Number CLIII The Newsletter of Epsilon Sigma Phi January 2020

President's Update
Mike Knutz, National ESP President

With the passing of another year it is a good time to reflect on the good things that have transpired in your life. According to research, there are several health benefits associated with having an attitude of gratitude. Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value and affirmation of goodness. Essentially it is taking time to count your blessings.

Psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, are leading researchers in the power of gratitude. They conducted a study on people who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis and another group that journaled on their irritations and frustrations. Those who practiced gratitude showed higher goal achievement, fewer physical ailments, and an overall positive outlook for the coming week.

2019 was a good year for Epsilon Sigma Phi. We finally reached the ½ million dollar goal of donations to the Development Fund which will continue to support professional development scholarships and grants to our members. There will be a celebration at the 2020 Conference in New York to express thanks to all who made this possible. We saw one of the largest number of attendees in years at the National Conference in Colorado Springs. We also had a record number of proposals submitted to present professional development presentations. Although our leaders of the Affinity Group stepped down, we are blessed with a new team of Henry Mayer, University of Florida, Martha Aitken, Washington State University, Jose Garcia, Oregon State University, Surine Greenway, University of Idaho and Alyssa Bowers, University of Florida to provide leadership for this important mission. I have been blessed to work with Greg & Becky Price, our Executive Director team and the members of the National Board.

As we look forward to 2020, I encourage you to start and continue making gratitude a regular practice. Best Wishes in the New Year!

Upcoming events

Chapter Presidents' Leadership Webinar

Chapter Leadership Webinar is intended for Chapter Presidents and Vice Presidents (Presidents-Elect). This webinar will discuss the national responsibilities of a chapter president and best practices for chapter success. Hosted by Mike Knutz, National President and Greg Price, Executive Director, we will discuss your presidential role in addition to seeking your input.

To register click here, if you have any questions, please contact Greg at

ESP Chapter Leadership Webinar
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
2:00 pm Eastern Time / 11:00 am Pacific Time

Extension Leadership Conference - Register at

02/12/2020 • San Antonio, TX

Public Issues Leadership Development Conference (PILD) - Register at

04/05/2020 • Arlington, VA

For additional events and deadlines, visit the ESP Home page

Call for Presentation Proposals for 2020 ESP Conference
Jeannette Rea Keywood, Chair, Professional Development Committee

The ESP Professional Development Committee is seeking proposals for scholarly presentations for the 2020 ESP National Conference to be held Monday, October 5 thru Thursday, October 8 in Rochester, New York. 

Visit the Presentation Proposal Submission Site for complete details and to submit your proposal.

Presentations will be accepted in four categories – Concurrent, Ignite, Research and Poster Sessions.

1) Concurrent Session – May be a presentation, panel discussion, round table discussion, hands-on demonstration or any other methodology. These sessions will be 50-60 minutes in length.

2) Ignite Session - A method of sharing an exciting, educational message on a specific topic utilizing 20 slides that advance every 15 seconds.

3) Research Session - Provide an opportunity to share information about a research project and will be 15-20 minutes in length.

4) Poster Session - A visual presentation on a specific educational program or a research study. Presenters will be available to discuss poster content during the conference. All posters exhibited during the National ESP Conference will undergo an additional review by a subcommittee of the ESP Professional Development Committee to determine awards.

The lead presenter of all sessions must be a current member of ESP and all submissions will undergo a blind review process. Stipends for will be provided to the lead presenter for Concurrent, Research, and Ignite Sessions that are accepted. Proposals are due by March 13, 2020 and can be submitted via this link:

If you have questions, please feel free to contact Jeannette Rea Keywood, 2020 ESP Professional Development Committee Chair at or 609-827-0199.

“We ACHIEVED IT !!! . . . The $500,000 Goal” 
Joanne S. Cavis, Member, Resource Development and Management Committee

Visionary leaders in 1985 established an endowed savings account. Then, about 2004, the committee named it the Development Fund and set a goal of achieving $500,000 in donations. The earnings from the Development Fund are to be used to sustain professional development grants, scholarships and stipends, to develop the Extension profession and future professionals, through a continuing funding source.

As of December 31, 2019, ESP members and chapters have donated enough to reach $500,000. That means we reached our goal . . . You and your Chapter helped make this happen!!!

Many of you have been generous givers over the last 34 years, and we thank you for being a pace setter. Some chapters have also made contributions and achieved a Key Level of giving. “Thank You” to all for setting a good example for other individuals and chapters in supporting your profession.

In 2020, ESP National will be able to return $36,000 (money generated from the Development Fund) to its members and chapters in the form of professional development grants, scholarships and stipends because of the generosity of members and chapters over many years. (NOTE: Compare to 10 years ago when $17,000 was available.)

ESP’s most valuable asset is the quality of Extension faculty and staff dedicated to serving people across the nation. The Development Fund fosters even greater emphasis on “Partnerships in Professional Excellence” among ESP members and the Cooperative Extension System.

