News and Notes: May 7, 2021

  1. Spring has Arrived – Thoughts from the Director

    Although it’s cooler than usual outside, spring has arrived and we’re in the middle of preparing for field days, planting crops, end-of-school activities, fair and camp planning, and much more. Spring always brings with it a sense of renewal as we see the leaves begin to bud, hear the birds chirping, notice the bees and butterflies returning, and enjoy the sun being less evasive. Spring this year, perhaps more than any year for me, has been especially poignant and special following a year of tight regulation due to COVID-19. I relish being outside, preparing the garden, and looking forward to the continued expansion of our work and leisure activities as more individuals take advantage of the vaccinations and we continue to see our numbers in Ohio remain lower.

    I have great optimism for our own renewal in OSU Extension, as we begin to move more fully back into our statewide campuses; expand our ability to offer in-person, virtual, and hybrid programming; and incorporate our lessons learned and skills acquired into the work that we do. We have demonstrated our resilience, our creativity, and our collegiality this last year and are stronger and more unified around our mission for having had the experience. Thank you for all of your efforts this last year—they were truly extraordinary.

    These next weeks and months will require careful planning, ongoing consideration of one another, continued flexibility, and highly effective communication. I encourage each of you to have the necessary, proactive, and ongoing cooperative discussions in your units to optimally meet the needs of our clientele and communities, while balancing life/work demands. Discuss any needs for flexible work arrangements, schedule your vacations, take your lunch hour away from your desks, reduce the number of Zoom meetings when an email or phone call will suffice, schedule your week to allow for the unexpected so a 40-hour week (on average) is achievable and not evasive, and make time and space for walking meetings and other ways to enjoy what spring has to offer. All of these things are practicable – they simply take planning and communication with your colleagues.

    I would also like to recognize all of our mothers in Extension this week, as Mother’s Day is this weekend. I know my mother has had a tremendous impact on my life, and I know that each of you as mothers have touched the lives of your children in ways that will stay with them forever.

    Congratulations also to all of our families celebrating graduations. While it may look a bit different this year still, I can testify that the ceremony will still be very stirring and special.

    Happy spring everyone!

  2. Director’s Video Update on May 19 – Remember to Register

    The next Director’s Video Update will be held on Wednesday, May 19 at 9am. Registration is required. Register in advance for this webinar. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with log-in information about joining the webinar on May 19. 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.

    Please note – the other Director’s Video Updates this year will be held on 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. If you have a disability and have questions about accessibility or wish to request accommodations for this activity, you can request assistance at

  3. Return-to-Office Survey Coming Soon

    Within the next week, watch for the delivery of the May 2021 Extension Return to Office survey. This will be a follow-up to last year’s survey, with a few additions as well. Plan for about 20 to 30 minutes to complete the survey. Once the results are in, we will aggregate the data and look at some comparisons from last year’s data. As always, your responses are confidential.

  4. Return-to-Office Planning Highlights

    This is a summary of the longer original message in the April 22 issue. As communities, businesses, and other organizations adjust work-in-office expectations during current pandemic conditions, OSU Extension is also transitioning and planning to open our county offices fully to the public on June 1. 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. This return to offices will continue to be an evolution; and we understand there are many complexities to getting everyone back to offices for the majority of their work time (e.g., childcare, school openings, health considerations). However, 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.

    Starting Tuesday, June 1, and continuing forward, the 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 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. Requests for telework, compressed work weeks, or other flexible work arrangements MUST be reflected in a formal Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA). More information is spelled out in the April 22 message, as well as Ohio State’s guidelines at

       Formal Accommodations: These 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, visit 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: 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 the lunch break. Offices can be closed for the lunch period, but drop boxes must be available.

       Professional Scheduling: Flexible work arrangement requests are not the same as an occasional need for flexibility. Flexible work arrangements last longer than two months. Professional scheduling is based on trust, and communication with colleagues is paramount. Supervisors and offices should be aware of professional scheduling plans. Be proactive and highly communicative with your colleagues and local team members.

       Ongoing Evaluation of Local Office Plans: 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. This will 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, reach out to your area leader or to Jeff McCutcheon (

  5. In-person Programming Update

    As first announced on April 22, 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.

