News and Notes: April 1, 2021

OUR VISION: Ohioans have the knowledge and resources they need to actively engage in creating conditions in which they thrive.

OUR MISSION: We create opportunities for people to explore how science-based knowledge can improve social, economic and environmental conditions.

  1. Thoughts from the Director


    As we take a look around us these days, we can see that spring has arrived (minus a final few light dustings of snow) and we are energized by thoughts of new beginnings and encouraged by signs of life and new growth all around us. It will be nice to start getting back outdoors, firing up the grill, and talking longer walks in the sun. I am glad to know that more and more people are getting vaccinated, and the overall COVID-19 infection rate is staying fairly stable; but it is still very concerning to know the variants are present in Ohio. We will need to keep our eye on any sustained increases in COVID-19 spread over the next few weeks. Now is the time to be even more committed in our adherence to safety protocols (i.e., masks, 6-foot physical distancing, and sanitizing). I would remind you to also stay at home if you are not feeling well.

    I appreciate your continued efforts in the midst of multiple uncertainties to keep focused on our mission and the needs of our stakeholders. You have demonstrated an extraordinary amount of patience and flexibility this last year, and I am asking you to continue in this way for a bit longer. Over the next few weeks, we will begin to roll out additional guidance, tools and resources, and support for our return to our offices on our statewide campuses. We will also be soliciting feedback/input from you around LifeWorks strategies (culture and balance), return to offices (safety and flexibility) in the next few weeks to optimally inform our “re-opening” plans and approach to Extension work.

    I know there is COVID and video meeting fatigue. I encourage all of you to find ways to balance screen time with tech-free time; give yourselves the space on your calendars for “deep work” where you can focus without interruption; cancel meetings that are not needed and could be accomplished with an email or a phone call; shorten meetings that must be maintained; walk during meetings where you are not required to be live or are not the lead; take your lunch break away from your computer; protect time to just talk or network with colleagues; schedule and protect your vacations; and know that you have permission to say “no” or “not now” to some things. I try to practice all of these – with varying levels of success but a commitment to succeeding more. We need all of us for the long-haul and our mental health and well-being is critical. We will be having more time and attention given to this aspect of the work we do, how we do our work, and how COVID has informed what work can look like. I look forward to future conversations and sharing of useful strategies.

    When I think about what we have been through as a nation, as an organization, and as individuals this last year, I am continually amazed at our perseverance, our innovation, and our compassion for one another and those we serve. It has not been easy, and we still have a challenging journey ahead of us. Please reach out to check in on your colleagues, find ways to cheer one another (even it is bad dad jokes from Tom DeHaas), hold one another up when you see someone struggling, be present in the moment, and be kind to yourself and to your peers. You matter, Extension matters, and we won’t be functioning in this environment forever. Hold on, reach out, and breathe. We are in this together and there is no one else I’d rather be navigating it with.

    With gratitude, Jackie

  2. Program and Return-to-Office Planning

    As I mentioned in my March 24 programming update, we are able to start planning for more attendees at in-person programs that would be offered starting in mid-May; however, all in-person programs continue to require exemption approval. To submit exemptions for in-person programming, visit

    We hope to have more information and guidance about how counties can prepare for their local fairs, as well as additional university guidance on planning for camps in the near future as well.

    In addition, the in-person training course was scheduled to be completed by ALL Extension employees by yesterday (March 31). If for some reason, you have not yet accessed the online course, please do so ASAP at

    I’ve also mentioned a few times that Extension administration is working on how to transition more fully back into our statewide offices, meeting the needs of our communities while being safe and flexible during the process. As you know, HOW we do business can be complicated, with many moving parts, university processes, and other factors to consider. The following list is not all-inclusive, but I thought it would be valuable to list a number of the things that are being worked on as we talk transition:

    • Updated office plans (technology needs, office space/density/coverage/schedules);
    • Office signage (office status, as well as required COVID-19 signage for doors, floors, tables, sanitizing areas);
    • Employee-specific needs (accommodations via HR, scheduling, readjusting to life in the office);
    • Programming (adjustments from virtual-only to in-person and/or hybrid);
    • Connecting with clientele in new ways.
  3. Cabinet Connections and Conversation: County Visits

    Communication is more than just sharing information; it is equally important to listen. OSU Extension’s administrative cabinet is planning to connect with you soon at the local level throughout the organization. We will start by attending a number of virtual county staff meetings next Monday, April 5. Cabinet members will be there to listen and possibly answer questions you have. They will not come with an agenda or talking points; and they will bring your questions back for follow-up, if necessary. This should not preempt any pressing business you need to conduct during your meeting; Cabinet members will simply be joining you to learn more about your county’s current work. We will confirm who will be joining which local meeting, and we will work on scheduling visits with as many counties as possible over the next several months.

