Epsilon Sigma Phi
The Extension Professionals' Organization

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Membership Recruitment and Retention

(Reviewed and Adopted November 2016)

Role of the Membership Recruitment and Retention Committee :  

This committee works with chapters to recruit and retain membership.The committee manages various programs or initiative aimed as recruiting and retaining membership. 

Each chapter is encouraged to have a MRR Committee at the chapter level. This committee supports the local chapter committee with tools and best practices. “Members are hard to get, but easy to lose!” Members are important and essential to the life of any organization and especially so to Epsilon Sigma Phi. 

Epsilon Sigma Phi has much to offer Extension professionals. Epsilon Sigma Phi plays an equal role with the other professional Extension Associations (National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA), National Association of Extension 4-H Agents (NAE4-HA), Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals (ANREP), National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Science (NEAFCS), and the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP).  Epsilon Sigma Phi is an equal partner in the Joint Council of Extension Professionals (JCEP), and this affiliation enhances joint efforts. 

Epsilon Sigma Phi is a professional organization dedicated to fostering standards of excellence in the Extension System and developing the Extension profession and professional. ESP leads the Extension System in promoting and supporting professionalism in Extension. 

Additional Information may be found in our the ESP ByLaws under Article VIII - National Committees.


The Constitution of the National ESP organization defines three categories of membership:

ANNUAL MEMBER.  An Extension professional (currently employed by or retired from an entity of the Cooperative Extension System) who has exhibited excellence in programming and leadership.  

MEMBER-AT-LARGE. An individual meeting the above qualifications, but located where there is no affiliated chapter, may pay annual dues directly to the National ESP Office and become a member-at-large, with all the rights and privileges of an active member.

LIFE MEMBER. Members who are retired from the Cooperative Extension System may obtain a life membership by paying the designated life member dues.  These members hold equal rights and privileges to those paying annual dues.

Currently in our online membership system we have an informal sub-category of Annual Members titled "State Managed Annual Members". This sub-category is only different from Annual Member in the way dues are collected such as a university payroll deduction system.

Committee Relationship to Chapters

The National Membership Recruitment and Retention Committee assist chapters with recruiting, retaining, and involving all eligible Extension personnel. 

The work of the National Membership Recruitment and Retention Committee generally includes:

  • Reviewing national membership guidelines to ensure that they adequately reflect membership potential.
  • Encouraging each chapter to designate a membership recruitment and retention committee or representative to enhance membership-related communication from the National office to the chapters.
  • Assisting the chapter membership recruitment and retention committee or representative by providing techniques for member involvement, including life members.
  • Developing and maintaining a membership recruitment and retention program.
  • Keeping all membership recruitment and retention materials and resources current. 
  • Offering membership recruitment and retention session (s) at the National ESP Conference.
  • Developing and implementing a program to recognize chapters’ excellence in membership recruitment and retention.
  • Developing and making available to chapters membership recruitment and retention materials and resources (displays, brochures, webinars, articles for chapter newsletters etc) 
  • Developing an annual plan of work and submitting to National Board.
  • Submitting committee reports to the National Board as appropriate.
  • Preparing and submitting articles for inclusion in the ESP Connection newsletter.
  • Carrying out other responsibilities assigned by the ESP National Board.
  • Working in conjunction with other National ESP Committees as appropriate.  

Chapter Resources / Membership Recruitment and Retention Committees 

Guidelines, tools and best practices for local chapters are offered as suggestions from the National MMR Committee to recruit and retain members.

National Membership and Dues Records

  • The National ESP Office maintains membership records, Including name, mailing and email addresses, initiation date, initiation chapter, state of residence.
  • Currently the membership records are being kept on the Wild Apricot online membership management system.
  • Officer have access to online membership reports and the ablity to download complete membership records through the Chapter Management Page.
  • The National membership year is the calendar year, with the membership campaign beginning October 1st and running through February 1st. 
  • With the online system dues can be paid at any time.
  • Membership invoices are sent out from the National Office on October 1. See the Chapter Management Page for a complete current year collection guidelines and calendars.
  • The Chapter Membership Chair and National Office working together will provide the most efficient dues collection and submission process.

Guidelines for Supporting "At-Risk" Chapters

An "at-risk" chapter will likely have several of these circumstances:

  • Dues not collected at the chapter level and not submitted to the National Office.
  • No Chapter officers identified or Chapter officers not performing their duties.
  • Annual meeting not held on a regular basis.
  • Few or no new members initiated for several consecutive years.
  • No chapter delegates at attending the National ESP Annual meeting for several consecutive years.

Chapters will be assessed annually by the National Office and Regional Vice Presidents. The National Board will assign one or more board members (likely the Regional Vice President from the same region as the "at-risk" chapter, President-Elect, or Past President) to work with the “at-risk” chapter. The National Board member will contact the “at-risk” chapter and offer resources and support. If the response to the offer is positive, initial steps will be identified and the agreed upon plan will be documented in a follow-up letter.

