2019 JCEP Leadership Conference 1st Timer’s Scholarship Recipient Reflections

Apriell Burgess – Alabama
Some people are known to be born leaders. The quality runs in their family; it is in their genes. Others are inspired by such people and work upon embedding this quality. Some fail at achieving it others are successful in attaining it through continual efforts. While leadership is a powerful quality, leaders possess various other qualities in addition to it that make for their popularity. There are two types of leaders positional and influential. Both types can play an important role in an organization. The approach a leader uses to govern over his or her subordinates can help and hinder the work environment. The information provided throughout the JCEP conference assisted me with the clarification of what type of leader I am. It also helped me to understand the leadership style that I do not want to portray. It was very interesting conference I learned many new things. The knowledge gained will be implement in my Alabama affiliate of NEAFCS as I continue to serve as President –Elect and carry on into my leadership has President.

Karla Belzer – Illinois
Attending the 2019 JCEP Leadership Conference provided me with the opportunity to further develop my leadership skills while also learning techniques to enhance my work as an Extension professional.  Being able to connect to Extension professionals from various disciplines is always a highlight of my participation in this conference.  Interacting with other professionals allowed me to further expand my Extension social network and provided me with contacts for potential, future cross-state collaborations.  I find that connecting with other professionals is always one of the most valuable experiences of attending a conference such as this. 

Through participation in concurrent sessions, I found myself intrigued by issues occurring in other states and encouraged by the unique and creative approaches taken to address such issues.  This exposure provided me with insight regarding issues in Illinois and potential strategies to take to our administrative team as suggestions.  Attending these sessions gave me the comprehension to better understand issues faced by Extension professionals and, in turn, the confidence to assist in problem solving these issues.

Furthermore, my understanding on how to best develop adult leaders within my Extension unit was enhanced by attending the session on Adult Leadership Development.  This session exposed me to the concept of implicit leadership and provided me with some excellent resources to develop leadership skills in the staff and volunteers I regularly work with.  I especially appreciated the Creating a Personal Leadership Philosophy resource, as this is an exercise I have never participated in, but is crucial to developing my leadership capacity.  Additionally, the session on Conducting a Tri-County Needs Assessment is exactly what I needed to further develop my needs assessment skills.  I genuinely enjoyed learning about their assessment process and reviewing their assessment tools. 

Finally, I sincerely appreciated the opportunity to connect with other FCS educators during the NEAFCS meeting.  I was extremely honored to be asked to provide the “Thought of the Day” and am thrilled to have made the connection to serve on the program planning committee.  I believe our organization is only as strong as our connection with each other and wholeheartedly believe that attending the JCEP Leadership Conference provided me with an excellent opportunity to connect with other FCS professionals, allowing me friendship, collaboration, and service opportunities I would not have otherwise had.

A very sincere thank you for allowing me this opportunity.

Brittany Martin – Texas
The Joint Council of Extension Professionals conference in San Antonio was a rare opportunity to connect with Extension professionals from all disciplines and from across the nation. I was able to develop professionally as a leader within my Association while growing personally as a member of my community as well. I left the Joint Council of Extension Professionals conference with a clear plan of how to implement what I learned in my own county. Most meaningful for me was the concurrent session “Building Leadership Capacity in Michigan Communities.” Working with the other participants in the room left me scribbling notes as quickly as I could as they described strategies that worked for them in challenges we all face. I am already preparing for the next Joint Council of Extension Professionals conference!


Carla Bush – Tennessee
During the 2019 Joint Council of Extension Professionals, I attended Parts 1 and 2 with our Keynote Speaker with Grace Gorrell.  To me the most beneficial part of her presentation was her sharing the resources she uses in her classes like the TED Talk by Simon Sinek.  I’ve since watched and shared this TED Talk.  I wasn’t familiar with The Golden Circle, but I have already used the concept in talks with my volunteer leaders and other agents working with volunteers during a region FCS planning day.  I liked the quote by Simon Sinek “A boss has the title. A leader has the people.” Since the conference, I’ve downloaded and listened to the book The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller.  And another quote she shared that stuck with me was “Leadership is Influence.” – John Maxwell 

Working in a diverse office, one of the most memorable concurrent sessions was Extension UNCENSORED: a candid conversation about workplace culture by Lindsey Davis from The University of Oregon. Another outstanding session I attended was the Adult Leadership Development: Understand tine Implicit Assumptions in Leadership by L.J. McElravy and Tori Pierce from The University of Nebraska, Lincoln.   

