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Reflections from 2018 JCEP Leadership Conference

By Kelly Kunkel 

February 23, 2018

Thank you for the opportunity to attend the Joint Council of Extension Professionals (JCEP) Leadership Conference on February 14-15, 2018 in Orlando, Florida. The theme for the event was, “Balancing Tradition with Innovation.  Below I highlight key learning and takeaways from speakers presenting at the conference.

  • University of Florida Extension Director Nick Place asked the question, "What are the vexing issues right now?" He talked about Florida’s concern around water, a growing population, and one new pest or plant disease discovered each month. He challenged us to create the biggest impacts with our programming. 

  • Chuck Hibberd, Dean and Director of Extension at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, provided an Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) report. His message on advocacy centered around five key messages: 1) Science is action (better to state science than research); 2)National reach with meaningful local impact; 3). Proactive responsiveness (disasters, threats, etc.); 4) Expand core programs such as 4-H; and 5) Provide value for federal partners as the outreach engagement arm of the federal government. 

  • Bill Hoffman from NIFA shared that we should report on how our programming influences lives, and share the public value of our programming with others.

  • Keynote speaker, David Michell, founded of the Leadership difference. He implemented a personality profile tool called, the Power of Understanding People. People fall into the personality preference of expert, romantic, mastermind or warrior. He was entertaining and thought provoking, providing a new way to understand and communicate with people based on our preferences.

  • A panel discussion and virtual town hall meeting discussed Extension response to emerging issues. Interesting to note that some of the issues discussed, such as climate change, water, diabetes, or opioid addiction, are not emerging. Rather, they are current concerning issues. We should be looking ahead to  future, and get in front of this issue instead of being reactive. When we look to innovation, how are we measuring success in our work? What are our metrics? If we evaluate Extension work using old tools, we have little time or energy to be innovative. We need to remember to consider the process as a product, focus on systemic change (which takes time) and explore new methods of engagement.



  • As Minnesota’s president-elect and delegate for NEAFCS, it was beneficial to me to have association meetings on both days of the conference. We discussed member benefits, voting delegates and using social media. Interesting to note that 60% of our membership will be eligible to retire in 10 years. How will that change our association? We took time to share thoughts about membership.

Thank you for your scholarship to attend this conference. The time to learn about immerging issues in Extension, network and meet Extension professionals from across the nation, and think deeper about innovation made this conference meaningful.


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