2015 Reflections: Creating the New eXtension

New Year 3New Year’s Day is a time for making resolutions, but it’s also a time for reflecting on the year gone by. As we look back at our 2015 journey to creating the NEW eXtension, we can see that we have passed many important milestones toward reaching our goal: to provide outstanding professional development and foster innovation among Cooperative Extension System professionals to increase their ability to deliver greater impact, locally and system wide. We thank all our partners and volunteers who share our vision and generously continue to contribute to our work.

5 Great Milestones of 2015

1. eXtension Fellows and Innovation Project Awardees:
paul hill color photo

In March 2015, the eXtension Foundation Board of Directors issued a call for proposals to identify Extension professionals nationwide to receive grants as eXtension Fellows or Innovation Project awardees. Three Fellows were named and nine Innovation Projects were selected for funding, jumpstarting the new commitment to innovation and eXtension’s role in leading the quest. 

2. New Chief Executive Officer: 

Throughout spring 2015, our Board of Directors conducted a search for a new Chief ExecutivePhoto of Christine Geith Officer for the eXtension Foundation. In June, they announced the appointment of Christine Geith, PhD, former director of MSU Global at Michigan State University, as our CEO.
Dr. Geith, an entrepreneurial national leader in online learning and innovative digital strategies for community engagement programs of all kinds, kicked off her new position with a whirlwind tour of Extension locations, getting to know the leaders, professionals and activities of eXtension’s primary audience—Extension directors and administrators, educators, agents, specialists and faculty nationwide.

3. New Technologies for Agricultural Extension (NTAE) Grant Awarded:

At the end of August 2015, we learned that our NTAE grant proposal had won continued support from USDA-NIFA through the award of an NTAE Cooperative Agreement to Michigan State University and the eXtension Foundation. This secured funding to pursue the new vision and plans that Dr. Geith and the eXtension staff were developing for eXtension’s future.

4. New Vision Framework: extension boardIn September 2015, eXtension leadership, staff and an extended team of eXtension Fellows and Innovation Project awardees met in Indianapolis to work together at building out the new vision framework into a concrete set of initiatives. Through a series of interactive brainstorming and planning sessions, together they created the “i-Three” initiative, a unique approach for energizing innovation among Extension professionals through focusing on “Issues, Innovation, and Impact.” At the end of the meeting the eXtension Foundation Board of Directors approved the new plan, and we left Indianapolis with a strong vision that connected both grassroots and leadership aspirations. All that was left was how to put it into action.

5. i-Three Plan of Action: working on i-three plansBetween September and the beginning of October, Dr. Geith and the eXtension staff created and finalized an action plan for the i-Three initiative, including the i-Three Issue Corps, the i-Three Innovation Lab and i-Three Rapid Solutions. Recruiting of Extension professionals to join the Issue Corps and work on projects addressing the issues of climate or food systems was launched at once. The process of gathering applications, reviewing them, and selecting the new Issue Corps members is now complete, and they will begin their work in January 2016. Those selected will work on their projects and experiments in the Innovation Lab, Rapid Solutions, or with experts from throughout the Cooperative Extension System who have agreed to be observers, consultants and mentors. The Corps experience will also include a variety of networking events and professional development opportunities with a focus on finding innovative approaches to increase impact.

Join Us in San Antonio

The cumulative results of reaching these milestones will be demonstrated at eXtension’s upcoming event. Plan to join this exciting, interactive adventure in making innovation happen.

From Innovation to Impact:
The NEW eXtension’s NEW National Conference
March 22-25, 2016
San Antonio, Texas