Truly enjoyed our NEAFCS dinner a Mi Tierra Café & Bakery, very festive and San Antonio!

Cheryl Kaczor – West Virginia
Thank you for the scholarship and the opportunity to attend the JCEP conference in San Antonio, Texas.  It was one of the best conferences I have ever attended.  I met and learned from various Extension Agents from across the U.S.  The leadership presentation during the general sessions was a great way to personally examine my own leadership style and its effectiveness.  I was able to learn new tools to use when working with others, both in my office, as president of WVEAFCS and in community groups. 

The individual break-out sessions were also very good.  I gained knowledge of new ways of developing programs in the community.  One session in particular was exceptional as it gave me ideas to consider when working with community participants and planning programs. I hope to be able to use these ideas with some of the projects with which I am currently working. 

One of the highlights of the week for me was getting to know NEAFCS agents from other states.  I attended, by myself, from West Virginia.   I tend to be introverted and this forced me to meet wonderful agents from other states. Colleagues who I will be able to collaborate with in the near and distant future.  Thank you again for the opportunity.  

Cydney Martin – New Mexico
Leadership Skills Learned: I enjoyed most of the “Lead with Grace” presentations. The stories of the speaker’s interaction with her students in her leadership classes were interesting and sparked some “Aha” moments. The books that she referenced gave me a great reading list with which to start. I also learned some of what not to do when speaking to a large group: sexual innuendos and “gossip” references are not appropriate anywhere, but especially not among our group.

My favorite class was the Purdue Collaboration Building classes. Although I do not whole-heartedly agree with our roles as a “coach”, it did get me to thinking about ways to be of assistance in my community as a facilitator. I liked their focus on “cultural, human and social capital” as a means of making and measuring goals, instead of the traditional financial capital and knowledge gained. I, however, would have like some examples of measurement/evaluations tools that they used. In extension, we need to be active participants in community conversations. In other words, be seen as a leader and a “go to resource”. 

Description of first JCEP experience: The best part of the JCEP experience was getting to know my fellow peers and learning about what programs worked for them. The poster presentations were especially interesting. I enjoyed see new and familiar faces. The meetings with my fellow NEAFCS representatives was especially enlightening because I could see the goals that we, as a group, are trying attain. The brainstorming sessions were especially important. Thank you for the scholarship.

Ines Beltran – Georgia
The JCEP conference was a great opportunity for me to meet leaders from seven areas related to Extension. I built relationships that will positively impact my programming and my professional development. I also obtained a great deal of information from the concurrent sessions.  

Extension is growing stronger thanks to the commitment of these Extension leaders who have the desire to serve the members of their associations. I learned during the conference that becoming leaders is giving us the opportunity to make a difference for our colleagues and to pursue opportunities to impact their lives. 

Each of the leaders I met at the conference was a servant leader. As servant leaders, we made the decision to lead our associations with the goal in mind of the mutual success of all! The conference helped me to reflect on some of the skills I need to improve in the process of becoming a servant leader: persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, and listening.

Jesse Ketterman – Maryland
Please share my appreciation for receiving the JCEP scholarship.  This has been a very valuable professional development experience.  It was a great opportunity to connect with fellow NEAFCS members and other Extension professionals.  The two sessions specifically for NEAFCS provided greater insight into the organization.  The keynote shared wonderful information about leadership.  I also learned a great deal from the breakout sessions that I attended.

Please let me know if there is any additional information that I need to provide.  I did enjoy getting a hug at both sessions from the President.

Joy West – Arkansas
I was honored to represent the Arkansas NEAFCS association at the JCEP Leadership Conference in San Antonio, TX. The two-day conference was packed with numerous learning opportunities. I truly enjoyed our Keynote Speaker Grace Gorrell and her "Leading with Grace" presentation.  It was inspiring and informative.  I would love to learn more about her work.  The session Leading By Design really helped me grasp the need for a more wide-reaching search before developing programs in my community. The Concurrent Sessions on Thursday were very informative but my favorite was on Social and Emotional Learning.  I came away with some great ideas on incorporating this statewide.  A highlight of the conference was the networking opportunities with Extension Professionals and NEAFCS members from across the US. I enjoyed the opportunity to engage with them and I hope to see them at future conferences. Overall, my first JCEP conference was a rewarding and educational experience.

