Number CLIX The Newsletter of Epsilon Sigma Phi  November 2021

 President's Outlook
Karen Reddersen, National ESP President

Our 2021 National Conference was a great success. Thanks to the Georgia Alpha Beta Chapter for hosting us in Savannah, GA. We had a record number of attendees for the in-person meetings as well as offering a limited schedule to a virtual audience. 316 members and 25 guests participated in this outstanding professional development opportunity. Another 61 members participated virtually. Thanks to everyone that made this conference a success. We look forward to seeing everyone again in Branson, MO, September 26. 29, 2022.

As I begin my tenure as National ESP President, I am excited as to the future of our organization. The actions taken by our board, our Executive Director team, our committee members and affiliates, and our membership-at-large over the past year have strengthened our leadership capabilities for our communities. We have overcome unexpected challenges and provided learning opportunities in ways we might not have imagined in previous years. We have the responsibility to continue to reach expanded audiences and share science-based knowledge to “stimulate individual initiative, self-determination and leadership” found in our creed.

I have learned, experienced and grown while serving as your president-elect and I look forward to serving as your National Board President for the next 12 months. Our goals include, but are not limited to, increasing member engagement, strengthening national support to state chapters, continuing to expand our professional development opportunities for members, and engaging in the broader Extension network. We will be successful if we all take action and lead each other.

It is through our actions that we can make a difference. I challenge our members… get more involved with your local chapter, invite a colleague to visit our website or send them our Connections newsletter to learn more about ESP. Share your experiences from the 2021 ESP Conference in Savannah, GA with your Program Leader and Extension Director. Make plans to attend the JCEP Leadership conference. Write an abstract to present at the Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) conference. Serve as an affiliate on a National Committee. Reach out to a board member to talk about national service. Proudly wear your conference pin and share with a colleague the many professional development opportunities offered by our Association. There are so many ways to make a difference.

Thank you to Peggy Compton as she finishes her year as National ESP President. Her leadership during the past 12 months has moved our organization forward and positioned us for continued growth in membership and professional development opportunities for our members. 

This is your organization. Take action. Get involved. Serve.


The Montana Alpha Chapter would like to invite you to Big Sky Country for the 

2023 ESP National Conference

September 24-28, 2023
Billings, Montana

Hope to see you there!!

Scholarships and Grants December 1 Deadline
Submitted by the Scholarships, Grants and Recognition Committee

The following applications are due December 1. Do you have a program or professional development that needs funding? Do you need travel support to PILD or the 2022 ESP Conference in Branson, Missouri?  Don't let this opportunity pass by without your participation. Additional conference scholarships are also available in the spring. Please check the Awards section on the ESP Website for information on all scholarships and grants.

PILD Scholarship (Due December 1, 2021)

Epsilon Sigma Phi, through the ESP Development Fund, has established this scholarship for eligible members to attend the Public Issues Leadership Development National Conference in order to become informed about and develop skills in responding to public issues and legislative matters affecting Extension programs and personal needs. The scholarship is to be used to defray the cost of attending the Public Issues Leadership Development Conference. Four scholarships of $600.00 each will be awarded annually.

Angus Professional Development Scholarship (Due December 1, 2021)

Epsilon Sigma Phi, through the ESP Development Fund, provides $4,000 annually to fund scholarships not to exceed $1,000 per member to encourage, stimulate, and support professional development through participation in courses, seminars, conferences or workshops.

There is currently a proposal working through committee to raise the amount of this scholarship to $1000. The proposed 2020 budget would increase the overall funding to $4000.  Stay tuned for possible changes in this scholarship.

Professional Development Programming Grant (Due December 1, 2021)

The purpose of the Epsilon Sigma Phi Professional Development Grant is to stimulate development of Extension professionals. Grants will be awarded to interdisciplinary teams to plan and conduct a project with an appeal to a broad audience of Extension professionals. Through the ESP Development Fund, funding for at least four $1,000 grants is available annually and will be awarded through a competitive process.

