Best Practices

  1. How do you establish your extension council agenda?
    1. The agenda is prepared by the extension council chair and our county extension administrator. The REED is copied on communications. The agenda is approved/amended at the start of extension council meetings by a vote of our council. (Hardin County) 
    2.  The REED or Office Manager establishes the agenda with some input from the council. (Cedar County)
    3. REED gives suggestions for agenda items to Council chair, chair then delegates preparation to office manager, then she mails/emails to council. (Buena Vista County)
    4. Staff and REED put together and send out the agenda via email one week prior to the meeting. A courtesy call is made to the council members the morning (Monday) of the meeting (Plymouth County)
    5. REED sends Council Chairs and OPCs a draft agenda 1-1 ½ weeks prior to the Council meeting for them to review and add agenda items.
    6. At the end of each Council’s agenda is a section called, “Future Agenda Items” and Council members can add items to discuss. (Region 4)
    7. The council builds the agenda working with the REED towards the end of each meeting for the next meeting. They may ask for more information or table items until the next meeting; the REED works to add items as well so the council is sure to meet its legal obligations which is part of the REED’s job description (Region 15)
    8. Our office Manager emails staff, REED, and chair for items to be listed on the agenda. (Sac County)
  2.  How does your extension council make decisions?
    1. Our council usually makes decisions after reviewing information and recommendations from the county extension administrator, program specialists, REED, and/or council committees. (Hardin County)
    2. Decisions are made using Robert's Rules of Order and majority vote. (Cedar County)
    3. With a quorum vote after the item has been discussed. (Buena Vista County)
    4. They ask for the facts, past history and look to staff for recommendations on a decision. May on occasion appoint a subcommittee to work on a task and come back to the full council with a recommendation (Plymouth County)
    5. All six counties in Region 4 follow Parliamentary Procedure
    6. Issues that require extended discussion or more information are tabled and if appropriate, assigned to a committee and/or staff (Region 4)
    7. Motions, discussion and majority vote. (Region 15)
    8. We use parliamentary procedure and have a lot of open discussion (Sac County)
  3. How does your extension council create your annual budget?
    1. Our council finance committee reviews our financial summaries, programming and staffing plans, and projected costs, and prepares a budget draft to submit to the council for their review. The council accepts or modifies the recommendation and agrees on a proposed budget. The budget is published, a public hearing is held, and the council acts on the proposed budget. (Hardin County)
    2. The annual budget is reviewed monthly and formulated at a longer meeting in January; preliminary figures are put together by the REED and our financial secretary. (Cedar County)
    3. The finance committee holds planning sessions where they examine previous history, consider carryover, possible programming for the next year, employee raises etc.. A draft is then brought to the council for discussion before the final budget is finalized. We are fortunate to have a very fiscally responsible council and to have dollars available for programming. (Buena Vista County)
    4. A budget/financial committee has met in mid December to look at past budget history, look at staff and office needs and defines a working budget for the entire council to look at in January and by then the county tax appropriations are known. The full council approves a budget in Feb with a public hearing held in March at their regular council meetings (Plymouth County)
    5. FY 2011 Budget Planning Process (Region 4)
      1. Nov. 2009 - REED and OPCs met together to develop draft budgets using similar line items. A budget supplement was developed to explain line items and compare previous year budget/actual expenses to draft budget.
      2. December 2010 - REED and OPCs met with budget sub-committees to get input
      3. December/January/February 2010 – REED and budget committee submit budget to Extension Council; adjustments are made; Extension Council sets budget hearing
      4. January/February/March 2010 – Extension Council holds budget hearing 
      5.  Same process as above will be followed for FY 2012 Budget Planning Process
    6. Review of draft budget in December and January, they vote to set wages, the mil rage, budget totals in each category, then set the hearing date. (Region 15)
