Number CLV The Newsletter of Epsilon Sigma Phi May 2020

A Time for GRIT
Mike Knutz, National ESP President

During these uncertain times when programming has ceased as we know it, as well as most other aspects of our life, it can be discouraging or even overwhelming. It seemed a perfect time to continue my read and study into the concept of “Grit” by renown researcher and author, Angela Duckworth. In her New York Times best-selling book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”; she lays out her initial studies at the U.S Military Academy at West Point. Duckworth’s quest was to discover a better predictor of why the 20% of cadets dropout or what reliable indicators exist for the 80% who succeed. Although all the recruits had a stellar record both physically and academically to be admitted, they faced the formable challenge of doing things they could not yet do. Essentially they were asked to perform tasks that exceeded their current skill level. How did successful men and women continue in this daily exercise of being stretched beyond limits on every front? Duckworth writes, “the highly successful had a kind of ferocious determination that played out in two ways. First, these exemplars were unusually resilient and hardworking, Second, they knew in a very, very deep way what it was they wanted. They not only had determination, they had direction. It was this combination of passion and perseverance – in a word, they had grit.”

I was encouraged by these two indicators. As Extension Professionals, it takes hard work and resiliency to engage our community and to have positive program impacts. Although our direction maybe unclear during this time of “Stay at Home Orders”, our passion to make a difference has not waivered. We are being stretched in finding creative and alternative ways to serve our communities and each other. I have been inspired to witness how Extension professionals across the country are stepping up to engage and serve their communities under our current limitations. I was blessed to be member of the JCEP Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) Conference Planning team. Within a matter of weeks, this team replaced the face-to-face conference to a virtual conference. This demonstrated the passion and resiliency of Extension Professionals.

You can learn more about Grit from Angela Duckworth’s website which includes a quiz to assess your level of passion and perseverance, and her popular TED Talk on the topic at:

2020 ESP National Conference - October 5 thru October 8, 2020

We hope that you will make plans to attend the 2020 ESP National Conference in Rochester, NY. Registration opens June 1, 2020.

Check out the Conference Speakers, Opening Event and other exciting opportunities!!

We have received a record setting response for conference session proposals. Presentations are currently being selected through a blind peer review process.

The April 28th Webinar is now available for viewing 

Over 80 members participated in the webinar titled, Developing Cultural Competency: Lessons Learned from A Philippines Study Program. Click on the photo to view this and other webinars.

Upcoming Webinars

2020 ESP Webinars - Webinars will be offered on the 4th Tuesday for the months of May, June and August at 1:00 pm Eastern Time. Visit ESP 2020 Webinars to register for one or all of the following webinars.

MAY 26:  Proceed With Caution! The When, Where, and How of Extension Engagement
Presented by:  Trudy Rice and Bruce Chladny, Alpha Rho Chapter, Kansas

Have you been to a meeting of local decision makers as they deal with the fall out after a decision has been made? Imagine how that might look if the public had been engaged before the decision. What is Extension’s role in engaging the public before the decision is made?  This webinar will incorporate the use of virtual break out rooms and Poll Everywhere to keep the learners engaged!

JUNE 23:  Demonstrating Collective Impact: Lessons Learned from a National Effort

Presented by: Elizabeth Kiss, Maria Pippidis, and Suzanne Bartholomae, Alpha Rho Chapter, Kansas

A national initiative to aggregate all family resource management programming efforts and report national results has been underway since 2015. In this webinar we will describe the process and what we have learned along the way. Participants will learn how they can apply this process in their own programming areas.

AUGUST 25:  Social Marketing Principles to Increase Behavior Change Among Extension Clients

Presented by: Laura Warner and Dr. Lisa Krimsky, Alpha Delta Chapter, Florida

Social marketing is the application of commercial marketing tools that can promote behavior change benefiting the community and the individual Extension client. This webinar will provide an overview of social marketing and provide Extension professionals with tools they can begin using right away to promote behavior change.

