News and Notes: July 13, 2020

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 – COVID-19 Updates

    Hi friends...

    I was reading a special edition message from Korn Ferry that really struck a chord with me this week. Gary Burnison (Korn Ferry CEO) wrote, “Arguably, this has been the biggest collective learning moment in decades. It’s like studying for an exam but you don’t know when the test will be given, and the curriculum changes almost every day. Your only choice is to learn it all.” 

    He went on to mention a call he received from Paula Schneider, President & CEO of Susan G. Komen, a leading breast cancer organization in the U.S. She reflected that, ‘‘We have made more major decisions in the past 90 days for our organization than in the last 10 years,” Paula told him “Most will be right; some will miss the mark, but all have been thoughtful…. Sometimes things that transpire (both good and bad), inspire. We have harnessed the power of the moment to propel us forward.” -- Source: Burnison, G. Special Edition: Learn It All, Korn Ferry, (July 12, 2020). 

    This really resonated with me as we continue to face nearly daily changes and challenges, with many “test questions” and not all of the answers. Each of the aspects of navigating COIVID-19 has brought with it many unknowns… 

    How can we transition to telework? How long will we be working from home? How do I balance work in a home environment? What tools are available to help me succeed in a virtual environment? When can we safely return to offices? When can we return to offering in-person programming? The list goes on and on. 

    We have had to often learn and sometimes design on the go, to be agile and to be flexible, but to always be responsive. We have been working hard to slowly return to statewide campuses, to offer time-sensitive programs (virtually and through some Extension exemptions), and to look toward readying for additional chances to engage in-person with our partners and stakeholders when it is needed or is allowable within the Responsible Restart Ohio and university guidelines. I appreciate your continued patience and your willingness to ensure the safety of your colleagues, volunteers, community partners, and clientele as we expand (and sometimes contract) our efforts, depending on the local situations with COVID-19. Beginning this week, we will provide the process for the expansion of the Research and Extension Activities exemption to include in-person programming for educational events up to 100 people that cannot be accomplished virtually. 

    Per the announcement from Ohio State late last week, virtual events should continue to be conducted when feasible, as the health and safety of our community remain our top priority. If an event must take place in person, appropriate measures, such as physical distancing, must be preserved. All events must include registration or attendee lists that include participant contact information to facilitate contact tracing if needed. 

    Events at Ohio State may be held at a limited number of venues, provided the events comply with building reopening requirements and all rules mandated by the university, and state and local governments. All events must adhere to these requirements as a basis for minimal acceptable practices, understanding that individual units or facilities may issue additional guidelines for permissible events. Guidance on events is as follows: 

    • University-sponsored events should be limited to fewer than 100 total individuals and must be approved by the sponsor’s vice president or dean. 

    • Any university-sponsored event with 100 or more individuals must be approved by President’s Cabinet and flow through the dean for consideration. 

    • Events sponsored by groups not affiliated with the university may take place in approved venues and must follow all university, state and local guidelines. 

    • Athletic events are not included in the 100 total individual threshold. Discussions remain underway about Ohio State athletics events for autumn, and an announcement will be made in the coming weeks. This week, the Big Ten Conference announced (link is external) that it will move to a conference-only schedule for fall sports. 

    • Information about schedules and formats for Welcome Week events will be updated at (link is external)

    Venues now permitted to hold events are: Blackwell/Pfahl Hall, the Club, Covelli Center, Fawcett Center, Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, Ohio Stadium Club and small meeting spaces, outdoor athletics facilities, Schottenstein Center, Wexner Center for the Arts and Wooster Conference Centers. Our COVID-19 Transition Task Force, including its events group, will continue to review these facilities and consider the opening of additional event spaces.  

    Facilities on regional campuses and other university-owned properties will be evaluated by a vice president or dean to determine readiness and appropriate dates to open.  

    What does this mean for Extension in-person programs/educational events? 

    I will be finalizing a process for submitting Extension educational events for in-person programming that will parallel the process used for the Research and Extension Activities exemption process used to date and identifying a review team similar to the previous review team but fully made up of professionals with Extension appointments. I will release this process and any additional guidelines for in-person programming by this Wednesday COB. If there are statewide programs that can be submitted in bulk as a blanket request (e.g., CARTEENS, Successful Co-Parenting, PAT/FACT), I would prefer to receive a submission from the assistant director to streamline the process for the reviewers and the dean. The goal is to begin reviewing these as early as next Wednesday and then weekly, as needed. Ultimately, this option should be implemented when virtual programming is not feasible, when program topics are time-essential and cannot be further delayed, when contracts and grants would be jeopardized through further delay, and when the safety of the participants can be addressed in accordance with CDC, ODH, and university guidelines. In addition, we will also be paying attention to the readiness of employees and clientele for offering such educational events. 

