2022 JCEP Extension Leadership Conference Scholarship Recipient Reflections

Staci Coussens, Illinois
This conference was one of the most beneficial conferences I have attended for building leadership skills. I found so many new tools to bring back to my state affiliate, as well as, my work as a SNAP-Ed Educator. I am looking forward to trying out some of the virtual team building skills I learned as our statewide team continues to meet monthly via Zoom. Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend! I truly learned so much!

Tracy Cowles, Kentucky
JECP ELC gave me an opportunity to remember my purpose as an Extension professional. The purpose to connect our clientele to research based information while meeting their immediate needs. I cannot be effective, in doing this, if I do not first take care of myself. Self care not only applies to us, but the ones we work with daily. Being able to use the technologies learned will allow me to accomplish this purpose.

Suzanne De Vos-Cole, New Mexico
JCEP Extension Leadership Conference 2022 Reflection  The theme of the Joint Council of Extension Professionals conference was Reflect, Reconnect, Recharge. This is the first professional conference I have attended in person and found it to be the perfect size and scope as an introduction to extension across the country.  I was anticipating that the principle takeaway from my time spent at the conference would be new programming ideas.  Instead however, I developed an awareness of being part of a larger family.  Though the organization of extension varies from state to state (county agents, regional hubs) and there are different titles for areas of programming (Family and Consumer Science, Health & Community) and those delivering the programs (agents, instructors), I found that we are all educators delivering the same research based information.  And we all have a common goal- improving people's lives.  It is heartening to think I belong to such a group of generous, kind hearted and resourceful people.  Thank you for the scholarship that helped me attend and be able to recognize this.     A good portion of the conference (workshops and presentations) was devoted to the theme self-care.  I appreciate the information shared about this crucial practice especially after living through a pandemic.  Extension professionals come from a selfless breed that are more comfortable helping others than caring for themselves.  The message that one cannot care for others if one doesn't take care of themselves was repeated over and over and I think we all heard it.  I, for one, plan on making this a priority going forward not only to have a better quality of life but to set a good example for others as well.

Aneta Eichler, Tennessee
What a wonderful opportunity to come together across the nation and across program areas!  The sessions were full of motivation, resources and timely information.  I look forward to compiling the information gathered and sharing with our Tennessee TEAFCS members.  I will definitely encourage others to attend in the future.  Mr. Jones Loflin was a fantastic Key Note speaker and set the tone for the remainder of the workshop. I walked away with so many golden nuggets from speakers, breakout sessions, association meetings and networking opportunities.  Thank you for the opportunity to attend this career boosting event.

Anna Goff, Arkansas
I am thankful for the scholarship from NEAFCS allowing me to attend the JCEP-ELC conference.  This was the first opportunity I had to attend, and it was an outstanding conference allowing me to "Reflect - Reconnect - Recharge!"  I appreciate the in-person chance to connect with other Extension professionals from across the nation.  The speakers were extraordinary, and I was honored to represent Arkansas and NEAFCS.  Many of the sessions allowed me to immediately start to reflect on ways to accomplish more with my Extension career while "Shifting from Surviving to Thriving" as stated by Jones Loflin, the Keynote Speaker.  His presentation along with others, pointed out ways to professionally take steps forward by setting priorities, developing a plan, and creating clear, consistent boundaries.  Before the pandemic, and especially now, these presentations were what I needed.  By using backwards thinking with intentional focus on the end results, narrowing my focus and prioritizing, I can dedicate my energy on programs while having a healthier approach to work.  The quote from Self-Care for Leaders session resonated deeply and hit home, as family members and co-workers have tried to point this out to me.  "If you don't make time for your wellness, you'll be forced to make time for your illness."  I appreciate all the resources and tools that I was able to bring back to share with my staff and others throughout the state.  Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity.