Kathy Riggs – Utah
I attended this year’s JCEP Conference specifically hoping to find some new approaches for building a sense of comradery/teamwork and increase communication in an office setting. I came away with a renewed determination to, 1) purposely use language of inclusion (“we”, “us”, and “our”), 2) assure cross-training takes place for essential office tasks, and 3) earnestly strive to deserve respect from other team members, not just depend on my job title to influence productivity, 4) use a binder with announcements, fliers, registration information, etc. across programs to make it easy to help customers who call or stop by, and 5) Be deliberate practicing hands-off management as often as possible and hands-on management only when necessary.

Thank you for a great opportunity for professional development and networking!

Lynda Latta – Oklahoma
Experiences of professionally growth, such as JCEP 2019, encourages me as an FCS Educator to introduce new ideas of programming to the people I serve and work with.  Grace Gorrell was entertaining and on point with her examples of leadership skills for working with people in various settings.  I was encouraged to learn more about studies in the value of Teen Leadership presented by Virginia Extension staff.  This inspired me to utilize teen leaders in depth for future programming.  The presentation on Servant-Leadership reinforces skills for producing quality teamwork and leadership.  I greatly enjoyed time spent with fellow FCS Educators listening to issues we all face and gathering ideas to be a more productive Educator. 

Shatonia McCarty – Louisiana
First off, thank you to the Association for offering first timer’s scholarships to give recipients an opportunity to attend and experience the JCEP Conference!  The experience I had at the JCEP conference was a phenomenal experience!  The opening session “Lead by Grace” was amazing.  The speaker gave wonderful tools on being an effective leader, to work with others and how to work as a team! I also gained knowledge from ECOP in the role they play for our organizations, by providing funding to continue to make an impact in our communities.

Each concurrent session was a valuable resource to take back and apply the information that was received in our prospective program.  From how to engage and sustain teens in our programs.  Building partnership and conducting needs assessment to effectively build a quality program. Understanding social and emotional learning with-in our youth programming.  This session was interactive with a fun-filled skill building activity on how to identify social and emotional learning.  I gained a better understanding in each session attended and the importance of utilizing these tools in programming.

The Association meetings were resourceful, where we were given updates and the opportunity to network among our peers.  Also, what I liked about the meetings we were able to give recommendations and feedback on the National Conference and what could be done differently.  Everyone was approachable, and it felt like one big happy family!  I also had a blast at the Association’s night out!

Overall, JCEP was a wonderful experience and kudos to the planning team in making this conference a success!

Diane Smith – Washington
Thank you for the scholarship to attend the JCEP conference in San Antonio.

The value of this meeting was echoed in an introductory statement “take time to step away from cutting trees and take time to sharpen the saw”. This conference gave me this opportunity.

The Extension workers creed, and introductory comments peppered with familiar phrases – work smarter, do more with less, impact assessment, think outside the box – served as a reminder that leadership involves looking for opportunity.

The importance of articulating the impact of our work by including the phrase ‘and as a result of our work…” in our reports helped me to appreciate the value of my work and the need for clear reporting.

I am excited to hear of the JCEP new initiative - Competency Framework, which will help me plan for CE and staff development with clear guidelines.

The keynote presentation by Grace Gorrell, State of Kentucky. 4H Agent turned public speaker and started own company ‘Lead with Grace’ was a disappointment. I had read most of the books she shared, did not glean any new information nor was I inspired to go out to recommit to my leadership.

The breakout sessions were far better at providing new ways of thinking and inspiring me to try a new approach. The Innovative Program Development through Design Thinking 

I found the true benefit of the conference was in the opportunity to meet Extension professional/leaders from other states as well as division leaders. Record-breaking attendance represented by all member associations – NEAFCS, NACAA, NACDEP, ANREP, NAE4HA, ESP, NAEPSDP

Lori Hayungs – Iowa
Thank you so much for the opportunity to attend JCEP on scholarship.

As the Iowa Affiliate President-Elect, I greatly appreciate the opportunity I was given.

I had no idea that there were going to be seven different associations represented and was grateful for the opportunity to interact with so many Extension professionals from different arenas. My takeaways include the following:

1-      Extension professionals in ALL areas have so much to offer the public. I am so blessed to be part of the organization overall.

2-      This conference, in particular, has such a different focus (I have been to PILD and NEAFCS). It was so great to be able to focus on the leadership aspect of my upcoming role.

3-      I had NO idea about the associations OR their Nat’l board members. The fact that there are Nat’l Board members wasn’t something I had spent a lot of time even thinking about.