For additional events and deadlines, visit the ESP Home page


Life Members Make a Difference

Kendra Wells, Membership, Recruitment and Retention Committee

What’s in it for you? – If you are planning retirement, making a commitment to Life Membership in Epsilon Sigma Phi is a wonderful way to maintain connection with the people, policies, programs and plans of extension, not only in your state but nationwide! You can continue to benefit from extension resources, programs, and tools that you can use personally and in your community to make a difference.

Epsilon Sigma Phi values life members and the contribution they make to the organization. There are no limits to the ways life members can be involved! Life members can accept any leadership role, present seminars at the national conference, receive awards and participate in professional development opportunities. Life members are eligible to receive a $200 registration support stipend for attending the National ESP Conference Meeting, a great return on your life member investment. And life membership can lead to the development of friendships that endure. You can learn more on the ESP Life Member webpage

What’s in it for ESP? – While ESP Life Members have lots of ways to fill their calendars, by making a commitment to ESP they are a source of leadership and support for your state’s chapter. For example, Tau Chapter (MD) life members have been coordinating their state’s ESP Awards nomination process for the past several years. Relying on active members to provide nominations, life members have created processes to make the award nomination process as effortless as possible. Life members volunteer to help nominees polish their applications, ensure timely submission and encourage the active chapter to take advantage of this benefit of ESP membership. In other states Life Members work to plan annual or semi-annual gatherings of retirees to maintain a strong base of support for state and local extension programs. And, the national ESP Mentor project engages Life Members to serve as mentors, providing experience, guidance and even a bit of humor to help newer ESP members strengthen their commitment to extension work.

Make it happen! Life Membership dues are set at five times the annual dues and right now that’s a bargain at just $275 (plus chapter dues). Many chapters offer life membership to retirees who have been actively engaged in ESP during their career with extension. If your chapter is not currently doing that, why not consider offering Life Membership in lieu of or in addition to a retirement gift. If your chapter doesn’t have the resources to fully fund Life Membership, consider sharing the cost with the retiree. And, even if you cannot make a financial commitment, encourage your retiring colleagues to consider life membership as a way to stay connected. Your investment in a life member can make a difference for the individual, for your chapter and for Epsilon Sigma Phi nationally.


Life Member Survey
Professional Development Committee

The Professional Development Committee is interested in collecting information from Life Members about professional development in order to better serve and engage them in our association. As a Life Member, you can share valuable knowledge and skills with active and life members as well as personally benefit from the types of workshops and webinars offered. 

On April 10, the ESP Life Member Survey was sent out to our Life Members. If you have not had a chance yet to complete this important survey, please do so before May 22, 2020. You can also find the Survey on the ESP Home Page under Deadlines.


PILD: Moving Knowledge into Solutions! Virtual Flexibility
Travis West and Lynette Black, ESP Public Issues Committee Members

The 2020 PILD Conference held April 6 and 7 was understandably different and successful given the decision to move to a virtual format while still providing excellent professional development for Extension professionals. The PILD Planning committee and JCEP Executive Director, Bob Ohlensehlen did a fabulous job of changing course mid-stream. A huge thank you to Bob is extended for his continued flexibility and patience as changes were made, last minute registrations occurred, and technology was being mastered.

Hopefully, you are all aware that USDA-NIFA has made the move to Kansas City and have a limited staff in Washington DC. At PILD, we had a chance to hear from those NIFA Science Liaisons about their role and responsibilities in this new structure of working in DC. Link: . Dr. Marshall Stewart, Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement - University of Missouri, did not disappoint in serving as a Capnote and sending us off with energy and enthusiasm for Extension work. His talk focused on unprecedented times in Extension and How to Move Forward – how timely!

Plan to join us for PILD 2021 chaired by our own Mike Knutz!


