Number CLXI The Newsletter of Epsilon Sigma Phi  March 2022

 President's Message

Karen Reddersen, National ESP President

Networking:  Making a Connection

What a wonderful time at the JCEP Extension Leadership Conference in Kansas City! It was great to catch up with colleagues in person across all program areas, both members of Epsilon Sigma Phi and in our other connected associations. The breakout sessions were extremely relevant, and the key notes re-energized and re-organized our leadership efforts and opportunities. Our ESP Board, led by Daphne Richards, President-Elect, did an amazing job in presenting at our ESP meetings, a program titled, “Feeling Overwhelmed? You’re Not Alone! An Exploration of the Seven Types of Rest.” Areas of rest included physical, creative, mental, emotional, social, spiritual and sensory. This program focused on methods of meeting our own needs in these areas so we can be more effective in our outreach efforts. They also provided an overview of upcoming ESP opportunities and an opportunity to share chapter successes. Great job team!

As we look forward, I am excited to work with the board to provide additional tools to strengthen engagement at the chapter level, as well as provide support to increase membership across our states and our Urban and Diverse Audiences Affinity group. We are working with our new Executive Director team on marketing resources, website, and our 2022 National Conference in September.

The ESP board has been elected by you, our membership, and we are here to meet your needs. If you have ideas, reach out to your representatives or committee chairs and share those ideas or ask those questions. Submit to present at an ESP webinar or at conference. Share your work. Collectively, we are the Extension Professional!


Rita T. Wood Grant

Submitted by Donna Peterson, Scholarship, Grants, and Recognition Committee 

This month the committee is featuring the Rita T Wood Grant. This article will encompass a brief overview of the grant and answer questions like: Who can apply?, When can we apply?, etc.

The Rita T. Wood Grant is intended to provide funds for one or more grants per year to:

  • Individual members
    • Grants to individuals may be made for the leadership or professional development of others within ESP.
  • Chapters of Epsilon Sigma Phi
    • Grants to a chapter may be for programs or activities supporting leadership development and chapter growth.

Award amounts may vary. Current maximum annual grant award is $1250.00. The next grant cycle due date is May 1.

The prime outcome from funded projects is to energize the Epsilon Sigma Phi organization and membership. The purposes include but are not limited to the following:

  • To improve infrastructure at the national or state chapter level and support the sustainability and growth of Epsilon Sigma Phi organization;
  • To strengthen the ESP organization’s or individual ability to carry out its mission and serve its leadership teams or members; propel the ESP organization forward at the committee, chapter or national level;
  • To increase the organization’s visibility in the community, college, university or other professional associations; 
  • To stimulate development of the Extension professional 
  • To increase diversity in our membership and attract young and early career professionals; 

Criteria for Consideration:

  • Project should demonstrate a plan to improve infrastructure at the national or state level.
  • Project should focus on new or enhancement of existing programs that support the sustainability and growth of the ESP organization or individual
  • Project will help propel the individual or organization forward at the local or national level.
  • Project should show potential to strengthen the individual or organization’s ability to carry out its mission and serve its leadership teams or members.
  • Project will help increase ESP’s visibility in the community, university or other professional associations.
  • Projects should be such that it can be replicated by other ESP committees or chapters.

As a reminder this grant application requires a letter of support from the Chapter

President and the Extension Director

Here is the link to application Rita T Wood Grant


Portfolio Update and Review

Joanne S. Cavis, Resource Development and Management Committee        

One of the major responsibilities of the National ESP Resource Development and Management Committee is to monitor our organization’s investments and review investment reports from our Investment Advisor, Patten & Patten Inc.  Patten & Patten delivers written quarterly reports to the ESP Executive Director and makes oral presentations to the Board and RDM Committee twice a year.

Their most recent portfolio update and review was given on February 15, 2022 via Zoom.  The National ESP Development Fund had a total market value of $1,048,006 as of February 10, 2022, and the National ESP Organization Fund was worth $360,382 on the same date.  Thus, the combined value of the two portfolios was greater than $1 Million!  ($1,408,388).

For the year 2021, the total net return of both accounts was 16.71%. For the Development account the return was 18.55% and Operating account 11.90%.   The two accounts combined increased in value by $154,448 in 2021, even after expenditures for designated scholarships, grants and professional recognition to support the professional development mission of ESP.   Asset allocation charts for both portfolios were presented.

Patten and Patten said that the pandemic was good for the national market because of the money injected into the economy, which is why there were good returns on the two ESP accounts, which have seen remarkable growth in the last two to three years.  The economy was robust prior to the pandemic.  The market corrected in January and there was some rebound in February, 2022.  This year should end in positive territory, but not like previous three years due to decrease in liquidity.

