Number CLXIV The Newsletter of Epsilon Sigma Phi  October 2022

 President's Message

Karen Reddersen, National ESP President

It's hard to believe that our National ESP Conference is now behind us, and that I have completed my year of service as your National President. It has been an honor and privilege to represent our Association, and I look forward to continuing my service as Past President.

As I reflect on the 2022 national conference, I am thrilled at all of the engagement that occurred through presentations, meetings, and conversations!

Over 285 members came together in Branson. I hope that all in attendance enjoyed our opening event on the Branson Belle, networking at your state's night out, and honoring our Ruby winner and Friends of Extension. It was also truly an honor to celebrate member achievements at the awards dinner and our annual Development Fund Auction. I would also like to sincerely thank the Missouri Host Committee for all of their work over the past several years to bring this conference to fruition.

The year finished with a total membership of 4,814 total members, 2,145 being annual members, and 2,669 being life members. We are hopeful to continue growing our association as we look for ways to encourage membership across the nation's extension systems.

Now that the conference has ended, we have begun a new membership year. I challenge you to think about innovative ways to grow your chapter and engage members. One of the ways members can engage and benefit from membership in ESP is by applying for scholarships, grants, and recognition awards. As we restart our membership year, we also restart the application process for these opportunities. ESP has a rich history of investing funds back into members, and we hope you will explore and engage in our recognition and grant opportunities.

It is time to pass the baton, and when the next newsletter hits the press, your President's message will come from Daphne Richards as she begins her Presidency. I wish her luck and I know what a great leader she will be for our association. I want to thank our national board, our committees and our affinity group for all of the hard work and efforts they have made to support our membership and to strengthen Epsilon Sigma Phi.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve,

Karen Reddersen


Welcome ESP's Three New Board Members

Second Vice President - Jennifer Wilson, Kansas - Alpha Rho

North Central Region Vice President - Barbara Dunn Swanson, Iowa - Alpha Mu

Southern Region Vice President - Tyrone Gentry, Kentucky - Alpha Kappa


The ESP National Development Fund: Auction, Wooden Key Plaque, Pin and More!

Submitted by Joanne Cavis for the National ESP Resource Development & Management Committee

The ESP National Development Fund: Auction, Wooden Key Plaque, Pin and More! YES!!! There are many ways for you to support the ESP National Development Fund, all year long.

AUCTION ITEMS! Many items are contributed each year for our silent and live auctions... items that make it fun for the auctioneer and bidders, as well as for those watching the sale! At our annual conference each year, there are opportunities to bid for yourself on silent auction items. Always remember: this is fund raising, not bargain shopping!

Did you miss out on all the fun?! Start planning now for our conference in Billings! Ideas for next year:
Chapters ---- Put together a “basket” of gift cards – Easy to assemble and transport! Small items like holiday ornaments sell well and pack easily. 

HONOR the ESP national PRESIDENT, the recipient of the WOODEN KEY PLAQUE! Designate your contribution (in any amount) to honor the outgoing ESP National president, to recognize their service to ESP. Each year the president receives the wooden Key Plaque during the national conference. This program is not only an honor for the president, but also raises money for the Development Fund.

CONFERENCE PIN! There are conference pins for donations of $100 or more (Branson and other past national conference pins are still available in the ESP Store)! 

Did you attend the conference virtually? Go to the national website and donate online (Log In to reach Donate) or mail a check to ESP National Office; PO Box1440; Owasso, OK 74055. Include your name, mailing address and email for receipt of your contribution. All donations count toward your Key Level Giving Recognition. All donors receive recognition in the annual reports and online in the List of Campaign Year Donors. Many people could reach the ESP Key Level at $250 and others will soon reach the ESP Bronze Level at $500 in cumulative giving. A small gift may be all you need. To see what amount that you have donated, go to and log in as a member. At the top of the screen, click on your name which takes you to My Profile. One of the options there is Donations. Open to see how much you have given.

Did you know that your tax deductible contribution supports ESP’s continuing leadership in excellent professional development opportunities and recognition programs for current and retired Extension professionals? This includes: scholarships and grants, stipends to Extension Leadership Conference, support for conference leadership presenters, assistance for ESP member participation on committees, support for representation of our national board members on the Joint Council of Extension Professionals, assistance for life member participation on committees and in national conferences, and a wide of variety of other professional development opportunities.