Surine Greenway, Idaho
Attending the 2022 JCEP Extension Leadership Conference was a phenomenal opportunity to learn from and network with several leaders across disciplines. By attending, I was given the chance to learn more about NIFA and how to better access the resources, provided to me as a NEAFCS Extension Educator. Through attendance at our association meeting, I was able to provide input on behalf of my state affiliate, as our association looks to the future and what best ways to serve membership while also analyzing recruitment and retention efforts.  I look forward to taking information back to my state, while also reflecting on these pieces that can be more frequently addressed at our state level, so that we can continue to be involved and support the national association.

Amanda Hatfield, Oregon
The JCEP conference provided a mindset of strategic thinking and long-term planning that I have not fully implemented in my work before.  I plan to have more forethought in my long-term planning for programming and impact.  By incorporating questions into my day that help with long-term thinking to planning for goals that stretch multi-year.  These practices will help me develop the skills necessary to implement better long-term thinking.

Kari Helgoe, North Dakota
Extension Leadership Conference 2022 provided me with numerous opportunities to recharge and reconnect with peers and colleagues. The conference afforded me different avenues to find new ways to utilize collaboration. As I gleaned information from presenters and colleagues I was questioning 1) what cross-sector partnerships can be fostered?, 2) who else should be invited to the table?, 3) what are the possibilities to work together on a project?, 4) and what new audiences can I showcase my work and impact? The conference also offered resources that will prove valuable to me in my Extension work. I appreciated tips to help elevate my work with focus points on nutrition security, strategic planning, recharging mental fatigue, planning backwards, creating effective evaluation tools and utilizing peer review panels. Jones Loflin challenged me to continue to grow as a leader and push myself to work with different people and dig deeper to find out what makes them tick. Motivational Interviewing introduced me to the concept of pushing past ambivalence and being successful at working towards change. Growth mindset in youth development taught me how to foster environment of resilience for youth and volunteers showing them how to maintain productivity and moving forward even when it's difficult. I appreciate being able to cross-pollinate ideas and strategies with multiple audiences I work with.   At the conclusion of this conference I was answering the questions of where I want to improve my abilities and feeling challenged to learn how to improve my facilitation and strategic planning skills.

LaDonna Hines, Oklahoma
It was nice to attend the conference and see colleagues from other states and meet new.  As county director in the largest county in Oklahoma, some of the tools I learned will be used and shared with my staff.  Along with taking care of myself, so I can lead others.  As President-Elect of my state association, it was very nice to attend the NEAFCS association meeting and working on issues that the members are facing and how we can make it better and grow our membership.  Thank you for this opportunity.

Tammy Jones, Ohio
As I reflect on my experience at ELC, I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend.  This opportunity allowed me to connect not only with other state affiliate presidents but also across program areas from across the country.  I am already making use of some of the resources I discovered at the conference.  The NEAFCS presidents meeting gave me some new ideas in ways to connect with members in my state.

Sydney Knowles, North Carolina
I truly enjoyed my first time at the ELC Conference. I left feeling inspired and motivated to bring back great ideas to my county and state. Several of the sessions I actually intend to utilize in the coming months. From the session Kicking off Collaboration: Facilitation Tools to Establish Collaborations, I plan to utilize the facilitation tools mentioned in a meeting with our Health Department and local hospital, as we begin to partner with other stakeholders in the county to develop and implement a plan to address our Community Health Needs Assessment findings. I also plan to share the resources from the Evaluation Guide: Evaluating Extension Program Impact session with our state leaders to help improve our evaluation and impacts from our FCS Agents. The tool created by UVA Extension was so helpful and easy to follow! I am excited to attend this conference again next year as my state affiliate president!

Susan Latta, Kansas
From the beginning of this conference we were learning about a new tool to use and a great way to engage an audience with the question "What is Today"?  The Best Day Even of course.  From the keynote speaker, breakout sessions to the capnote speaker we were able to learn by doing. How awesome to but our new learnings into action immediately.  It was a great opportunity to meet professionals from all over the US, network and share stories with our colleagues.

