Recognizing excellence: Connecting resources for positive community change

How do we achieve excellence? We stop what we are doing, stand back, and assess efforts. At this point we are better able to recognize special accomplishments.

Raymond Schindler

Raymond A. Schindler

The Raymond A. Schindler Excellence in Community Development Extension Award is named in honor of Raymond A. Schindler, one of the first Extension CD professionals in Ohio. Hired in 1962 as an Area Extension Agent, Ray began his career in southern Ohio, based in Highland County. He took a collaborative approach to his work, focusing on tourism development, comprehensive planning, planning commissions, and business retention and expansion programs until his retirement in 1988.

Today, we recognize Extension CD professionals with The Raymond A. Schindler Excellence in Community Development Extension Award. The annual award seeks to recognize:

  • long term strengths in teaching and research
  • a long-standing record of teamwork and collaboration in program planning, implementation and evaluation
  • a successful track record in grant awards, cost recovery, or other external funding
Susan Colbert

Susan Colbert

Just last week (January 24), we recognized Susan Colbert with the Raymond A. Schindler Excellence in Community Development Extension Award for her ability to develop and deliver multidisciplinary, evidence-based programs in collaboration with colleagues, stakeholders, private industry and state and federal funding partners that empower others to affect positive change. Since joining Ohio State University Extension in 1998, she has truly demonstrated a record of excellence in creative and scholarly work, teaching and service to community and profession.

Click here to learn more about Susan and her work.

Greg Davis

Greg Davis, professor and assistant director, OSU Extension CD.

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Successful Collaborations: Three Rules and Lessons Learned from a Lima, OH Project

Definition of "collaborate"Few community development projects can succeed without funding support and—ideally, successful collaboration. In Lima OH, a group of university and public/private sector partners had been loosely formed based on a two-year pilot research project led by Knowlton School working with OSU Lima and the City of Lima Land Bank. By fall 2017, the group had expanded to include Extension among a team of university researchers representing three academic departments and a dozen community-based organizations, including the City of Lima Land Bank. The groundwork had been laid to move beyond the research phase of the project with the group coalescing behind a general plan to utilize vacant city-owned land for a food systems intervention project.


With a loose collaboration and a general project in mind, the group decided to seek out an OSU Connect and Collaborate grant to design and implement the project. The challenge had begun to organize and formalize a successful collaboration behind one project with very specific parameters. The research team started by inviting stakeholders back to the table to begin writing the grant and planning the implementation project. Over the next year, with the aim of congealing a collaborative group to reach consensus on the project, a location, and partner commitments, researchers followed three rules resulting in (mostly) success. Our general rules and lessons learned follow.

Rule #1:  Establish a communications plan.

At an initial October 2017 stakeholder meeting, we set the stage by establishing a communications plan, and sticking to it. After a review of the existing research project and an overview of the grant expectations, a communication plan was discussed and agreed to. The communications plan included regularly scheduled or as-needed face-to-face meetings that would be announced by e-mail at least a week ahead of time. The meetings would keep partners up to date with the grant process but also provide ample opportunities for input. They would be scheduled in the evening, include food and generally last two hours. An e-mailed summary of the meeting discussion and action steps would follow shortly after the meeting took place. One-on-one time was frequently needed with some partners to work through tasks or answer questions. Finally, partners expected full transparency about issues or concerns.

Rule #1 helped to build and retain trust among the collaborators. Trust was essential for partners to reach a consensus on the project. Lesson learned:  Partners are on the hook to attend every meeting, or send a representative. When one stops showing or communicating, anticipate a problem, then reach out to find out what it is and work to correct it. In one instance, our response to a no-show was slow, and we almost lost an important partner!

Rule #2:  Clarify expectations up front.

Anyone who has been involved with the Connect and Collaborate Grants Program knows that the program leverages university teams aligned with public/private sector partners to address challenges, and the partners have to be all in. So, rule #2, which applies to this grant or any successful collaborative project, requires teams to clarify expectations up front. Partners are expected to do more than just meet; they need to come up with what their organizations can commit to, whether it be matching funds, in-kind time, or other resources, and then put it in writing. This expectation is easier said than done. Partners need to know what is expected up front and be reminded along the way. No surprises!

Rule #2 kept everyone accountable and on task. Lesson learned: Verbal commitments can be different than written commitments, and the written ones are usually not as exciting! Get written commitments in draft form so they can be reviewed and agreed on before formalizing the final commitment. That is, give development of commitment letters more than a couple days at the end of a project…allow for at least a week or more.