    4-H-specific updates: As shared with all 4-H professionals by Kirk Bloir, state 4-H leader, on April 28 – The updated OSU Extension guidance does apply to 4-H programming. This includes club meetings and other typical 4-H events (e.g., fundraisers, community service, other community engagement activities, etc.). Also, 4-H clubs can now meet as a larger group, as long as they adhere to COVID precautions – physical distancing, properly worn face masks, frequent hand hygiene, self-monitoring for symptoms. Buffets or potlucks are still not permitted; and local health department determinations must be followed (e.g., smaller group sizes, etc.).

    If you are offering day camps only, you do NOT need to submit a facility plan. You do, however, need to continue to follow the camp guidance we’ve shared. Overnight camping facilities will still need to submit their plans, since it involves sleeping. 4-H fundraisers and community service projects may now take place. These 4-H events must also follow physical distancing, masking, and sanitizing guidance. Food booths are permitted with local health department approval. For other fundraisers involving food, food must be pre-packaged and having dine-in/sit-down dining is still not permitted.

  6. Making Dollars Make Sense In-service – Sign Up Now for Sessions May 11-25

    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 25 focusing on gifts, scholarships, fundraising, and more. Review the agenda, and register in advance. There is no cost to attend. An email with the zoom link will be sent out 24 hours prior to each session. If you have questions, contact Chan White, event coordinator, CFAES Office of Advancement (

  7. CFAES Announces Winners of Its Spirit of the Land Grant Award

    Two researchers (faculty member Yael Vodovotz and student Ansley Watkins) in CFAES have won the college’s Spirit of the Land Grant Award. This award was initiated during Ohio State’s sesquicentennial year to celebrate land-grant heroes. The award recognizes individuals who support, exemplify, or create opportunities that embody CFAES’ values and personify the college’s land-grant DNA, per Vice President for Agricultural Administration and CFAES Dean Cathann A. Kress. You can read the full story online.

  8. Extension Values and Keys Project – Workshop Opportunity

    Have you attended a Values-Keys workshop yet this spring? If not, there is still time! Two makeup sessions with facilitators T McCoy and Rob Leeds will be held on:

    For more information, contact T McCoy ( The Learning and Organizational Development team has held 30+ sessions since mid-April to gather feedback about our key values in OSU Extension and the behaviors that help us have lived values. Results of these discussions will be shared hopefully in early summer.

  9. Blanket Exemptions Provided for National Professional Association Conference Attendance – Remainder of 2021

    If you are attending a national conference virtually during the next few months, use the appropriate travel approval statement below for each conference. The blanket approval email should be added as an attachment in your Workday expense report, along with a copy of the agenda and paid receipt for registration payment (PCard preferred).

    *Note: Ohio State is still under a travel restriction until June 30. Any in-person conference attendance will be contingent upon the university’s travel restrictions; and no arrangements should be made to attend conferences in-person until overnight travel restrictions are lifted. No information is available yet about travel as of July 1. See for the existing travel guidelines. The future conference travel approvals will be updated and shared as they are available.

    2021 NACDEP Virtual Conference Blanket Approval
    OSU Extension employees have my approval to invest $105 for members (or $195 for non-members) from their funds (program cost recovery funds preferred) to attend the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) virtual conference on May 15-19, 2021. See for more information about the conference. –permission granted via Jackie Kirby Wilkins, OSU Extension director

    2021 National Urban Extension Leaders Virtual National Urban Extension Summit
    Registration is free for this conference on May 19-20, 2021. Register online. More information about NUEL is available at

    2021 ANREP Virtual Conference Blanket Approval
    OSU Extension employees have my approval to invest $35 (for conference registration and 2021 ANREP membership) from their funds (program cost recovery funds preferred) to attend the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals virtual conference on May 24-26, 2021. See for more information about the conference. –permission granted via Jackie Kirby Wilkins, OSU Extension director

    2021 NACAA Virtual Conference Blanket Approval
    OSU Extension employees have my approval to invest $100 (for active members) from their funds (program cost recovery funds preferred) to attend the National Association of County Agricultural Agents virtual conference on July 6-9, 2021. Registration opened as of May 1; see for more information about the conference. –permission granted via Jackie Kirby Wilkins, OSU Extension director

    TERSSA Virtual Conference Blanket Approval
    Exact plans to be determined. If the conference is held in September, it will be virtual and likely free to attend. Approval language for any expenses will be shared later if necessary.

