Hunnings, Hurt, Vandenberg Honored with Be Grow Create Awards

Joe Hunnings, Virginia Tech; Todd Hurt, University of Georgia; and Lela Vandenberg, Michigan State University were honored as the first recipients of eXtension’s Be Grow Create Outstanding Institutional Team Member award. The award recognizes responsiveness and engagement with their institution on behalf of eXtension, Institutional Team development and sustainability, and eXtension advocacy. The awards were presented June 29 at the eXtension National CoP Workshop in Louisville, KY.

Joe Hunnings

Joe Hunnings, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech (left) receives the Be Grow Create Outstanding Institutional Team Member award from eXtension Governing Committee Chair, Jimmy Henning, University of Kentucky.

Joe Hunnings has been a member of the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Institutional Team since its inception three years ago and has served as its chair since 2009. His team set three goals: to increase VCE’s awareness of eXtension as a subject-matter resource for themselves (including the Ask an Expert system, FAQs, and Communities of Practice); 2) to increase the number of VCE personnel with eXtension registered IDs and; 3) to increase the participation of VCE personnel in eXtension professional development offerings.

While he’s done the expected sharing of information via newsletters and meetings with faculty and staff; briefing several different administrators, and many duties that turned a floundering team into a success story, one of his successes has related to Ask an Expert and VCE. Joe developed a survey of VCE faculty to learn about the reasons that individuals were not signing up as an AaE expert.

The overall results of all of his these efforts to date have resulted in a 100% increase in the number of faculty with eXtension IDs, an eXtension presence on all VCE and Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station home pages, greater use of the AaE widget, and an increase in the number of VCE faculty signed up as experts.

To quote his nominator: “Joe’s tremendous effort, energy, leadership, and a true belief in the value of eXtension makes him very worthy of receiving the Be Grow Create Outstanding Institutional Team Member Award.”

Todd Hurt

Todd Hurt, University of Georgia

Todd Hurt has been a tireless champion for eXtension in Georgia. As the leader of the Georgia Institutional Team since its inception, his enthusiasm for eXtension and the value it brings to UGA Extension has been infectious.

The organization gave eXtension a decidedly lukewarm reception. Most were skeptical at best and viewed it as additional work rather than a way to reduce their workload through national collaboration. Today he works diligently with administrators to garner support for eXtension and foster faculty involvement with the program. He routinely updates administration and UGA Extension faculty and staff on Institutional Team progress.

Perhaps the most creative tool in Todd’s toolbox is his column in Tech Tips, a UGA Extension quarterly e-newsletter. Through his newsletter column, Todd delivers useful tips on using technology to make your job easier. He also weaves messages into each column pointing faculty to eXtension for technology training, to see how the tips he gives are being used at other universities and to build awareness for all the benefits eXtension has to offer.

To quote his nominator, “I can continue to give you long lists and examples, but Todd deserves this award because he is a living advocate for eXtension. From his attitude to his dedication to his boundless enthusiasm, Todd is the driving force that has gotten, OK dragged, the University of Georgia this far this fast.”

Lela Vandenberg

Lela Vandenberg, Michigan State University (left) receives the Be Grow Create Outstanding Institutional Team Member award from eXtension Governing Committee Chair, Jimmy Henning, University of Kentucky.

The credit for the success of the Michigan State University eXtension institutional team can be directly correlated to the leadership of the team chair, Lela Vandenberg. As a member of the MSU Extension Organizational Development Team, Lela willingly took on new roles and responsibilities to help MSUE make progress toward one of the organization’s fundamental principles of our redesign…enhance technology. She stepped out of her comfort zone, and into mostly uncharted waters to provide leadership for the MSUE eXtension Institutional Team.

The results have been significant changes in the practice of technology incorporation in many facets of MSU Extension…from personal development to a statewide fall Extension conference, to leadership for the eXtension Institutional Team. She leverages any communication vehicle within MSU Extension – annual meeting, workshops, Adobe Connect sessions, email, face-to-face communications, etc. – to talk about eXtension and its importance to our program delivery and to MSU Extension’s future.

To quote her nominators: “Lela’s commitment to engaging MSUE staff in the national eXtension program has resulted in hundreds of staff being involved in the program and serving as information resources not just for Michigan residents but residents across the country. She is a passionate recruiter for eXtension, daily advocating for colleague’s engagement, recruiting question wranglers, experts, and being an effective cheerleader for this program.” Lela has demonstrated what outstanding truly means.