Number CLVII The Newsletter of Epsilon Sigma Phi September 2020

Final Thoughts
Mike Knutz, National ESP President

As I near the finish line in my service as President, I would like to share some closing thoughts in my final newsletter message. I have heard it said, “A bend in the road is not the end, unless you fail to make the turn.” I hope that you have successfully pivoted during this season of COVID-19.

Although serving during the COVID-19 pandemic has had its share of disappointments, the opportunity to work virtually with colleagues across the country through the ESP Board, JCEP, Committees, and Affinity Group has been both sustaining and rewarding. It is a reminder of why I joined ESP. Epsilon Sigma Phi offers opportunities for Extension Professionals to network across all program areas. Leadership development is another strong component for members willing to serve their colleagues as officers and committee chairs or members at Chapter and National levels. Professional Development is at the heart of the ESP Mission. Through this mission, members can learn and grow as well as teach others from their experience. People are at the center of our work both in Extension and within ESP.

I have read that, “You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things; the people with whom you associate and the books you read.” In his book, Jump Start Your Growth, John Maxwell makes a point of how important it is to surround yourself with good people. This statement is backed by Harvard Social Psychologist, Dr. David McCleland, whose research found that the people with whom you habitually associate with (your “reference group”) determine as much as 95% of your success or failure in life. I am full of gratitude for you and this organization for the inspiration and encouragement I have received not just last year, but over the past decade. ESP has played a large role in developing my leadership skills and reinforcing the principle that you build worth in yourself by adding value to others. It’s human nature to be self-serving and self-focused, but true leadership raises the tide and brings everyone up. I hope that you will engage in ESP, step up to leadership by serving one another, and grow your skills. By doing so you will reap the rewards of making a difference and building new friendships.

Thank you and I hope to see many of you at the virtual conference next month, and in 2021 at our conference in Savannah, Georgia.

2020 ESP National (Virtual) Conference - October 6 thru October 8, 2020

We hope that you will make plans to attend the online 2020 ESP National Conference. Be sure to check out the conference schedule and the highlighted speakers.

Registration is Open!!

                            • Regular Registration by September 7, 2020 - $100.00
                            • Life Members - $50.00
                            • Late Registration after September 7, 2020 - $125.00
                            • Reduced registration is available through September 7th for concurrent session lead presenters, ignite and poster presenters, national committee members and national voting delegates. Special registration codes will be sent to these members directly.
                            • Ruby Lecture and Awards Program ONLY  - Free registration for this session to ESP Members who register by September 7
                            • Non-member registration - $150.00
                            • Ruby Lecture and Awards Program ONLY - $10.00

Congratulations to the 2020 ESP Friends of Extension 

The Friend of Extension recognition was created to recognize individuals who have worked tirelessly to support and enhance Extension programs in their communities, their state and even on a national basis. Honorees can come from one of four categories: Extension Volunteer / Lay Leader, Professional / Business Leader, Business / Organization, or Elected Official. 

The following have been selected to receive the 2020 Friend of Extension awards during the 2020 virtual ESP National Conference. The recognition will be presented during the Awards Program on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. 

Ron Justice, Vice President of Public Policy – Oklahoma Farm Bureau (Elected Official)

After a 33 year career as an Extension Educator with the Oklahoma Extension Service, Ron Justice took all the skills he learned in Extension and applied them to the legislative an public policy arenas. Ron was elected to serve as a State Senator for 12 years. His Extension career gave him a unique set of skills and insights into important issues related to agriculture, community development, education and youth development and his colleagues soon grew to depend on him for wise counsel in matters related to Extension and rural Oklahoma. 

During his time in the Senate, he served as Vice Chair of Appropriations, Chair of the Subcommittee on Appropriations on Natural Resources and Vice Chair of Agriculture and Rural Development. Through his quiet but thoughtful leadership the Extension Service was assured of a positive voice any time Extension was being discussed. In 2014 he championed the appropriation of 2.3 Million Dollars for the Extension Service and Experiment Station to address the impact of extended periods of drought in Oklahoma.

For fifty years Ron Justice has served his community as an educator, leader, legislator and role model. He has been an advocate for Extension and a model of the best that Extension has to offer either as an educator or as a leader in his community. We can measure the tangible things he did as a legislator, but of even greater value is the positive impact that his entire life has had on the public image of Extension.

