2021 JCEP Extension Leadership Conference Scholarship Recipient Reflections

Leigh Anne Aaron, Georgia
This year's Extension Leadership Conference was as engaging if not more engaging than years' past even as a virtual one. I greatly enjoyed each session that I attended. All were very hands-on and inviting. I gained new knowledge, ideas, and acquaintances. During the past year, things have been somewhat overwhelming and I found myself trying to load my calendar to compensate for things being so different. Through the "Get a Handle on Your Workload" session, I was reminded that I am in charge of my schedule and must be diligent about how I plan, protect, and perfect it. Additionally, Dr. Steele shared great information about how our leadership styles change as we evolve into a leader. This helped me to realize my leadership abilities and motivated me to work towards being a stronger leader. The conference promoted collaboration among professionals, states, and disciplines. People seemed to be hungry for these opportunities and the conference format/content set it up to make it a reality and not just a hope or wish for me. As a result of being a concurrent session presenter, I was approached by another state to collaborated on a future project. This is exciting and invigorating. I appreciate the diligence the planning committee put into making this an amazing and engaging conference.

Jacqueline Amor-Zitzelberger, Pennsylvania
After taking time for reflection, the lasting impression was the impressive amount of professional work presented during a time everyone is doing their best to manage during the pandemic. Dr. Doug Steele was able to put it into perspective for me with his cartoon about the definition of career success and happiness. And Erik Qualman taught us to take time to recognize our imperfections and stay connected with others with the "Walk & Talk" strategy. Finally, networking with other members of NEAFCS to talk about our future and comparing the depth of the snow in each state. This was a valuable opportunity to remind me that we're not alone in this journey.

Emily Barbee, Missouri
As I reflect on my time spent at the virtual JCEP conference, I was reminded of how much I miss face-to-face interaction and professional networking in my life. As an Extension professional, I have attended many national conferences and trainings over the years and met some wonderful people who have similar interests and passions to mine. I have missed that interaction and the learning and growing that comes along with that. I had some great conversations with other JCEP professionals on a variety of relevant topics such as: reaching diverse audiences in the digital world, knowing when to deliver hybrid courses and how to plan for that more in the future, how to address controversial topics and discussion in a professional manner in our communities, recognizing trends in our profession and how to get in front of them, and last but not least, how to be a situational leader - knowing how to adapt your leadership style with the everchanging environment we live in today. Overall, I enjoyed this conference. Of course we all wish it was face-to-face, but this was the best alternative with so many opportunities for learning to choose from. I hope to use the notes I took this week to reach new audiences and try out new programs, particularly the hybrid teaching model.

Karla Belzer, Illinois
Attending the virtual Extension Leadership Conference this year far exceeded my expectations. This is the third JCEP conference that I have attended and have always appreciated the opportunity to connect with other Extension professionals across the disciplines. Even though the conference was virtual, I found the ability to connect with other and learn from professionals to be on-par with past, in-person conferences. I especially appreciated the wealth of information and sessions on digital best practices. I have implemented many strategies from the keynote speaker and have started conversations within my Unit on expanding virtual programs and preparing for hybrid programming in the future. Specifically, I plan to implement the use of various digital tools like Google Jamboard and Flippity. As communication is critical to maintain remote or hybrid work environments, I plan to become trained in Empowering People in the Workforce to employ not only in my Extension unit, but also as a public facing program to help individuals communicate more effectively. I strongly believe that this addition to my programming milieu will be very beneficial as we move forward. Finally, I plan to implement the youth financial literacy program, Money as You Grow, in my local work as it provides a programming opportunity for underserved audiences as well as to partner with a variety of agencies. Finally, connecting with other NEAFCS members and discussing our needs from the organization was another highlight. Thank you for the opportunity to attend this important and meaningful conference.

Amanda Benton, New Mexico
Attending JCEP has allowed me to benefit from workshops that are timely. Amidst the pandemic, many of us are feeling overwhelmed and unable to navigate our new worlds. JCEP provided workshops, such as “How to Effectively Lead your Extension Team” which really highlighted to me the importance of handling emotional elements that we face due to our current circumstances. The session entitled “Keep the Fire Burning: Building Skills and Confidence for Extension Professionals to Discover their Inner Scholar” allowed me to gain a new perspective and the confidence to reach out for scholarly works. It also made me feel that IRB is navigable and not to be afraid of this process. The poster sessions let me see programming that I could offer in my own county, such as “Under Pressure.” I previously attended this session at a different conference, and attending this session again help me to take steps to start implementing this program. Having the sessions recorded was also a benefit, and allowed me to watch sessions I was interested in that were held at the same time as other interesting sessions. I am looking forward to continuing to benefit from this conference by watching these sessions next week.

Ontenncia Boclear, Mississippi
The JCEP Conference was my very first Leadership Conference and I will say that I enjoyed every single minute of it. The very first opening session presented by Mr. Quallman was very awesome, and the green glasses were awesome. We are in a very different and unique time right now and video conferences are very hot right now. I enjoyed the fact that most of presentations and sessions were very interactive. The interaction was awesome because it helped to keep the attention of the participants. I learned so much from this conference and gathered so many resources to share with my state. My favorite thing was having small breakout sessions to discuss things in small groups. I gather a lot of ideas from other states and learned about the awesome collaborations. We do many collaborations in our state with 4-H, FCS, and Ag Agents, this gives us more information and ideas to use to create great programs. I also learned about different ways to fund programs. It is always awesome to learn new things and to be able to share things in your state. I enjoyed this conference and I look forward to sharing and attending more in the future. The setup was great Whova was easy to use and the contest were awesome. I participated and was able to enter the photo contest with an awesome photo. Thank you so much JCEP for a great and amazing opportunity to represent my state.