  4. Director’s Video Update on April 14 – Register Now

    Join us for the next Director’s Video Update on Wednesday, April 14 at 9am. Registration is required in advance. Please register by Mon, April 12 if possible. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with log-in information about joining the webinar on April 14. You may need to log into Zoom first, then click on the individualized link in your registration confirmation to access the webinar. The update will be recorded for those who cannot join us for the live presentation. If you have a disability and have questions about accessibility or wish to request accommodations for this activity, you can request assistance at

    Anticipated topics will include Extension strategic action update, return to offices transition updates, vaccine education initiative update, LifeWorks report and action steps, DEI report and action steps, budget updates, and celebrating


  5. Strategic Planning

    We have engaged with one outside consultant, and are working to define scope with another to complement the existing efforts we have going on to move us further along in our OSU Extension 2030 strategic plan. These efforts will merge with our integrated findings from our existing data (program reviews, urban plan of work, the VP Conversation, values workshops, and LifeWorks and diversity, equity, and inclusion reports) to identify any additional areas of inquiry needed, external trends, a state of Extension report, and peer institution benchmarking to contribute to our fuller knowledge that will inform our key areas of focus that drive future success and lead to the articulation of clear goals and action plans, with clear measures of success that will drive organizational excellence into the future. Stay tuned for more information about how we will engage our internal and external partners without contributing to any additional fatigue in the process.

  6. Extension Insight Requested about COVID-19 Vaccine Beliefs and Attitudes in Ohio – Survey Open until 5pm on April 1

    -Pat Bebo, assistant dean for outreach and engagement in the College of Education and Human Ecology; division director, Family and Consumer Sciences; and assistant director, OSU Extension

    Your feedback is critically important to the future goals developed for this project. Visit and provide input by 5pm today. EXCITE stands for the Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching and Engagement. This is a joint initiative between Cooperative Extension and the CDC. The goal of the long-term partnership is to strengthen immunization education with a special focus on adult vaccination hesitancy around COVID and other adult immunizations. The immediate goal of this first funded project is to promote the uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations through relevant messaging and innovative models for community action. Learn more at Our first action is to “take the temperature” of the communities in which you work and our own organization too, so we created a short, easy survey to do just that. Thank you in advance for your insight and honesty. The survey is 100 percent anonymous.

  7. Ohio State COVID-19 Town Hall – April 12

    The next university town hall will be held on April 12 at 5:30pm. The discussion will include information on fall campus reactivation plans, updates about the state of the pandemic and vaccination progress as well as time for questions. Participants should register using their university email address and are encouraged to submit questions in advance. Register online. Additional information, as well as recordings of the previous town halls, is posted on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

  8. Vaccine Availability

    Like everyone else in Ohio, we are following state and federal guidelines for the distribution of the vaccine. All Ohioans 16 and over are currenly eligible. I would encourage you to look locally for vaccine appointments, as they appear to be the most accessible. However, you are, as OSU employees able to access the Wexner Medical Center distribution through MyChart. This access still requires appointments and are dependent upon slots and vaccine availability as is every other provider. To learn more about the Wexner Medical Center vaccines as well as other statewide efforts, check online.