Governor Bill Lee - Tennessee (Elected Official)

Prior to becoming Governor Lee, Mr. Lee spent a lifetime exemplifying the 4‐H model of "Learn by Doing" and Extension motto of "improving lives." Mr. Lee was the epitome of a leader to numerous youth as a 4‐H'er, hundreds of families as a parent, and thousands of individuals as a volunteer and a producer. Mr. Lee found it of the upmost importance to support the organization that had done so much for him. In a period of over 25 years, Mr. Lee and his company have given over $125,000 to      4‐Hers showing cattle, $50,000 to local 4‐H leadership/scholarship programs, and over $25,000 to State Congress. Additionally, the Lee family farm has been utilized numerous times for local & state field days for producers.

Governor Lee has taken his appreciation and value for Extension and applied it on the grandest

stage. Where many states have seen Extension fall to the background in state politics, Mr. Lee has

brought it to the forefront. He raised the budget for Extension, 4‐H Foundation, and state wide

programs impacted by Extension. Extension is reaching new heights with Governor Lee and hopefully a new model for governors across the country.

Mr. Bill Lee has been a tremendous blessing for Extension. At a time when seemingly entire generations are losing touch with Extension, Mr. Lee has taken a state under his wing. Generations upon generations in Tennessee will have a greater appreciation and understanding of Extension through Governor Lee's dedication, generosity, and efforts. Who knows, maybe it is the beginning of a trend. Whether he is mentoring young engineers, speaking to generational beef producers, or highlighting the impacts of Extension is his State of State speech, Governor Lee is Extension's greatest friend.

C.M. Stripling Family Foundation - Georgia (Business / Organization)

In 2000, C.M. Stripling donated 133 acres of his land in Mitchell County, Georgia to the University of Georgia for use by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to establish Stripling Irrigation Research Park (SIRP). Since his death, Stripling's family foundation has continued to be leaders in water management and significantly contributed to UGA Extension to ensure that these educational efforts continue. The Stripling Irrigation Research Park is arguably the premier irrigation research and education facility in the eastern United States. There is much anecdotal evidence that educational and research activities at SIRP are making an impact on the area's farmers as they are becoming more receptive to opportunities to improve their irrigation systems and methods.

The research park benefits youth as well. The Strickland Family has donated financial contributions over one hundred fifty thousand dollars, including funds for Southwest Georgia's 4-H H2O Day Camp and over thirty-one scholarships since 1991. Their generous contributions have allowed youth to learn about water conservation and understand the role of water in our society. The foundation's contributions have allowed many youth that face economic barriers, to acquire knowledge, develop life skills, and form attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive, and contributing members of society.

The Strickland Family has been a supporter of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in Georgia, especially in the Southwest District. The Strickland Family makes it possible for county programs to continue to educate youth on the importance of water efficiency, proper irrigation methods, and conserving water throughout the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.

Because of their dedication to public education and Cooperative Extension, collaborations between SRIP and scientists and engineers help define crop water needs, improve food, feed and fiber production under irrigation, and find more efficient ways to apply irrigation water. The facility offers exceptional education and demonstration opportunities for farmers and irrigation companies as we commit to a better Georgia from the ground up.

Through the generous donations of the C.M. Stripling Family and Foundation, youth and adults are benefiting by increased knowledge and access to resources. The programs and research conducted make it possible for UGA Extension to continue to extend lifelong learning to Georgia citizens through unbiased research-based education in agriculture, the environment, communities, youth and families.


Where We Stand - Development Fund Activities 

David Ross, Resource Development and Management Committee

YES!!! There will be conference pins for donors of $100 or more! Pins will be sent to those who have contributed since the last conference including the end of year Past Presidents Challenge and those giving since then. Many have given or are giving during the conference registration period. We thank you for any size gift. We will not have the in-conference donations this year that have been the main annual giving. Please give something now or during the online conference time. Donations will count toward your Key Level Giving recognition.

No, there will not be a conference Fundraising Auction during our virtual conference this year. YES!!! We invite those who like to participate in the auction to consider a direct gift this year to ESP.

Recognition is given to all donors in the annual reports and online in the List of Campaign Year Donors and in the list of Key Level Donors. See the reports on the website at Please go there to donate now. Many people could reach the ESP Key Level at $250 and others will soon reach the ESP Bronze Level at $500 in cumulative giving. A small gift may be all you need. Contact David Ross at to check on your amount of accumulated donations.

Another option is to send a check payable to ESP Development Fund to ESP National Office, 55 Walton Place Dr., Newnan, GA 30263 along with your name, full address and email address for receiving a receipt. The IRS is allowing a tax deduction this year for up to $300 in cash gifts made to public charities like National ESP even if you do not itemize deductions on your tax return. We are interested in non-cash gifts, such as mutual fund shares or publicly traded stocks, and in named gifts of $25,000 or more. Contact us.