The Development Fund is budgeted to provide $40,000 in program support for 2022. What a positive effect this has our professional development programming and member support! Not too many years ago, we could not do as much, but we have built a fund to provide income for these activities. Thank you to all who have given to make this happen. 


Why Join ESP?

By Gisele Jefferson, recently retired and ESP Life Member

What’s been my reasons for being a member of the Colorado Zeta Chapter?  Well, there are many; but let me just expound on a few.

Back in the olden days, we had to be an Extension professional for at least 10 years [in Colorado] before we were eligible for membership into this fraternity for Extension veterans. It was a rich environment of men and women from all levels of Extension -- from county, regional and state including members in various roles of county programming, regional and state specialists, as well as state administrators. Wow, I looked up to these experienced and successful mentors! I wanted to learn from them.

Even though the membership requirements have been adjusted to allow and encourage individuals to join at any stage in their Extension career [in most states], the same rich and diverse environment is there to help develop the Extension professionals of today. Aside from the specific programmatic knowledge and skills, ESP continues to focus on the universal skills and development underlying the success of all Extension.

I personally have benefited from several professional development scholarships, chapter and national recognition programs, and participation/presentations at National ESP Conferences. Membership in ESP, in addition to NEAFCS and NAE4-HA [now known as NAE4-HYDP], allowed me to have more opportunities -- more learning, more sharing, more leadership, more recognition and more friends!! 

Some of my most memorable and beneficial national experiences have been at National ESP Conferences because there are just a few hundred participants. I’ve also enjoyed the JCEP (Joint Council of Extension Professionals) Leadership Development Conference, as well as attending the Public Issues Leadership Development Conference. Since these conferences involve all Extension professional organizations, it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Extension across our country, which often leads to collaboration on programs.   

And the really cool thing is… all of this is still available to me as a Life Member! 

(Thanks to Gisele for allowing the Membership Recruitment and Retention Committee to share her article which was originally published in the Colorado Zeta Chapter Newsletter. Gisele is currently the President-Elect for Zeta Chapter; an example of how ESP Life Members not only benefit from their membership but continue to contribute to the organization in their state chapter and nationally.)


JCEP Extension Leadership Conference: Engage, Inspire, Achieve

Sponsored by Joint Council of Extension Professionals­ 

The Extension Leadership Conference Planning Committee is pleased to invite Extension Professional, specialists, and administrators to attend the 2023 Extension Leadership Conference. The purpose of the conference is to support and challenge Extension Professionals in their leadership development journey nationwide, across all disciplines. This conference provides professional development that addresses leadership and management skill development critical for building confidence in today's Extension Leaders.



DUE - OCTOBER 15, 2022

The Joint Council of Extension Professionals’ Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) Conference brings together Extension professionals, elected officials, and volunteers to learn how to communicate Extension’s value, increase understanding of our federal partnerships, and build experience and confidence in engaging with elected leaders.

PILD is open to all Extension professionals in 1862, 1890, and 1994 institutions and we invite proposals from a wide array of disciplines that reflect the themes of the conference.

Mission: Enhance education and advocacy skills to positively affect federal, state, and local resources available for Cooperative Extension.


  1.  Broaden the understanding of how public policy issues impact Extension and Extension clientele.
  2. Empower Extension volunteers and professionals to be engaged leaders on public issues. Broaden participants' understanding of the national Extension system and directly engage them in the political process.
  3. Learn how changing political environments at the state and national levels affect the local Extension system.
  4. Build the skills and confidence of participants to be effective representatives of Extension at all levels of government and community leadership.
  5. Grow support for Extension through a targeted day of congressional engagement with decision-makers.

Theme: Year-Round Advocacy

The 2023 PILD theme recognizes Extension’s ongoing ability to leverage funding, partnerships, and technology to build advocates and meet the challenges of economic hardship, youth and adult programming, diversity, equity, inclusion and access to strengthen and empower local communities and constituents.

Call for Abstracts:

The PILD Planning Committee is seeking abstracts from Extension professionals who have demonstrated advocacy to address critical public issues at the local, state, or national levels, including those that benefit black, indigenous, and people of color. We are seeking presentations that highlight successful leadership, partnership, or innovative funding for Extension across and between all land-grant universities (1862, 1890, and 1994). Programs or funding that develop advocates for critical public issues either local, state, or national. Presentations should also include how these models and tools (where applicable) can be readily replicated in other places. Please note that these sessions are NOT program reports but a presentation about HOW you garnered funding, used leadership or increased advocacy, and HOW that resulted in a change in your community.