    Future – 2021 ESP National Conference (October 25-28 in Savannah, Georgia): Registration fee approval expected; again, contingent upon university travel restrictions (tbd). Registration opens June 1.

    Future – 2021 NAEPSDP Conference (November 30-December 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida): Registration fee approval expected; again, contingent upon university travel restrictions (tbd). Likely to become virtual.

    Future – 2021 NEAFCS Conference (November 2- in Grand Rapids, Michigan): Registration fee approval expected; again, contingent upon university travel restrictions.

    Future – 2021 NEA4-HYDP Conference (November 15-18 in Memphis, Tennessee; also virtual): Registration fee approval expected; again, contingent upon university travel restrictions (tbd). Virtual attendance is an option. Early registration opens June 1.

    Future – OSU Extension Conference Blanket Approval: We will do a blanket registration approval for the OSU Extension Annual Conference on Dec 7-9, 2021 and the OSU Extension Support Staff Conference on Oct 14-15, 18-19, 2021 after registration fees are determined.

  10. Summer Camp Shirt Branding Reminder

    Because I’ve had some questions recently, and because we’re blessed to be able to hold 4-H and other camps this summer – this is a quick reminder about branded apparel, especially for volunteers at camp. As the CFAES brand guidelines state, adult volunteer (in our case camp volunteer/staff) shirts need to be appropriately branded. Youth volunteer and camp attendee shirts do not require a CFAES logo or branding. This information is spelled out in the CFAES Faculty, Staff, and Student Guide to Branding and Producing Merchandise and Apparel (esp. page 5), per the university’s offices of Trademark and Licensing Services and Marketing as of January 2019. If you have questions about the brand requirements, contact the CFAES brand approval team ( or Cheryl Buck ( If you have questions about the purchasing process, especially with the move to Workday recently, connect with your Operations fiscal associate and/or Jesse Buxton (, county fiscal officer.   –Cheryl Buck, Extension communication manager

  11. OSU Extension Apparel Purchase Opportunity

    As announced to the county staff listserv on April 30, an OSU Extension apparel store, handled by University Tees, is now open for order placement through May 12 at 12pm (noon). This is a short-term, individual-purchase online order option for Extension personnel (county-based staff, state unit staff) and Master Gardener Volunteers. No university money can be used for these purchases; these will be all be personal payments by each purchaser. Visit the online store to view the store merchandise and place your order. *See below for 4-H apparel information.

    Note: Underneath Ohio State University Extension on the right chest area, you can add a specific unit name (with certain limits). At this time, the only choices for this spot are: your county name; Dayton Adventure Central; program area name (if you are a state-level employee of the program area); Operations or Urban Extension or Learning and Organizational Development (if you are a state-level employee of the unit); or Master Gardener Volunteer. Unfortunately, adding team or other unit names is not an option at this time. University Tees normally does not provide this much personalization on apparel, so the company is making an exception to provide these items per our request.

    The custom name area on the right chest is for county, not individual names. You may also choose not to add a unit name; to do so, you can type n/a in that box so the system will accept your choice. There is also a character limit (per this particular online store), so if your county name does not fit in that space, we will adjust that for you before the master order is submitted.

    *4-H apparel options: Due to turnaround time with the University Tees store option, the items in this particular online store do not have the 4-H clover as an option on them. However, the state 4-H office is working on this option, and more information will be available soon.

    Important items to remember:

    • Employees should not purchase apparel items and be reimbursed using university funds.
    • Offices should not purchase apparel items to sell to employees. Any items that an office purchases for employees must be given to the employee, and taxable income paperwork must be filed for the items.
    • If you have any questions about apparel purchasing via your office or creating group apparel orders – you must first talk with Jesse Buxton (
    • Also refer to the CFAES merchandise guidelines at and Ohio State merchandise guidelines at
    • Ohio State is working on a new permanent, ongoing individual purchase option. University Tees is the only approved Ohio State licensee who can do custom orders like this right now; and the state 4-H office opportunity will be the only other approved option for ordering branded apparel at this time.
    • Depending on how the other university option proceeds, we may be able to offer our store again later for a limited time.