Rita T Wood Grant (Due December 1, 2021)

The Rita T. Wood Grant is intended to provide funds for one or more grants per year to individual members or chapters of Epsilon Sigma Phi for the purpose of building annual membership in ESP. Grants to a chapter may be for programs or activities supporting leadership development and chapter growth. Grants to individuals may be made for the leadership or professional development of others within ESP. An example of a fundable grant activity might be a chapter or individual member hosting a professional development workshop or engaging in a service project that increases the visibility of ESP. Award amounts may vary. Current maximum annual grant award is $1250.00.

Visit the Awards Section of the ESP Website for a list of all scholarships and grants.


Submitted by the Resource Development and Management Committee

WOW!!! The "Celebration $500K" motivated the conference attendees to dig into their wallets and give $12,266 to the Development Fund!

Following the Savannah, Georgia conference we can report that for the 2021-2022 Campaign Year (June 1, 2021 – May 31, 2022) the Development Fund has received $13,837 as of the close of the conference with more contributions coming. Contributions totaled $12,266 and the fundraising auction added $1,571 to the Development Fund. The total Auction income was $3,142 with half going to the Development Fund and half going to the Operating Fund.

Conference attendees received a conference pin for donations of $100 or more. A few pins remain if you would like this collectors’ item.

This is a good start for the campaign year and we hope other members/chapters will contribute before the year end. See our website for ideas on giving – Charitable IRA Giving, and cash is always good.

For 2022, there is $40,000 budgeted for scholarships, grants and stipends. Apply for one of these and continue your professional development! Many conference attendees had financial support from ESP in one way or the other.

2021 Development Fund Annual Report (May 31, 2020 – June 1, 2021)

The year 2020 was much different from past years with a virtual conference due to Covid-19 travel restrictions and no auction.  The number of donors and total funds raised were down.  In spite of the many restrictions, the fundraising campaign raised $10,730.

However, $37,000 was budgeted for scholarships, grants and stipends in 2021 and $37,028 was returned to members in 2020-2021.

The total balance of restricted endowed contributions on June 1, 2021 was $526,643.  The long time goal of $500,000 in donations was reached in late 2019 during a Past Presidents’ Matching Challenge and a celebration planned for the 2020 conference was delayed until 2021.  Reaching this goal with invested funds has paid off in annual funding for professional development programs.  Market value of the entire endowment was $1,007,204 on October 1, 2021.  Visit the ESP Handbook for more information on our investment policies.

ESP Fun Fact

Total lifetime funds distributed to members and chapters has been $626,410.  Lifetime member and chapter donations as of June I, 2021 has been $526,643.  That is $100,000 more given back to members than has been donated.  A good return on investment.

Thank you to Greg and Becky Price for your Leadership and Service

On behalf of the RDM committee, we would like to give a SHOUT OUT to Greg and Becky for their help at the ESP Conference in Savannah in keeping track of all of the donations to the Development Fund and for compiling the totals to report to conference attendees.  They went over and beyond to assist us in addition to general conference duties.

In addition, the RDM committee always had the financial documents that we needed each month to carry out our responsibilities in a timely manner during the last four years.  They have updated the website with our new documents.  We appreciate their service and patience with our questions and concerns.  We shall miss them. 


Public Issues Committee Update

Submitted by Peggy (Compton) Damann, 2021-2022 Chair

The 2020-2021 Public Issues Committee met at the National Conference in Savannah, GA, to wrap up a successful year under Chair, Mike Knutz’s leadership. Committee members assisted conference attendees in telling their programming story for an Elevate Extension recorded talk. A total of 12 Elevate Extension submissions were made prior to or during the National Conference.

Later that day, the 2021-2022 Public Issues Committee came together with the task of reviewing the Elevate Extension talks and choosing the award recipients. Receiving cash prizes for top honors were: Christopher Sneed, TN/Omega, first place; Mackenzie Johnson, IA/Alpha Mu, second place; and Sherrill Bentley, Kentucky/Alpha Kappa, third place. 

Mackenzie Johnson, IA/Alpha Mu, (left) 2nd place; Christopher Sneed, TN/Omega, first place.

