Number CLXII The Newsletter of Epsilon Sigma Phi  May 2022

 President's Message

Karen Reddersen, National ESP President

As we enter into the Summer months, it is an exciting time for our ESP association!  Scholarships, grants and recognition submissions were due May 1, and our SGR committee is busy working on reviewing these applications.  There are national elections open, as well as a number of committee openings throughout the regions. 

Our Missouri Alpha Tau Chapter is busy planning an awesome 2022 National ESP conference in Branson, Missouri, full of engaging professional development opportunities, tours and networking events.  Registration and the conference schedule will be out in the next couple of weeks, so plan to join us in the “Show Me” state, as we explore our theme, “Show Me Extension-Unlocking Our Potential.”  If you want to see some of the exciting opportunities that Branson has to offer, take a look at this video!

At the mid-year ESP National Board Meeting, the board approved the charter of our Urban and Culturally Diverse Audiences Affinity Group.  This formalizes this group as an integral part of our Epsilon Sigma Phi family, and provides a network of like-minded Extension professionals who have an interest personally and professionally in the areas, which cross all of our programming responsibilities.  There are discussion groups, mentor opportunities and networking connections for all, and the board appreciates the hard work and dedication of our members involved in the development, promotion and leadership of this Affinity Group.  For more information, check out their webpage on the ESP website or plan to attend a meeting.  They meet the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 12:30 Eastern.  All are welcome!

One of my main goals this year is to increase membership participation in ESP, and I see that is happening! We want to continue to be an engaging, supportive and worthwhile organization to help you build your career in Extension. Learn everything you can about the resources and support that is available through ESP.  This is your professional development organization.  Make ESP part of your Professional Development goals for 2022. Attend a national committee meeting that interests you-the schedule is on the website. Reach out to me or to your regional VPs/Committee Chairs and ask for their participation in your state committee meetings, they would be happy to participate!  Plan to attend our 2022 National Conference.  Hope to see you online and in Branson!  



History of the Handmade Wooden ESP Presidential Key

Submitted by Lori Bouslog Indiana Alpha Lambda Chapter and Compiled by David Ross, Resource Development and Management Committee 

The handmade wooden ESP Key was first presented to the ESP fundraising auction in 1993 by Arthur Redinger of Indiana to raise funds for scholarships, mini-grants and other professional development pursuits.  This occurred at the first stand-alone ESP national conference in San Antonio, Texas. Arthur Redinger has made a hand carved key each year utilizing wood native to the location of that year’s national conference.  Everyone at the conference is asked to sign the Key and the outgoing President purchases the key at the auction as the climax of a pleasant evening of fun and fundraising.

Patricia Jarboe Buchanan from Missouri was President in 1992-1993.  She led the effort to “re-direct” ESP as a professional development organization rather than just as an honorary society. The first Key was part of the 1993 scholarship auction and it was intended to go to the outgoing president. The story goes that Richard (Dick) Angus of Maryland, 1993 incoming national president, was very interested in the Key and in the end outbid Pat Buchanan but the following day they arranged for Pat to be the first recipient and started the tradition.  It had been a very spirited bidding with friends giving Pat money to keep going.

In 1994 Art made two Keys, one for the auction for the outgoing president Richard R. Angus and one for Gail Shellberg, Executive Director 1990-1994, as a gift from the National Board for his service as he left the office. Gail remembered that “Pat Buchanan had to pay a good price for her Key in San Antonio” as he graciously accepted the Key. Judy Carlson came on as Executive Director at that time.

Arthur Redinger had been making key emblem plaques for local and state ESP officers before becoming involved with the national board.  Art has done woodworking for many years.  He selects wood from the state tree of the host state for the national conference.  A wood worker gets him the correct wood. Often with the financial assistance of their state chapter, university and friends, the outgoing president (and friends!) bid on the key until the president buys it for a significant amount.  Friends have had fun “running” up the bids on the president but usually they were prepared to ensure the president always won!  Actually, the membership won by the funds raised.

After almost 30 years of making the ESP Key, Arthur is retiring. His work has left a legacy in ESP for both the Alpha Lambda Chapter and the national organization. We are thankful for his contributions over the years and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement. 