The RDM Committee thought that our membership might find the most recent Patten & Patten “Outlook and Market Commentary” of interest.  Excerpts are given below:

Outlook and Market Commentary by Patten & Patten:  

            As technically defined, the COVID-19 pandemic will unfortunately persist through 2022.  However, the pandemic is in transition to its endemic phase.  This transition will likely prove gradual and uneven, with interruptions every few months from new variants.  Economic activities in 2022 could resemble a dance in which one takes two steps forward and one step backward.  Since the pandemic began, economic growth has been inversely correlated with the prevalence of cases and hospitalizations, and we expect this relationship will continue.

            The endemic phase should facilitate re-opening of the global economies, although the approach to restrictions is likely to remain uncoordinated and  inconsistent .  Consequently, we expect further disruptions to supply chains and global trade.  However, as more countries abandon overly restrictive mitigation measures, supply chain disruptions should prove shorter and less impactful.  Nevertheless, we expect the lack of coordination will contribute to heightened volatility in 2022.  (Inflation is due to the supply chain disruptions.)

            The stock market posted powerful returns in 2021, but performance was concentrated among a small group of large capitalization technology stocks.  The average stock has corrected significantly from 52 week highs.  As the global economy recovers from fewer virus-related restrictions, we expect stock market leadership will broaden.  At the same time, the market must confront headwinds associated with reduced liquidity from the Fed and expiration of fiscal support programs.  These developments should be offset by greater economic activity as the world emerges from the depths of the pandemic.  The economy looks good.  People are living on their savings and when the money runs out, they will go back to work.


First-timer Scholarships for 2022 Conference

Jennifer Wilson, North Central Region Vice President and Chair of Scholarships Grants and Recognition Committee

Are you hooked on ESP? Members often report that attending their first National ESP Conference is what got them hooked as an ESP member.  The national board has once again decided to make first-timer scholarships available for the 2022 National ESP Conference in Branson, Missouri.  Scholarships will cover the cost of early bird registration fees and an application must be submitted by May 1. Scholarship recipients must agree to attend the entire national conference, including the regional breakfast. Learn more and apply on the National ESP Scholarships and Grants website.


Membership Recruitment, Retention and Just Plain Good Ideas

Celeste Carmichael, Membership, Recruitment, and Retention Committee

The National ESP Membership Committee has started to meet for 2022. Our intent this year is to get you regular information on recruiting and retaining membership as well as helping chapter officers transition to (or refresh on) this important role.

Two links that could be super-helpful, particularly for new chapter membership officers and committees:

There is a lot of information in Section E, but the details on how to handle membership are useful.  Bookmark the URL or print it off for reference.

Something for anyone…

In the "Just Plain Good Idea" category, I'll share the ESP-Lambda Chapter blog - book share. I like having a blog because anyone can subscribe (allows non-ESP members to get to know what ESP is all about), and then we have another way to communicate important dates and information to membership and potential membership. A recent subscriber became a member and commented, "I've always known a little about ESP, but I didn't feel like I knew that I wanted to join until following the posts. This is a group of people that I'd like to work more closely with". Feel free to poke around any of the blog, but the page that seems to be of interest is the "book suggestions":

Feedback and your good ideas are welcome. As the ESP membership recruitment and retention page references, "Members are hard to get, but easy to lose".  Let's help each other succeed.


Urban and Culturally Diverse Audiences Affinity Group (UCDA)

By: Kelsie C. Brown, Secretary ESP UCDA Affinity Group

The ESP Urban and Culturally Diverse Audiences (UCDA) Affinity Group hosted a virtual discussion on Feb 8, 2022, that concentrated on DEI efforts related to disability topics presented by Morgan Bradley, MPH, CHES. 

Based on the popularity and interest in this session, we are happy to announce that the affinity group will be hosting a series of these virtual discussions this year (once per quarter, in lieu of our normal group meeting). Please join us (and bring/invite your friends) for this live experience focused on DEI efforts. No registration required. 

Zoom link: 

Next discussion: Tuesday, May 10, 2022 11:30 CST / 12:30 EST

May’s discussion Title: How Coming Together for Racial Understanding is Transforming Extension

Description: This presentation will share the history of the award-winning Coming Together for Racial Understanding (CTRU) program. We will share how this program is transforming Extension’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work. Participants will engage in learning some of the topics taught in the CTRU program.

For questions, contact the UCDA AG Engagement Chair, Karen Sergent: 

Ms. Bradley presented on “Program Accommodations for People with Disabilities” with emphasis on:

  • Background & Purpose

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

  • Common modifications

  • Common accommodations

  • Extension Inclusion Checklist

  • Disability community partnerships

If you would like to view the recording of this live discussion, you can view it on the ESP YouTube Channel’s ESP UCDA Affinity Group playlist:

Bradley is a Community Outreach Program Manager for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in partnership with the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD).  In her current role, she connects with people with disabilities and their families, collaborates with disability organizations, hosts community events, and conducts educational sessions and trainings on disability-related topics. Morgan holds a Master of Public Health degree in health promotion and community health sciences. 


