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Ohio State University Extension


News and Notes: October 30, 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

    Hi friends...
    At the closing session of the OSU Extension Support Staff Conference, I was asked to speak about leading from where you are. I wanted to share some of my reflections with all of you…  

    We are all leaders and have something of great value to share with others. One of the most renowned business leader gurus of our time, John Maxwell, says that leadership doesn’t come in a title; in fact, 99% of an organization’s leadership comes from the space other than the top of the org chart. He goes on to talk about how we all can learn to influence wherever we are and become a 360-degree leader, where you learn to lead up—lead across—and lead down. One’s position or title has little to do with genuine leadership. You can lead others from anywhere in the organization and make the organization stronger for it. Maxwell goes on to say that leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit.  

    First impressions and how you show up matter: The best leaders I know show up ready to engage, they project positivity and respect for those around them, and they communicate their excitement and pleasure for others through their body language, their words, and their actions. How does your first impression reflect with others? Did they hear a smile over the phone? Did we try help them obtain an answer even when we didn’t know the answer ourselves? Will they want to come back? Will they have something positive to say to others about OSU Extension?  

    Building connections matter: I challenge you to think about how you can build connections with your colleagues in your county and across the state and with our clientele. How do you use every interaction to bring value to that person and to our mission? That’s leadership. You are all the front line... the first faces they see, the first voice they hear, the first chance many of them have had to engage with our organization. You are the initial power brokers of Extension. Use that leadership power wisely.  

    Leaders step out of their comfort zone: I do this nearly every day.... Sometimes I nail it; and other times I bomb terribly, but I learn from the experience and add to my leadership toolbox. I believe it is important to take risks, to try new things when you may not be sure of the outcome, to make mistakes and learn from them, to apologize when you mess up, and do better the next time. We are a learning organization. You don’t just learn by only doing what you already do well... you learn by trying, by stretching, and by pushing yourselves and others to reach new heights together. Have stretch goals each year... ask yourself, what can I do to take my skills and this organization to the next level?  

    Leaders take initiative: They don’t sit back when they don’t have someone telling them what to do, or they don’t keep doing something the same way when it makes no sense. Insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. What could you be doing to improve a process, a form, a meeting, a website, an entry way so it is inviting to the public and introduces them to Extension? The opposite of leadership is disengagement and antipathy. Be the change you wish to see. When you take initiative, you move the system forward and you take the pressure off of others to have to own everything, which opens the space for collaboration and innovation. I always encourage feedback on how to make things better, but I also expect you to show up with some ideas for improvement.  

    A leader provides a safe environment for sharing, trying, and failing. Ask yourself if you are providing this opportunity for others. Do people know they can run ideas by you without being judged? Are you available for, and good at, active listening? Do you allow others to try new skills, knowing it may take longer at first as you navigate the learning curve; but you also know that you are growing a colleague’s competencies? Do you reach out beyond your county lines to others to share knowledge and skills, to mentor those in areas where you excel, to invite them into new leadership roles?   

    ALL contributions are important and valuable. Work hard at using positive language and reinforcement for those who are trying and putting themselves out there. We won’t always have the answers as leaders, but taking a chance to improvise when something needs to be done is important sometimes. Often the best step forward is literally a first step that can be modified through collaboration and adaptation; and collective genius is a way better approach to solving problems than simply leaving it up to those with leadership titles or positions.  

    Finally, I would encourage you to be empathetic and assume good intent. We all come from a place of wanting to make OSU Extension the very best it can be. We all may have different ways of showing it or leading, but we all have something to contribute each and every day. I try to approach every day by asking, “what can I do to provide the space, the resources, the inspiration, and the vision to ensure that the many amazing professionals we have in Extension know that they are valued and empowered to move this organization forward and to build the leader within?” I look forward to leading with you, wherever you are.   

    Thank you for all that you do in your leadership space to serve the citizens of Ohio and one another. I am grateful for you!  

  2. Mini-Pulse Survey

    I mentioned in a previous update that we would be starting to offer mini-pulse surveys to offer frequent, quick opportunities to provide input or feedback about various topics of interest. This week, we are asking you to offer your personal preference (at this moment in time) for telework flexibility. As you will recall, the Return to Office (RtO) survey asked if you would appreciate ongoing availability of telework options (during and beyond COVID-19). This question is intended to follow and request additional detail about your telework preferences. Please take a moment to click on this link to answer a single question – extremote. Responses will be shared as an aggregated summary, and the information you share will help us as we look at work flexibility over time. Thank you in advance for participating.   

  3. Extension Refocus Challenge: Ends Tomorrow

    1. Make the Time: Intentional scheduling of things that matter most for physical health and well-being (e.g., walking (steps), hiking, biking, Zumba, etc.)    
    2. Disconnect and Reconnect: Shutting off technology and social media and reconnecting with others old school (e.g., phone calls, writing letters and sending cards, reinstating family meals) or simply turning off the technology and putting phones away and enjoying ways to reconnect with friends, nature, or a lost hobby.    
    3. Close your Eyes: Meditation and reflection (e.g., daily meditation, visualization, deep breathing).    

