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August 05, 2009

SAC conference brings 62 to Charlotte

SAC conference photo
Noland Ramsey, left, CARET representative for N.C. Cooperative Extension, and Jeff Christie, coordinator of Georgia Cooperative Extension Leadership System, clarify new material. (Photo by Joy Staton)

A feeling of anticipation was in the air as 62 Extension specialists and advisory leaders met on in May in Charlotte for the 4th Southeast Region “Strengthening Extension Advisory Leaders (SEAL) Conference.”

The conference was started in 2000 by a small group of dedicated professionals from six southeastern states who saw the value of maximizing the dedication of advisory leadership.

They organized a venue where collaboration among the southeastern states could occur biannually, working as a team to share resources, with the goal of enhancing the capabilities of advisory leaders’ skills and support.

Under the direction of N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Advisory System Leader Joy Staton, the SEAL planning team and a writing team representing seven states hosted the conference. These teams developed objectives that would identify critical needs in advisory systems and pooled resources to develop curriculum, materials, and training to address those needs.

Staton showcased the successful use of advisory leaders’ skills by enlisting ten members of the NCSAC to help with hosting, assessing, setting up technology, introducing speakers and reporting.

The conference opened on Tuesday with a welcome from N.C. Cooperative Extension, a history of the objectives of SEAL by Dr. Paul Warner from Kentucky Cooperative Extension and comments about the value of volunteer leaders to Cooperative Extension by Dr. Jon Ort, director of N.C. Cooperative Extension.

Dr. James H. Johnson Jr., director of Urban Investment Strategies Center, Kenan Institute at the University of North Carolina, challenged the group with comprehensive and precise statistics showing the changing demographics of volunteers.

During the following day, participants were offered a choice of concurrent sessions covering: 1) Orienting New Advisory Board Members and New Faculty, 2) Teaching Extension Volunteers How to Advocate and Market Cooperative Extension, 3) New Methods in Extension Volunteerism and How They Impact Advisory Leaders, 4) Maximizing Impact Through Advisory Leader Involvement.

The conference was wrapped up Thursday by Dr. Chris Boleman, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and Noland Ramsey, past chair of NC SAC. The two challenged advisors to discern why people volunteer and how to engage their passions.

Group sessions, moderated by Dr. Eric Kaufman from Virginia Tech & Virginia Cooperative Extension and Eddie Hannah from Appalachian School of Law, gave advisors the opportunity to share with one another those ideas that had been ignited and what we planned to do with them when we returned home.

The conference was well organized, fast paced and filled with information and new ideas. This is a must training session for both volunteers and professionals. To view the curricula developed for this conference and those in previous years, go to srpln.msstate.edu/seal/09curriculum/index.html.

-S. Churchill

Posted by Natalie at August 5, 2009 10:17 AM