Rule #3:  Be flexible, prepare for change and potentially, difficult discussions.

Even the most well laid out plan can (and will!) change, so teams must be flexible. 30 research team conference calls, 8 stakeholder meetings and 4 community events later, our project looked different, was located on a different site, included a new partner, and involved an entirely new component that took us down a new funding path.

Rule #3 made possible an improved project, stronger commitments and greater potential for sustainability. Lesson learned: Change doesn’t have to be a negative, it can actually help strengthen a project. In order to get there, though, difficult discussions had to take place and one partner was almost alienated entirely.

Nancy Bowen is an Associate Professor & Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics.

Collaborating for Impact

How do we expand employment opportunities and community leadership capacity as well as strengthen and leverage an area’s agricultural and natural resource-based economy within a three-county region? We marshal resources necessary to create three county-based Extension educator positions where the impact of the ‘full on’ Extension network and its collaborative efforts can be immediately felt.

James Morris and Brooke Beam recently joined long-time OSU Extension educator Dave Dugan in a three-county cluster in southwestern Ohio. James started most recently (May 29) in Brown County. Brooke Beam started March 26 and is based in Highland County. They will be working closely with Dave Dugan who will can now focus on Adams County; a welcome relief from his previous task covering all three of these counties. Brooke, James, and Dave bring a wide variety of experience and formal training in the areas of agronomy, agri-business, direct marketing, agricultural communication and Extension.

As a team, they will aim to address rural development needs in the three-county area. Specific areas of emphasis include: farm management, innovative ag-business enterprise development, and community leadership development, for example. A key program goal is to cultivate systems that support new rural economic development and business development opportunities.

Extension work is collaborative work. We are excited about the various ways that Brooke, James and Dave can work together and also in collaboration with community stakeholders, long-time partners and the many Extension colleagues that exist across the system.

How can you reach them?

Brooke Beam, PhDBrooke Beam
OSU Extension – Highland County
119 Governor Foraker Place; Suite 202
Hillsboro, OH 45133

Dave DuganDave Dugan
OSU Extension – Adams County
215 North Cross Street, Room 104
West Union, OH 45693


James MorrisJames Morris
OSU Extension – Brown County
325 West State Street, Bldg B
Georgetown, OH 45121


Interested in learning more? Go to https://adams.osu.edu and

Greg DavisGreg Davis is a Professor and Assistant Director, OSU Extension-Community Development.


BIG Skies, BOLD Partnerships

Visiting with a colleague recently, she shared that these uncertain times in our workplace, in our communities, and in the larger world around us require that we ask ourselves what we really are about.

For the past several days, nearly 350 practitioners, academics, and Extension professionals came together to share and learn and discuss how we can make a difference within the various communities we serve in the first-ever joint conference with NACDEP and the Community Development Society (CDS).

Big Sky, Montana, provided the conference venue for over 130 concurrent session presentations, 40 poster presentations and 3 IGNITE presentations. Five keynote presentations were included along with 8 mobile learning workshops focused on culture, local food, leadership and collaborative partnerships for economic development.

June conference surprise

Among the presentations were ten involving a dozen of Ohio’s Extension professionals. Topics and presenters (including those involving out of state collaborators indicated with an *) are listed below:

  • Credentialing Local Planning Officials: Master Citizen Planner Program (Wayne Beyea*, Myra Moss & Kara Salazar*)
  • Entrepreneurial Networking Competencies: Contemporary Perspectives on Social Capital (Julie Fox)
  • Energize Job Retention: Energy Management Strategies as a Component of Business Retention and Expansion Programs (Nancy Bowen, Eric Romich & David Civittolo)
  • Bold Partnering: Join a National Network on Leadership Programming (Brian Raison, Kyle Willams* & Elizabeth North*)
  • A New Tool for Increasing Marina Resiliency to Coastal Storms in the Great Lakes (Joe Lucente & Sarah Orlando)
  • Building Collaborative Partnership Around Critical Community/Stakeholder Issues: Watersheds, Agriculture, and a City’s Source Water Quality (Myra Moss)
  • Maximizing the Gains of Old and New Energy Development for America’s Rural Communities (Eric Romich, David Civittolo & Nancy Bowen)
  • Partnering for Community Health (Becky Nesbitt)
  • Exploring ways of using Community Arts, Cultural and Heritage businesses to stimulate Rural Community Economic Development (Godwin Apaliyah & Ken Martin)
  • Using Farmers Markets as a Tool for Economic Development: Increasing Healthy Food Access While Benefiting Small to Mid-Sized Farms (Amanda Osborne)
  •  A Dialogue Prompt for Housing and Land Use Policy in a New Administration (poster) (Anna Haines* & Myra Moss)

Three Ohioans were also installed as officers on the national NACDEP board: Nancy Bowen (re-elected Treasurer), David Civittolo (elected President-elect), and Brian Raison (elected north-central region Representative).