  2. Ohio Public Health Advisory System

    The Public Health Advisory Alert System is a color-coded system designed to supplement existing statewide orders through a data-driven framework to assess the degree of the virus’ spread and to engage and empower individuals, businesses, communities, local governments, and others in their response and actions. You can view the frequently updated map at this link

    This system will aid us in identifying when to pull back a bit on in-office and future in-person programs and activities as we experience the day-to-day impacts of Coronavirus activity across the state. 

  3. Safe and Healthy Buckeyes

    As we gradually return to our campuses, everyone plays an important part in taking care of each other. Because when we are safe and healthy, we can stay focused on our endeavors — and on improving lives. Learn what Ohio State is doing and how you can help keep yourself, and your family and friends, safe and healthy.

    The general overview of available resources is located at the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website

    I would draw particular attention to the information for faculty and staff and to the “Information about…” section (Scroll all the way down), which includes information about a variety of topics, such as PPE, physical distancing resources, testing, mental health and wellness, and classroom set-up ideas we may be able to modify for future in-person programs.  

  4. Extension Readiness for Return to Offices Survey

    On May 22, 2020, OSU Extension Administration sent a “Return-to-Office Readiness Survey” to 743 employees to access our personnel viewpoint in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the survey closed on June 12, almost 96% (n=713) of Extension employees had responded. Our LOD team has been working feverishly to make the results available to everyone to review.  

    The OSU Extension Return to Office Readiness Survey Statewide Quantitative Summary report contains the statewide quantitative summary and is available at

    A special thank you goes out to Debby Lewis and Dawnn Brown for creating separate reports for each administrative area and program area to allow for administrative leaders to look at the quantitative data to help with assisting with effective return-to-office approaches that are personalized by those whom they serve.  

    Qualitative responses to open-ended questions will be shared later this week. They will not be separated by administrative area, and any identifying data will be removed prior to posting the responses. 

    In addition, our LifeWorks Task Force will be reviewing and discussing the results to identify any recommendations that it might have for leadership and HR as we continue to navigate our work at home and in the statewide campus offices. 

    We will be sharing and discussing the results of the survey with everyone in multiple ways over the next few weeks and months. 

  5. Repopulating Offices (Non-County Offices)

    We are in the process of planning our return-to-office approach for non-county offices. We will be in touch soon with more details early next week as the process is solidified and timing is determined. As is true of our statewide county offices, most employees will be primarily teleworking for the foreseeable future with key tasks and essential, time-critical activities identified for at-office scheduling. Stay tuned!  

  6. Ohio 4-H’s Your Thoughts Matter Virtual SPecial INterest (SPIN) Club

    More than 65 Ohio teenagers from more than 55 counties recently participated in Ohio 4-H’s Your Thoughts Matter Virtual SPecial INterest (SPIN) Club. Over the course of six weeks, the club met online to explore mental health topics, such as prevalence and statistics, building resiliency, reducing stress and worry, and breaking stigma. The club used the nationally peer-reviewed 4-H Project Book Your Thoughts Matter: Navigating Mental Health to guide activities and discussion.   

    Teens participated in several group activities that were adapted for the virtual club format. To learn about misconceptions and stigma, youth chose one of four mental health movies to watch on their own.  During the club meeting, youth used breakout rooms to discuss the way mental health was portrayed in the film.   

    Youth learned about resilience by voting for household items to hit with a hammer, evaluating their level of resilience based on what they looked like before and after.  During this meeting, youth voted to smash a bag of chips and were surprised that the bag looked the same before and after being hit with the hammer. The chips inside, however, were reduced to crumbs. The club members discussed how the chip bag could represent how someone struggling with mental health; things look fine on the outside, but inside the person is not well.   

    The most popular part of the program was the mental health career day, in which professionals in various mental health careers joined the club meeting. Youth were introduced to all the guests and heard about what their job entails. Then the club went into breakout rooms to do small-group interviews with the professionals. Evaluations from the club participants showed that this activity introduced the majority to a new career path they would like to consider. Special thanks to our guest professionals who made mental health career day a success:  

    • Dr. Dawn Anderson-Butcher, Ohio State professor and Licensed Independent Social Worker 
    • Dr. Andrea Bjornestad, Extension mental health specialist at South Dakota State 
    • Ethan Briggs, school services coordinator of Olentangy and Big Walnut Local Schools 
    • Dr. Courtney Buthbertson, specialist in Human Development and Family Studies at University of Illinois  
    • Keygan Miller, advocacy associate for The Trevor Project (and Ohio 4-H Alum!)  
    • Lauren Mills, case manager and daytime crisis worker for Allen, Auglaize, and Hardin counties 
    • Michelle Price, director of community engagement for the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation  
    • Dr. Ashlee Warnecke, staff psychologist specializing in trauma and anxiety disorders with the Battle Creek, Michigan VA Hospital 

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this SPIN Club had to be conducted virtually, which is new for Ohio 4-H; but there were several positive outcomes that wouldn’t have been possible in-person.  Thanks to all meetings being held online, members from three states and 58 Ohio counties were able to fully participate. Professionals from several states and Washington D.C. were able to be a part of the mental health career day without traveling.  Perhaps the biggest benefit of the virtual format was connecting youth with other teens who were interested in breaking stigma. One evaluation comment from a 16-year-old participant said, “I wasn’t sure about doing 4-H online, but this club has opened my eyes to the possibilities. I was able to meet so many new friends who are also passionate about mental health! I also think that doing this project as a group was better than if I would have completed it on my own. I really enjoyed this club.”   

