadmap for her project.

At the conference, Alice spent a good deal of time talking and brainstorming with other attendees. She found that these discussions, as well as the communications experts’ advice, honed her approach for reaching consumers.

Trash can filled with food
As much as 40% of the food in the United States is wasted yearly.

“I came to realize that “Feeding 9 Billion” would not motivate consumers as it did me,” she admits. “I was coached to think about what resonates: money lost, and people like fresh food. Over lunch with another attendee who is in communications, she produced what is now my slogan: ‘Food Tossed Is Money Lost.’” Alice now has this up on Pinterest where it’s having an impact in Lancaster County and beyond, with people from other states joining her network and following the new content.

Finally, she’s conceptualized a new way of doing recipes to reduce food waste that educates about ways to prevent waste and what to do with what might become waste. She and her coworkers are working on special recipes for individuals and families, with many education topics integrated into them—feeding tips for children; food safety; and incorporating foods often consumed in less than recommended amounts, like fresh fruit and vegetables, into meals.

“Recipes can teach at the teachable moment,” Alice says. “If something is left over in a recipe, what can you do with it? It’s a time to think about providing answers to questions like, How do you freeze things for later use? How do you store foods for best safety and quality?”

Alice claims her i-Three Issue Corps experience made her “think bigger.” She is currently planning a presentation for a local medical center, “Leftover Makeovers and Refrigerator Reboots” which she plans to share with others and expand into such possible venues as online videos. She also is considering some type of downloadable eBook on preventing food waste when purchasing and preparing fresh produce, whether at a grocery store, farmers’ market or through a Community Supported Agriculture share.

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Communications & Marketing Information Innovation Partners

Virtual Communication Camp Applications Due April 15

Virtual Communications Camp logo

Do you have a team of Extension educators who want to work together and individually to learn about and carry out communications strategy? North Dakota State University Agriculture Communication received an eXtension innovation grant to develop Virtual Communications Camp.

Virtual Communications Camp is based on the successful in-person camp NDSU has hosted for four years where teams have started with planning their communication strategy (goals, target audiences, key messages and user scenarios) and applying that strategy to develop communication tools (web pages, social media posts, news releases, videos, etc.).

student-849823_1280Teams may be from a state or a county – or spread across the country. The camp is designed for teams in need of a communication strategy to develop and carry out an educational program. The most successful teams have started with programs that are relatively new, so teams aren’t already committed to a communication plan. Also, the camp is not designed to develop marketing for an educational program but rather develop the program itself. Even though the team will work on one project, each team member will develop various communication tools for that program.

Team members will learn by watching some narrated PowerPoints using Office Mix but mostly by experience under the guidance of a coach.

Check out the Virtual Communication Camp website or contact Bob Bertsch or Becky Koch to learn more. Applications for teams are due April 15 since the eight-week program begins May 6. Please spread the word to help more Extension educators learn about communication strategy and tools.

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Information Working Differently

Who’s in your speed dial favorites?

woman-smartphone-girl-technology-1024x683As a student of the 80’s and early 90’s, I really didn’t get a chance to fully benefit from the electronic communication age until I joined the full-time workforce. Then I discovered the power of email and the use of electronic mail magic to get programming information out to county professionals at record speed. No more snail-mailing letters or preparing materials to be duplicated and put in the County Extension Packets on Fridays!

Life became liberating, even though some recipients were slow to adopt and adapt to these new ways of receiving and retrieving information. Over the years even more ways to communicate have emerged like direct messaging and chat, cloud storage options for sharing data and documents, and much more. Now we can do nearly everything on our phones that we once had to do on our personal computers, making us even more efficient. And with our new communication style has come a new etiquette. No longer do I call my friends straight up. I text them first and ask if they are busy.  “Can I call?” Or I simply text them my thoughts.

Whatever happened to talking one-to-one on the phone? Are we now so busy, so efficient that we can’t take a few moments to connect to one another on a more personal level? Although we can justify the efficiency of connecting on a personal level with friends and colleagues via social spaces, the truth is some things are just better done over the phone, one-to-one.

Over the past few weeks I had an important, actionable message that required me to reach out to eXtension community and learning network leaders to introduce and discuss new opportunities. Although I didn’t reach everyone, and was able only to leave detailed messages for some about the reason for my call, I did get to chat with many. These calls were very gratifying, and I was rejuvenated by all the wonderful work I learned is being done as well as the enthusiasm many expressed for the eXtension Foundation’s new strategy.

I have always been open to talk with everyone I work with and serve, but so many times today we rely on what we think are the most efficient paths which, in reflection, may not be so efficient. As eXtension strives to serve the system and the valuable communities of the system, we know we will be having more group and one-to-one conversations. If you are a community or learning network leader, or just want help in developing such a team to discuss emerging issues you want to address, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. Add me (859.608.2726) to your speed dial favorites!