Leigh Ann Bullington, Arkansas
I was pleased to be able to participate in the virtual JCEP - ELC conference on scholarship. The conference provided great information on leadership styles and skills. The keynote speaker was awesome and I love FLAWSOME! I particularly like the Not to Do Today concept and will be utilizing it. While some concurrent session had issues with most of the ones I participated in were very good. I enjoyed the session with the programing utilizing the "Escape Room" concept. I defiantly plan to look into using it. I also gained a lot from the panel discussion on broadband internet connection. We struggle here in Arkansas with rural internet connection. They also had some great programing ideas including working with local libraries and connecting seniors with youth to teach internet usage skills. The cap note speaker is from my generation and I appreciated his insight on changes in leadership styles. The NIFA update in our Association meeting was very insightful and the contact information invaluable. The only constructive feed back I would like to provide is about our association meeting. In several of the ELC session the topic of methodology for virtual session was discussed and several pointed out how long a virtual meeting should last. I believe I learned it was about an hour. I felt like too much content was being discussed on a Friday afternoon in a pretty long session. Overall it was a great conference and I hope to possibly attend again at some time. Thank you for the opportunity.

Dana Carney, Georgia
Thanks to the NEAFCS Scholarship, I was able to attend and present at my first JCEP Extension Leadership Conference without having to worry about funding. During the conference, I was able to hear from dynamic, educational speakers and left with over five pages of notes! Not only did I learn a lot, but I was also able to connect with like-minded colleagues across the country. Doors have been opened I didn’t even know existed! This conference was such a unique and inspiring opportunity and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend JCEP ELC. I am a better professional and NEAFCS member because of it.

Julie Cascio, Alaska
Attending the virtual JCEP Extension Leadership Conference in 2021 was inspiring. The poster sessions, skill building sessions and training workshops helped me gain knowledge from a variety of states on many topics. The NEAFCS organization meeting provided an opportunity to connect with friends and meet others while discussing FCS related topics. I look forward to sharing this knowledge with colleagues. It was fun to be in another type of virtual format, as well.

Dianne D Christensen, New Mexico
Joint Council of Extension Professionals Conference (JCEP) 2021 Reflections I thoroughly enjoyed attending the virtual JCEP Conference! I am most appreciative for the generous scholarship. The WHOVA platform was very easy to navigate and overall the technology performed well. A highlight was the opening keynote speaker, Erik Qualman or Equalman. He was engaging and provided so many insights into the digital age in which we live. His STAMP principles were thought provoking. I loved his observation that “technology changes but human nature does not” giving the continued context that Extension remains a people business. His organizational tips will be of great value to me in the future especially the What Not To Do list. The Broadband Divide session was very informative and provided a framework of what the issues are for many communities as well as challenges and possible solutions. Practices for Inclusion of all Genders and Sexual Orientations provided much insight and necessary information in order to comply with federal and state laws. Technology for Leaders gave so many new ideas and tips on best practices in virtual programming. Reframing the Extension Leader Through the Lens of a Growth Mindset was very insightful on how to shift thinking to a growth mindset and see situations from a fresh perspective to foster positivity and growth. Recruiting, Educating, and Retaining Program Participants and Supporters gave me great ideas for polling, games, and how to make the most of Zoom Chat. I am thankful for the rich experience of JCEP this year.

Gina Crist. Delaware
The JCEP conference provided allowed me to reflect and learn on how I can be a leader, specifically in times of change. I loved the focus on shifting to technological approaches to reach our audiences and considering how important that is for our ongoing success. I am trying to do a better job at prioritizing and not trying to multi-task as much which has improved my productivity, especially at home. I learned some techniques that will help me be a better leader of my teams as we both navigate COVID and transition our programs to meet the changing needs of our communities. Some of the favorite topics that I was able to learn about were leading with a growth mindset, participatory research, and we have a team currently going through the Building Understanding training and I was excited to be able to get a taste of that work here so that I can support them as they move forward with training our staff. I also appreciated the ability to speak with other NAEFCS colleagues as someone who has only been with Extension for three and half years. This was a great opportunity to learn more about the national system and potential opportunities that exist for career growth in the future.

Gwen Yevonne Crum, West Virginia
This was an excellent conference. I really appreciated the focus on virtual connection and taking the time to disconnect. I attended break out courses on balancing work-life balance, cell phone usage, and boundaries. Each was needed and put a different spin on disconnecting from work and excess screen time during this virtual age…especially while working from home. It gave me a renewed sense of needing to create boundaries for myself. I learned about scheduling time for “deep work” which is focusing on one thing without interruptions for a set amount of time each day or week (whichever works best for me). I’m going to try to schedule times for social media (something I’ve known I should do) instead of letting it consume my day by causing distractions. I also appreciated learning there is a difference between being friends with someone versus being friendly with someone (something we often confuse working with volunteers). I also appreciated Erik Qualman’s presentation on how to maximize the use of technology. He had several excellent points about focusing to make the most out of your workday. The “not-to-do list” was especially helpful. I also learned that I am someone who both connects with people but likes to take action. I hope, in the future, I can turn mistakes into things that make me “flawsome.” Thank you for the scholarship to attend.

Mackenzie DeJong, Iowa
Attending the JCEP Extension Leadership Conference was a joy! Being at conferences with other Extension professionals is always fulfilling, but the focus on leadership and skill-building made this one extra special. At more general conferences, Extension is the ‘unfamiliar entity,’ but every session I attended at this conference spoke specifically to the unique work we do in Extension. During the conference, I attended ‘Rethinking the Extension Toolbox – A Focus on Culturally Diverse Audiences,’ ‘Strengthen Your Social and Emotional Skills and Increase Your Effectiveness as an Educator Through Visualizing Healthy Boundaries,’ ‘Multilingual Cocreation in a Virtual Environment: Co-creating a Statewide Spanish Language Leadership Program,’ ‘The Role of Disruptive Innovation in Building Effective, Engaging Educational Opportunities in Extension,’ and ‘Reframing the Extension Leader Through the Lens of a Growth Mindset.’ At each session, I learned something about both caring for myself and connecting with others. From one session, my favorite quote was “The best things happen at the speed of trust.” A great reflection of the time, patience, and leadership skills it takes to carry out great Extension programs! Outside of the general and concurrent sessions, I found the round tables and the NEAFCS meeting to be great meetings-of-the-mind! These brainstorming opportunities led to ideas for implementation in my own work. Lastly, having the opportunity to present on learner resistance was an exciting way to share the work my team has done in a way that can help others improve their work.