    How to qualify: Send an email to Laurie Ward ( between Nov. 1-6 with the type of challenge you chose and what your approach to the challenge was. We will choose four winners from each category with the most inspiring, fun, creative, or consistent refocus approach. We will share your strategies and successes with our Extension colleagues (unless you ask us not to) to inspire ongoing reset and refocus moments. 

  4. November Gratitude Challenge

    I loved the 4-H gratitude challenge that Amanda Raines shared last week with 4-H professionals, so I asked if she minded me borrowing her idea for the rest of us. Thanks to Laurie Ward for making up one for all of Extension. See this PDF, and please feel free to share with others!

  5. Guidelines Regarding Political Activity by Employees of the University

    University staff and faculty members are encouraged to fully and freely exercise their constitutional right to vote, as well as express their personal opinions regarding political candidates and issues. However, as employees of a public institution, we have some restrictions on exercising these rights in a manner that suggests university endorsement of a cause or candidate. General guidelines on these restrictions can be found here. Also, please remember to model civil discourse and respect for others as you engage in conversations about politics.    

  6. Safety During COVID-19 Spread—Don’t Let Up

    New health data compiled by the Ohio Department of Health found that 43 counties currently have a very high risk of exposure and spread (Red Level 3), up from 38 counties last week. This represents the highest number of Red Level 3 counties since the launch of the advisory system in July. As of yesterday, 78 percent of Ohioans are living in a Red Level 3 county. Less than 1 percent of Ohioans live in a Yellow Level 1 county. "Despite the grim data that we see today, I am confident that we can slow down this invader," said Governor DeWine. "The decisions Ohioans make each day will determine the outcome of this battle. We must mask more, keep distance more, and simply be more careful. We can control our destiny."   

    I know that there is COVID-19 fatigue. We all want to see those we love, get out of our houses, and get back to doing the work the way we love best, face-to-face and hands-on. However, now is the time for us to remain vigilant. We have, so far, been very successful in offering our programs virtually (when feasible), or in-person when we need to come together. You have done a tremendous job of planning programs and working in our offices in ways that keep one another and our clientele safe. Please be especially careful to follow and encourage our most useful and effective safety measures (distancing, masks, and sanitizing). Now is not the time to let up. We can reach others and keep doing our educational outreach, while also doing what we know contains the spread. Be sure to visit the Ohio Public Health Advisory System regularly when planning your programs to ensure you are making the most informed local decisions about safety. We want you and those we serve to remain healthy and safe for years to come.   

    Additional resources have been added here to help continue to make others aware of best practices.    

    Domino Video - Ohio Department of Health   


  7. Open House with Kathy Lechman, new CFAES Assistant Dean and Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

    Dr. Kathy Lechman will be hosting sessions on the following dates and times:  

    • Friday, Nov. 6 at 2-3pm  
    • Thursday, Nov. 12 at 1-2pm  
    • Monday, Nov. 16 at 9-10am   
    • Thursday, Nov. 19 at 9-10am  
    • Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 2-3pm  

    Each session will have a limit of 15 participants. Faculty, staff, and students who would like to engage with Dr. Lechman are encouraged to sign up for one of the open house sessions. If there’s demand, additional sessions may be added. You can register at this link.  

    If you require an accommodation such as live captioning or interpretation, please contact Michelle Anderson at or 614-247-5934. Requests made 10 days prior to the event will allow time to arrange accommodations, but every effort will be made to meet requests made after that date. 

  8. Kindness at Ohio State Campaign

    Impact: The concept of kindness can seem simple, but it leads to powerful experiences and profound human connections. Kindness is more than behavior. The art of kindness means harboring a spirit of helpfulness, as well as being generous and considerate, and doing so without expecting anything in return. Kindness is a quality of being. The act of giving kindness is often simple, free, positive and healthy. There is plenty of science to support showing kindness to others. There are many studies that have been conducted to explore how kindness affects all aspects of our lives.   

    The Benefits of Kindness: Kindness Increases: Oxytocin, energy, happiness, lifespan, pleasure, and serotonin. Kindness Decreases: Pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and blood pressure. Research also shows that the old adage “kindness is contagious” is true. We often think about how peer pressure can result in negative actions. But peer pressure can result in positive and caring actions as well. When people witness the kindness of others, it encourages them to do the same.      
    "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." — Dalai Lama   
    Give Kudos to Your Peers: One way to show kindness right now is to give a virtual kudos through the Kindness at Ohio State site. You can choose from a variety of templates and personalize a quick but meaningful note for someone to brighten their day. It only takes a few minutes, but the impact lasts much longer. Just click on the following link to access the kudos tool:

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  9. Hiring Information

    As we continue to prepare for our transition to Workday in January, we want to make you aware of key deadlines as they pertain to recruitment and hiring.    

