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Ohio State University Extension


News and Notes: April 22, 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.

In This Issue:

Leadership Notes

COVID-19 Updates

College Connections

Campus Connections/Partnerships

Community Connections

Programming Perspectives

Award Opportunities/Reminders

Tech Updates

Celebrating Colleagues

Professional Development Opportunities

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Health and Wellness

  1. Administrative Professionals Day – Thoughts from the Director

    Thank you to all of our administrative professionals for all of your hard work, tireless efforts, and enthusiastic support. You are key to our success! We appreciate you today and every day!

    administrative professionals day image

  2. Racial Justice and Healing

    Over this last year, in particular, we have witnessed many examples of racial injustice which have contributed to a tremendous amount of angst and strife across our nation, within our communities, and often within our own lives, affecting people in extraordinary ways. In OSU Extension, we believe that there is no place for racism, demonstrated by our mission to “…actively engage in creating conditions in which [all Ohioans] thrive.” We have a daily opportunity to consider how our work can contribute to improving the quality of life for every individual, to reduce inequities (social, racial, health) and to make positive changes within our communities through education and engagement and by living our Principles of Community ( As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Imagine what we can accomplish together in this space.

  3. Director’s April 14 Video Update Recording Available

    The link to the April 14 video update is available with the integrated audio transcript online. The other Director’s Video Updates this year will be held on May 19, June 30, Aug 18, Oct 6, Nov 17, and Dec 15. All video updates will be held at 9am. A registration link will be forwarded two to three weeks prior to each update, and the videos will be recorded for those who cannot join us live.

  4. Return-to-Office Planning

    I understand that this is a long message, but it contains critical information for updated in-person programming and return to offices guidance and expectations. Please read all of it carefully for clarity and consistent understanding of our next steps.

    More than a year ago, we took the important step to close offices and go to 100% telework due to the COVID-19 crisis. We have been and continue to be very intentional about our efforts to achieve a balance between our commitment to the safety and well-being of our Extension staff and our responsibilities and commitment to our communities. We have made adjustments throughout the last year, and expanded and contracted services and programming as necessary and appropriate. We have been leaders in creating safe work and learning environments during COVID-19, and we will continue to pay attention to the public health information at the local levels to ensure we remain healthy.

    Now we feel it is time to begin the next level of opening our offices up to the public. We fully understand that the return to offices will, over the next few weeks and months, continue to be an evolution. There are many complexities to getting everyone back to offices for the majority of their work time (e.g., child care, school openings, health considerations); but it is important for us to move in this direction to continue to optimally meet the needs of our stakeholders and the communities we serve. We have learned a lot about how we can build flexibility into our work and how we can use technology to expand our reach and partner more effectively across geographic boundaries. We have succeeded in setting up protocols and strategies for serving our clients while keeping one another safe. Our goal is to maintain many of the benefits of our lessons learned while celebrating our ability to return to our statewide offices. What follows is our guidance for planning and implementing our return-to-office transition between now and Tuesday, June 1, 2021.

    Key assumptions:

    • Every position within Extension is valued plays a key role in our mission.
    • Office plans need to balance individual, team, organizational, and community needs.
    • Each office plan will look different, due to staffing and funding.
    • County plans need to be developed as a unit and may change, because the COVID-19 situation remains fluid.

    Return to Offices (begin to plan now)
    Starting Tuesday, June 1, and continuing forward, people density in Extension offices can be up to 100%, PROVIDED that physical distancing requirements are maintained and all other university and CFAES guidelines for safe and healthy Buckeyes are followed. Note: If your office is ready to increase capacity now, you are not required to wait until June 1; however, you still MUST have an approved plan in place before doing so.