Volunteer with the Journal of Extension
Lacie Ashby, Tau ESP Chapter Member and JOE Liaison 

The Journal of Extension (JOE) is currently seeking to fill a variety of scholarly/service volunteer roles. For those of you that are newer to professional publications, perhaps you would consider serving as a reviewer. JOE is always ready to admit good reviewers to the JOE peer review committee. You can apply to become a JOE reviewer by sending your curriculum vitae and a reference to the JOE peer reviewer representative Robert Ricard at Currently JOE is in particular need of reviewers in the area of livestock, health, dairy, and financial education.

For those of you with more experience in journal writing and reviewing, perhaps you would consider sharing your skills in a larger role. Author development is a large part of the journal’s mission. In order to enhance that component, JOE has expanded the editorial structure to provide several layers of volunteer involvement to better connect with authors to help strengthen writing skills as manuscripts progress through the publication process. The purposes of this change are to continue to enhance the scholarly and editorial strengths of the journal and to facilitate efficient editorial processes. To establish the new structure, JOE is inviting applicants for the volunteer positions of One Senior Editor (3yr term), Associate Senior Editors in a variety of subject areas (3yr term), and Associate Editors in a variety of subject areas (3yr term). These roles would work with the Editorial committee to perform initial editorial review, apply APA and JOE style guidelines, before the manuscript is sent to reviewers, copy editing, and provide detailed feedback to authors regarding their manuscript. The deadline for applications is May 31, 2020. Those interested in learning more about the open volunteer positions and application process for each will find complete information at Editorial Leadership Opportunities.

This opportunity is a great way for Extension professionals to develop skills, as well as share your talents with others, and be involved with a professional journal.

Energizing ESP Chapter Global Relations Committees
Christy Fitzpatrick, Zeta ESP Chapter and Global Relations Committee Member

International linkages may not be a top chapter concern with the new “COVID-19” normal, and yet, as the world is both more connected and fearful of “others”, building global connections and understanding is more critical than ever to the global society. Extension professionals have important skills for connecting communities at home and across the world. Your ESP Global Relations Committee wants to share ideas to energize your Chapter Global Relations Committee or to encourage states to start one.

A big thanks and kudos to the chapters that have replied to our international interest survey. We will use these to share international engagement ideas and experiences with members and states. If your state has not responded, we have reopened the survey so all chapters can be represented.

ESP International Interest and Activities Survey

To keep us all connected, we invite chapters to share a few sentences about their members’ international activities and the committee is also looking to highlight people from chapters doing international work in upcoming newsletters. Send updates and ideas for interviews to

If you need a break from endless Zoom meetings or phone calls, take a minute to research the work of your campus office of international outreach. How is your Extension program connected to their programs? Is there room to expand partnerships? Report back to your chapter on your findings.

We look forward to sharing internationally focused activity ideas for our chapters while you stay home, stay safe, stay connected!!

Looking forward to celebrating the Development Fund
Resource Development and Management Committee

Plans are being made to celebrate achieving $500,000 in Development Fund contributions at our Fundraising Auction during the 2020 National Conference in New York. The auction raises money half for the Development Fund and half for operating ESP. Both an onsite Silent and Live Auction will be held Tuesday evening, October 6, 2020. For the auction we invite you to bring or send items of at least $35 value for the Silent Auction and higher values items for the Live Auction. More details later. This advance announcement is to ask you to think about auction items. We look forward to recognizing past presidents for their matching dollar challenge that achieved this goal. Donations can be made now by going to Donate Online or by mail.


Elevate Extension Contest Deadline Extended
Jennifer Wilson, Committee Member, Public Issues Committee

The challenges brought on by COVID-19 are likely to have pushed the ESP Elevate Extension Talk contest to the bottom of your    to-do list, and you may be bummed thinking you’ve missed an opportunity to cash in on your marketing talent. Fear not! The ESP Public Issues Committee has extended the submission deadline to May 15, 2020. Take out your pencil and write “Record Elevate Extension Talk” at the top of your to-do list. This new opportunity is a spin-off of the Elevator Speech contest held at the National Meeting and is open to all ESP members. Why should you participate? First, you are contributing to the efforts of marketing for the National Meeting attendance to ESP members nationwide. Second, you can win a prize!