Jami Dellifield, Ohio
The JCEP Extension Leadership Conference is a MUST ATTEND conference for Extension Professionals. Not only are there networking opportunities for NEAFCS members to connect with one another, but there are many chances to connect with our colleagues in other program areas. My favorite part of JCEP ELC is the chance to hear about the amazing work happening throughout the country and to build multi-state connection opportunities. The sessions have helped me to grow professionally and personally so that I feel more prepared to do my best work.

Christi Demitz, Michigan
I want to thank the committee for awarding me an NEAFCS scholarship to attend the 2021 Extension Leadership Conference. It was my first time attending the meeting, so I was grateful for the opportunity. The virtual meeting was well organized. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to view pre-recorded sessions since there were conflicts with a couple of sessions of interest to me. I found the technology-focused sessions helpful as I was able to apply the learnings immediately after the conference. I enjoyed Dr. Doug Steele’s presentation “Staying Connected in a Virtual World.” I appreciated his tips for virtual leadership, and the quote he shared, “To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others, use your heart.” I also adopted his gratefulness journal idea. I also found the NEAFCS time together at the end of the conference productive, especially the time we had in breakout rooms with other NEAFCS members to problem-solve as a group. It was a great way to meet new people! The keynote speaker, Erik Qualman, was energizing! I heard his term “flawsome” throughout the remainder of the conference. I have adopted his “Not to Do” list idea, by identifying the one thing on my to do list that will make everything else simpler. I’m also implementing his “Post It Forward” by making connections with people every day. I’m doing it not so much to use those connections in the future (though that is a benefit), but to spread the good will of Cooperative Extension among my partners.

Ashley Dixon, Arizona
The opportunity to attend JCEP provided me many useful and insightful skills that I will be able to utilize in my day-to-day county work, statewide work in AZ, and national work. The biggest take-aways that I will be sharing with my staff and other Extension Agents in AZ are the following: •“Flawsome” is who we are! We need to embrace the flaws in ourselves and others, and turn them into an asset instead of a challenge! •Strengthen-based approaches are always preferred. When managing people, it is best to identify what people are good at, and build off of that, as opposed to trying to ‘fix’ something they are challenged by. If, as a supervisor, you can build off the things people thrive on, the productivity pays 10-fold. •It is okay to say, “NO!” In Extension many of us are people pleasers and want to do everything, but it is okay to say no from time to time. I will also be implementing the “Not To-Do List.” While I know some of these may seem simple, conferences like JCEP are good reminders that we are all learning on a continuum, as well as looking for skills to grow ourselves as leaders in our organizations and the communities we serve. There is no destination when it comes to being a leader, but rather benchmarks to gage how far we have come.

Beverly A Doll, Wisconsin
First I am thankful for the scholarship allowing me to attend the Extension Leadership Conference. Even though it was virtual I appreciated the communication and tools put into place to engage the participants. I was energized by the key note speaker Erik Qualman AKA “Equalman”! I especially focused on the 5 Habits of digital leadership form the acronym STAMP, referring to your personal stamp on your life and others. This provided me an opportunity to think about my own personal habit that I know are important and isn’t the first time I have heard, but need the reminder and I liked how it was framed. I have been pondering the question “what is my legacy of leadership - how am I embracing the digital world through my work and am I choosing to lead a passion filled purposeful life. This ebbs and flows for me personally. And of course the concept of embracing my flaws and know they are awesome regardless – flawsome! Love the word!! I appreciated Doug Steele’s presentation on situational leadership and staying connected in this virtual world. It resonated with me – being able to adapt my leadership is a valuable skill. Of course interacting even if briefly with NEAFCS colleagues, rooting on Wisconsin colleagues, and presentations around the growth mindset, leading from within, and other best practices just to name a few allowed me to view topics from a different lens.

Jodi Drake, Kansas
This was my first experience attending a JCEP conference and I was definitely not disappointed. The tone for the conference was set right at the beginning with the opening speaker. He was dynamic and challenging and I thoroughly enjoyed his inspiring words. While I was a little hesitant to attend virtual breakout sessions and roundtables, I found them to be quite interactive. The old saying is true, “you only get out of it what you put into it”. So I found the more I asked questions and probed for more information, the more I got out of those sessions. Thank you for this opportunity.

Suzanne Driessen, Minnesota
Leaders from Extension’s seven professional organizations collectively sponsored and modeled digital leadership with this virtual conference. The Extension Leadership Conference app was easy to use and filled with multiple opportunities to learn and engage with the 460 attendees. It was almost like being there! The breakout sessions were packed with useful, practical information and tips to further shape my leadership journey. What I loved most about this conference is the chance to learn and interact from others across disciplines and the country. The challenges and success stories of programming digitally during a pandemic were great examples of how Extension staff and faculty lead by doing. What I found most helpful was the wealth of information and resources to learn, lead and teach digitally. Some favorites include, flippity.net—to create free interactive games and quizzes, pollseverywhere.com—to create polls, word clouds and games with leaderboards, and canva.com—to create memorable graphics. Finally, attending this conference inspires me to be brave and try new things as a leader. As Erik Qualman, our keynote speaker on digital leadership suggests, “It’s progress, not perfection.” I highly recommend this professional development opportunity, as the current President of JCEPP shared, “Lifelong learners and leaders are synonymous. If nothing new is learned than nothing can be shared.”