  9. CFAES Office for Research and Graduate Education: April 5-9 Celebration of Research Week

    In coordination with the CFAES Annual Research Conference, the first annual Celebration of Research Week will be an opportunity to revel in the many successes of the CFAES research community. Events include:

    • Virtual poster competition – View posters on the poster competition website; also attend live poster Q&A sessions Monday-Wednesday, giving poster authors an opportunity to share their research with a live audience. Learn more online.
    • Panel session – Focused on finding collaborators and developing a quality research team. Moderated by Dr. Luis Canas; panelists are Dr. Douglas Jackson-Smith, Dr. Enrico Bonello, and Dr. Barbara Kowalcyk. Register now.
    • Annual Research Conference awards ceremony – Will showcase several CFAES researchers who have been awarded for making outstanding contributions in their respective areas. Register now.
    • Live conversation with Dr. Rattan Lal, 2020 World Food Prize Laureate – Participants will have an opportunity to hear Dr. Lal’s story and ask him questions about his career and research.
    • Goodie bag pick-up – On Monday, April 5, find us on the CFAES Wooster campus in the new Wooster Science Building lobby; and on the CFAES Columbus campus, we will be in the Agricultural Administration building lobby by the library. Pick up bags from 11am-2pm, while supplies last.
  10. Monarch Butterfly Earth Day Virtual Celebration via the Environmental Professionals Network – April 21

    Ohio State’s Environmental Professionals Network (EPN) signature Earth Day celebration this year is Take Flight!, a focus on local and global efforts to protect and restore the monarch butterfly. The U.S. Midwest region serves as a vital corridor in the monarch’s migration cycle between Mexico to Canada across the United States. Monarch populations have declined by more than 70 percent in North America, and a global conservation effort is required to restore them. This program focuses on solutions and tangible resources. Dr. Doug Tallamy, New York Times best-selling author, and Jane Breckinridge, director, Euchee Butterfly Farm, and an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, will share the virtual stage with leading Ohioans from private, public, and non-profit sectors who are taking action across Ohio to protect pollinator habitat and show us how individuals and communities can engage locally to make a difference in this global conservation movement.  EPN is hosting the event with the CFAES School of Environment and Natural Resources. To learn more and register, visit

  11. Application Opportunity Open for Engagement Impact Grants – due April 15

    The Office of Outreach and Engagement is seeking applications from faculty and/or faculty-led teams for the 2021 Engagement Impact grants. Grants will be awarded at a maximum amount of $10,000 to support development of impact reports for programs, performances or exhibits; development of a public policy document or report; or support for team to develop a grant proposal or finalize a manuscript for publication submission. The application deadline is April 15. For more information, visit

  12. Current Budget Status

    As you know, our budget for Extension at the state was cut last fiscal year by 5 percent during the pandemic and we are beginning this fiscal year from that starting place. This reflects approximately a $3 million dollar reduction across both years, and we are continuing to be frugal to assure that we can continue to maintain our people and our programs as the economy continues to work its way back to pre-pandemic levels. I am happy to say that with all that has transpired this last year, we have been able to keep our people employed, we have avoided furloughs and reductions in force, all while having just providing a two-year bridge for IT (which proved to be incredibly helpful as COVID required a huge pivot to online and virtual). We will need to continue to be, as always, excellent stewards of the dollars we receive. We have a tremendous team within Extension and at the college (especially Adam Ward and Dean Kress) who are continuing to tell the story of Extension and the college’s success in meeting the needs of our clientele, especially in the face of the challenges during 2020.

    You all have been extraordinarily successful in meeting the needs of our communities in new and innovative ways while balancing the health and safety of your colleagues, clientele, and loved ones. This effort has not gone unnoticed, and we continue to have the support of our local funders. Our county appropriations has remained level or slightly increased during this pandemic. Out of 68 of 88 counties reporting (77 percent), the overall average was a 3 percent increase over COVID-adjusted 2020 appropriations.

    • 8 counties have a decrease (most proactively planned).
    • 32 counties have been held flat.
    • 28 counties have a slight increase.

    This speaks loudly to the value you bring to each community. Thank you!

  13. Transition from BuckeyeBox to OneDrive

    Ohio State is retiring its BuckeyeBox service. OCIO is using a tool called SkySync to copy files from BuckeyeBox data to OneDrive. When your department or business unit begins to migrate, OCIO will make a copy of files you own in BuckeyeBox and place them in OneDrive. You will then have read-only access to your files in BuckeyeBox. They are working with IT support and departmental leaders to determine the best time for CFAES departments to migrate. In advance of migration, you will receive communication with dates and resources specific to your migration.

    • You do not need to migrate your own files.
    • After migration, read-only file copies will remain in BuckeyeBox until shutdown.
    • Training material and other information is available at

    It is recommended to wait for OCIO to copy files to OneDrive for you. However, if you do want to get started on OneDrive or Teams – or simply want more information about the decision, OCIO has published information with guidance on how to get started early.