Videos should be sixty seconds or less in length and address the topic “Top Reasons to Attend the Next National Meeting.” Record your Elevate Extension Talk on your cell phone or camera, then upload it using the form located on the website at 2020 Elevate Extension Talks. Deadline to upload your video is May 15, 2020.

Members who submit the top three videos will receive the following prizes: 1st- $75, 2nd- $50, 3rd- $25. (Prizes will be sent directly to the member shortly after the conclusion of the contest). The top three videos will be announced in June 2020 and will also be featured on the National ESP site. For more information about the Elevate Extension Talks contest, contact Travis West at


Charitable Giving Enhancements in CARES Act
Doug Beech, Resource Development and Management Committee Member, Life Member, Alpha Rho Chapter, Kansas

In just two short months, the Coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways. Many of our fellow citizens are now facing enormous health, financial, and social challenges.

For those of us who have not been impacted as negatively, we may find ourselves wondering about how we might help our hurting friends and neighbors without jeopardizing our own health. By now, we have heard many heartwarming and creative ways that others have used to reach out to folks in need. Of course, providing financial support to charitable organizations that address COVID-19 related needs and issues, or that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, is another major form of assistance, and thus Congress included several charitable giving enhancements in the recently passed (March 27, 2020) CARES Act.

Two items are of particular note to individuals. First, taxpayers who DO NOT itemize deductions may take a $300.00 (likely $600.00 for married couples) deduction from their 2020 taxable income for CASH contributions to public charities. (But not to donor advised funds.) It is expected that this change will encourage the 90% or so of taxpayers who currently cannot itemize deductions to make more cash gifts in 2020. Second, for taxpayers who DO itemize deductions, the usual 60% of adjusted gross income limit for cash contributions is increased to 100% for cash gifts to public charities in 2020. It is hoped that this change will open the door to attracting more major gifts in 2020 from donors who have the financial means to do so.

The CARES Act also waves required minimum distributions (RMDs) from most retirement plans in 2020. It is very important to note that even though RMDs are waived for 2020, Charitable IRA Rollovers (more formally referred to as “qualified charitable distributions”, or QCDs) are unaffected by the CARES Act. You can still do QCDs in 2020 if you otherwise qualify, and they still offer very significant income tax benefits to those IRA owners 70 ½ and older who currently do not itemize deductions, and who want to continue, or even increase, their support of charitable causes important to them in light of the current environment. For additional information on Charitable IRA Rollovers you might want to review a prior article that appeared in the May 2019 edition of the ESP Connection newsletter, archived on the National ESP website.

As always, please consult your tax advisors to determine how the above income tax provisions would work in your own particular situation. And be aware that additional COVID-19 related Congressional action is likely, which could result in further new income tax provisions or adjustments. Staying current on new tax law will be especially important in 2020.

Doug Beech can be reached by e-mail at


ESP Conference Pins

The National ESP Office has past conference pins which you can request with a $100 donation to the Development Fund. There is a limited supply of these pins, so first come....first served. Below is a list of conference pins available with your donation.

      • ESP 75th Anniversary 1928-2003
      • Charleston, South Carolina 2007
      • Fargo, North Dakota 2009
      • Jackson Hole, Wyoming 2010
      • Syracuse, New York 2011
      • Mobile, Alabama 2012
      • Galaxy IV - Pittsburg, Pennsylvania 2013
      • Indianapolis, Indiana 2014
      • Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 2015
      • Cape May, New Jersey 2016
      • Wilmington, North Carolina 2017
      • Manhattan, Kansas 2018
      • Colorado Springs, Colorado 2019

You can Donate Online and in the "Special designation / comment" box just let us know which of the above you would like to have and we will get it mailed to you. You can also mail your $100 donation check to the National Office, 55 Walton Place Dr, Newnan, GA 30263 and tell us which conference pin you would like.


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

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