Gina Lucas, Missouri
The JCEP Extension Leadership Conference challenged its participants to Reflect, Reconnect and Recharge.  As the first in-person event I've attended in nearly 2 years, this conference nurtured the perfect environment for me to do just that. Reflecting allowed me to mourn all that I have lost during this time, but also to appreciate the ways I have grown.  Reconnecting was especially meaningful as I celebrated in person with many colleagues that I had previously only met and worked with virtually.  Each speaker, each presenter plugged me back into the important work of Extension, reminding me why I do the work I love and recharging the batteries that I had allowed to drain dangerously low. Author Jones Loflin kicked off the conference with his energetic message on shifting from surviving to thriving. As I pivot into this new world of virtual and in-person, courageous and careful, I will contemplate his words on looking out long-term while staring out a window and enjoying my morning drink of choice. We also spent time looking out strategically at the NEAFCS Affiliate Meeting. The activity where we addressed issues raised in a recent survey showed me that we must continue to be flexible and resilient to meet the ever-changing needs of our members as they address the ever-changing needs in their own communities. We are stronger together the JCEP Extension Leadership Conference reminded me that we are not alone in our work.

Tricia Mathis, Utah
This was my first time attending the JECP ELC Conference.  I am so glad I was able to attend.  I learned so much and enjoyed meeting with others the same profession from around the country.  I especially enjoyed listening to the keynote speaker, Jones Loflin.  I liked what he said, "As a leader you are always going to get a combination of 2 things - What you create and what you allow.  I was also able to attend some great break out sessions.  I learned something from every presenter that I will be able to use in my leadership role.  I also enjoyed the cap note speaker.  It was fun to hear about how she planned her 4-H programming.  Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend and especially for the scholarship.

Mindy Mayes, Indiana
After the amount of virtual conferences and presentations that I have attended, it was great to be back in person for a professional conference. Ironically, the conference theme was reflect, reconnect and recharge, all of which I experiences in our 2 short days together. As things went so quickly, I wish we had more time to network with our peers from other states and program areas. My key take away from the 2-day leadership conference is the importance of us as leaders truly practicing and demonstrating self-care. In the work that we do, we naturally are doers, doing for everyone else and sometimes forgetting (or not forgetting and just outright neglecting) our own needs. As stated in the keynote, "we take care of other people, why do we not take care of ourselves?" Because we are so busy doing tasks within our jobs, some of these things I knew about self-care, but I will admit I have either outright ignored or not placed a priority on my self-care. As Jones Loflin keynote focused on, how do we shift from surviving to thriving? Some of the messages from the breakout sessions just truly resonated with me.  For instance, in the self-care for leaders? What is that, the first statement they made was, "if you don't make time for your wellness you'll be forced to make time for your illness." After this conference I have committed to taking some time just for myself. In addition, being at a mid-place in my career I have found that I must turn down the noise in my heard. Yes, the challenges will continue to grow, but how do I create healthy boundaries. How do I truly create that space for positive energy? In my role I should not feel guilty about taking time off from the office, saying no to a request, or not participating in a project because it is not a priority. It is okay to put quiet, un-interrupted time on your calendar, and not feel guilty about doing so.

Darlene Minniefield, Alabama
2022 JCEP Extension Leadership Conference, Kansan City MO. The JCEP Conference was the first leadership Conference I have attended since the pandemic and I must say, it was well worth the wait. The Registration went so smoothly I only had to step up and sign my name before I was off to my first session.  Our first presenter (Mr. Jones Loflin) set the bar very high for the two-day conference. Aren't You Ready to Shift from Surviving to Thriving? Well in my heart of hearts, I was screaming YES!!! I do, I want to thrive and not just survive.  We went from addressing the Elephant in the Room to Reducing the Noise to Working with those who want to Work. What is your expectation of Others? So often we see people only through rose-colored glasses and not how they are meant to be seen. In this leadership conference, I wanted to see myself, not nobody else. I found out that I was the elephant in the room. From Getting to the Root of the Problem to celebrating community to the space you create, was just a great guide to building skills to becoming a better leader. My favorite sessions were Self-care for leaders, prioritizing, taking care of Work, Self, and Relationships/Family, and working backwards-protecting your time. The session on Grief was just what I needed for me at that moment. Closing with Recharge and Rejuvenating my Community, my job, myself, my relationships to become a better leader. GREAT CONFERENCE JCEP-ELC!!!