Two OSUE NACDEP members were also recognized with national and regional awards. Raison received regional and national recognition for using educational technology in developing  ‘A Virtual Farm Market Pilot’ and creating materials for ‘Top 10 Ways to Improve Online Teaching and Learning.’  He received regional recognition in the category ‘Excellence in CD Work’ for his effort, ‘Establishing an Impactful Local Food Council.’ Romich received regional recognition (honorable mention) in the category ‘Distinguished Career.’

Sunrise over Big Sky

Leadership, teamwork and collaboration were celebrated and cultivated throughout the conference. And after a very moving final keynote address by Sarah Calhoun of Red Ants Pants, we were reminded again that working together we truly can move mountains. See you next year in Cleveland, June 10-13!



Greg Davis is a Professor and Assistant Director for OSU Extension Community Development.

Forget the Millennial vs. Boomer Distinctions:  Let’s talk about reaching Generation “C”

How many of you have seen notices for workshops on “understanding Millennials” or “generational divides” in the workplace? They appear in my in-box on a regular basis. While I believe there is great merit in understanding differences that may exist in various age categories, I think these constructs may be the wrong focus. Instead, perhaps we should seek a common language that promotes communication, teamwork, networking, and innovation across age and other perceived boundaries. But how would we do that? I have not seen THAT webinar offered yet!

ConnectedThe founder and CEO of Hootsuite, Ryan Holmes, said, “the concept of millennials is just too limiting.” Instead, he proposes that we forget age and generational differences. He recommends we consider the concept of “Generation-C” – an idea that includes people of all ages, socioeconomic status levels, rural/urban locales, and other normally divisive categories. The idea of Generation-C is that of a common language that promotes communication, teamwork, and innovation across these real and perceived boundaries.

Generation-C is a mindset. It refers to everything from collaboration to community to computerized and/or content. And they are not just consuming content; they are creating and curating it. The most fundamental component is “connectivity.” Holmes says they “move seamlessly from laptop to tablet to smartphone,” staying connected in all aspects.

These are people you want to be around. They are connecting and helping the rest of us learn the latest and best approaches to expanding our work. Do you know someone who is a Generation-C worker? You want to be around them, don’t you?!

Jamie Seger, Program Director, OSU Extension Education Technology (and self-confessed Jamie Seger connectingmillennial), and her co-worker Danae Wolfe have been advocating this approach for years. They work to bridge our four Extension program areas by engaging people (of all generations) across technology platforms, processes, and networks. (In the photo to the left, Jamie is seen teaching “best online practices” at a recent conference on campus. She’s not targeting millennials. She’s connecting everyone!)

Perhaps adopting this mindset or approach to our work could unite and expand our efforts, reaching (and positively impacting) even more citizens across the state and nation. Give Generation-C a try. Anyone can join in. Don’t be left behind.


Move Over, Millennials: 5 Things You Need to Know About Generation C

Brian Raison is an Assistant Professor and Extension Field Specialist for Community & Organizational Leadership Development.

Good neighbors make great neighborhoods!

How might you go about transforming a neighborhood plagued by gangs, drugs, high unemployment, substandard housing and low-performing schools into a neighborhood of choice, where families want to live, work, worship or attend school?

You apply the full breadth of land-grant university resources via collaborations involving Extension, community, church, civic, and corporate partners. This has been the approach since 2002 involving Weinland Park, a neighborhood within the University District in Columbus.

As part of the OSU Extension – Franklin County staff, our University District team uses an asset-based approach to community development (which focuses on the strengths and assets of the community instead of the deficiencies) in partnering with both residents in the City of Columbus and Franklin County to strengthen the lives of children, youth and families. Our programs range from workforce development; individual development accounts; entrepreneurship; homeownership; and post-secondary education; to tax preparation; infant mortality; prison and re-entry programs; and supportive services for tenants.


