Over the last six months, the ISU Extension and Outreach to Families unit has had a variety of conversations about involvement of volunteers in our programs to expand our reach. Thanks to those of you who completed a survey about volunteers and our programming. Here is what you said:
- we involve volunteers in a variety of our programs ranging from VITA to the food assistance project, and child care provider training
-the volunteers we work with have a variety of titles raning from peer educator, to tax preparer, and committee member
- the volunteer’s roles range from preparing tax returns to conducting short educational programs, to assisting with program logistics
- we engaged 196 volunteers (as recorded in the survey) for 2011
- these volunteers made it possible to bring Extension and Outreach education to more individuals, returned tax refunds to low income indivudials, and took care of program logistics so the specialist could engage with learners
- almost all the volunteers (reported in the survey) are managed by regional specailists
- we are impressed by what our volunteers accomplish, how commited they are to our learners/clients, and we would love to have more!
Thanks to all of you for expanding our program impact through volunteers!
Those of us lucky enough to particiapte in the Engagement Academy for University Leaders or the National Outreach Scholarship Conference have heard Judith Ramaley, President of Winona State University speak about moving to an investment approach for budgeting. Here are a few of Judith’s ideas that I find compelling as we continue to assess how best to deploy our human resources in the Families unit:
The conservation model of budgeting focuses on cutting the budget, cutting losses, sticking to the familiar, reducing risks, and adding more management controls. The investment model of budgeting instead focuses on the budget as an investment portfolio, capializing on gains, trying new approaches, and taking calulated risks that up the ante for everyone involved (anotherwards – pushes and stretches us). The investment model focuses more on context than on content, the basic conditions that foster learning rather than the specific subjects learned, navigating multiple points of view rather than a few points of view, and the constantly changing culture rather than a static environment. Investment budgeting is all about strategy.
The investment model way of thinking is exactly what the Families to Extension and Outreach unit has been engaging in over the last six months as we decide how to best geographically serve Iowans. We’ve identified priority programs that strategically address issues across the state and we’ve archived or given programs minor status if they are are less strategic or we are piloting them. Now we’re determining how to best deliver priority programs through three regions in the state – east, central, and west Iowa. We stand strong on living and working closely with every county Extension office and County Extension Council. At the same time, we are thinking deeply about the best ways to serve Iowans where they live, work, and access services. I’d love to hear what strategies you think would work best as we strategically reinvest our resources through our field specialists in three regions.
Administration, Budget/Fiscal, Environmental Scanning, Staffing
At the Families inservice last week, state, regional, and county staff developed the following tips for working with county staff: 1. have individual conversations in each county, 2. send information on programs far ahead of time and include who will do what parts of the program/program support, when the program will take place, what it will cover, etc. 3. train volunteers to help with program delivery, 4. communication is important and use the REED as a match maker, 5. offer programs for multiple counties in one location, 6. plan programs with more of a regional emphasis, 7. each county council is different and trusting relationships are important to build, 8. find ways to help cut time and mileage, and 9. learn about the differences in staffing in each county.
I hope we continue to build on this list of best practices with our Families work.
General, Programming, Staffing
Hot off the press and available on the Extension to Families Staff page … a comprehensive booklet (complete with staff photos) detailing all Families administrative staff, campus specialists, and regional program specialists! Access the directory designed to view online or download the directory suitable for printing in booklet format. Note: you’ll need a printer that can duplex (back) for best and quickest booklet printing.
Both copies will be updated periodically to reflect staffing changes. Nancy plans to use these booklets when meeting with agencies, partners, organizations, etc. and invites you to do so as well, if appropriate.