4-      Going to sessions presented by others in Extension that are NOT in your area was so helpful in understanding how all the pieces and parts of Extension can work together for county, regional and state constituents.

Thanks again for such a great opportunity to both learn AND network. 

Pamela Redwine – Mississippi
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to attend the JCEP conference.  I have had the opportunity to serve in several leadership roles for the Mississippi Affiliate and am currently serving in the role of President-elect.  I am also the County Director in the county in which I serve.  Many times we sharpen our programmatic skills through in-service but fail to work on our leadership skills.  I really enjoyed our keynote speaker, Grace Correll.  I have already ordered several of the books by John Maxwell that she discussed during her presentation and plan on reading them so that I can “add to my leadership toolbox.”  I really loved how she said to manage your weaknesses by having people on your team that can pick up where you are not as strong.  The monkey example that she used was wonderful and I can see using that personally, as well as when teaching time-management to clients.  I enjoyed and learned from all of the sessions that I attended.  I especially loved the NEAFCS sessions, as well as, the NEAFCS Dinner.  It provided me a great opportunity to meet other agents and share ideas and learn new ideas.  On the walk back from dinner Wednesday night, I met an agent from West Virginia.  She has been teaching Dining with Diabetes for 13 years and I was starting my first class the next week. She had such good tips for me and offered to share more information when she got home!  This was my first time to attend JCEP and it was definitely well worth my time.

Rhonda Gordon – Kansas
Thank you to NEAFCS for the scholarship and the chance to attend JCEP Leadership Conference. I had a good time getting to know other people in leadership positions for NEAFCS. It was a great week to get to talk to people from all across the country and learn that the struggles of our state mirror things going on in other states as well. I have a better understanding of NEAFCS after attending the two association meetings in San Antonio. Just as in Extension change will be a slow process. As an organization, NEAFCS and Extension, we need to find a way to make change happen more quickly so we don't become obsolete just because it takes too long to change. I attended several breakout sessions that had good information about programs in other states. Addressing Emerging Issues, such as Opioid crisis and Leading by Design were two of the better breakouts that I attended. We had a KEAFCS meeting the week after I returned from JCEP so was able to handout the membership pins and share information with our 85TH Anniversary committee on things we might try. Again, thank you for the opportunity to attend JCEP. I do hope that NEAFCS looks at providing travel along with the scholarship that more people might be able to attend. 

Demarcus Sneed – Indiana
During my time at the 2019 JCEP Extension Leadership Conference, I was able to learn a lot about how to become a better leader. I specifically remember comments made by the keynote speaker, Grace Gorrell, that stand out to me. She taught us that there were basically two types of leaders, leaders of people and leaders of influence. A leader of people is what most of think of when we hear the word “leader” which is a person with a title (i.e. President, Director, Manager, etc.). People may follow this type of leader because they have to. A leader of influence can include anyone on any level or background. People follow this type of leader because of who they are and/or what they’ve done for them. In many ways, a leader of influence can be much more effective than a leader of people because those following would be more willing to go the extra mile to accomplish a goal out of respect. This has caused me to think about leadership differently and has shown me that any of us, regardless of our title, can be a leader. 

Lindsey Stevenson – Missouri
The 2019 JCEP has been my favorite professional development opportunity in my career so far. I could list a whole page of reasons as to why, but I’m limited to just a paragraph! Not only did I learn about a program that could have a great impact in my county, I also learned about a program that could help my state in training a large portion of new county engagement specialists. Furthermore, I took advantage of the time to meet and network with Extension professionals across disciplines from Alaska, Wyoming, Illinois, Indiana, Florida, Utah, and many more. The opportunity to discuss work life, successes and challenges, and issues facing our communities is one of my favorite aspects of national conferences. It’s encouraging to know that you’re not alone in some of the struggles, and it’s exciting to celebrate in similar successes. However, I think the NEAFCS business meeting is what I valued most about the conference. I so appreciated the NEAFCS board asking for our honest feedback in what we need, expect and want out of our NEAFCS annual meeting. I’m very grateful for having a voice, and for having the voice heard. Thank you, NEAFCS, for the scholarship to attend, and the valuable experience. 

