Archive for the ‘Information’ Category

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!!!!!


Learning Opportunities – June and Beyond

More interesting and useful learning opportunities available from extension! Here I’ve included upcoming ones on various topics for which people have expressed interest by Following, as well as recent learning events in May for which a recording is available. Many other and newly added events are also listed so check there for a more complete set of offerings. These learning events are open to all who are interested… check each event listing to see if there is registration needed before the event. Share with your colleagues, clientele, etc. since participation is online from a home, office, etc.

Upcoming Learning Events
All Bugs Good and Bad Series
June 5 2015 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Insect-borne Diseases Affecting People, at Includes links to related materials.
August 7 2015 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Management of Japanese Beetles and Other White Grubs, at Includes links to related materials.

Climate, Forest & Woodlands
June 10 Are conservation organizations configured for effective adaptation to global change?, at

June 18 Building Community Relationships, at

June 26 Ready Community: Vulnerability and Resilience, at
July 31 Livestock First Aid and Safety, at
August 21 Exploring Sea Grant’s Coastal Resilience Toolkit, at

Emerging Technologies
June 23 Take Aways – Conference Recap: Emerging Technologies Conference for Online Learning 2015, at

Estate Planning
June 9 Family Farm Transition Webinar, at

June 16 Question Wranglers’ Meetup – June 2015, at Includes links to related materials.
July 14 Question Wranglers’ Meetup – July 2015, at Includes links to related materials.

June 15 Perspectives of a Program Leader, at Includes links to related materials.

Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center (LPELC)
June 19 Horse Manure Composting: Specific Steps to Start or Improve the Process, at

Military Families
June 10 The Value of Respite for Family Caregivers , at
June 18 Social Emotional Development in the Early Years: Understanding Social Emotional Development Includes links to related materials.
June 24 Building Resiliency During Change – Finding Courage Within, at
July 22 Hypertension Update: Nutritional Guidelines and Strategies, at
August 13 Social Emotional Development in the Early Years: Promoting Positive Relationships, at
August 19 Empowering Those We Help: Building Trust and Credibility , at

June 25 Social Media Use, at Includes links to related materials.
July 23 Videography in Extension, at Includes links to related materials.
August 27 Journal of Human Sciences & Extension Special Edition: Program Development, at Includes links to related materials.

Personal Finance
June 4 Financial Coaching, at Includes links to related materials.
July 28 Predatory Lending Practices & How to Avoid Them, at

Public Value
June 9 Basics for Helping Organizations Identify and Promote Their Public (and Private) Value, at

Small and Backyard Flocks
June 12 Alternatives to antibiotics in poultry production, at Includes links to related materials.
June 26 Update on HPAI Mixed Origin Virus, at
August 31 Meat quality issues with small and backyard poultry flocks, at Includes links to related materials.

Student Engagement
July 8 Engaging Students in Wicked Problems: Strategies for inspiring and preparing students to tackle messy, place-based challenges, at

Unmanned Aerial Systems
June 23 Small Unmanned Aerial Systems in Agriculture: Preparing for Legal Issues, at

Water Efficiency
June 17 WaterSense and LEED Housing Programs, at

Women in Ag
June 10 Linkedin Webinar, at
June 24 Social Media Privacy Webinar, at
August 26 Newsletters Webinar, at
July 8 Analytics Webinar, at
July 22 Enterprise Budgeting Webinar, at
August 12 Editorial Calendars Webinar, at

Recent events with Recordings
2015 All Bugs Good and Bad
May 1 2015 All Bugs Good and Bad Webinar Series: Beneficial Garden Helpers, Recording and materials available at

Animal Manure Management
May 22 Micro Manure Management, Recording available at

May 19 Automated Calf Feeders on US farms: How do They Work?, Recording available at

May 29 Colorado 2014 Vesicular Stomatitis Outbreak and Response, Recording available at

eXtension Moodle
May 6 Moodle Meet-Up: What’s New w/Moodle 2.7, Recording available at

Farm Safety and Health
May 19 Virtual Reality, A New Kind of Experiential Learning for Ag Safety, Recording available at

May 18 Getting Started with Story Maps, Recording available at
June 3 Selecting, Downloading, Displaying, and Understanding Landsat Imagery, Recording available at

Healthy Food Choices in Schools
May 27 Make the “Best of Fresh” with Farm to School, Recording and materials available at

May 19 Tips for Staying Safe on the Roads and Trails While Riding Your Horse, Recording available at

Maryland FarmLink
May 4 Landlord-Tenant Communication and Agricultural Mediation, Recording available at
May 11 Understanding Maryland FarmLink, General Leasing Issues, and Setting a FairRent, Recording available at

Military Families
May 12 Promoting Knowledge Gain & Behavior Change Through Effective Education, Recording and materials available at
June 2 Motivating Clients to Develop Positive Financial Behaviors, Recording and materials available at

Plant Breeding
May 6 Plant Breeding Approaches and Technologies for Challenges in Agriculture: A view from a Texas Maize Breeding Program, Recording available at
May 13 Soybeans: Way More Than Just Nice Yellow Seeds, Recording available at

Small and Backyard Flocks
May 4 Getting prepared for pullets for a 4-H egg enterprise, Recording available at

Women in Ag
May 19 Ag Safety for Women, Recording and materials available at

Go to Learn ( to see more sessions, and to add learning opportunities being offered by you or your institution so you may include more for participation and learning!

Questions and Comments? Contact Beth Raney at If you have web-based events for which you would like more participation, please add them at for others to join in!


Craig Wood Named Equine Science Society Fellow

Wood Fellow Award

Craig Wood, eXtension Associate Director, was recently named a Fellow of Equine Science Society. The Fellow award recognizes distinguished service to the horse industry and to the Equine Science Society over time.

According to award documents: “Throughout Craig’s career, he has held various leadership roles that have provided immense support, education, and expertise to horse owners, businesses, students, and professionals.“

“Wood began his academic career at the University of Kentucky, following the traditional path of an animal sciences faculty member. Along the way he had responsibilities in teaching, research, and Extension, but the “traditional” ends there. Wood was light-years ahead of his peers when in the 1990s he gained grant support to develop and deliver equine distance learning courses to 16 universities. His course, The Art and Science of Equine Production, was awarded the Best Distance Learning Program in Higher Education in 1993 by the United States Distance Learning Association.

“His passion for Extension and teaching and his skill with instructional technology led to his transition from traditional professor role to his position as the director of the Creative Applications for Learning Environments Lab and the Coordinator of Distance Learning for the College of Agriculture. In eXtension, he continues to provide leadership for Cooperative Extension professionals to work differently and use social media outlets.

Congratulations, Craig!!!