Healthy Food Choices in Schools Highlights Food Hub Connections to Local Produce

children eating healthy diet

Despite increasing demand, finding and buying local food can still be a hassle. When feeding hundreds or thousands of school children, convenience is key. According to eXtension’s Healthy Food Choices in Schools community, due to cost, quantity and transportation, it can prove easier to source out-of-season apples from across the country than to source freshly picked apples from the orchard down the road!

Food hubs that operate on a direct-to-consumer business model can mitigate some of the hassle of sourcing local foods, even for school meal programs. Headwater Food Hub in Rochester, New York provides fresh produce from 35 local farms directly to local businesses including local private and public K-12 school meal programs.

Learn more about this unique program and its possibilities in your community.

For more information about the Healthy Food Choices in Schools Community of Practice contact Katherine Baildon,


eXtension is ready for National Farm Safety Week, Sept. 20-26


eXtension’s Farm and Ranch in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice (CoP) has a wide variety of resources available to educators and the general public to use for National Farm Safety and Health Week at:

Follow our activities all week long on social media with #FarmSafety and #NFSHW15 at:

Agriculture is among our most hazardous industries, with a work-related death rate of 22.2 deaths per 100,000 workers annually, according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, far ahead of transportation (13.1/100,000) and mining (12.3/100,000).

Additional resources include the 10 U.S. Agricultural Centers funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that are uniquely positioned to promote safety solutions during National Farm Safety and Health Week (September 20-26), and year round.

The centers have pooled their expertise on a YouTube channel,, featuring 80 videos. The videos can be used by Extension agents, agricultural science teachers, producers, first responders, families and others interested in agricultural safety best-practices.

The NIOSH Agricultural Centers are distributed throughout the nation to be responsive to the agricultural safety and health issues unique to the different regions. Links to these centers can be found at

The 2015 theme for National Farm Safety and Health Week is, “Ag Safety is not just a slogan, it’s a lifestyle.” For more information on National Farm Safety and Health Week, and safety resources, visit the website of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety,

How Extension Can Serve The Maker Movement

Extension was created over a century ago in part to help the American people progress through a wildly changing time—the industrial revolution. Today, we are fast approaching a day when the access to professional-grade tools will be available to everyone. These tools of innovation are being democratized and the Maker Movement is precipitating the next industrial revolution and needs Extension’s leadership. Extension must recognize this current change and adapt to help people adjust and thrive.

What is the Maker Movement?

maker 2

The Maker Movement is a subculture that pushes innovation to the limit, encouraging new applications of technologies. Within the culture there’s an enthusiasm for invention, prototyping, and applying practical skills in new creative ways.

Makers want to figure out how to make or do stuff on their own (also referred to as “Do It Yourself” or DIY). They have a passion for creating, building, and sharing in a gamut of topics including recipes, gardening, sewing, mechanics, and many more.

A Maker is someone who makes stuff: apparel, robots, crafts, food, furniture, art, or electronic gadgets. This term, “Maker,” is described by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine, as “a new category of builders who are using open-source methods and the latest technology to bring manufacturing out of its traditional factory context, and into the realm of the personal desktop computer.”

How are makers changing the world?

Large companies with extensive R&D budgets are no longer monopolizing innovation, which has historically been the case. Through collaboration and connectivity, communities of makers are inspiring innovation on a daily basis with the creation of smart gadgets, wearable tech, robots, and machines. With access to Makerspaces, makers have the opportunity to collaborate and build cutting-edge prototypes that are leading to products for mass consumption i.e. the founders of square built their first prototype in a Makerspace.

What does this mean for Extension?

Through my involvement in the Maker Movement I’ve quickly discovered that the Maker community is willing and able to assist Extension in our program efforts. Makers are very eager to volunteer. Many are just looking for projects in the areas of citizen science, gardening, agriculture, and home automation—they need our direction. These are the people who are harnessing technology to improve the world. I challenge you to seek them out in your community and ask for help. Here are a couple examples of how makers have helped me:

  • Makers in my community helped me create this 3D LED light cube which I then turned into a kit for 4-H members to complete at a summer #MakerCamp. This is a STEM project that requires youth to 1. Understand engineering plans for successful assembly and 2. Code the light sequences/patterns in a mechanical programming language.
  • This Mason Jar Speaker kit was created by makers in California. I ordered 25 kits for my #MakerCamp in Utah and had several local makers from my community help teach 4-H members how to solder and read a circuit board.

Makers need the help of Extension. They need our leadership ability to connect people, resources, and expertise.

What can Extension do for makers?

A few things we can help with: match them with clients to test their innovative new projects, secure grant funding, and identify uses for new technology. By connecting makers to their Land Grant Universities they can serve as volunteers to perpetuate the mission of Extension with their expertise and our guidance.

I believe Extension and the Maker Movement can have a symbiotic relationship. By bringing both our communities together we can create synergy for greater impacts in new areas of technology and in a changing world driven by increased connectivity of sensors and devices.

What’s next?

Extension must take notice of this powerful community and connect them with the tools and technologies that can help spur their creativity, drive innovation and enable them to bring their designs to market.

