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Preparing for Future Growth



GOAL:


Expand UT Extension partnerships, funding and infrastructure





OUTCOME

Purchased a 4-H facility in the Western Region and developed a Master Plan for a 4-H camp and conference center. The proposed site, Lone Oaks Farm in Hardeman County was acquired in December 2015.



The team was charged with establishing a premier, multipurpose West Tennessee 4-H Center in order to renew facilities and equipment to meet the changing educational needs of communities.




Team Chair: Tim Smith

Committee members: Keith Barber, Jim Byford, Donna Eason-Pile, Matt Fennell, Staci Foy, Robert French, Kenny Herndon, Elaine Lovelace, Terry Quillen, Dawn Richardson, Tim Roberts, Daniel Sarver, Ben Sanders, Steve Sutton, Sharon Tubbs, and Ben West.

Learn more about our purchasing of a new 4-H facility

Beginning in spring of 2011, a Visioning Committee, which included Extension agents, specialists, and West Tennessee stakeholders, convened to develop a comprehensive vision for the new West Tennessee 4-H Center as part of Extension's Strategic Plan. After visiting and gathering ideas from nearly a dozen 4-H centers in other states, the committee generated a 5-page report detailing the vision and essential characteristics for the center. Beginning in October 2012, Tim Smith conducted 14 listening sessions, involving over 1,000 West Tennesseans, to gather site recommendations from individuals and communities. Using 23 criteria, an evaluation committee identified strengths and weaknesses of three top-rated sites in Carroll County, Hardeman County, and Henry County. After Chancellor Arrington and Dean Cross personally visited each site, Lone Oaks Farm in Hardeman County was recommended as the preferred location for the new Center. The site meets all requirements set by the Visioning Committee, and because it has extensive development already complete, the estimated project cost is less than the initial budget request for the center. In addition, the site can be operational very quickly.





OUTCOME

The team offered three regional trainings that covered topics related to seeking, obtaining, handling, managing, and utilizing external funds. Over 135 employees attended these trainings. Recordings of the trainings are posted on the EESD website for those who were unable to attend these sessions. A contact person for Extension within the Office of Sponsored Programs was designated.



The team was charged with increasing funding to accomplish Extension's mission.



Team Chair: Rob Holland

Team Members: Gayle Bowman, Lynn Brookins, Justin Crowe, JC Dupree, Debbie Hurst, Tom Looney, Michelle Parrott, Nancy Rucker, Scott Stewart.

Video update from the Gifts, Grants and Fees team

Learn more about how we increased support for gifts, grants and fees

The Gifts, Grants and Fees Team has experienced an interesting path of progression. They tackled a topic that was deemed to be among the highest priority in the strategic planning process yet one that hardly anyone thought was their responsibility. As one person put it, "Everybody thought it was important, but someone else should do something about it."

Through information gathering, the team concluded that in order to prepare a foundation that is conducive to greater external funding achievement at the county and regional level, the following primary goals should be achieved:

  • Clear coordination, direction and communication. There should be a coordinator for Extension gifts, grants and fees, who would be knowledgeable about Extension and serve as someone to answer questions, navigate through the system and liaison with OSP, Advancement and budget office.
  • Clear expectations. Expectations should be clear, reasonable and doable.
  • Recognition and incentives. Employees should be recognized for their accomplishments with incentives. Examples could include identifying more friends of Extension and stewards of Extension.
  • Training. Employees should be trained, and expectations/information should be consistent.
  • Paradigm shift. Employees should be encouraged to think outside the box: the focus should be on programs and funding to support those programs, rather than on raising money.
  • Learn from others. Successes should be shared for adoption/implementation by others.
  • Remove barriers. Potential donors should have multiple ways and easy paths to give, and UTIA Advancement should continue to be visible. The paths to process and approve funding and projects should be streamlined, and any communication disconnections between "Knoxville" and regional/county/departmental offices should be fixed.
  • Reasonable reporting and timely approvals. Record keeping and reporting should be reasonable, clear and consistent.
  • Flexibility. Development of fee-based programs should be flexible, since "one size does not fit all."
  • Distribute the load. All levels of the organization should be pushed to raise funds for programs (County, Region and State).

The team offered three regional trainings that covered topics related to seeking, obtaining, handling, managing, and utilizing external funds. Over 135 employees attended these trainings. Recordings of the trainings are posted on the EESD website for those who were unable to attend these sessions. A contact person for Extension within the Office of Sponsored Programs was designated.



OUTCOME

Office Standards for customer service and facilities were developed and introduced. The standards identified guidelines for building or remodeling office space, customer service, professionalism, and media relations. A internal website was developed for easy access to the information.



The team was charged with developing standards for all Extension facilities in order to renew facilities and equipment to meet the changing educational needs of communities.



Team Co-Chairs: Robert Burns & Shirley Hastings

Committee members: Kaye Avrit, Janet Cluck, Joseph Donaldson, Tim Fawver, Ranson Goodman, Connie Heiskell, Mary Beth Henley, Martha Keel, Walter Malone, Tyrone Miller, Cam Philbeck, and Justin Stefanski. Ex Officio: Liz Teston & Ann Fairhurst

Learn more about our efforts in this area

In Advancing Tennessee, UT Extension's 2010-2020 Strategic Plan, the need for office standards, including standards for Extension facilities and for customer service, was identified as a priority. Having these standards in place would make each office the best it could be, provide a standardized and consistent approach statewide, and provide basic standards for counties to share with their county government when offices are moved or remodeled.

The University of Tennessee Extension maintains an office in all 95 counties in Tennessee. While county office space for Extension is provided by county governments, it is imperative for every UT Extension County Office to have adequate office space in terms of function, size and quality to successfully carry out the Land Grant Extension mission across Tennessee. The Facilities Standards Subcommittee developed and extensive document which provides guidance in regards to the function, size and quality of the office space that is required for the successful operation. It included areas such as facility criteria, programming space, interior design, signage, and communication technology.

Customer Service standards make UT Extension more professional, effective, and consistent across the state, ensuring that the customers' needs stay at the forefront of county, regional, departmental, and 4-H center operations. Regardless of the assignment or location, we represent the University of Tennessee Extension. Anytime someone meets you, they are face-to-face with the University of Tennessee. By customers, we are all-inclusive of volunteers, coworkers, other agents, other department employees, and our many public audiences.

Customer Service Guidelines focused on four domains:

  • Professionalism: attire, tobacco/e-cigarettes, business etiquette, fund development, cell phones
  • Interpersonal Skills: interpersonal, dealing with difficult situations and individuals
  • Engaging Clientele: Personal visit, phone, email, customer waiting area, presence, accessibility
  • Media Relations: mass media, social media


Learn more about the strategies and action steps we took to create these outcomes and meet this goal.


Strategy: Partner with individuals, agencies and organizations to address emerging needs.

Action Steps:

  • Strengthen existing partnerships.
  • Explore new program opportunities and collaborations.
  • Engage partners for multidisciplinary educational programs and opportunities.


Strategy: Increase funding to accomplish Extension's mission.

Action Steps:

  • Enhance relations with elected officials. Secure new gifts and recurring commitments from supporters, including new endowments, and establish chairs of excellence in Extension.
  • Develop new public funding sources.
  • Diversify revenue sources, including fee-based programming.
  • Expand grant and contract funding.


Strategy: Renew facilities and equipment to meet the changing educational needs.

Action Steps:

  • Evaluate and adopt cutting-edge technologies.
  • Establish a premier, multipurpose West Tennessee 4-H Center.
  • Cooperate with state and local government to invest in Extension's infrastructure.
  • Develop standards for all Extension facilities.
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