The Development Fund is budgeted to provide over $36,000 in program support for 2021 and this is really helping our professional development programming and member support. Fifteen years ago we could not do as much but we have built a fund to provide income for these activities. Thank you to all who have given to make this happen.


Extension Engages: Relevancy with Multiple Generations
Travis West, North Central Region Vice President, Public Issues Committee 

Hopefully, many of you are planning on joining us virtually for the National ESP Meeting. The Public Issues Committee has put together a panel discussion to explore working across generations within our offices or Extension teams. A new reality will see offices approaching a time when up to four generations of employees will be working in offices and on teams.  Differences will appear in how employees are motivated, how they prefer to work in team settings and how they prefer to communicate with coworkers and clientele. Many times, these differences cause conflict in the workplace that affects the productivity of the entire office team.

Understanding more about our co-workers and what value they want as a professional can improve the approach that we use when co-teaching or working as a team. Plan to join us on Tuesday, October 6 at 12:45 (EDT)/ 9:45 AM (PDT) to engage with four Extension professionals as they convey what made them pursue a career in Extension, and how they are programming in this time of a nationwide pandemic. Register for the ESP National Meeting by September 7 for the discounted rate.


Become a Global Relations Committee Affiliate

As the time to renew your ESP membership approaches, the National Committees have an opportunity for you. Become an affiliate member! While each committee has eight voting members, appointed by the National Board and eligible for a stipend to attend the National Conference, ANY ESP member can participate in committee activities. These non-voting members are referred to as “committee affiliates” and can be involved in all of the fun and work of the committee.

If you have an interest in international Extension opportunities, the Global Relations Committee would love for you to join us! Our committee, with leadership provided by a National Board member, meets monthly via zoom.

Each ESP National Committee sets Strategic Action Plan goals. This year Global Relations had eight Committee goals:

• Write articles for the ESP Connection newsletter

• Offer presentations at National Conference and as part of the ESP Webinar Series

• Provide an International Basket for 2020 National Conference auction

• Review and update the Global Relations Committee’s online presence

• Implement and Evaluate the “1st International Extension Professional Development Program”

• Implement and Evaluate the “International Scholars Grant Program”

• Support ESP members, chapters, and chapters’ Global Relations Committees as it relates to their international interests and work

• Connect with ECOP (Extension Committee on Policy) to determine overlapping interests, share ideas, etc.

We have so many projects and programs that we need a much larger committee! We need you!

We create opportunities for international professional development, support international work, and increase capacity to apply a multi-cultural inclusive perspective to programming in local communities.

For more information about ESP’s Global Relations Committee, visit our webpage.

To become an affiliate member, contact the Committee Chair ( and ask to join as a Committee Affiliate. We look forward to welcoming you to our committee!


Elevate Extension Talks and win some $ for your efforts!
Jacki Paone, Colorado - Zeta Chapter, Affiliate Member, Public Issues Committee

Don’t miss out on the 2020 Elevate Extension Talks fall contest! This spin-off from previous Elevator Speech contest is open to all current ESP members and would typically take place at the National Meeting. A virtual meeting for 2020 opens this contest up for all our ESP colleagues across the country! Your entries will support the mission of ESP and display excellence in techniques for delivering programming during a pandemic.

All entries must be videos of sixty seconds or less on the topic “How has Extension Responded During the Pandemic? - Share your Success.” The ESP Public Issues Committee wants you to share your successful techniques or approaches that can be adopted by Extension professionals across disciplines. Record your Elevate Extension Talk on your cell phone or camera, then upload it using the form located on the website at . Deadline to upload your video is October 15, 2020.

We will have 2 categories for the contest (One program area or Multi program area efforts) that will double your chances for winning some $! Members may enter one video in each category. Members whose videos are selected will receive the following prizes: 1st- $75; 2nd- $50; 3rd- $25 FOR EACH category.   (Prizes will be sent directly to the member shortly after the conclusion of the contest). The top three videos in each category will be highlighted on the ESP Facebook page and featured on the National ESP site.

Do not delay! Record your video and upload it for a chance to win up to $75! For more information about the Elevate Extension Talks contest, contact Travis West at


2020 Webinar Series

The 2020 ESP webinar series has concluded. Thank you for all those who registered this year. All four of this year's presentations, along with presentations from 2019 and 2018 can be found at ESP Webinars or on our ESP YouTube Channel under the Webinar Playlist. 

Congratulations to the ESP Professional Development Committee on the success of the 2020 webinar series.


JCEP Seeks Executive Director

The Joint Council of Extension Professionals are currently accepting applications for Executive Director.  A position description and applications instructions can be found at

The JCEP Executive Director is a part-time (.3 FTE) position. ESP is a member of JCEP and encourages our membership to help seek out applicants. 


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

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