The National Board member may make an on-site visit if funds are available and the visit is deemed valuable. An on-site visit may be an essential part of the support plan and would likely include:

  • Meeting with a small group (4-7 people including current officers, recent officers, and others, including life members who appear to have a strong commitment to ESP) to assess the situation, to identify priority concerns, and to develop a strategy and plan.
  • Meeting with Extension administrator (s) to apprise them of the situation and the emerging plans and to request their support.
  • Identification of interim chapter leadership and their roles, including a designated liaison who will work with the National Board representative.
  • An event to gather others who may be interested in ESP and can offer support to the strategy and plan for reinvigorating the ESP Chapter.

Following the onsite visit:

  • Monthly communication will be maintained between the Chapter liaison and the National Board Member so the National ESP Office and Board can provide support as needed.
  • A National ESP Board member might attend the Chapter’s annual meeting if warranted and the funds are available. Any requests for funding or other needs of support for “at-risk” chapters should be brought to the National ESP Board. If funds are available they can be allocated. If not, the board will seek additional ways to support the chapter.
  • Board should make chapter aware of scholarships and grant funds are available to assist chapters at risk.
  • If any of the other national Extension professional associations are also in an "at-risk" status, planning will include working with and coordinating efforts with the national officers of that/those association (s).

Guidelines for Reactivating an Inactive Chapter

The National ESP Office/Board Members will provide resources and support to a state wishing to reactivate their ESP chapter. The contact from the National Board will likely be the Regional Vice President from the region of the reactivating chapter, the National Vice President or Past President and the National ESP Executive Director.

Process and Procedures for Re-activation

The state wishing to reactivate their ESP chapter will identify an Extension professional who will be the initial contact/state liaison to work with the National ESP Office/Board Member (s) who have been identified to support the chapter during the reactivation process

The National Office/Board Member(s) will provide to the state liaison ESP information such as the Constitution and Bylaws, ESP Handbook, and membership materials, as well as guidelines on chapter reactivation and will follow-up with a personal contact to the state liaison. The ESP Office/Board Member(s) may make an on-site visit to the state/state liaison if resources are available.

If an onsite visit is made, it should include the following:

  • Planning time with the state liaison
  • Dialogue with the State Extension Director
  • Planning time with a small group called together by the state liaison (to include Extension faculty, staff, and administration from various job categories, retirees, and/or representatives from other Extension professional associations).
  • A decision on whether or not to move forward with chapter reactivation immediately, at a future time or not at all.

In the absence of an onsite visit, the above should be accomplished via other means, such as conference calls, online meetings of other means.

If the decision is to move forward with chapter reactivation, a Chapter Organization Committee and Committee Chair should be identified and an organizational meeting date/time determined.

The Committee should:

  • Review the National ESP handbook, constitution, bylaws, membership and dues requirements and processes
  • Review available chapter documents such as constitution, bylaws, etc.
  • Inform their Extension administration of chapter reactivation and gain their support
  • Request needed/useful resources from the ESP National Office such as their chapter’s previous membership list and Charter if local copy has been lost
  • Use National ESP website for membership and marketing resources
  • Draft a proposed program emphasis/focus for the first year-something with which prospective members will identify.
  • Keep potential members informed.
  • Call an organizational meeting and invite participation of potential members. At the organizational meeting, review and discuss the proposed structure and program emphasis; make a decision -- to re-activate or not. If affirmative, elect an interim executive committee and decide membership criteria and dues.

The interim Executive Committee should:

  • Review Chapter constitution and bylaws if available or draft new ones
  • Recruit members.
  • Recruit committee chairs.
  • Make plans for an annual meeting to:
    • Discuss and approve constitution and bylaws
    • Elect officers
    • Organize committees and select committee chairs
    • Discuss and approve annual chapter goals/objectives
    • Hear from the National ESP Board or designated representative
    • Invite National Board member or designated representative to attend/speak at the annual meeting.
    • Invite National Board member or designated representative to meet with the Chapter Steering Committee and the Extension Director. 
    • Draft a proposed structure--officers, committees, membership criteria, and dues.

    • Describe progress, problems, and questions. Ask for resources/assistance if needed.

    • Enroll new members into the national membership database.

    • Provide names, addresses, phone numbers of steering committee, interim executive committee, and elected officers so they receive appropriate communication.

    • Throughout the chapter reactivation process, keep National ESP Office informed.

The National Office/Board Member(s) may assign an active ESP chapter to mentor the reactivating chapter. The National Board or mentoring chapter will communicate monthly with the Chapter Organization Committee Chair to provide continued support and to discuss and refine plans for the organizational meeting. They will also:

  • Follow-up after the organizational meeting to hear of results and provide support.
  • Continue phone contacts every three or four months and if resources exist, offer a chapter visit by a National Board member or designated representative for the first annual meeting following reactivation.
  • Any requests for funding or other needs of support for chapter reactivation should be brought to the ESP National Board. If funds are available they can be allocated. If not, the board will seek additional ways to support the chapter.

Epsilon Sigma Phi is a
501(c)3 non-profit organization.

55 Walton Place Drive
Newnan, GA 30263

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