    • Effective Tuesday, June 1, 2021, ALL offices are open and accessible to the public equivalent to pre-pandemic hours (five days per week in most offices unless authorized by the director of Operations to be open less due to funding, staffing capacity, etc.).
    • No one is 100% telework, effective Tuesday, June 1, 2021.
    • If room allows, up to 100% capacity is appropriate (30-foot square distance between staff).
    • Plans should reflect local need (inclusive of personnel, clientele, community, etc.).
    • Each position has a specific set of duties and responsibilities which need to be taken into consideration when developing the office plans for each unit.
    • Support staff should maintain a physical presence within offices during regular (locally established) business hours, because they serve as the first line of engagement for clientele/visitors/stakeholders and play a critical role in supporting the work of the office.
    • Program personnel (e.g., program assistants, educators, specialists) are directly responsible for a broad range of programmatic and research activities and may need to have a greater degree of flexibility for physical time in the office and out in the community at program sites, community partner meetings, and area and state team engagements.
    • Program personnel and employees serving in administrative leadership roles carry out their work in multiple locations and across varying hours in any given week (i.e., over the course of a year, they are engaged an average of 40 hours per week).
    • Office teams will cooperate to ensure the office is covered, when program requirements allow. Office coverage should include at least two people. Proactive scheduling and communication is key!
    • Regardless of position and duties, the availability of every employee within workday hours should be known and can be communicated to clientele.

    Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs)
    Existing Telework Agreements will be replaced with FWAs approved by supervisors, effective June 1, 2021. Requests for telework, compressed work weeks, or other flexible work arrangements MUST be reflected in a formal Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA).

    According to guidance from OHR:
    "Ohio State supports flexible work arrangements to achieve a reliable and productive work environment that enables staff to balance work and personal needs. The university recognizes the growing demands on staff and the increasing challenge of finding innovative ways to provide service and meet university goals.
        “…Workplace flexibility provides a way to successfully manage people, time, space and workload. However, while all staff members are eligible to request flexible work arrangements, not all positions may lend themselves to flexible work."

    Some key aspects of the FWA policy include, but are not limited to:

    • All staff members are eligible to request flexible work arrangements, however, not all positions lend themselves to flexible work.
    • The request for a flexible work arrangement must meet the needs, requirements, and constraints of both the unit and the staff member.
    • Units should be consistent in the decision-making process regarding flexible work arrangement requests.
    • A staff member must request a flexible work arrangement from his or her supervisor.
    • The staff member and supervisor must discuss the flexible work arrangement request.
    • Flexible work arrangements must be documented when they are established, using the Flexible Work Arrangement Proposal at: or other appropriate document (e.g., email communication).
    • Flexible work arrangements are not guaranteed; they can change or be discontinued.

    Supervisors will follow Ohio State’s Flexible Work Policy 6.12 when engaging with employees in flexible work arrangement conversations. Visit to see the full policy and process and visit to see the flexible work employee guidelines worksheet.

    Individual flexibility must be considered within the context of the role for which one was hired, what’s allowable within the policy, and the context of the unit in which one works. There must be a balance between individual, team, community, and organizational needs and expectations. Flexible work schedules are not simply based on a preference for work hours or telework location.

    Compressed work weeks and staggered start/stop times will be considered in the context of the unit, reflected in the office plan, and included in a formal FWA. For example, if an individual is requesting a compressed week (four days/10 hours per day), this must be considered by the supervisor in the context of each unit/county and should not impede the overall functioning of the office and/or the quality of programming or services offered to clientele.

    Formal Accommodations

    • Formal accommodations should be requested asap via the HR process. Qualifying reasons for requesting a modification include certain health conditions, caring for family members, and child-care responsibilities. For more specific human resources and FAQs concerning COVID-19, including work accommodations related to COVID-19, visit
    • Formal accommodations may take a few weeks for review and approval — If you know you will need an accommodation, begin the process now so the accommodation can be worked into the office staffing plan.

    Flexible Office Arrangements

    • Offices can use staggered start/stop times —The primary responsibility for ensuring the office is open belongs to the office associate. However, when the office associate is off or not scheduled at the time of opening or closing or has a scheduled Zoom meeting or training, other office colleagues will provide that coverage and it will be made clear who is handling coverage for any specific time frame.
    • There is an expectation that everyone takes lunch and is not required to cover the front door during his or her lunch break. Offices can be closed for the lunch period, but drop boxes must be available. People are encouraged to take their entire break and not eat at their desk. Don’t forget about using “fiscal volunteers” for additional coverage needs in counties, when needed. Teamwork and communication is key and expected!

    Professional Scheduling

    • Flexible work arrangement requests are not the same as an occasional need for flexibility. Flexible work arrangements last longer than two months. For instances or situations where shorter flexibility is necessary, professional scheduling is still appropriate – but effective communication is required.
    • Professional scheduling is based on trust. As such, communication with colleagues is paramount. Supervisors and offices should be aware of professional scheduling plans. You know when you will be working late; and your office should be aware of your evening or weekend hours and when you plan to professionally flex some hours. Be proactive and highly communicative with your colleagues and local team members.