Aneta W Eichler, Tennessee
This conference was very worthwhile of my time. The sessions energized me and gave me new outlooks for another year of serving others through Extension programming. I especially enjoyed the quote, "If you aren't getting pushback, you are not being innovative." I definitely want to be an innovator in the Family and Consumer Science field. This quote gave me courage to push forward and not become discouraged. The best part of this conference is collaborating with others across all fields of Extension. It isn't a "silo" conference. I look forward to attending again next year.

Rachel Erwin, Tennessee
JCEP Reflection As a first time attendee, I was not sure what to expect for the JCEP Leadership Conference. At the end of the first day, I called a colleague and told them how the first day had exceeded my expectations. I was energized from the keynote speaker, Erik Qualman. His enthusiasm for life is contagious! I took two pages of notes during the first day. I made a Facebook post and stated Extension was “Flawsome!” (Yes, I had a few questions!!) The next two days were just as engaging. I appreciated hearing from others across Extension how are we going to go back to the “old normal?” Technology has made working from home and reaching clientele practical for the world we now live in. Last year proved to Extension personnel that we can reach our clients with the ease of technology and even capture audiences we have never reached before from traditional face to face meetings. Many of us with Tennessee Extension feel that Covid-19 has changed the way we deliver programs and how we will deliver educational material and resources going forward. The conference ended with Dr. Steele delivering sound advice on how to stay connected in a virtual world. His leadership and expertise was sound advice considering the number of zoom meetings we attend as well as conduct. This was an absolute phenomenal experience and one that I am extremely proud I was able to attend. Thank you! Rachel Erwin

Carla Farrand, Colorado
JCEP Extension Leadership Conference is one of my favorite leadership conferences that provides me with tools to share with my local affiliate as well as co-workers in my office. I really enjoyed learning about the different technologies that everyone is using across Extension. I am excited to try new technology for keeping virtual learning fun and engaging. I also enjoyed learning about video editing. This will be really useful as we create videos for teaching food preservation and cooking within a budget. During the association meeting it was nice to see us looking at issues and trends that we as an association can work on across the nation. The connection with other agents in other states will be helpful in building and getting the secret about FCS out to the people.

Zelda Felix-Mottley, Michigan
I have attended JCEP once in person and now virtually, each time I have gained so much knowledge and useful information. It is reviving and refreshing, and breathes life into a 27+ years of an Extension career. The information is useful for both my professional and personal life. This year the timely information for virtual trends, technology and programming is very helpful. The tools and ideas for engaging participants on new and innovation virtual platforms have been invaluable; including how this conference kept the attendees interactive, it reinforced ideas on how to keep larger audiences involved. I am looking forward to continuing this conference for the next few weeks by watching presentations that I was unable to attend during the live conference. Thank you for a great conference.

Kelsa Ferguson, Missouri
I am so fortunate that I got to attend the JCEP conference with the NEAFCS scholarship. After attending the conference, I felt motivated and inspired to take what I learned and apply it to my job. The sessions that I attended help me think in new and creative ways on how to lead my programs and to use technology in ways I had not thought of before. I have already incorporated new forms of technology into my programs and have seen a difference in how people interact and respond to them. I enjoyed the support I received networking with people from around the country who were experiencing the same obstacles that I was in the past year. I feel that after attending the conference I have new skills to help me be a better leader in my field. The round table discussions gave me the opportunity to share my opinions and connect with people that I would have not otherwise had the opportunity to do so. This was my first time attending the JCEP conference and I am hopeful that I can attend next year and learn more.

Lisa Fishman, Maine
I want to thank NEAFCS leadership for making scholarships available for people to attend who otherwise could not attend JCEP. I have been a member of NEAFCS since 2001 and this was the first time I have had the opportunity to be a part of this professional leadership development event. While I enjoyed the many breakout sessions I attended, I found the keynote and cap note speakers to really bring home the many aspects of leadership. Certainly, as we have all weathered the past year with varying degrees of grace, we have found both positive and negative aspects of our leadership styles that have helped us or hindered us as we struggled to learn new ways of doing things. We have been pushed to, and beyond, what we believed to be our self-imposed abilities, and hopefully have come out on the other side as better versions of ourselves. We are, to use a new word, FLAWSOME. I am relieved to know that many, if not all, of the sessions were recorded because I am overwhelmed by the number of platforms, apps, devices, and ideas that were shared during this conference. I have barely gotten used to using a smart phone (I am more of a jitterbug kind of gal) and am in the camp of "technologically star struck" after hearing about, and seeing some of these apps at work. The bitmoji classroom blew my mind (in the break out session about converting a major in-person program to virtual)

John C. Fuller, Missouri
It was an amazing opportunity for networking and learning different programs. I actually was able to find some new activities that I was able to bring back to my state. I was able to do some cross training across disciplines to share with some of the other specialists in my state. Events like this is so important as it helps me to motivate and encourages me to be creative and get out of a rut when presented with new ideas. It was great to see familiar faces and learn new ones. Thank you for the opportunity to attend this conference.

Surine Greenway, Idaho
The first virtual conference was my first time attending the JCEP Extension Leadership Conference, and it genuinely did not disappoint. As a newer professional in my state, I had always heard about this conference from more seasoned Extension faculty members sharing the many opportunities they had received by attending the conference and networking with leadership from other programming emphasis and other states across the nation. While this year’s JCEP conference may have been a bit unique from previous conferences hosted face-to-face, I agree with the quality and opportunity that this conference provided. I deeply valued the keynote speaker's quality, the variety of learning opportunities and networking and engagement activities that were provided throughout the conference. Lastly, I appreciated that the NEAFCS association meeting hosted on Friday afternoon focused on fostering leadership among ourselves and our association, showing that we are looking at the future and the opportunities to build the breadth of our work. With so many different takeaways from this conference, I genuinely look forward to the opportunity to attend in the future.