Celebration. . . Celebration. . . Celebration. . . in Rochester, NY

Cooperative Extension. . . Focus on the Future

Epsilon Sigma Phi has a demonstrated commitment to future excellence

We will recognize individuals and chapters for their generosity in the ESP Connections newsletter and at the National ESP Conference to be held in Rochester, NY, October 5-8, 2020.

Call for ESP Webinar Proposals
 Jeannette Rea Keywood, Chair, Professional Development Committee

The ESP Professional Development Committee will host some webinars for members in Spring and Summer 2020 and is seeking proposals that will assist Extension educators with programming focusing on emerging issues and/or reaching new audiences.

The lead presenter of the webinar must be an active ESP member. Proposals may be a presentation, panel discussion or other methodology appropriate for a webinar. Topics could include but are not limited to innovative program ideas, management techniques, community issues, new technology or tools, and methods to reach diverse audiences. All proposals will go through a blind review process.

The Webinar Proposal Submission Deadline is February 17, 2020. Lead presenters will be notified by March 13, 2020. Dates and times for webinars will be scheduled directly with presenters once webinar proposals are selected. Webinars must be a maximum of 60 minutes.

For more information regarding the call for webinar proposal requirements and to submit a proposal visit:

If you have questions, please contact Jeannette Rea Keywood, ESP Professional Development Committee Chair by phone (609-827-0199) or email

The Urban and Latino Affinity Group Welcomes Your Ideas
Martha Aitken and Henry Mayer, Co-Chairs of the Urban and Latino Affinity Group

As the new co-chairs of the Urban and Latino Affinity Group we want to welcome everyone to be part of this group, or at least inquire what this is all about.

Originally established in 2017 (Latino) and 2018 (urban) by ESP Members Maria Fabregas, Melinda Garcia and Rusty Collins, the goal of the Urban and Latino Affinity Group is to provide a network for Extension professionals in ESP who work in urban and/or Latino communities by providing support, training, professional development, and other opportunities that advance the mission of land-grant universities while ensuring diversity, equity, inclusion and engagement. Due to professional transitions of the original founders, we established a new leadership team during the affinity group meeting at the 2019 conference to carry the mission forward. The team includes: Alyssa Bowers (University of Florida) José Garcia (Oregon State University), Surine Greenway (University of Idaho), Henry Mayer (University of Florida) and Martha Aitken (Washington State University).

The ESP Urban and Latino Affinity Group provides an opportunity for Extension professionals to collaborate across disciplines to explore innovative, relevant and effective ways of working with urban and Latino communities in our rapidly changing environment. Today 81% of the U.S. population is classified as urban (U.S Census Bureau, and 18 % as a Latino/Hispanic (U.S Census Bureau Quick Facts,

Our vision for the future is (1) To reflect the demographics, cultures, and aspirations of the diverse youth, families, and communities in the urban and/or Latino areas in which we serve; (2) Represent issues of national urban and/or Latino priority; (3) Provide a sense of belonging to the urban and/or Latino professionals who are ESP members; and (4) Work in deliberate partnership with other ESP Affinity Groups.

As we look ahead to 2020 the Urban and Latino Affinity group will be reaching out to you in January and February to help shape our work. The theme of the 2020 Conference is "Cooperative Extension...Focus on the Future" and, at the request of our affinity group leadership team, the Professional Development Committee is specifically encouraging proposals that highlight successful programs and strategies for reaching diverse and/or new audiences, such as urban, Latino, Millennials, etc. It’s a first step, and we look forward to making many more.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any question or comments, Henry Mayer, and Martha Aitken,

See you in Rochester!!


Energizing Your Chapter's International Work
Peggy Compton, Chair, Global Relations Committee

The National ESP Global Relations Committee is making plans for 2020 and one of our goals for the year is to connect with chapters and members to create a network of Extension professionals interested in International work. We want to share more about the work of our committee such as how we are supporting Cambodian students with funding and mentoring and how participation in the 2020 International Professional Development Program in the Philippines helps bring cultural context to ESP members’ work. We want to help Extension professionals make the case for international work to their administrators, showing how international experiences can enrich the work we do in our communities, and how a global perspective can increase the relevance of our programming for youth and adults.

But first, we need YOU to help us build this ESP Global Relations network. We are working to create a list of Global Relations/International contacts – at least one person from each chapter – with whom we can share international extension programming ideas and information. Please complete this brief, four question survey if you are interested in international work, are a chair or member of your chapter’s global relations committee, or know who in your chapter would be a good contact for global relations work.

Link to survey:

Please complete this survey by January 22, 2020.

2020 Extension Leadership Conference - Registration is Open

The 2020 Extension Leadership Conference sponsored by JCEP will be held on February 12 - 13, 2020 at the Wyndham Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. This year's Conference Theme will be: 2020 a Vision for the Future.

The conference Capnote Speaker will Dr. Scott Reed who will be the Vice Provost for University Outreach and Engagement Emeritus of Oregon State University Extension. 

Our own Past President, Mark Blevins, is the conference chair for this event. He appreciates your support, attendance, and assistance at the conference, so let him know if you can spare a few minutes in San Antonio to help make the event even more incredible for other attendees. To Register, go to 

2020 Public Issues Leadership Development Conference (PILD)

The Public Issues Leadership Development Conference will be held April 5-8, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel Crystal City, Arlington, Virginia. 