    Ongoing Evaluation of Local Office Plans
    As has been standard practice during COVID-19, all offices should be reviewing their office plans on a regular basis and making adjustments as needed and warranted, in conjunction with their area leaders. If we communicate often and collaborate effectively, we can ensure that our offices are staffed appropriately, life/work balance is addressed, and the needs of our clientele and our people are optimally met.

    If you have any questions or need more specific information about how to approach planning for the return to offices, please reach out to your area leader or to Jeff McCutcheon (

    Thank you! I value you and your contributions; and I do not underestimate your continued commitment to one another, OSU Extension, and our communities. FAQs will be coming soon, and I will have some open office hours available starting the first full week of May.

    Regards, Jackie

  5. In-person Programming Update

    We have been granted the ability to cease the in-person exemption process and, effective immediately, NO NEW in-person programming exemptions will need to be submitted for review – if there will be FEWER than 300 attendees. For this waiver of the in-person exemption process to remain in place, we MUST continue to ensure that all health and safety measures are followed, including physical distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing. We will still be required to take names for potential contact tracing, and only boxed meals are allowed. In-person programs with more than 300 attendees will still need an exemption. For the full in-person guidelines, see the OSU Extension Planning Guide for In-Person Meetings and Events.

    It is critical that each of us remains vigilant and adheres to the guidelines for the exemption waiver to stay in force. Compliance is key! Please note that as the conditions of the pandemic evolve, we can expect changes in guidance from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the state of Ohio, and the university; and these changes may consequently change the scope and density in-person programming.

  6. 2021 Ohio 4-H Camping Update

    -per Kirk Bloir, assistant director, Ohio 4-H Youth Development

    We are delighted to share that we have received approval for our plans to move forward with conducting both day and overnight 4-H camps this summer. University leadership gave careful consideration to a wide range of factors, including vaccination availability and uptake, mitigation tactics, and a host of impacts on our members, families, volunteers, supporters, facility partners, and our employees. We know our 4-H colleagues have been working on a variety of plans that hinged on this decision and are very appreciative of their time and effort.

    We extend appreciation to the 4-H Camping Design Team task force who helped to prepare a comprehensive plan for balancing evidence-based COVID-19 mitigation strategies with providing needed programming for our 4-H youth across the state.

    We will continue to monitor conditions across the state and will update guidelines as needed. In other words, if the state and university lift health restrictions because the spread of the virus has slowed, we will all rejoice and follow that guidance. On the other hand, if the virus spread surges and health advisories limiting mass gatherings are reinstated, we would have to move to virtual or cancel the in-person plans.

    We appreciate your patience with what we know has been a long process. While some will not agree with this decision, we think we can agree that by offering day camps and overnight camps, we will be able to offer our 4-H youth a positive camping experience this summer.

  7. CFAES April Celebration of Research Week Wrap-up

    The CFAES Office for Research and Graduate Education extends its appreciation to all who participated in Celebration of Research Week festivities in early April. Congratulations again to all winners who were honored in the 2021 Research Conference awards ceremony. You can view the video or visit the Research Conference awards page to learn more about the winners, as well as the research poster competition winners. You can view the work of our researchers through the end of April at

  8. Save the Date for Making Dollars Make Sense In-service in mid-May

    Mark your calendar to attend the Making Dollars Make Sense in-service presented by OSU Extension, the Fiscal office, and Advancement. Several virtual sessions will be held between May 11 and 26 focusing on gifts, scholarships, fundraising, and more. A full schedule and registration information will be available soon.

    Making Dollars Make Sense

  9. 2021 Ohio Economic Forum on April 30 features AEDE’s Dr. Mark Partridge

    The 2021 Ohio Economic Forum: Regaining Ohio’s Leadership in the U.S. Economy features Dr. Mark Partridge, C. William Swank Chair of Rural-Urban Policy at Ohio State and professor in the CFAES Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, as well as several panelists discussing issues raised in a recent report about Ohio’s place in the U.S. economy. The forum will be held on April 30 from 8:30-10:30am. Learn more and register online.

  10. 2021 Victory Gardens Program

    OSU Extension and the Ohio Department of Agriculture have partnered again for a second year of the Victory Gardens program. Due to high demand, the program has expanded to include 25 counties, up from 10 counties last year. About 8,300 seed packets will be available free to the public to get people planting. See more information online.