Proposal Requirements/Types of Presentations: 

    • Presentation title - (limit of 160 characters including spaces)
    • Abstract - (1600 characters maximum including spaces)
    • Description of presentation for the program (600 characters including spaces)
    • Three key messages – how participants will benefit from this session (600 characters including spaces)
    • Author(s) Biography (max. of three bios totaling 1200 characters including spaces)

Additional Guidelines and Information

    • All proposals must be submitted electronically by midnight (PST), October 15, 2022, via the submission link at the bottom of this page.
    • Current membership in one of the JCEP professional organizations is required for proposal consideration.
    • Applicants will be notified of selection in November 2022.
    • Presentation types available include

- 20-minute sessions for interactive skill-building or

- 45-minute sessions for workshops with active participation

- All times include Q & A.

- There are a limited number of sessions available.

    • Session presenters will be provided with a laptop, projector, and screen; presentations will be preloaded onto projecting equipment prior to the conference. All visual aids must be provided in PowerPoint format.
    • PowerPoint presentations and handouts for chosen proposals will be due by April 5, 2023, to

Evaluation and Review Process

All abstracts will receive a blind peer review by an all-association review committee. Any abstract considered for selection must rank above 80% average reviewers score.

Criteria Weight

    • Topic addresses the mission of the PILD Conference 25%
    • Unique or creative approach that is relevant to Extension funding, advocacy or leadership 20%
    • Demonstrates how the approach created value and/or how impacts were communicated to decision-makers/clientele 20%
    • Shows relevance to current PILD theme (Year-Round Advocacy) 10%
    • Demonstrates how replication is possible 10%
    • Application well written and accurately completed 10%
    • Bonus for efforts in underrepresented communities (please explain in abstract) 5%

For conference details, visit


Peer Reviewed Articles

Focus Group Highlights Opportunities for ESP Support of Extension Faculty

Karen Vines, Sarah Baughman, Neil Clark, Cynthia Gregg, Jane Henderson, Lonnie Johnson and Ruth Wallace, Alpha Gamma Chapter, Virginia

In spring 2021, we recruited Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty with four to seven years of service to participate in focus groups. A total of 24 agents and eight specialists participated. The median years of service was five. All program areas and multiple specialties were included in the sample. Details on methodology and demographics are provided at .

This project was sponsored, in part, by a National Epsilon Sigma Phi Professional Development (ESP) grant. Participants in this particular tenure in their careers were selected for the study in part because they are eligible to join ESP at this time. A section of the focus group protocol focused on how ESP might provide support to Extension professionals outside their subject matter area.

Four themes emerged from this area of inquiry. They are summarized here.

Contributing to a new vision for Cooperative Extension and its work – Agents suggested that because ESP is a national organization, it could identify states doing things well to share knowledge and best practices. They suggested accomplishing this through training and webinars.

Providing professional development around specific topics – Participants identified twelve topics outside subject matter areas in which ESP might provide professional development. They include networking, leadership, communications, foreign language development, technology, grant writing, marketing, mentoring, inner-office relationships, professionalism, partnership development, and facilitation. Participants also recognized that ESP could aid in leadership development opportunities by members serving on committees and in leadership roles.

Providing connections to faculty based on different areas of expertise – One agent emphasized that we all have different talents and that rather than trying to train everyone to be experts in everything we need to better connect based on our expertise to support each other. ESP might help facilitate those connections since it cuts across all program areas and roles.

Promote the value of ESP – Agents and specialists alike questioned the value of being a member of ESP. An agent spoke of the need to promote the value of this and other professional development organizations. He emphasized helping faculty members understand “why should you be a member of these organizations.”

The recommendations coming from the participants in this study set a lofty vision for ESP. Participants see opportunity for ESP to contribute not only to the professional development but also to the vision for Cooperative Extension. Incorporating these recommendations into the work of ESP and committees can increase relevance, value, and success in recruiting new members.


Save the Date

2022 ESP Webinar Series

  • Wednesday, October 26: Implementing a Multi-State Social Media Program: Walk-A-Weigh 30 for 30

  • Wednesday, November 30: Ripple Effect Mapping of Community Garden Impacts

Scholarship and Grant Applications Due December 1

JCEP Extension Leadership Conference February 7-9, 2023, Kansas City, Missouri 

JCEP Public Issues Leadership Development Conference April 16-19, 2023 Washington D.C.

2023 ESP National Conference September 24-28 Billings, Montana

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

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