Attend the 2022 ESP National Conference in Branson for HALF-PRICE Registration!

Submitted by the National ESP Public Issues Committee

Whether it is called an elevator speech or telling your extension story, we have all found ourselves stumbling over words when presented with an unexpected opportunity to speak with legislators, stakeholders, and funders. How can we concisely convey who we are, what we do, and why it matters?

The National ESP Public Issues Committee challenges each state’s ESP Chapter to submit their best Extension “elevator speech” to compete against other chapter entries at the National level.  The top two entries will win a half-price registration to attend the 2022 ESP National Conference in Branson, MO AND will have a place on the conference schedule to share their winning entry live.

Full details of the contest rules and deadlines will be shared with Chapter leaders in the very near future. But in the meantime, you can start working on your 30-45 second contest entry using this Elevator Speech Guide which includes templates and examples. Fore more information, visit the Public Issues Committee Webpage and look under the Committee Documents/Projects header. Following this guide will help you be prepared and ready to speak about your great work and your impact in the community.


Chapter Professional Development: Serving our Members

Julie Buck, Idaho Theta Chapter and Sandy Corridon, Maryland Tau Chapter

Idaho – Theta Chapter

Members of the ESP Idaho Theta group are participating in a Book Club to read leadership books and then to meet in a Zoom meeting to be led in a discussion. The books which have been chosen are, "Dealing with Difficult People: 24 Lessons for Bringing Out the Best in Everyone" by Brinkman and Kirschner. "Mindsight" by Daniel J. Siegel. "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek. Other books which the University of Idaho Extension has provided to Extension faculty (agents) are "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor, "Choose to Matter" by Julie Foudy, and "Small Acts of Leadership" by G. Shawn Hunter.

Book clubs have a long history of providing groups a meeting for like-minded and varied interest persons to share their insights about a selected reading. Clubs meet in libraries, virtually, and as families to share in good company and good food.

As the county chair in my office, I have used the three books provided by my university as a source of leadership thoughts to share during staff/faculty monthly meetings. My listening to "Leaders Eat Last" by Simon Sinek provided a look at how businesses and industries have treated employees with varying results. The title of the book is from the practice in the military branch of the Marines regarding serving meals in mess halls. Leaders in the Marines eat last because they rely on their support staff to run the working parts of the offices, the service men, and women to be first to the battle, and then the leaders eat last to honor the many working persons to make a military effort successful. What a great idea! The Marine’s practice of leaders eating last reminds me of how our six children ate at the evening meal. To make sure everyone had enough food for their growing bodies, I would adjust my portion accordingly and serve myself last. As a dietitian, making sure those most in need at a meal are fed first is not a new concept. Using the practice in our various work settings would be a game changer.

Maryland – Tau Chapter

Members of the Tau chapter for the last 2 years have used our national conference as a spin off for professional development for our chapter members. Following the national meeting, we hold a Tau chapter meeting via zoom. Our professional development component of that meeting includes highlights from the national meeting. We've had members who attended the national meeting report on keynote speakers take-aways and have additionally used some recordings of conference programs. We've also asked our members who were presenters at the national meeting to share their presentation during our zoom session. Our goal is getting the best information sharing we can offer our membership from national meeting attendees. Last year we engaged our Extension IT Specialist to provide a hands-on presentation to help us all get better at utilizing zoom. This professional development activity was offered to all University of Maryland extension faculty.

The ESP Professional Development committee looks forward to hearing about professional development activities in other chapters across the country. If you would like to highlight your chapter’s efforts, email Travis West, Chair PD Committee at


Urban and Culturally Diverse Audiences Affinity Group (UCDA) Chartered by the National ESP Board

As a member of Epsilon Sigma Phi, you have likely heard about the Urban and Culturally Diverse Audiences (UCDA) Affinity Group. Discussions on the need for Affinity Groups within ESP have been held since 2016 with efforts to organize Latino and Latino-serving Extension Professionals. Later, separate discussions about urban and urban-serving Extension Professionals began to develop. In 2018, these two efforts merged to form the UCDA Affinity Group. Last month, the ESP National Board adopted the Group’s draft charter to formalize its position within the national organization.