We have the opportunity to apply a century of experience and connect with a thriving grassroots movement that is growing by leaps and bounds.

Find and reach out to the makers in your community today. Makers love to share their “makes” online and are not hard to find.

How will the Maker Movement solve the problems of tomorrow?

I believe the problems we recognize today will be solved with technology that is currently underdeveloped or not even invented yet. This technology of the future will not all be created by large corporations, but by Makers—working together in communities both in person and online.

Through the Maker Movement we will see the development of IoT (Internet of Things) devices that collect the big (and small) data we need to use our limited natural resources to feed 9 billion people, stave off childhood obesity, and solve the STEM education skills gap. The IoT has the potential to make farms, gardens, communities, and homes more efficient and productive.

Times are changing and Extension must not only be on the pulse of change but also leading its development.

—- Contributed by Paul Hill

Christine Geith Officially Joins eXtension as CEO


Headshot 2015 left

Christine Geith PhD began her service to Cooperative Extension as the Chief Executive Officer for the eXtension Foundation on July 1, 2015.

“I’ve already seen the support of our member institutions; the commitment of the eXtension Board; the talent and energy of the eXtension team and the great interest from CES faculty and staff across the country. Together, we can successfully move eXtension forward with the new eXtension Strategic Framework.”, said Geith.

Chris and the eXtension team are moving rapidly to bring this new phase of eXtension to benefit the Foundation’s members.  As a reminder,  three eXtension Fellows for 2015 were named:

  • Paul Hill, Utah State University, Makers
  • Katie Stofer, University of Florida, Citizen Science
  • Jeff Hino, Oregon State University, Internet of Things

The recent call for proposals for Innovation Funds garnered 49 submissions and eXtension  funded nine exciting projects to be completed in 2016:

  • Adaptive Learning, Ellen Darnall, Michigan State University
  • Spatial Reasoning, Shane Bradt, University of New Hampshire
  • Augmented Reality, Heather Wallace & Emily Tipton, University of Tennessee
  • Geo-Citizens Design, John Munsell, Virginia Tech
  • Virtual Environments/Oculus Rift, Joey Peutz, University of Idaho
  • Citizen Science/Mobile App, Heidi Rader, University of Alaska
  • NeXT Talks, Chrystal Checketts, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension
  • Spark Lab Innovation Center, Mark Light, Ohio State University
  • Virtual Communication Camp, Becky Koch & Bob Bertsch, North Dakota State University

“During the next year, we will routinely share the outstanding work of these new ‘innovation partners’ as well as our other learning networks and communities. We are also lifting up and showcasing local innovation in our Community Innovation Quest. We are seeking ideas, programs, and projects that you feel demonstrate doing extension differently in your state. These stories will be collected via video and shared at events throughout the year.  There is much more to come,” she said.

“As we begin this new journey together, I invite you to let me know how we’re doing and especially what more we can do to make your eXtension membership count,” said Geith.

eXtension’s Community Innovation Quest


Innovation Quest Logo

eXtension is seeking innovators within Cooperative Extension and the land grant university system!

What are CES educators, program assistants, specialists, support staff doing that is innovative?  How are their programs or projects making a difference?  We’re looking for local innovators, folks with ‘boots on the ground’ ideas that can be moved to the next level and shared more broadly.

We will work with the director/administrator, innovation team, program leaders, and others to identify innovators.  We’ll come to them and learn first hand just what they’re doing.  We want to know the secrets, the inspirations, the planning (or lack of planning) that makes such innovation take place.

What’s innovative?

  • Something new, surprising, and radically useful!
  • Something creating new value.
  • Something that fills an untapped client need.
  • Something new and improved with marketable potential.
  • Something that ventures “away from familiar ground into uncharted territory.”
  • Something that reaches new audiences.
  • Something that uses new technology tools.
  • Something that uses existing products and services to reach new markets.

What’s next?  We want to tell the innovation story!  We want to take that local effort and tell peers, colleagues, and the public all about what’s happening in your communities.  Our visual storytelling will bring your innovator, the innovation, and your institution to the attention of your colleagues and fellow eXtension Foundation members across the country.  It won’t stop at your county office door, your regional office boundaries, your state borders…we want that innovation to go viral.

Help us make that happen!!!!

To recommend YOUR Community Innovation Quest to us by AUGUST 1, 2015, use this form:  If you have questions about this process contact Terry Meisenbach ( or Jerry Thomas (

New Tag Clean-up Tool in Ask an Expert

Ask an Expert makes heavy use of descriptive expertise tags for organization and question routing. For example, we try to match a question tagged “gardening” and “peppers” to an expert or group with those same tags. Our library of tags has been built organically by experts adding tags in the flow as they see fit. Generally, this works well, but some messiness has accumulated over time. Until now there’s been no way to clean up subtle variations of tags or mistakenly added ones.

That changes with the release of a new tag editing feature. With this new tool, we can merge, re-name, delete and generally clean-up tags. Any authenticated person can edit or delete tags, and all changes are logged and displayed on the Tag Management page.