Susan Moore, Georgia
Susan L. Moore (Georgia) Reflections on JCEP ELC Experience for NEAFCS Scholarship: Thank you for providing me a scholarship for the registration fee for the JCEP Extension Leadership Conference.  I was able to attend the virtual conference last year, but I can honestly say that it was so much better to experience it in person! I learned so much from the phenomenal workshop and poster sessions I attended and the opening and closing sessions. One of my favorite parts was attending the NEAFCS session and having the opportunity to review the member survey and try to troubleshoot some of the issues we are facing. I also enjoyed the NIFA Update and understanding a little more about the scope of their work. It was also fabulous to be able to network with agents from a variety of program areas across the nation. I am happy to say that I left with contacts who I intend to collaborate with in the very near future. I also found our opening speaker, Jones Loflin, very engaging and this quote, "In the end, as a leader, you are always going to get a combination of two things: what you create and what you allow" really resonated with me. I am especially grateful that I had the opportunity to present a concurrent session this year. Thank you again for your support and this wonderful opportunity!

Dorothy Nuckols, Maryland
The theme of the Extension Leadership Conference, "Reflect, Reconnect, and Recharge," perfectly applied to my overall experience.  Distancing from the office afforded time to reflect on strategies and priorities, reconnect with colleagues separated by geography and shutdowns, and recharge with new knowledge and inspiration.  It was a time to absorb the wisdom of more experienced peers across all disciplines and categories of Extension.  It was a joy to share ideas, stories, and laughs face-to face in person.  However, my experience allowed for a sub-theme of communication.  The opening session provided a time to evaluation self-thought and communication within to better grasp my own internal motivators and limiters and therefore work toward greater life balance.  The breakout sessions I selected focused on elevating communication between individuals, whether clientele or peers.  Other sessions provided insight on communicating out - how to rethink evaluation and partnerships to share the impacts of Extension work.  In summary, the conference provided highly informative and helpful tools and resources, and I left "recharged."

Samantha Roth, Minnesota
This is the second time I've been able to attend ELC and it was again as energizing and beneficial as eight years ago. The part I learned the most at was the NEAFCS meeting, what national is doing, what states are excelling and struggling with, and the networking that goes on throughout the whole conference. The opening speaker, Jones set a good tone with his message to figure out how to thrive.

Elaine Smith, Pennsylvania
From the keynote presentation to the capstone, the Extension Leadership Conference offered many valuable sessions.  An outstanding tip I will use from Jones Loflin's opening talk will be to do creative work first and reactive tasks later. Motivational interviewing will improve my communication with participants and enhance my ability to work with their motivations to achieve health behavior changes. Working sessions on recharging trust and finding remedies for employee turnover will assist me to collaborate with and engage my teams to excel with program planning and delivery. I updated my collaboration toolbox with new ideas on connecting virtually with purpose. Throughout the entire conference I was able to network with other Extension professionals and get good ideas and support for moving forward in my community. The final strategic planning session was the "send off" I needed to return home energized to fulfill my mission of offering educational programs in my community and leading my teams to impactful success. Thank you for this opportunity to experience my first ELC.