The Public Issues Committee is comprised of these members for the upcoming year: Beverly Maltsberger, MO; Peter Wulfhorst, PA; Izette McNealy, AL; Kirstin Jensen, ID; Chris Bruynis, OH; Jennifer Shukaitis, NJ; Janet Johnson, AL; Sheriden Hansen, UT.


Global Relations Committee

Submitted by Melinda Garcia, Global Relations Committee Affiliate

Do you seek adventure? Are you an agent of positive change? Do you enjoy traveling? Would you like to see and experience the world from different countries? If you answered “YES” to any of these questions, then you should consider taking part in the Global Relations Committee. This committee provides many opportunities for ESP members interested in international work and travel. While COVID-19 has interrupted travel, lifted restrictions in summer, have allowed many people to resume their travels. You might ask, “How does traveling internationally relevant to ESP and/or Extension?” One answer is that there are already many Extension faculty that travel abroad that are making a difference as they conduct research and work to help others in counties where Extension is not present. Remember, Extension serves others via outreach! What better way than to travel to another country and assess their needs to help establish programs for underserved populations that seek positive change with hands-on opportunities?  You can count me in!! Discussions at the ESP meeting in Georgia included past trips with positive impact. Others shared how international trips benefit not only Extension faculty, staff, and administrators, but also youth, as there are many opportunities to learn about other cultures. Future meetings will include potential destinations and learning objectives. Stay tuned for more information!


Impact of ESP Scholarships / ESP Members share their ESP Scholarship Stories

Crystal Wiltz, Alpha Zeta Chapter / Texas received the Justin Morrill Scholarship

I attended the Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) National Conference in Savannah, GA. this year due to the Justin Morrill Scholarship. As an employee of the Cooperative Extension Program, Prairie View A&M University, an 1890 institution, I am so grateful that ESP has made provisions for members from an 1890 institution to receive this scholarship. I've been a member of ESP since 2017 and have attended national conferences since that time with the exception of 2020 which was virtual. The professional development workshops, networking opportunities, camaraderie, and leadership has been instrumental in my involvement at the national and state levels. In Savannah, GA, I was impressed with the variety of speakers and topics during the conference. I attended the following seminar presentations: Civility-What the World Needs Now; Finding Harmony Through Qualitative Data Analysis; Community Change Leaders-Characteristics That Make a Positive Difference in Attitudes; Life in a Pandemic -The Reality of Extension Professionals Experiences; and Balancing Digital Distractions in Work/Family Life.

As a result of these inspiring and invigorating presentations, I see better ways of reaching and engaging my audiences. During the course of this conference, I connected with other professionals and look forward to future collaborations and sharing of educational materials. This is an exciting component of the conference because I value the "gems" that I leave with. I am very grateful to ESP for awarding me the Justin Morrill Scholarship and I look forward to sharing my conference experience with co-workers, community partners, and volunteers.

Thank you ESP for the forethought and vision to establish the Justin Morrill Scholarship. I am truly grateful.

Marlin Bates, Alpha Rho Chapter / Kansas received the Art Redinger ESP Administrator/Leader Scholarship 

As a recipient of the 2020 Art Redinger ESP Administrator/Leader Scholarship, I was thrilled to see that I was able to defer use of the scholarship to attend the 2021 ESP Annual Meeting in Savannah, GA. The time that I spent in Savannah was not only helpful in my ability to serve ESP at the national and state level, but it also provided me the opportunity to grow as an Extension Professional in ways that I did not expect.

My work with the Urban and Culturally Diverse Audiences Affinity Group continues to challenge my thinking and our systems to better serve those whose needs we often fail to meet. My involvement with the Affinity Group over the last few years has helped me formulate an approach to inclusion that I intend to translate into action in my local unit and influence my colleagues across our system in Kansas. Being together with those who I have come to know through the Affinity Group was truly helpful to me as we look to formally establish this Affinity Group within the structure of ESP at the national level and as we work to empower the line of thinking that we must do more to be an inclusive service provider to all of our neighbors. 

Thank you for your financial support of my professional development - I am truly grateful.