  11. Your Thoughts Matter: Navigating Mental Health 4-H Project Book Released

    National 4-H has put mental health awareness front and center by reaching out to youth across the country, and they’re getting valuable assistance from Ohio 4-H. With generous support from the Allstate Foundation, the 4-H project book Your Thoughts Matter: Navigating Mental Health is being offered nationally for 50% off at, while supplies last. Authors Jami Dellifield and Amanda Raines have also contributed soon-to-be-published activities to the 4-H at Home series of activities. Jami and Amanda, thank you for representing Ohio State University Extension in such an important and positive way. Your Thoughts Matter: Navigating Mental Health is also being offered to Ohio 4-H members and others as a downloadable Perfect Stay-at-Home Project at

    your thoughts matter

  12. The Economics of U.S. Forests as a Natural Climate Solution – April 29

    This webinar on April 29 (12-2pm) will provide recent results from leading forest economic models that estimate the costs and potential of carbon sequestration in U.S. forests. Presentations will provide U.S.-scale estimates of forest-based mitigation potential and costs for various activities. A panel discussion will focus on how to move from ambition to reality. This is a joint program between The Ohio State University, North Carolina State University, University of Maine, University of Idaho, and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. For more information and to register, visit

  13. 2021 Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory Spring Program – April 30

    The 2021 Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory spring program will be held virtually on April 30 (3-5pm). The event is free, but registration is required to receive login information. Director Chris Winslow will provide program updates. Attendees will also hear from a student in Stone Lab’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) scholarship program, as well as from a Friends of Stone Lab (FOSL) donor. Learn more at

  14. JCEP Grant Submissions due April 30

    The spring application for grant funds from the Ohio JCEP grant program is available until April 30. This is an opportunity to apply for up to $500 or $1,000 (single program area project or cross-programmatic area applications, respectively). Ohio Joint Council of Extension Professionals’ grants are intended to provide funding to support new and creative workshop ideas, programs, or research projects that would benefit from funds to get you started or to enhance an existing program or project to take it to the next level. Grant applications require a two-page narrative and a proposed budget for how funds will be used. Applications may be submitted at: Grants are reviewed by the Ohio JCEP Grants sub-committee following the guidelines for scoring provided in the application.

  15. JCEP Professional Development Award Applications due May 1

    The next round of Ohio JCEP professional development awards are due May 1. This is also the deadline for the First-Timers Fellowship to attend an Extension conference. All full members of the Ohio Joint Council of Extension Professionals are eligible to apply for these awards. Details and links to applications can be found at Please note we are in the process of transitioning the names of these from Ohio JCEP PD scholarships to Ohio JCEP PD awards. If you have questions, contact Christy Clary (, Ohio JCEP Scholarships, Grants, and Recognition Committee scholarship chair.

  16. Engaged Scholarship Research/Creative Activities Grants Program for Faculty Applications due May 7

    Conducting scholarship that is mutually beneficial for the university scholar and for the community is a topic of great interest to members of the Engaged Scholarship Consortium (ESC). The ESC Scholarship Committee has been charged with the role of helping to facilitate this outcome for higher education faculty. In response to this need, a small grants program has been developed. Faculty at ESC member institutions may apply for up to $5,000 to fund a one-year project. Applications are due May 7. Learn more online.

  17. OneDrive Training Available for BuckeyeBox Migration

    Prepare to transition from BuckeyeBox to OneDrive by joining an online, instructor-led class about OneDrive or Teams in May. Classes are free and will continue to be offered throughout the calendar year. Recordings of past sessions also are available. Learn more online.

  18. Community Connector: Susan Colbert Recognized by Outreach and Engagement

    The Ohio State Office of Outreach and Engagement recently recognized Susan Colbert, community engagement and expansion program director with OSU Extension in Franklin County, as a Community Connector. Susan Colbert and her team have collaborated with community, corporate, civic, collegiate, and church partners to help transform the Weinland Park neighborhood into a “neighborhood of choice.” Through this community engaged model, OSU Extension co-located staff in the neighborhood; have offered community-driven, Extension-based programs, services and resources; and forged unique partnerships with individuals, families and community stakeholders and much more. Read the Q&A with Susan online.