    Contacts: If you have questions about this online store order, you can connect with Cheryl Buck ( If you have questions about the purchasing process, especially with the move to Workday recently, connect with your Operations fiscal associate and/or Jesse Buxton (, county fiscal officer.

  12. FY22 University Blanket Purchase Order Season (April 1–May 31)

    Blanket purchase orders are used for transactions that occur very frequently (daily or multiple times a week), have a high variation of product types, have undetermined timing, and are not available in Buckeye Buy. FY22 orders must be received between April 1 and May 31 to allow for adequate processing time. See the purchasing instructions, which includes new information about blanket purchase orders. Generally, OSU Extension has very few purchase orders that fit the blanket definition. Consult with your Extension Operations fiscal contact if you have any questions about blanket purchase order processing.

  13. Extension Wildlife Specialist Marne Titchenell Featured in National Media

    Marne Titchenell, Extension program specialist in wildlife, was central to an extensive piece related wildlife and gardens that appeared in the New York Times this week. One of Titchenell’s primary roles is educating Ohioans about wildlife ecology, biology, and habitat management. She is based in the School of Environment and Natural Resources, CFAES; and you can read her bio online.

  14. Wiser on Wednesdays – Learn More at ScarletCanvas Showcase on May 26

    In this session, led by Amy Kohmetscher with the LOD unit, we’ll explore OSU Extension’s online course platform, ScarletCanvas. We’ll talk about what ScarletCanvas does, what ScarletCanvas doesn’t do, demonstrate the participant registration experience, discuss strategies to build engaging and user-friendly courses, and take a tour through Canvas help guides. Registration is required at This session will be recorded.

  15. Report=Support! Sexual Misconduct Required Training – Due by May 30

    Promoting the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is Ohio State's top priority and a responsibility we all share. It is important for everyone to know how to recognize sexual misconduct, have available tools to address, disrupt and report sexual misconduct, and have access to support resources. To advance this priority, the university requires all employees to complete sexual misconduct prevention education annually. "Report = Support!" is an interactive, easy-to-follow course that takes less than 30 minutes to complete and has been assigned to your BuckeyeLearn transcript.

    This year, any merit-eligible employee who does not complete the course by May 30 will not be eligible for an annual merit increase. Student employees, graduate associates, and employees who are not eligible for merit increases may be subject to unit-specific consequences for non-completion. Bargaining unit employees should follow their applicable collective bargaining agreements. Student employees and employees who are enrolled in classes are required to complete separate courses for both their student and employee roles: Report = Support! and U Got This!, the mandatory student module.

    To access a course, log in to the BuckeyeLearn system at with your Ohio State credentials. Select the "My Transcript" button on the BuckeyeLearn homepage, and click the "Launch" button. Visit Ohio State's Title IX website to view frequently-asked questions, or email for more information. For technical assistance, contact the IT Service Desk at (614) 688-4357 or through Self Service.

    At Ohio State, there is no place for discrimination, harassment, or sexual misconduct of any kind. Thank you for doing your part to promote a safe and healthy university community. –Bruce A. McPheron, PhD, executive vice president and provost; Harold L. Paz, MD, MS, executive vice president and chancellor for Health Affairs, chief executive officer, Wexner Medical Center; Keesha Mitchell, JD, interim associate vice president

  16. Addiction Innovation Initiative Program: Seed Grant Funding Opportunity

    -from the Office of Outreach and Engagement
    This funding opportunity announcement requests applications for the Ohio State Addiction Innovation Initiative Program seed grants. The purpose of the seed grants is to inspire new research and multidisciplinary partnerships to address the addiction crisis in Ohio and beyond. Research should inform the scientific community, practitioners, and policymakers. Created by Executive Vice President and Provost Bruce A. McPheron in 2017, the former Opioid Innovation Fund has supported 16 research teams over two rounds in the previous years. The program is administered by the Ohio State College of Public Health, Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and College of Social Work. In recognition of the long-term and profound impact of addiction on society, the executive committee expanded the programmatic priority areas beyond opioid addiction and renamed the program Addiction Innovation Initiative. The Initiative is seeking proposals for a third round of funding that will focus on five broad categories: prevention, building community capacity, supporting long-term recovery, biopsychosocial mechanistic studies, and stigma. Learn more.