Diane Smith, Washington
Thank you for the scholarship to attend the JCEP conference in Kansas City, MO. The value of this meeting was echoed in the theme "reflect, reconnect, recharge". This conference gave me this opportunity. The introductory comments were peppered with familiar phrases - take care of yourself, put on your oxygen mask before you help others, trust, loyalty and respect contribute to effective leadership - all served as a reminder that leadership involves taking care of ourselves and the relationships we cultivate. The keynote presentation "Aren't You Ready To Shift From Surviving To Thriving" by motivational speaker and author Jones Loflin, provided suggestions for self-care such as address your elephants, reduce the noise, work with those who don't think like you, follow a growth mind set ("when your green you grow when your ripe you die", and prioritize personal wellness. Some references and further reading were suggested which will allow for continued exploration of effective leadership and self-care. On Day 1, four concurrent sessions were offered. I chose the track that focused on evaluation, impact and return on invest. As budgets tighten and resources are spread then, I am confident that the strategies learned will allow me to demonstrate the value of Family and Consumer Science programming.  The breakout session presentation Getting to the Root of the Problem: Using Motivational Interviewing to Motivate People to Reach Their Goals and Take Positive Action by Katie Wantoch shared Motivational Interviewing (MI) strategies with a chance for the participants to practice this collaborative, goal-oriented communication technique.  The presentation on Something Other Than a Likert Scale by Darlene Locke has me thinking of how to break the paradigm and apply the "magnitude scale" to evaluation of programs. Since the traditional post-hoc Likert-type response formats yield imprecise, ordinal data can be artificially inflated due to the well-known "halo effect." This strategy will take some study on my part to better understand the concept and gain confidence in implementing it in my evaluation process. Lila Karki presented Tools and Techniques for Measuring the Impacts of Extension Programs and Activities, showcasing the various quantitative and qualitative tools, techniques, approaches, and methodological procedures that can be applied to measure the expected changes in clienteles' lives.  Learning new facilitation tools was an outcome for me in sitting in on Kristi Farmer's presentation Kicking Off Collaboration: Facilitation Tools to Establish Collaborations. The online flipchart platform, Mural, was an effective and easy way to engage constituents from across the region, and online to co-create in an interactive way for idea generation and decision making.  The NEAFCS meeting at the end of day one was well planned and invigorating. I enjoyed the opportunity to share with like-minded colleagues some of my frustrations as well as ways of improving the way we do our work. One colleague suggested the book 'The History of Home Economics' which I immediately went online to reserve a copy from my local library.

Joanne Ureste, Texas
Today was the best day ever!  The conference was a great way to reflect on my leadership. The conference helped me gained a better understanding of myself, in regard to my values, knowledge, and skills. The educational workshops reminded me to reflect from my previous experiences and adapt to new leadership challenges.  The power of disconnecting to reconnecting was a profound meaning.  Sometimes, I get consume with the fast-paced lifestyle, zeroing in on the tasks that are directly in front of me instead of taking the time to consider whether these tasks are truly moving the organization in the right direction.  The battle that is a consist challenge is making time for myself to improve my self-care.  It is easy to fall into the habit of working or thinking about work all the time, which eventually leads to burn out and unproductiveness.  The workshop I truly enjoyed was - Low Budget Battery Charging: Wireless Tips for the Mentally Drained Extension Professional.  I left the workshop with challenging myself to establish a routine to build small victories by using the techniques they reconnected.  In conclusion, identifying what you want your leadership to look like involves the combination of these three.  Overall, the conference provided a great insight towards leadership, along with networking.  The power of networking aided my personal growth and helped collect tools into my toolbox leadership kit.

Abby Weber, Colorado
The 2022 JCEP Extension Leadership Conference in Kansas City, MO was an incredibly educational and worthwhile experience!  This was my first opportunity to experience the conference in person, and it was so worth the effort to go.  I am the Colorado Affiliate president this year, and the networking alone with my fellow FCS peers from other states could not have been more fulfilling. This fun-filled, educational jam-packed 2-day conference provided so many powerful tools for reflecting, reconnecting, and recharging. The agenda was full of great speakers for all extension fields starting from the keynote speaker all the way to the capote speaker.  Such an amazing opportunity to share with my own membership in Colorado the exciting information I gathered and pass along the networking connections I have gained.  I would recommend this to any NEAFCS member!  If you want to go...let's go together!

Cynthia Wilkinson, Mississippi
My favorite was Healthy Georgia Wellness Curriculum.  It is always nice to be able to come home with a packaged deal.  I participated in the role of personality in Extension Leadership workshop. This was fun as well as informative to remind us that we all have different personalities that  benefits to make a productive team. I enjoyed meeting as an association. It was great to meet with other states in our like organizations. The JCEP conference is a wonderful opportunity for leaders and I appreciate given the help and opportunity to attend.