Peer Reviewed Articles

Extension R.E.A.D.S. (Reaching and Empowering All Developing Scholars) Program Addresses Youth Literacy

By Christina Garner and Ashley Carroll, Alpha Beta Chapter/GA

Reading is one of the foundational components of literacy, and literacy development is most effective with a combined effort between home and school (Berk, 2009). Learning language for youth younger than three years old is a critical building block for success in school, and it depends largely on the opportunity to learn language skills in the home environment (Hart & Risley, 2003). In fact, the National Research Council has shown when families read together, a positive connection is made in the child's brain that can help them better prepare for developing reading skills later on. Scholastic also recommends that parents read with their children to strengthen the intrinsic bond between the two. These early interactions with adults help form the basis for success later in life (Duursma et al, 2008).

Unfortunately, many Georgia families have no age-appropriate books available in their homes, and this problem is especially prevalent in low-income households (Berk, 2009). Additionally, a study conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement found that without libraries, 61% of low-income families do not have a single book suitable for a child. As a result, many families rely on the public library system and school libraries for access to books for their children. In March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic added to the challenges families had with access to books. Because of the Governor’s Executive Orders to close all schools in Georgia and shelter in place, access to schools and public libraries became impossible. Now, over a year later, some schools and libraries are still closed to the public.

To combat the challenges Georgia’s youth and parents are facing with literacy that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, UGA Extension and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia have joined forces to offer Extension R.E.A.D.S (Reaching and Empowering All Developing Scholars). This statewide initiative kicked off during the 2021 Read Across America Week with the goal of promoting youth literacy in an engaging and hands-on manner. This partnership has led to the creation and organization of over 65 virtual, educational resources developed or shared by more than 45 faculty, staff and volunteers within UGA Extension and the State Botanical Garden. During the first month alone, the materials and resources earned a collective reach of over 1,850! To date, the reach is over 6,000 contacts. New resources are added regularly and can be accessed on the Extension R.E.A.D.S. website at

As a part of this ongoing project, we are always looking to add additional resources. If you are interested in contributing to this initiative, please email

Engaging Youth in Program Development

Eva Timothy and Cindy Jenkins, Iota Chapter/UT

Other contributors: Andrea Schmutz, Christina Pay, Catherine Hansen, and Melanie Dabbv

The youth of today are bombarded by a myriad of life stressors that impact their self-esteem and resilience. Confidence is an underlying component of success in life. What if a curriculum were created to teach youth confidence that could be applied in multiple aspects of life? Utah State University Extension faculty with backgrounds in outdoor recreation, social work, education, finance, public health, and developmental psychology addressed this question by creating a confidence curriculum. Each group member created engaging lesson activities that focused on at least one of the six areas of confidence: self-confidence, self-efficacy, connection, contribution, leadership, and teamwork. Curriculum development included a review of literature centered on building youth confidence through instruction accompanied by practical application and high adventure activities. The literature review informed content creation specific to assisting youth in developing subskills of confidence such as resilience, friendship, body image, self-determination, and values. Faculty assessed the efficacy of the individual lesson content and activities through feedback from youth in a focus group following participation in a pilot camp setting. To increase effectiveness, the focus group data suggested adjustments to the curriculum in the following areas:

  1. limit instruction time throughout the workshop
  2. focus on hands-on learning through activities
  3. ensure an adult is present in each group when participants are divided into smaller groups
  4. incorporate music, skits, competition, and snacks throughout the workshop where possible
  5. 5) provide ample time for youth to individually reflect and write in their journals.

Overall results from the camp experience indicated that 80% of youth enjoyed the camp, 90% would recommend the camp to their peers, 75% had the skills needed to teach the Discover 4-H Confidence Curriculum in their county after attending the camp, and female participants expressed greater skill acquisition in at least one of the following characteristics: self-confidence, self-efficacy, connection, contribution, leadership, and teamwork. For more information on this curriculum, please reach out to


Upcoming ESP Deadlines

  • April 1
    • Application deadline for Regional Vice Presidents (North Central and Southern) and 2nd National Vice President (from North Central Region)
  • May 1st
    • Second round of Scholarship and Grant Applications due
    • Leadership Scholarships due
    • Deadline for submission of Chapter Annual Reports to National Office
    • Deadline for National Committee applications

Save the Date

2022 ESP National Conference September 26-29 Branson, Missouri

2023 ESP National Conference September 24-28 Billings, Montana

JCEP Public Issues Leadership Development Conference April 3-6, 2022 Washington D.C.

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

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