Kasey Reid Hall, Georgia
I thoroughly enjoyed my first JCEP Extension Leadership Conference, and I hope it’s not my last! This virtual meeting truly offered something for all Extension professionals across our different program areas. I was impressed with the variety of professional development topics that were addressed in the sessions. There were a few time slots where I had a hard time making a class selection between all of the interesting options. Hopefully I can go back and watch some of the archived recordings of those sessions I had to miss. (That is definitely a benefit of virtual conferences!) I’m already working on incorporating some of the practices that were presented in a few of the sessions. I especially liked that the speakers, panel members, and presenters covered issues that are so timely for us right now in Extension as we try to not only survive in this new virtual world but to thrive in it. The pandemic has caused us to grow, learn, and stretch in new ways as we continue to serve our local clients through programming and outreach. I am glad that we were given the opportunity to meet together by association, as well. I’ve been primarily involved in NAE4-HYDP since I’m a 4-H Agent, and I’m a relatively new member of NEAFCS. I enjoyed getting to see the faces of our leadership and learning more about our organization’s structure and ways to get more involved.

LaDonna Hines, Oklahoma
This was my first time to attend JCEP Extension Leadership Conference. I have been the Oklahoma County Extension Director for Oklahoma State University for eleven years. I have to say this past year has been the most challenging leading a large county of extension employees. None of us had been trained to lead virtually and it was a learning curve. This conference reinforced some of the tools I have been using along with giving me new ideas to think about when providing leadership to my team. My favorite part of the conference was the keynote speaker, Erik Qualman “Digital Leadership”. I think it is very human now days to be flawsome. We all have done something this past year where we need forgiven. I really thought this concept is profound. I also enjoy one of his quotes “If you are not getting pushback, then you are not pioneering!”. I also want to try his post it forward where we recognize others for their accomplishments, etc. As a county director, I try to recognize my staff when they do something that might not be in their job description or when they do something for the team. I have learned if you appreciate your staff and tell them, then they will be more willing to do something for you and be a team player. In closing, I went online today and purchased his book and will be speaking in the near future on this topic during one of OSU Extensions virtual in-service called “What’s Up Wednesday”. Thank you NEAFCS for the scholarship.

Megan Ann Hruby, Minnesota
This was my first time attending JCEP ELC. I had the opportunity to attend on a full scholarship from NEAFCS which was very helpful for me. This was a virtual conference which has its positives and negatives. The platform Whova was pretty user friendly and nice to have the option to be on an app on your phone and also on the desk top. I did like how the sessions were recorded because of busy work schedules I could still attend a meeting that I had scheduled and go back and watch a speaker. The keynote speakers and the topics were very relatable with our professional lives right now. Learned so many great resources and love to hear what other people in Extension across the nation are doing. Thank you for the opportunity to attend this first time conference for me.

Heather Janney, Florida
As a member of multiple professional organizations, a past member of NAE4-HYDP National Board of Trustees, and an active professional in teaching family and consumer sciences subjects, now through my duties as a 4-H Agent, it has been truly fantastic attending JCEP Extension Leadership Conference as a representative of NEAFCS. In attending JCEP ELC, this year, I was really excited to attend sessions that truly contributed to my leadership abilities and things that I will be able to apply in my duties as County Extension Director. Particularly, the keynote speaker, Erik Qualman did a fantastic job of sharing on the digital divide and gave some great tools to work with stakeholders and working to educate them on the need for taking meetings and experiences digital. Hearing speakers on the Broadband Divide supported my previous thoughts of it being truly lacking in our area but it was great to hear of the advances coming. I was able to attend sessions on empowering people in the workplace, leading during COVID-19 strategies to expand partnerships, best practice recommendations for risk management of volunteers, and building teen leaders through partnership with county commissioners. This conference has historically been one of my favorites each year and remains at the top in conferences I prefer to attend each year.

Janet A Johnson, Alabama
The Keynote address by Erik Qualman concerning the Digital world was quite eye opening. It is amazing the effect social media is, and will have, on future generations. His talk on STAMP (Simple, True, Act, Map, People) highlighted many points on how to be an effective educator. I believe my special attributes are Simple, True and People because my emphasis is to help people understand, be accurate and honest, and engage the people. The Broadband panel brought to light the inadequacy of the system. I liked the different perspectives and the honesty of the panelists. With the increased use of Broadband for delivery of educational programming across all academic levels, I hope that our stakeholders will see the need to improve this infrastructure nationwide, especially in our more rural areas. Chris Watkins shared Extension’s focus for the future and it is good to see that Diversity/Equity/Inclusion will be emphasized as I believe this truly needs to be addressed considering the recent atmosphere of these “United” States. I gained valuable grant information to pass along to my colleagues from Dr. Castille in her NIFA update. The NEAFCS organization meeting was a great refresher as I have not been actively involved recently. The updates and overviews will help me as the local affiliate President. This was my first JCEP Extension Leadership Conference and I thoroughly enjoyed it. With reduced budgets, I hope future conferences will consider offering both in person and virtual format combos as I believe there will be greater participation.

Tasha Killian, Utah
I loved this conference. I have attended two other virtual conferences, and I had nowhere near as good of an experience as I did with this program. It was easy to follow, very relevant, and helped me feel optimistic about the future of extension and the future of my role within NEAFCS.

YaeBin Kim, Nevada
This is the first time I attended the Extension Leadership Conference thanks to the scholarship opportunity. From the first day of the conference, I was motivated by the keynote speaker, Erik Qualman. His presentation was very inspirational and timely. It was great that I had an opportunity to learn and share our new digital teaching approach as an extension specialist. We are all flawesome

Lori Korthals, Iowa
Thank you for the opportunity to attend the Extension Leadership Conference. I was able to attend several concurrent sessions as well as Round Table events. I think the highlight, which might come as no surprise would be Erik Qualman. I have already begun to take more time to think on his 5 key points. I implemented a ‘not to do’ list. Practice my super hero stance fail and have put post it forward reminders on my calendar. Several of the concurrent sessions I chose were specifically to further my knowledge and thoughts in leadership. As the past co-chair of the mentor/leadership sub-committee I wanted to spend time listening to what others think leadership is and what it should be. The Roundtables I attended were excellent ways to ask specific questions as well as consider ways in with our Leadership Experience may be enhanced and meet needs we hadn’t thought of. I found the NEAFCS meeting to be super informative and a worthwhile for all that were there. Those that were new as well as veterans in the field. I appreciated the review of the new NIFA and feel like we (Extension) really have an opportunity to take steps forward that we may have been afraid and unsure of before. It was nice to hear from our new program leader. While being at the conference face to face would have been nice, I have to say that I may not have had the opportunity to attend had it not been virtual.