Melanie Thomas – Florida
Thank you to NEAFCS for the opportunity to attend the JCEP Leadership Conference.  The experience was wonderful and very enlightening.  The opportunity to network, with not only fellow colleagues within NEAFCS but with leaders across disciplines, was amazing.  We don’t often get the chance to expand our sights beyond our own program areas.  When I began my career with Extension the idea of serving as a state officer within my association certainly was not something I saw in my future.  Honestly, it sounded intimidating and overwhelming.  I’m an educator.  My desire and passion then, and still today, is to teach and make positive impacts on the lives of my clients.  Here I sit, almost twelve years later, as the President-Elect for Florida.  What can I say? Times change and so do we.  With that change, I have learned to appreciate the importance of Extension not only for today but for the future.  The general sessions I was able to attend at this year’s conference certainly modeled that same importance.  After the fast-paced two-day conference, I left the San Antonio area with more confidence in my own abilities to lead my fellow association members and guide them in their own Extension careers.  The future of the Extension system is bright!  We have an amazing group of true leaders whose drive and passion for Extension is unstoppable.  Thank you again for assisting me in this venture.

Tracy Davis – North Carolina
The JCEP Extension Leadership Conference provided an opportunity to meet Extension professionals from other states and subject-matter disciplines and learn about their educational programs as well as the structure and activities of their respective professional associations.  I received tips and strategies from the concurrent sessions that I could take back and implement in my county.  Several sessions on workplace culture, for example, offered new ideas for cultivating positive daily work environments.  It was also helpful to hear from NIFA and ECOP representatives to gain a system-wide perspective related to emerging issues, expanding collaboration for greater impact, and communicating with a unified voice to promote the value of Extension across all disciplines.  The conference set aside time for members of each association to discuss business, celebrate successes, and brainstorm solutions to challenges.  And most of all, the keynote speaker reminded me that “you should always be adding tools to your leadership toolkit” and I believe the JCEP Leadership Conference helped me do just that!

Shana Withee – Oregon
I had not attended the JCEP sponsored Extension Leadership Conference in over 25 years.  What a lovely surprise to attend and experience such a great leadership development opportunity.  I thoroughly enjoyed the keynote speaker Grace Gorrell.  I learned several tricks for my bags of skills and referenced several books to read to grow my leadership/management skills. My favorite session was a “Financial Literacy Program in a Tribal Community”.  The participant discussion was so helpful in my work with our local tribal population.  The opportunity to visit and share with co-workers from around the nation was a highlight of the conference.  I enjoyed the smaller size of the conference with all the educational opportunities that focused on gaining/growing leadership skills.  What a great conference.  I will be recommending it to co-workers and plan to attend again in the future.  Thanks for the scholarship that helped with the financial costs of the conference.

Kayla Carlson – North Dakota
I have been a member of the extension family for four years and still consider myself fairly new.

This past year, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 JCEP conference. I was excited about this wonderful professional development event and the chance to grow my leadership skills. The conference did not disappoint! I was impressed with the keynote speaker and her engagement with the audience. She painted a vivid picture of developing leadership within one’s self and offered numerous resources for further growth. I also appreciated the portion of her presentation on the importance of leaders fostering leadership within others. The ideas expressed in the keynote sessions were also reiterated in the breakout sessions with real-world career application. I especially enjoyed L.J. McElravy and Tori Pierce’s presentation. They offered an innovative hands-on approach which I can replicate in my own leadership trainings. The most valuable aspect of this conference was the interdisciplinary networking. This conference provided the opportunity for in-depth conversation with other extension disciplines I do not work with on a day to day basis. The association meetings also allowed time for excellent discussion within my discipline.

I would like to thank the NEAFCS for this professional development opportunity. Please extend my thanks and gratitude to the board.

Carrie Shrier - Michigan

I attended JCEP in February 2019 on behalf of the Michigan chapter of NEAFCS. I am currently serving as the President of MEAFCS. I also am the PI on a federal grant through CYFAR USDA/NIFA funding and I am a supervising educator. Extension is a unique place to work, and it isn’t until you have the opportunity to attend national conferences that you begin to see the larger view. While I have attended NEAFCS several times, this was my first time attending JCEP. I appreciated very much the opportunity to learn from and talk to other Extension professionals serving in leadership roles. Our organizations are so very unique and complex that the struggles we face in leadership are very different than those in other non-profits and more traditional educational systems. This was an extremely valuable professional development experience for me in my leadership capacity. I would strongly encourage others who are working in Extension leadership positions and the have the opportunity to attend JCEP to do so. It truly is a fabulous leadership conference. Many thanks to NEAFCS for supporting this fantastic opportunity!