    Deadline Recruitment and Hiring Activities
    Friday, Nov. 6 at 5pm CFAES hiring request deadline
    • All new hires with a start date of Nov. 16, 2020 through Jan. 8, 2021 must be requested by this date to ensure there are no delays.  Any requests received after this date will be managed by on a case-by-case basis and may be delayed until after Jan. 8, 2021.  
      • This internal deadline will enable our college HR team to process all hire requests (generate offer letters, initiate background checks, etc.) ahead of the university deadline.   
      • This deadline is applicable to all hires, including semester lecturers and graduate associate appointments.     
    Monday, Nov. 9 at 5pm Final deadline to submit requests to college HR team to post positions to the OSU Jobs website 
    • Nov. 21 is the final posting date to the OSU Jobs website   
    • New postings will not be permitted after Nov. 21  
    • Recruitment efforts (i.e. screen applications, interviews, etc.) will be permitted throughout November and December as normal.  Note, start dates will be impacted.       
    Sunday, Nov. 22 – Friday Jan. 8 Requests to post positions can be submitted during this time.  However, we will be unable to post any new positions until Saturday, Jan. 9. A college process will be developed and communicated at a later date.
    Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021 First opportunity to post a position using Workday


    As a reminder, the Hiring Pause remains in effect. The college committee will continue to review exceptions requests as appropriate. The transition to Workday will present implications to our day-to-day operations, however, we will continue to partner with leaders and hiring managers to minimize disruptions as much as possible. Recruitment and hiring deadlines will be firm to support a successful transition to Workday.  Feel free to reach out to your respective HR consultant for planning assistance or with questions.    

  10. 2021 Benefits Open Enrollment – Nov. 1-15, 2020

    Open Enrollment is the annual opportunity for you to evaluate your benefit options and make your elections for the upcoming year. Open Enrollment for the 2021 benefit plan year is Nov. 1-15, 2020. We strongly encourage you to visit the Open Enrollment website to learn about your 2021 benefits and select options that best fit your needs for the coming year.

  11. Update to Tuition Assistance Benefits

    At this time, the maximum credit hour limit for faculty and staff tuition assistance which will remain at 10. The timeline for additional tuition assistance benefit changes in 2021 has been updated. Enrollment requirements for faculty and staff tuition assistance and for dual parents to receive dependent tuition assistance, as well as dependent eligibility verification, will be effective for summer 2021, as previously communicated. Changes to non-resident fees, one-time fee forgiveness and increased dollar maximums are being further evaluated for autumn 2021. Click here for more information.

  12. 2020 OSU Extension Support Staff Conference Recordings Available

    I would like to give kudos to the planning committee for their leadership of the 2020 Support Staff Conference: Lead from Where You Are! I know that they were able to inspire many of you who attended. But the magic doesn’t need to end there. Please take advantage of some great information and helpful tips that are now available for everyone. Most of the sessions have been posted within the YouTube Playlist; so if you’re interested in visiting the sessions, you can navigate to here to see them. Topics include time management and email tips and tricks, Excel 101 and Excel 102, Facebook 101, Qualtrics and NelNet, and digital content strategy. Thanks for your commitment and support to continuous learning and coming together to make Extension all it can be!   

  13. Leading in the New Normal Virtual Conference – Dec. 1-2, 2020 

    Although change may be the only constant in life, 2020 has done a lot to test our collective ability to navigate a new normal. Whether adjusting to remote work and evolving organizational processes, finding our place within the calls for creating more just communities, or navigating blurred personal and professional boundaries — there’s much to adapt to today for ourselves and our families, our teams and organizations, and our communities.

    Join the Fisher Leadership Initiative Dec. 1–2, 2020, for a two-day virtual conference to explore these topics and develop concrete strategies to successfully lead within a new normal. Click here for information.   

  14. Diversity and Inclusion Conversation

    University staff are invited to watch as the University Staff Advisory Committee hosts a Diversity and Inclusion conversation facilitated by James L. Moore, III, Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer, on November 17. Updates will be provided around the work being done on the Task Force on Racism and Racial Inequities in addition to general conversational themes around racism, racial and social inequities and creating an anti-racist and more inclusive Buckeye community. Click here for information.

  15. 2020 Annual Conference – Blanket Approval for Registration Expense

    Once registration is open for the annual conference, this statement will serve as blanket approval by Extension unit leader Jackie Wilkins for the business purpose of attending the 2020 OSU Extension virtual annual conference to participate in organization business and professional development opportunities.   

    This meets the requirement by Business and Finance for unit leader approval for all memberships, registrations and professional development engagements while the university is still operating under discretionary spending restrictions. Please consult with your local finance team to determine the appropriate source of funding; and be sure to retain your receipt with supervisor approval and remit a copy to your financial reconciler for records retention.