New Addition to the Connection Newsletter

Peer-Reviewed Articles - November 2021

Beating the Winter Pandemic Blues

Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator
Ohio State University Extension

The year 2020 was like no other as the entire world faced a “once in a lifetime” global pandemic. Mental health concerns surfaced among youth and adults alike as they struggled to cope with COVID-19 and its widespread impacts on daily life. As the pandemic stretched into the fall and winter months of 2020, mental health concerns were compounded by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the winter blues for certain individuals.

In December 2020 – January 2021, five Family and Consumer Sciences educators from Ohio State University Extension partnered with their university’s Chief Wellness Officer to offer a six-part webinar series for faculty, staff, and students to help with SAD and the pandemic blues. The purpose of the series was to share evidence-based strategies to cope during difficult times and protect physical, mental, and social health through the winter months. The series provided information on the signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the winter blues, strategies to promote health during the winter months, and ways to cope with the winter blues. Strategies of focus included exercise, time away from technology, laughter, and social connection. Among those who completed evaluations, 92% indicated they could use the information presented to cope with current circumstances, 91% agreed the information presented would help them take better care of their health and wellbeing, and 90% were planning to use the content they learned on a regular basis.

While the content of the webinar series was not necessarily new information to participants, it was packaged in a way that assured them they were not alone in their struggles during an exceptionally challenging time, and it provided practical tips, strategies, and encouragement for coping during the winter of the pandemic.

The webinar recordings are currently achieved for viewing at

Developmental Disabilities Training Series

Jeannette Rea Keywood, Co-Author, State 4-H Agent
Rutgers University

Michelle Brill, Co-Author, Family & Community Health Sciences Educator
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than six million individuals in the United States have developmental disabilities. About one in six children between the ages of 3 and 17 in the U.S. has one or more developmental disabilities or developmental delays. To better serve this population, it is important for professionals in a wide variety of fields to gain an understanding of the characteristics and needs of people living with disabilities.

The Developmental Disabilities Training Series consisting of five online courses and in-person sessions, prepares Extension professionals and volunteers to conduct inclusive and adaptive programs for youth and adults with disabilities in school and community-based programs. The courses are Overview of Disabilities; Disabilities and Learning; Understanding and Managing Behavior; Visual Supports; and Disabilities Laws, Program Accommodations and Modifications.

The Developmental Disabilities Training Series is offered online through Colorado State University at Professional development hours and a digital badge are conferred upon completion of each course. Course bundle discounts and group rates for the five-course series are available.

The in-person component of the training is available for Extension staff and volunteers, formal and non-formal educators, youth organization staff, caregivers, and other individuals who provide programming and/or support for youth and adults with developmental disabilities. The in-person half or full day professional development sessions can be tailored to meet the needs of a specific organization and audience.

In both the online and in-person components, trainees will learn how to identify, prevent, and address specific behaviors associated with developmental disabilities; techniques to identify learning styles; how to modify the educational setting and/or content; and general strategies to better engage their participants in programs and services. The training covers autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, sensory processing disorder, attention deficit disorder, intellectual disability, and Tourette syndrome.

For more information contact Michelle Brill by email at or Jeannette Rea Keywood by email at or by phone at 609-827-0199.


Call for Peer-Reviewed ESP Connection Newsletter Articles

Submitted by: Jeannette Rea Keywood, NE Region VP and Professional Development Committee Chair

The Professional Development Committee invites you to submit an article to be considered for publication in the ESP Connection Newsletter. Article submissions will allow members to share programs, research, and/or professional development topics to heighten awareness of new, timely, and innovative ideas.

The Connection Newsletter is published six times per year on odd numbered months (January, March, May, July, September & November). Recommended article length is 300 words or less. Longer articles may be considered with a cap of 450 words maximum. Articles will be accepted on an on-going basis and will be peer-reviewed. One to three articles will be included in each issue of the newsletter. Articles will be archived on the ESP website.

Accepted articles will be published as review time and space permits. The author will be notified if article is accepted for publication. For more information and to submit an article, visit:


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

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