    7. Our  finance council meets with our REED and goes through the budget before it is discussed at our monthly meetings.
  4. What are your council’s best tools for marketing local ISU Extension programs and the county extension office?
    1. Weekly extension radio program, offering a comprehensive extension program, involvement of extension council and staff in county-wide organizations such as the county foundation, county development council, etc., frequent press releases to county newspapers and radio stations, membership in Chamber/Main Street, visibility and community involvement of extension council and staff in our communities, direct mailings to client groups, phone calls to targeted client groups, and use of county extension web site. (Hardin County)
    2. Marketing is best done by doing what we do well. I don't think advertising is effective. (Cedar County)
    3. Free public service announcements in the newspapers. (Buena Vista County)
    4. News media according to a C-Dial survey, personal PR by staff, news letters (Plymouth County)
    5. Region 4 developed a 2010-11 Communications Plan and Process for Regional Program Specialists and County Staff
    6. Local media and partnerships (Region 15)
    7. Part-Time Regional Communications Coordinator was hired by Region 4 Councils to work with county, regional and state program specialists, External Relations Specialist and REED to coordinate the following for Region 4:
      1. Calendar of Events to Regional/County Media and Councils
      2. Weekly News Releases to Reg./Co. Media and Councils
      3. Weekly ISUE News Columns to Reg./Co., Media & Councils
      4. ISUE web pages (updated for regional and county programming)
      5. Quarterly Region 4 ISUE Program Highlights of Programs for stakeholders and media
      6. Annual Stakeholders Report
      7. Eastern Iowa “It Starts With Extension” television campaign
      8. NE Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative web pages, news releases, videos, etc.
      9. Tracing of client contact information on google.doc spreadsheet by staff and program specialists 
      10.  4-H Newsletter sent to 4-H families and “Friends of 4-H” in Region 4 
      11.  County-by-County radio interviews on local stations
    8. Newspapers, fliers, public interaction, and word of mouth (Sac County)
  5. How does your extension council provide oversight and direction to county staff?
    1. Our council hired our retiring CEED as county extension administrator (CEA) to provide office and program leadership and supervision of county staff. The CEA answers directly to the council and acts on behalf of the council’s best interests. Frequent communication is maintained between the council chair and CEA. The CEA reports to the council at each council meeting. (Hardin County)
    2. Our county staff has formal reviews done yearly by a council subcommittee. The REED also has some regular oversight. (Cedar County)
    3. With the recent hire of a 1/2 time Program Coordinator who also provides leadership, oversight and direction to the office staff. (Buena Vista County) 
    4. Council relies on the Co. Coordinator (former CEED) to supervise and evaluate job performance of county paid staff. Program direction is discussed at one or more council meetings during the year (Plymouth County)
    5. Region 4 -
      1. Updated County Personnel and Fiscal Policies in February 2010 
      2.  Council Personnel Committee and REED conducted 2010 County Staff Performance Reviews (March – May, 2010)
      3. County and Regional staff submit quarterly reports (Jan-Mar 2010; April – June 2010; July – Sept. 2010; Oct. – Dec. 2010)
      4. REED coordinates bi-monthly OPC/OA teleconferences to discuss requests/offerings from campus, program specialists, councils, etc.; share ideas and best practices and address questions.
      5. County staff encouraged to participate in regional and state in-service training
      6. Office Points of Contact (OPCs) attend Extension Council meetings in 4 out of 6 counties in Region 4
      7. CYC’s are jointly supervised by the Region 4 Youth Development Specialist and Council and CYC is periodically invited to Council meeting to give updates.
    6. All county staff provide written monthly reports of activities and accomplishments for Council members
    7. Formal annual evaluations, monthly staff reports presented at council meeting, council meeting conversation. (Sac County)