This year's conference theme: "Moving Knowledge into Solutions"

Please visit the Joint Council of Extension Professional website at to register for PILD.

Social Media Challenge a Big Hit in Colorado Springs!

Daphne Richards, Chair, Marketing Committee and Vice President, Southern Region 

Working to build our social media presence and enhance our organization’s national brand, the marketing committee challenged attendees of this year’s national conference to step up their online engagement with our ESP National social media accounts. Attendees were encouraged to post about the conference on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, tagging our national social media pages and using the conference hashtag, so that we could find the posts.

Each day, those who had posted the day before were entered into a drawing for prizes, including earbuds and a winter cap with Bluetooth capability (for listening to your favorite tunes on the go), telescopic lens attachments for smart phone cameras, and many other fun, tech-centric prizes. And on the last day of the conference, anyone who had posted during the week was entered for a chance to win the grand prize: an Amazon Echo Show 5! Jose Garcia, from Oregon State University Extension, was the winner of that fabulous prize, but our organization benefited greatly from all the fun interaction we had all week.

On Facebook, our posts had 1,248 engagements and our page gained 35 new followers. And our Instagram and Twitter accounts, established just prior to the national conference, made a big impact as well. On Twitter, our account had 2,300 total impressions (i.e. were seen a total of 2,300 times) for our 11 tweets and we gained 26 new followers. On Instagram, our new account gained 36 followers and had a total of 104 interactions (i.e. likes and comments on our 17 posted photos). We also had great social interaction on our conference Yapp app: 122 total photos and social posts! If you posted to social media during the conference, THANK YOU! And if you didn’t but you’d like to see what others posted, you can still check out all the fun by looking for the conference hashtag, #ESPinCO2019, on all three platforms. And if you haven’t yet, please like and follow all of our accounts. We follow back and plan to promote member activities on all of our platforms! Twitter and Instagram: @ESPnational


Mindfulness in and out of the Workplace
Izette McNealy, Public Issues Committee member

The bloodline of Extension work is being able to effectively communicate with the public and being mindful of the important work that we are doing. Now, breathing is a natural thing but breathing and thinking through those breaths is when mindfulness begins.

Being mindful compiles every moment, whether through preparing for a program, a vacation or even a doctor’s appointment paired with taking the time to pause and breathe. Recognizing the different nuances in how we breathe is an important beginning to effective planning and programming. Seems easy enough to just breathe in and out but, guess what, when we do not adequately prepare for our jobs with the public and/or important happenings in our personal life unpreparedness starts allowing stress to appear prohibiting our deep breathing therefore not allowing rich needed oxygen to spread all over our body. When we allow stress to exceed our ability to breathe correctly because we are not practicing mindfulness, we cause damage to ourselves as well as to our job.

Effective self-relationship will create success and satisfaction on the job and in our leisure. The quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way” is the keen awareness of the specific needs of each of us to live by as Cooperative Extension Professionals. Mindfulness is the key to doing positive things!

ESP Past Presidents Demonstrate Major Commitment in Providing a Matching Challenge

ESP Resource Development and Management Committee

Twenty-six ESP Past Presidents came forward to create the Past Presidents Matching Challenge to encourage member giving to reach the ESP Development Fund Goal of $500,000. These strong supporters of ESP have given $6,775.00 so far to match member and chapter donations. A large group of members, four chapters and one family foundation have responded so far with $9,509 in donations. Since November 1, 2019, a total of $16,284.00 has been given to the ESP Development Fund. This brings the Development Fund to $511,713.70 as of January 4, 2020.

This Challenge has received generous responses by many members and we hope that more members will start out 2020 by giving a few dollars to continue the growth. The significance of the growth of the Development Fund is apparent when one notes that 10 years ago the income of the fund provided $17,000 for programs and for 2020 it is providing $36,000.

The twenty-six past presidents who participated and who are thanked are: Della Baker, Ann Berry, Mark Blevins, Pat Buchanan, Ellen Burton, William Braden, Elizabeth Claypoole, Cassandra Corridon, Nancy Crago, Clarence Cunningham, Patricia Dawson, Madeleine Greene, Duane Johnson, Laurel Kubin, James Lindquist, Bonnie McGee, Jeffrey Myers, Robert Ohlensehlen, Patricia Powley, Mark Stillwell, Fay Strickler, Deborah Thomason, Kathleen Tweeten, Gale VandeBerg, Margaret Viebrock, and Bernadette Watts.

In addition, state chapter giving includes Illinois Alpha Nu, Indiana Alpha Lambda, Ohio Alpha Eta and Tennessee Omega. One family foundation also gave.

Contributing members will be recognized in the 2020 Campaign Report and in the Key Level Giving Recognition. Please consider giving a small tax deductible donation today.

To give send a check payable to ESP Development Fund to: ESP National Office, 55 Walton Place Dr., Newnan, GA 30263, or go online to:


This newsletter is a publication of Epsilon Sigma Phi, Inc. - The Extension Professionals' Organization

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