This tool will most often be used by clicking on any tag from the expert-side of Ask, which will lead to the tag editing page, but you can also browse the Tag Management page to see a list of long tags that (likely) need cleaning up.





New Registration Feature in

Creators of events in now have the ability to require registration for an event. Users who wish to attend those events must register for the event before they are able to view the event location. This will allow event creators to track who is attending their events. The feature includes:

  • The creator of an event can require registration for an event, and choose a registration contact. This registration contact is able to view registrants of an event (csv download) and also delete people who have registered for an event.
  • The location of an event is hidden until the user enters their first name, last name and email. After submitting this information the user can view the event location.

See screenshots below:




Ant Detectives, 4-H Game Testers, LSU Moodle Highlight Virtual 3D News

Be an Ant Detective in Second Life to Be Redesigned

be an ant detective

Be an Ant Detective was the first piece of eXtension 3D content in the Second Life virtual world. The very simple maze uses diagrams and a dichotomous key to identify your real world ant and has been a booth at the Virtual State Fair since 2008. This summer the exhibit is getting an upgrade, with sound and visual effects, links to external content, interactive animations, and a little theater for viewing an 8-minute digital animation movie, “RIFA Madness” created by world-famous visual effects artist, Eric Keller. The exhibit opens August 3.

Seventeen Clubs Respond to Call for 4-H Game Testers

tractor shot

Our mid-May call for 4-H teens to serve as testers for the Safety in Agriculture for Youth (SAY) game prototype resulted in applications from 14 well-qualified clubs. Three clubs will be selected for the first round of alpha testing, June 28-July 2. Another three clubs will participate in the second round of alpha testing July 14-16. Following that, all fourteen clubs will be able to schedule closed beta testing sessions in August and September.

Based on their input, the game will be fine-tuned and the final prototype will be placed on the eXtension website in October for any club to visit. The next step will be to seek funding to develop the SAY game in the Unity game engine, for deployment as an Oculus Rift single player game.

LSU Moodle Course Teaching Cooperative Extension Work via Avatar

virtual county extension

This month, Dr. Rebecca White of LSU is opening her online course “Cooperative Extension Work” with a week of activities at the Virtual County Extension in Second Life. The distance education students will begin their Second Life Experience with a live orientation in both Adobe Connect and Second Life. In the following three days, they will explore the Morrill regions’ Virtual Learning Environments, and attend a
virtual nutrition class presented in Second Life by Leia Kedem, RD (aka Moderation Maven).

Would you like to incorporate a Second Life experience as part of a Fall 2015 class you will be teaching? Please contact LuAnn Phillips, eXtension’s Virtual Reality specialist at

eXtension Names Hill, Hino, & Stofer Fellows for 2015

Three eXtension Fellowships for 2015 will focus on Makers, Citizen Science, and the Internet of Things (IoT). eXtension Fellows come from Premium eXtension Foundation member institutions, spend one year devoted to their fellowship topic, present fellowship work and progress to CES throughout the year via LEARN and the 2016 National eXtension Conference, and develop a user community or learning network around the topic.

The 2015 eXtension Fellows are:


Maker: Paul Hill, Utah State University–Paul is an Extension assistant professor and 4-H agent in Washington County, Utah. His areas of expertise are: youth leadership, STEM education, volunteerism, social media, and small business development. Paul has been active in the maker community and is a member of the eXtension Educational Technology Learning Network. Contact Paul at Connect with the Maker community at:


Internet of Things: Jeff Hino, Oregon State University–Jeff is the learning technology leader at Oregon State University working in Extension & Experiment Station Communications. He facilitates adoption of new communication and learning technologies and the OSU Ask an Expert initiative. He sees his role as one that empathizes with and encourages people as they begin or continue their relationship with technology. Jeff has an extensive background in instructional design, technology, and media production. He is also a member of the eXtension Educational Technology Learning Network. Contact Jeff at Connect with the Internet of Things community at:


Citizen Science: Katie Stofer, University of Florida–Katie is a research assistant professor at the University of Florida in the Agricultural Education and Communication department. Her research focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), especially in free-choice or informal education and outreach settings. She’s interested in how the public gathers, makes meaning from, and uses current scientific research findings and how that use relates to their science identities. Contact Katie at Connect with the Citizen Science community at:

For more information about the eXtension Fellowship contact either Jerry Thomas at or Terry Meisenbach at

eXtension Seeks Committee Members for NeXC2016

Beth Raney and Terry Meisenbach, co-chairs of the 2016 National eXtension Conference committee are seeking leaders and/or members for various committees for the conference. If you’re interested please complete this form or contact either Beth ( or Terry (

1. Program Committee
—Keynote Speakers
—Concurrent Sessions
—Poster Sessions

2. Local Arrangements
—Dining/Dinner for 6

3. Marketing, Promotion, PR

4. Online Presence & Social Media

5. Opening Reception & Exhibits

6. Sponsors & Vendors

7. Pre/Post Conference

8. Evaluation

See you in San Antonio, March 22-25, 2016!!!!!

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