  14. Business Office Update

    A number of issues have contributed to delayed payments to vendors from purchase order invoices primarily related to converted purchase orders from PeopleSoft into Workday. The university is actively resolving these issues by increasing capacity in Accounts Payable and making bulk changes to Workday processes. If a vendor has reached out to you about a past-due PO invoice payment, please contact your cost center manager (CCM, Jesse for counties, Anna for state 4-H, Robert for other state units) with the PO number, and he or she will investigate and try to help facilitate an expedited payment.

  15. Ohio NEAFCS Award Nominations

    Congratulations to all of this year’s National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) award nomination winners who will represent Ohio at the national level. See the attached image for a list of the 2021 award nominations. The 2021 NEAFCS annual session will be held November 2-5 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

  16. Algal Bloom Action Team Receives Outstanding Regional Collaboration Achievement Award

    The North Central Region Water Network’s Algal Bloom Action Team has received an Outstanding Regional Collaboration Achievement Award from the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals (ANREP). The team won the award for organizing and hosting a three-day virtual research symposium in January 2021. More than 1,000 Extension professionals, researchers, and water professionals nationwide learned about emergent harmful algal bloom research and facilitated outreach on the subject. Eugene Braig, aquatic ecosystems program director for CFAES, is a member of the team and played an active role in coordinating and moderating the symposium. See more information at

  17. O.N.E. Extension – Onboard. Network. Excel. for Veteran Extension Employees

    As originally announced last fall, the O.N.E. Extension - Onboard. Network. Excel. program resumed in March. In addition to the new-hire cohort programs (invitation only), the “Veteran Series” is open to all Extension personnel, regardless of years of service or position. This is an opt-in series that takes place on Wednesdays from 9am-noon. You can attend just one session for which you have a specific topic interest, or you can register for all sessions. The attached agenda includes session titles, dates, objectives, and presenters. There is a unique registration link for each session. You need to register for each session individually, and you may register until the start time of the session.

  18. ACEL to Extension – Register for April, May Sessions

    Join the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) for the next topic in its series “ACEL to Extension” – offered directly for Extension personnel by ACEL faculty. For more information, visit Below is the list of remaining topics, with direct links to registration. You must register for each session individually. Each session starts at 9 a.m. and last about 60 minutes.

  19. CFAES DEI Monthly Newsletter

    The CFAES Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion newsletter features upcoming events, information on professional development webinars, and resources as well as its new DEI Monthly Spotlights where we celebrate the diversity of the CFAES student body by highlighting one student and one of our colleagues who are working to make CFAES and the community a welcoming place for all people. If you would like to receive future issues of the DEI newsletter, sign up here.

  20. CFAES Principles of Community

    We affirm our conviction that racism and inequality have no place in CFAES. Our CFAES Principles of Community serve as a base for managing these actions. We all contribute to our community and our collective experience. You are encouraged to download and post the principles, discuss them during meetings, share them with others, and most importantly, use them as a guide in all that we do to sustain life.


  21. Extension Annual Conference and Support Staff Conference Dates Announced

    2021 virtual OSU Extension Annual Conference
    Mark your calendars to spend time attending the virtual Extension annual conference on December 7, 8, and 9 this year. Everyone is welcome to attend.

    2021 virtual OSU Extension Support Staff Conference
    The 2021 virtual support staff conference official dates are October 14, 15, 18, and 19 for about two hours per day. Mark your calendars to attend the conference this fall.

    Note: We have made the decision to hold both conferences virtually this year. While we are hopeful that we will all be back together in many ways well before these conferences occur, we have decided to hold both of these conferences virtually for one more year. The primary reason is to maintain the budget for other key expenses. The entire cost to the system is approximately $300,000 for the conference facility, food, speakers, hotels, and mileage for everyone to attend. We think it makes sense to save this money for alternate needs through the end of this year. We hope to schedule some smaller face-to-face listening sessions in the late summer or early fall as part of our strategic planning process, where we can safely and affordably bring some of our people together on conversations that move our organization forward over the next few years. Most of the national conferences are also holding their 2021 events virtually or using a hybrid approach, so we will definitely not be alone in this decision.