  19. 2021 Ohio NACAA Search for Excellence Award Winners Announced

    The Ohio winners in the 2021 National Association of County Agricultural Agents’ Search for Excellence program are listed below; many of these were a team effort. All first-place winners will advance to judging at the North Central Region. More information is available online.

    • Sustainable Agriculture – The Dirt on Soil Health: Virtual Programming for Producers to Improve Soil Health
    • Crop Production – Precision U: Utilizing Technology to Improve Crop Production in a Virtual World
    • Consumer or Commercial Horticulture – the Buckeye Yard and Garden Line (BYGL)
    • Farm and Ranch Business Management – Virtual Farm Bill Education for 2021
    • Livestock Production – Food Animal Processing on the Farm
  20. 2021 Ohio NACAA Communication Award Winners Announced

    The Ohio winners in the 2021 National Association of County Agricultural Agents’ Communications award program are listed below. These first-place winners will advance to judging at the North Central Region. More information is available online.

    • Audio recording – Amanda Douridas
    • Published photo – Beth Scheckelhoff
    • Computer-generated graphics presentation – Amanda Bennett
    • Event promotional package – Dee Jepsen
    • Personal Column – Ed Lentz
    • Feature story – Tim McDermott
    • Newsletter – Brad Bergefurd
    • Educational video recordings – Rob Leeds
    • Fact sheet – Chris Zoller
    • Publication – Ed Lentz
    • Website/online content – Ashley Kulhanek
  21. Wiser on Wednesday: Bridges Out of Poverty – April 28

    The Bridges Out of Poverty workshop on April 28 (1-3pm) will help participants understand the causes of poverty and address it in our community. We will focus on how a person can get to the point of having a future story by creating choices and developing his or her power. We also will focus on the framework for understanding poverty and appreciating economic diversity. The program explores each economic class's hidden rules, mental models of economic class, language barriers, family structure, and more. Get tools, training, and guidance to better understand generational poverty and break economic class barriers. Registration is required at

    *Please review video and take quick prior to attending the workshop. The video link is After watching the video, please do not view the “update” video; it will be discussed in the workshop. The quiz link is Directions are at the top of each section of the quiz; it should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Be ready to discuss and share during the training.

  22. ACEL to Extension – Register for Last Session on May 6

    Join the Department of Agricultural Communication, Education, and Leadership (ACEL) for the last topic in its current series “ACEL to Extension” – offered directly for Extension personnel by ACEL faculty. For more information, visit Below is the May 6 topic, with a direct link to registration. The session starts at 9 a.m. and lasts about 60 minutes.

  23. 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. --- There also is a OneDrive with resources for the modules. This OneDrive is open (view only) to anyone with an Ohio State University email address: Veteran Spring 2021 - ONE Extension - Onboard Network Excel. Note: this is a working resource and is continued to be updated with each new session.

  24. Leading Complex Collaborations with Strategic Doing: Online Training Opportunity (May–July)

    -per Jeffrey T. Agnoli, Ohio State Office of Research, Research Development Office
    Learn everything you need to know to begin thinking differently about collaboration, how to help groups/teams have different (and more productive) kinds of conversations, and how to make sure that conversation turns into action. Ohio State has secured a significant discounted rate for this training program for a limited number of Ohio State/non-Ohio State employees. The online format includes time to consider how to start using Strategic Doing to tackle your own challenges and get assistance from the instructors as well as your peers. Participants receive a copy of the book Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership (Wiley, 2019), a practitioner workbook, and access to an online library of resources. You’ll be a Strategic Doing “practitioner” after this training, able to lead a group in tackling collaborative undertaking using Strategic Doing. Register today online.

  25. Become an Advocate for Gender Equity

    The Women’s Place is inviting men and male-identified colleagues to contribute to the Advocates and Allies initiative for gender equity. Trained to be leaders and facilitators in the program, advocates introduce colleagues to evidence-based skills and strategies that work to remove barriers for women and other underrepresented faculty, staff and students. Become an advocate by attending a two-part orientation on May 14 and 21. Learn more online.

  26. YP4H Team Challenge

    The Your Plan for Health spring challenge runs through May 30. Earn up to 5,000 points for participating in the Explore the Mediterranean team challenge. Learn about the cultures and cuisines of southern Europe while walking together as a university. There will be weekly engagement opportunities to win $25 PulseCash throughout the six weeks. Join a team and start tracking your steps today.