“The National Board’s adoption of the UCDA Charter is a strong signal that The Extension Professional’s Organization is dedicated to increasing our collective cultural competence and is committed to providing inclusive spaces for its members to address urban issues,” said Affinity Group Co-Chair Marlin Bates.

The Charter for the UCDA Affinity Group emphasizes the mission and vision established in 2020, introduces structure to the leadership team and creates spaces for members to pursue work in areas of interest through a hub and connection group model. The authors were deliberate in their efforts to draft the charter to make the Affinity Group as welcoming and inclusive as possible and to depart from conventional committee structures that can be viewed as unapproachable by some. “The Connection Group model is an invitation to anyone in ESP with an idea to connect with others and provide a supporting platform for pursuing it,” said Karen Sergent. “We hope that this structure inspires grassroots work and influences the structure of other efforts within the Cooperative Extension model,” Marvin Young said.

The current leadership team was full of gratitude for their predecessors – leaders of these discussions that both assembled a critical mass of Extension Professionals and defined the roles of the early Affinity Groups and then coordinated their merger. “Our role in bringing this formalizing document to the National Board was the final stone in the foundation of what we hope to be an enduring platform for progress in Epsilon Sigma Phi and the profession as a whole,” said Marlin Bates.

The full charter can be reviewed on the group by visiting the Affinity Group page on the National ESP website: Epsilon Sigma Phi - Urban and Diverse Affinity Group (

ESP Members interested in learning more about the UCDA Affinity Group are encouraged to join the group by attending a monthly gathering on the second Tuesday of the month at 12:30 PM Eastern.


Peer Reviewed Articles

Creating Change Through School Gardening

Eva Timothy, Utah Iota Chapter

Recent droughts, natural disasters, a breakdown in global supply chains, and worldwide health concerns have led to financial strain for farmers and ranchers. Furthermore, it has limited consumers' access to specialty crop foods (fruits, vegetables, and nuts). Rural areas are at higher risk for food insecurity due to demand, limited access, transportation difficulties, the distance between towns and a grocery store, and higher numbers of residents being unemployed or underemployed. As a result, some states began programs to distribute goods from local producers to community members.

From March 2021-September 2021, 4-H staff, a Home and Community Professor, an Agriculture, Horticulture, and Natural Resources Professor, and an Agricultural Communication Associate Professor worked together to implement a school garden and farm stand to increase specialty crop food access in a rural county to school-aged children and families. A local, unused garden area containing 8 raised beds was updated and used to produce 299.8 pounds and 7.4 oz of garden-fresh foods. The county Extension office collaborated with an elementary school, county fair, and county offices building to hold 11 farm stand days to distribute food to 199 residents.

The 2021 season served as a pilot for the farm stand. We used intercept surveys at the farm stands to capture data about the consumers’ knowledge on how to access, produce, prepare, and preserve specialty crop foods. Data were collected from 10 consumers who picked up specialty crops at the farm stand. Five consumers strongly agreed they can grow food in a garden, while three consumers somewhat agreed, and two consumers were undecided. Six consumers were confident they could use food from the garden in meals or snacks. Whereas three consumers were somewhat agreed and one consumer was undecided about their confidence. Eight consumers either strongly agreed or agreed they were confident in their ability to safely preserve foods grown in a garden, purchased at the farm stand, or from a grocery store. Two consumers strongly disagreed they can safely preserve food grown in a garden or purchased at the farm stand, or from a grocery store. This pilot increased community access to foods and surveying farm stand consumers provided feedback that will guide educational offerings within a rural county.

Save the Date

2022 ESP Webinar Series

    • Wednesday May 25: Seeing Yourself in the Future - Middle School Career Readiness
    • Wednesday June 22: OK boomer, You need to retire! A Conversation on Ageism in the Workplace

2022 ESP National Conference September 26-29 Branson, Missouri

2023 ESP National Conference September 24-28 Billings, Montana

JCEP Extension Leadership Conference February 7-9, 2023, Kansas City, Missouri 

JCEP Public Issues Leadership Development Conference April 16-19, 2023 Washington D.C.

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

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