Gina Lucas, Missouri
The 2021 JCEP Extension Leadership Conference proved to me, once again, that professional development is personal development. Becoming a great leader involves becoming a better person. As I continue to develop and discover my why, my passion for helping others, I grow in my leadership capacity. To lead requires connection, compassion. These are attributes that one possesses, but they are also skills that one can work to develop. However, self-care was once again emphasized, to lead and care for others, you must take care of yourself. I have always been intrigued by intentionally developing one’s professional branding and identity. Another topic that caught my attention during the ELC was the consideration of one’s digital footprint and digital shadow. I ordered the book by E. Qualman where this idea is explored and I look forward to learning more. Another ELC topic that interested me was how we harness our experiences of the last year and use them to fail forward. I need to be less fearful of failure, as this does limit my risk-taking and growth. If a leadership conference is meant to challenge its participants, then consider the 2021 JCEP ELC a success! Also, as a member of the team developing the NEAFCS Leadership Experience, this conference was perfect!

Robin Ladley Maille, Oregon
The keynote speakers at the 2021 JCEP conference provided valuable information for managing workloads in the virtual world, staying focused on our mission, and the need to expand broadband access and literacy to provide equitable learning opportunities. I appreciated the discussions about how leadership styles need to change as we work remotely, and the reminder to be intentional with all of our meeting time. In our NEAFCS meeting one of the identified needs for members was mentorship for scholarly work. One thing I plan to do as a result of participating in the “Keep the Fire Burning” workshop is to develop a statewide writing group so we can encourage each other to write about our work and collaborate on scholarship. In this meeting we also talked about how challenging it is to describe what FCS agents do, in comparison to other more defined program areas like 4-H, or agriculture. As we continue to assess our communities and identify needs we will likely be expanding into new territory all the time. From the keynote with Erik Qualman, I hope to spend more time shining the light on others as a way to create a more positive environment, and spend more time adding to my “not to do list,” so that I can focus on the more important things in my work and life. The Whoava App was remarkably easy to use and it was fun to interact with participants during the conference and valuable to access documents and presentations afterwards.

Susan L. Moore, Georgia
I appreciate so much being given the opportunity to attend my first JCEP conference this year thanks to the scholarship I received from NEAFCS. I learned so much from the fantastic opening speaker, the phenomenal workshops, the closing session, and at our NEAFCS meeting. I already had a feeling that multi-tasking was not a good idea, but Erik Qualman’s presentation confirmed it for me – now I know it decreases productivity by as much as 40%. I am glad I heard that at the beginning because it reaffirmed my commitment to be fully engaged in the JCEP conference experience and not try to answer emails or do quick tasks while listening to speakers. At the end of the conference on Friday afternoon, I was so grateful that I had allowed myself to be immersed in the experience without attempting to multi-task. I enjoyed getting to know so many different people from across the country – some who do similar things and many who did not. It was great to participate in the roundtable discussions and learn from hearing different people’s points of view. I especially enjoyed our NEAFCS meeting on Friday afternoon. I learned a lot about the path to follow if I want to become a future leader of NEAFCS (and I do!). Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity! This was my first JCEP conference, but it definitely will not be my last!

Norma Munoz, Texas
I was truly grateful to have the opportunity to attend JCEP this year. This was my first JCEP conference and if it had not been for the virtual platform, I may not have been able to attend. The opportunity to join my fellow collogues from around the nation and participate in the sessions allowed me to reflect on my local programs and work towards growing and adapting to provide the best relevant programs possible. The general session presenters added to the excellent professional development of this conference by providing fun, insightful and innovate ideas to consider. I hope to be able to attend another JCEP conference in the future!

Jacquelyn E. (Jackie) Ogden, Georgia
The JCEP Extension Leadership Conference was an engaging three-day leadership experience that provided a diverse program agenda with timely topic discussions. Participants were engaged virtually to hear from national and regional leaders in addition to Extension professionals to discuss current topics and trends that are impacting Extension research-based educational outreach to clientele during COVID-19 and the Pandemic. The panel discussion about “The Broadband Divide ‘provided research-based information impacting rural and urban communities and all Extension practice settings were exceptional. As a first-time attendee, the opportunities to review posters and participate in “Skill Building Sessions” combined with networking and engaging conversation made this a beneficial value-added professional development experience. The NEAFCS professional association session provided an excellent in-depth opportunity for member engagement at the local, state and national levels. I would highly recommend Extension Agents to attend JCEP ELC to expand your Extension national professional development perspective.

Laurie B Osgood, Florida
Thank you for providing me with a scholarship to attend the 2021 JECP conference. I enjoyed interacting with people from across the country in similar and diverse programs. As most conferences go, the Keynote and Capnote speakers were interesting and insightful, but I learned the most during the concurrent and round table discussions. I attended many skill building sessions, and most were very applicable to the work that I do in Extension. I believe I received a valuable takeaway message from all of them. On the first day, I attended Leading from Within, this was presenting by a few of my Florida colleagues. I found this session very valuable as some of the challenges they mentioned resonated with me. My favorite sessions was entitled Mastering the Digital Pivot as this was something that my housing program had to do in order to continue to offer classes to my clients when face to face classes were no longer allowed during the pandemic. All of the sessions that I attended provided common sense strategies to improve performance, engage learners, and lead a team. I found the final session of the conference the most valuable of all, the NEAFCS organization meeting. This allowed me the opportunity to interact with fellow FCS agents from across the country and start to build relationships with new colleagues. The NEAFCS Infographic was so helpful! Thank you again for allowing me to receive a scholarship to this invaluable conference.