  6. How does your extension council identify the educational priorities in your county?
    1. Our council gets recommendations from program specialists, the REED, and the county extension administrator. The council has a program committee that reviews extension programming and makes recommendations to the council. The county extension administrator is empowered by the council to act quickly if programming is needed to respond to an emergency, urgent need, or client request. (Hardin County)
    2. Educational needs is a monthly Extension Council agenda item. Council members bring suggestions they have received from the public (Buena Vista County)
    3. In the past, the council participated in state program planning processes (called different name at different times). Prioritizing with sticky notes on lists of possibilities gave staff a feel for the program direction they felt was important, but in the past, they highly regarded program direction from staff which was also based on state program directions (Plymouth County)
    4. Council share needs and program ideas with REED, who shares with appropriate Program Specialist (Region 4)
    5. Program Specialists share Program ideas with REED to share with Extension Councils. (Region 4) 
    6. Monthly updates are given on issue-based programming and needs identified by stakeholders (Region 4)
    7. Program specialists are in routine contact with council members (Region 15)
    8. Staff networking throughout the county, needs assessments, regional council meetings, meeting discussion. (Sac County) 
    9. Region 19  - Program planning process with Extension councils
      One extension meeting is dedicated to looking at demographic information and critical issues within that county (plant closings, health issues, racial issues, strategic planning done by other groups and organizations etc). This is usually done in February.  Each Extension Council person is asked to visit with 5 family members, friends, co workers and see what issues they are facing in their life now and in the near future.  This is their homework for the March meeting.  At the next (usually March) Extension Council meeting:

      • Each issue is placed on a post a note.  
      • Each note is placed on a flip chart paper with the areas that the council members feel it fits (families, ag, communities, youth, business and industry, parking lot) Often these issues will belong in more than one category however this is where we start and build from there.   
      • Council is allowed to look the story boarding over multiple times and combine, move, change, add and discuss what is up there.    Often times council member realize that there is something up there that another agency or organization is dedicated to so it maybe moved to the parking lot or the issue changed.   In addition council members see the chart from the previous year or two to see what was identified in the past.
      • Then the council is given 3 dots to vote on what issues they want to work on the most.   After voting the ones with the most dots are the issues we focus on right now. ( I never throw these sheets away, they come back out every year) 
      • We revisit the field specialist programming and “match” the issue as much as possible.  If there is no “match” then we contact the field specialist and/or community partners depending on what is the need.                                                   
      • April, May
        When there has been some more information collected about specific programming then it is up to the council to decide that there would be enough interest, money (we search for that too) and time to proceed. 
      • When the council makes that decision a POW is created usually for the entire year and up to 18 to 36 months.  
      • Throughout the year field specialists visit extension council meetings and have one short activity to share with the council in addition to the various programs that they have presented in their area.  When this happens or when there are other unforeseen events, other programming is added throughout the year. 
  7. What is the best way for your council to plan for regional ISU Extension programs?
    1. Our council has met with the other councils in our region at regional council meetings and discussed opportunities for regional programming. We invite the other counties in our region to participate in our county based extension programs. (Hardin County)
    2. Some of the county programs such as pesticide training have now become regional. In general, the counties have remained quite independent. (Cedar County)
    3. By assessing the potential interest in the program and deciding to hold the program where the critical mass is. (Buena Vista County)
    4. Know what state priorities are and what state and field specialists have available to offer. Know the outcome of the needs assessment. Spend one to two council meetings a year on prioritizing program possibilities (Plymouth County)
    5. Regional Program Planning with Regional Council members, Program Specialists, and OPCs in August, December and April (Region 4)
    6. Annual meeting with stakeholders and work group leaders of the NE Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative (Region 4)
    7. Through the specialist and REED (Region 15)
    8. Regional council meetings, REED, program coordinator, and area specialist (Sac County)
  8. What is the best way for your council to leverage funds with Iowa State University?
    1. Conducting ISUE initiated programs in our county and sharing revenue. (Hardin County)
    2. Leveraging funds from ISU--I think we did that in the past year. We rearranged staff responsibilities, etc. (Cedar County)
    3. Grants or Partnership funds (Buena Vista County) d. Not sure what this question is getting at or how to answer it. We need to retain as much of our tax asking in the county as possible to maximize programming (Plymouth County) 
    4.  It Starts With Extension” campaign – group purchasing of tv ads (Region 4)
    5. Councils developed a joint MOU and committed funds to hire 2.5 FTE regional staff to address issue-based programming needs (Region 4)
    6. Shared across county lines with revenue generation and partnerships (Region 15)
    7. Marketing (Sac County)