  7. Additional Zoom Security Measures Coming July 30

    In an effort to increase security and privacy for the Ohio State community, all CarmenZoom meetings will require a passcode beginning July 30. If you have been using the default settings in CarmenZoom, meetings created since May 5 will already include passcodes embedded in the meeting link. The July 30 change will apply passcodes to previously scheduled meetings and to Personal Meeting ID links. In addition to adding passcodes to all meetings, we will prevent users from turning off the passcode going forward. For more information, visit the IT@OSU website


  8. Employee Spotlight – NACDEP

    Recently, NACDEP held its conference virtually and announced its national award winners. Community Development was well represented! 

    National Winners: 

    • Joe Lucente: Educational Technology Award: Individual; Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Project 

    • Amanda Osborne: Cross-Program Award: Team; WIC Perks 

    • Eric Romich: Educational Materials Award: Team; Farmland Owner's Guide to Solar Leasing 

    National Runners-Up: 

    • Greg Davis: Distinguished Career Award: Individual 

    • Brian Raison: Innovation and Creativity Award: Individual; Rethinking Strategic Planning: Realignment/Mission 

    • Meghan Thoreau: Cross-Program Award: Individual; Elementary STEM Club & Career Exploration Program 

  9. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resources Identified by NCR State 4-H

    The North Central Region State 4-H leaders held their virtual retreat this week. Diversity, equity, and inclusion was one of their six topic areas. As part of that conversation, they shared the following resources:  

    A free webinar/live cast event with author Ibram X. Kendi on his book, “How to Be an Antiracist." 

    Date and Time: Monday, July 20, 2020; 7-8pm EDT 

  10. Just-in-Time Equity Dialogue Guides

    A resource has been developed to help guide conversations with youth, ages 12-18, to support meaningful and direct conversations. The Just-in-Time Equity Dialogue Guides provide facilitators with a framework in which to have honest and transparent conversations with youth on current social justice issues. They may be helpful for having conversations among ourselves, as Extension professionals, too. 

    Drawing from news headlines and current events, youth will be challenged to critically think about topics such as race, racism, and marginalization.  The goal in developing this guide: provide a format to support educators’ and youths’ learning and understanding of current social justice and equity issues we are facing as a nation.  We believe the deliberative format will allow youth the space to develop and sustain conversations vital to becoming informed and engaged citizens.   

    The Just-in-Time Equity Dialogue Guides are meant to simulate conversations and spark greater questions for youth as well as educators. To support these efforts, the guide which includes six (6) lessons, is also accompanied by a resource guide of readings, videos, and other informative content on covered and related topics.  

    To support educators with use of the guides, the development team will be hosting a webinar on July 23 at 2pm ET.  The Zoom information can be found below: 

    Just in Time Race Equity Dialogues for Youth:  A webinar discussion on the newly created resources for guided dialogue with youth. Webinar link. Register for the webinar HERE.

    All participants are welcome to learn more about this timely 4-H resource.  We believe we have developed a guide that will begin to open the door for meaningful and honest conversations with and among youth, educators, and staff who support them across the 4-H system.  

  11. RESTART Ohio: Back to Healthy

    Join Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences educators this summer for a fun, educational, and free new learning series! RESTART Ohio: Back to Healthy is a great opportunity to learn about a variety of health and wellness topics, restart healthy habits, and learn more about what Extension and Family and Consumer Sciences has to offer you! 

    Who: Anyone is invited to participate! Invite your family and friends to join you virtually for this fun and educational opportunity. 

    What: RESTART Ohio: Back to Healthy is not only an opportunity to learn something new this summer, it’s also an opportunity to connect with Ohio State University Extension! The series will cover a variety of topics, including herbs, active listening, parenting, conversation etiquette, and more! 

    When: July 7 - Aug. 20 – This series will take place on Tuesday and Thursday of each week, from noon - 12:30pm.

    Where: This series will take place on Zoom, so you can participate from the comfort of your own home! 


  12. Complimentary Wellness Webinars

    Benefits-eligible faculty and staff can explore programs offered by the OSU Health Plan as a service of Your Plan for Health. Topics relate to healthy eating, active living, emotional well-being and financial wellness. Upcoming webinars include From Keto to Low-Carb Living on July 21, Home Office Ergonomics on July 28, Understanding and Organizing Your Vital Documents on Aug. 4, Hydration on Aug. 11 and many more. View all classes, learn more or register here.