Mitzi Leigh Parker, Georgia
Attending the 2021 JCEP Leadership Conference provided me with the opportunity to further develop my leadership skills. I learned new tools and techniques to enhance my work as an Extension professional. Networking with other Extension professionals at the JCEP conference is an invaluable tool that helped me connect with professionals from all Extension organizations for potential cross- discipline and cross-state collaborations.

Olivia Jones Patchel, North Carolina
My favorite part of the JCEP Conference was the Keynote speaker. I probably gleaned the most useful bits of information from this presentation. I learned that multitasking is more like switch tasking. I am guilty of a lot more now that I am working from home. I am trying to focus on one thing at a time for a period of time so my priority tasks are completed quickly. I combined the concept with something introduced in a breakout session. They recommended utilizing timers to help focus on tasks and I have already put this to work on my difficult tasks. The keynote speaker introduced another concept to me. I am someone who is considered a pioneer. I like to try new ways of reaching my clients which is often scary to my co-workers. And because I am good at this I should work harder to blaze new trails because that is where I shine. Something that came up several times during the conference is with our programs being virtual we are serving clients outside of my region. And what is this saying to our county/regional stakeholders? After thinking about this issue I have adjusted my next virtual program. I am supplying giveaways to those who are local only; rather than mailing supplies to participants. There were many more things I learned through breakout sessions, and our association meeting but these are some of things I am putting in place right now.

Lisa Ann Peterson, Illinois
I am grateful to the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences for the scholarship to attend the Extension Leadership Conference sponsored by the Joint Council of Extension Professionals. As a first-time attendee, the three days offered various professional development opportunities, build connections with colleagues around the country, and innovative ways to be a more robust and confident Extension professional. Both the keynote and the cap note presentations reignited my passion for improving the lives of the people around me and the communities I serve. A few major takeaways from those sessions included: If you aren’t getting pushback, you aren’t pioneering, people don’t love us because we are perfect, they love us because we are perfectly flawed, as part of Extension the biggest hurdle is those human relationships and adapting your leadership style based on your environment. The concurrent sessions were also beneficial, such as the sessions discussing handling your workload and relating to difficult people. It was enlightening to learn new terms like toxic positivity and rational detachment. All of the sessions I was lucky to attend could be applied in various facets of my position as an Extension professional. I would highly recommend this Leadership conference to all of my colleagues, including our local Extension program coordinators, who would see a personal and professional benefit. I’m excited to apply and share the vital information I’ve learned with colleagues. A sincere thank you again to NEAFCS for the opportunity to attend this illuminating professional development opportunity.

Amy Ressler, Texas
Attending the Extension Leadership Conference was a very beneficial experience for me. I have been a member of TEAFCS/NEAFCS for many years but had never been able to attend. Although I was disappointed it could not be in person, I was pleased with the ease and convenience of attending online. The opening session was both entertaining and enlightening. As I switch-tasked though the first part of the day, Erik Qualman’s suggestions were a great reminder of the importance of paying attention. I appreciated his flawsome presentation on socialnomics and the STAMP method of approaching work. The breakout sessions were also informative and helpful, and I learned a lot from my colleagues. I was also pleased an honored to be able to present with a group of my close co-workers in during one of the skill building sessions. The round table discussions were informative as well. I got lots of great book recommendations and was able to make a connection for an advocate in my doctoral dissertation work. The cap note presentation by Dr. Steele was excellent. His description of Situational Leadership and how it has worked for him through the pandemic was a useful example of applied practice as well as philosophical approaches. I am looking forward to finding time to watch more of the recorded sessions and to attending in-person in the future.

Cheryl Barber Spires, Ohio
I am honored to have been a representative for NEAFCS and Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences at JCEP-ELC. Immediately I could tell that this conference was planned by and for leaders and leaders-in--the-making. I greatly appreciated the forethought that went into making sure that all had access to and the understanding to use the conference platform. I also understood that this opportunity was all about networking. I gathered some great nuggets of practical wisdom for our keynote speaker, Eric Qualman or Equalman. I grabbed onto his advice to make a to-do list but more importantly to make a not-to-do list. I also appreciate the green glasses and how they are really not needed or relevant, they are a part of his presence in the work he does and they have become invaluable. I added some leadership authors to my reading list such as Simon Sinek and Elizabeth Benton. I had some great discussion with other participants about serving all individuals and groups with our programming and seeking out others that do not look, think, behave, and/or learn like us. The conference was inspiring in many ways and I look forward to putting several ideas into practice.

Sara Sprouse, Iowa
Attending the 2021 Extension Leadership Conference was beneficial as I continue to build my leadership skills. I will share highlights from this conference with my colleagues and implement strategies learned during the concurrent sessions and roundtables. I appreciate the opportunities to network virtually this year, especially at the end of day one and two during the roundtables.

Becca Stackhouse, Georgia
The opportunity to attended the JCEP conference has been one I have look for over the past four’s years. When the email came across for the scholarship to attended the virtual JCEP conference. This conference was inspiration in engagement across the board from the keynote to the conference sessions. The information that Dr. Steele spoke about the engagement in the virtual world provided great provoking information about how to engage our audiences. I attended serval concurrent session and JCEP did a great job in accepting conference sessions. The session on So You Want to Convert a Major Program to Virtual Delivery: The Advantage, Challenges, and How this session was helpful in providing ideas to the idea of how to take our in -person programs toward a virtual platform with the concept on how to make this shift.

Rachel Thigpen Stewart, Georgia
The JCEP Conference featured some awesome speakers and networking opportunities. This conference brings all program areas together in Extension and provides a great opportunity to network across Extension Professionals in the nation. I particularly enjoyed the opening session speaker. He was very innovative and gave me a new perspective on programming in the virtual world we are in. I learned about the digital stamp in his presentation. I also enjoyed learning about new programs across Extension and the innovative ways that Agents have marketed their programming efforts. I particularly enjoyed the poster sessions where we could engage with the Agents on their projects.

Debra Ann Studebaker, Michigan
I feel very grateful to have received my scholarship from NEAFCS to attend the JCEP National Extension Leadership Conference. This was my first time attending. I attended the Problem Solving isSo Last Year: Let's Find Solutions I really learned a lot about finding solution focused ideas to help navig ate our new normal. I learned to : State your desire for something in your life to be different. Make sure the miracle is important to you. Keep the miracle small. Define the change with language that is specific, and behavioral. And to find opportunities to look at "problems" as situations we can solve. I also attended the Effective response to change. This presentation was important to me personally because the change to COVID and working from home was difficult for me. I learned new ways to work at home more effectively and was reassured that I have done some positive things to help me adjust. Thank you for the scholarship and I look forward to attending more conferences.

Glenn Sturm, Virginia
This was my first time attending the JCEP Extension Leadership Conference and it was a wonderful experience! The discussions and sessions around leadership, interdisciplinary work, and being a successful professional in the new virtual age (intensified by COVID) were especially timely and beneficial for those of us in leadership roles. Primarily attending as the chair of the Diversity Subcommittee, I was particularly impressed with the number of session and posters around the topic of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), including discussions around bias, inclusive virtual programming, and wonderful multi-state programs like Coming Together for Racial Understanding. A particularly memorable activity from one of the D&I sessions had all of us attending create a little table and put down the 3 or 4 people we most often go to with questions and advice in our lives, outside of our families. Then we had to jot down their characteristics – gender, race, education, political beliefs, etc., and like many other attendees, I was shocked to see how much my inner circle was lacking in diversity (all but one white, all but one male, and all with at least a college degree and being on the same side of the political spectrum as me). It opened (re-opened?) my eyes to the danger of putting yourself in an echo chamber with only people that are similar to you, creating additional threats to developing implicit biases.

Jessica Trussell, Missouri
First, thank you for this scholarship opportunity. I enjoyed participating in the virtual JCEP Extension Leadership Conference this year. I, like so many others, found the keynote speaker, Eric Qualman,to be incredibly engaging and inspirational. So many of the items that he talked about can easily transition into the world of Extension and I look forwarding to adding these great tools to my “Extension Toolbox”. Mr. Qualman talked about the acronym SIMPLE and how it stands for Simple, True, Act, Map and People. He then broke each of these down for further discussion. I found that I could take something for each section and incorporate it into my extension career. For example, for Simple, he talked about making a “not to do” or a “not yet” list and how to use this tool to determine what needs done right now, and what can wait. This “not yet” list is something that I can incorporate in my parenting classes right now when talking about goal setting and priorities. Frequently the families that have been referred to my classes are told to check so many boxes that it gets overwhelming. I foresee this tool as being very beneficial to them as well. Another item that I think transitions well to Extension and program development was under Act, in which Mr. Qualman talked about taking action and how we need to fail fast (fast and cheap), fail forward (evaluate the failure), and fail better (use results to do better next time).

Lauren Weatherford, West Virginia
I am so glad I attended this conference. I am a new attendee and I'll definitely be trying to attend in the future. I found it to be a refreshing point of view from other Extension conferences. It was well produced and the quality of the presenters was excellent. I highly recommend this conference to anyone considering it.

Abby Weber, Colorado
My first experience with the JCEP Extension Leadership Conference was such a great opportunity to grow my leadership skills and learn from other extension leadership professionals to network and grow together! The dynamic keynote speaker, poster sessions, and concurrent breakout learning opportunities were fantastic. I wish the conference could have lasted another day to be able to fit in just one more of each session. Sharing knowledge and skills with other extension professionals across the nation only gives us an opportunity to make what is great even greater! The opportunity to attend this conference was invaluable, and I can’t wait to attend in person next year!

Kayla Marie Wells, Washington
As a first-time attendee of the JCEP Extension Leadership Conference, I did not know what to expect, especially since it was virtual. From the welcome to the final NEAFCS meeting, I learned so much. My greatest takeaway was the biscuits analogy from the opening session- the individual ingredients for biscuits are nothing by themselves, but better and stronger together. In Extension, individuals do great work, but working together, we do exceptional work! Working remotely because of COVID-19 may have put strain on local working relationships but has opened doors nation-wide for relationships that cross county, state and regional borders. On day two of the conference, there was a session on service, that could have easily been a half-day or full-day session by itself. For years, Extension has been “world class, face-to-face,” and being forced into remote work has caused us to figure out ways to provide intentional customer service in ways neither us, nor our clients, ever dreamed of. I would support a longer session on customer service, especially with an emphasis on providing high quality customer service remotely. I appreciated how the capnote speaker didn’t just talk about situational leadership but discussed how to pivot that type of leadership style to reach the people we are tasked with leading in this [somewhat] new, virtual work environment. Thank you, NEAFCS, for providing the scholarship that allowed me to participate in the 2021 JCEP ELC. I have new ideas in which to think about and learned many new skills.

Diane Whitten, New York
Attending the JCEP Extension Leadership Conference made me realize how important it is to support each other. It lead me to reach out to my colleagues in neighboring counties for support, both emotionally and professionally. I worry though that our work as FCS educators in Extension isn't given the attention it deserves, and certainly not the financial support it deserves from NIFA. I think NEAFCS needs to really work on communicating our success stories directly to NIFA administration on a regular, on-going basis. The conference also reminded me of the importance of mentoring new leaders and inviting our membership in NY State to take the next step on the NEAFCS Leadership Ladder.