After having had several ‘temporary’ locations throughout the neighborhood since 2002, residents and other local stakeholders advocated on Extension’s behalf to have a permanent location in the neighborhood! On November 21, our team will be moving from OSU’s Schoenbaum Family Center to a new, recently constructed office space at Terrace Place (99 E. Ninth Street, Columbus, OH 43201), owned by Community Housing Network. In this location, we’ll be able to expand our outreach and better serve the community needs while still continuing to offer educational programs and maintain our partnership with OSU’s Schoenbaum Family Center and the families and area residents they serve.

When you are in the area, plan to come see us in our new location!

For more information, contact: Susan Colbert, Program Director, Franklin County Expansion and Engagement, at or by phone: 614-247-1983.

Using Higher Education to Strengthen Cities

Many large universities, land-grant and otherwise, reside in America’s largest cities. What is often overlooked is the impact that these universities can have on the communities that surround them. There are multiple partnerships with cohorts of universities that are using different methods to reach large audiences.

For example, seven universities have come together to “Collaborate for Change,” with the goal of sparking institutional reflection, engagement, planning, and redesign, making higher education more diverse and accessible. The seven universities in this example (the University of Akron is one) are located all over the country and are focused on building their cities up from within. Their work is framed within five areas of focus: To be collaborative, embedded, inclusive, accountable, and relentless with commitment (Urban University).

Downtown Columbus Ohio.(Jodi Miller)

Downtown Columbus Ohio. (Jodi Miller)

Ohio State is in a position to model this approach with communities, whether they surround its campuses or its various OSU Extension county offices. Ohio State is already a part of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) and Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), but individually, OSU has begun an effort to impact Columbus. A group of faculty, with one representative from each college (our CFAES rep is Julie Fox), has met over the last year to discuss the position that OSU has in the community surrounding the university, and in Columbus, with an emphasis on cross college collaborations to make the city better. This philosophy matches that of OSU Extension in the City’s and we hope to see it develop further in the near future.

(Submitted by James Stiving, Program Assistant, Extension in the City/Central Region)

Citation: Urban University
Urban Serving Universities Collaborate to Transform Higher Education, Strengthen Cities

Collaboration critical to success of water quality project

During OSU Extension’s 2015 Annual Conference where educators, specialists, and program staff gathered across our four program areas, results of the Vice President’s Conversation on the Future of Extension were shared. Listed under Environment and Natural Resources was this: “responsible practices and a focus on sustainability related to water, air, energy development, soils, waste disposal, and agriculture.”

Stream 12-14 Blog postThis blog provides a description of a project that I have been involved with that implements the mission of the Land Grants as they address 2035 needs by taking research-based information through outreach to help community leaders and residents. What makes this project unique is it integrates the tremendous depth of interdisciplinary focus and collaboration offered within the Land Grant system.

Beginning over a year ago, this project’s focus was to improve drinking and recreational water quality in an Ohio metro area. The diversity of project partners included the private sector, OSU Extension, the OSU College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the OSU School of Environment and Natural Resources and the City.

  1. Engineering: A private engineering firm is under contract with the City Department of Water to evaluate and develop a plan to improve their drinking and recreational water quality. The firm is sub-contracting parts of the plan to OSU Extension and private consultants.
  2. Outreach: Extension’s role is to analyze agricultural management practices regarding nutrients and herbicides and develop strategies to improve water quality. To fulfill this role, the core OSU Team includes a CD Educator, a Faculty Emeritus, an Extension/SENR Program Specialist, and CD Unit office administrators. Extension is also working closely with another private sector sub-contractor whose role is to analyze and make recommendations regarding natural resource strategies to improve water quality.
  3. Research: CFAES, SENR, USDA/Agricultural Research Service and the Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering researchers contributed information and data regarding alternative management practices and their effects on water quality.
  4. Municipality: City employees in the Department of Public Utilities review and comment on strategies presented by the Engineer, OSU Extension and other sub-contractors. When the project is completed, the City will take on its implementation.

The depth of interdisciplinary focus and collaboration was critical to the success of this project. The Extension Team identified the potential agricultural areas of concern based on research studies conducted by departmental faculty. Additionally, this faculty identified potential management practices leading to the development of strategies to address these concerns.

ANR Field Specialists assisted in understanding researcher’s studies, more deeply identifying issues, capturing current educational practices and initiatives, and identifying current agricultural management practices being used by agricultural producers.

The 2015 Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference, led by an Emeritus Ag Engineer and County Extension Educators, was extremely valuable in helping the Extension Team understand the complicated relationships between water quality and agricultural practices. It also helped in connecting with the key players in the agriculture industry, including producers, researchers and Certified Crop Advisors. Throughout the project, both Field Specialists and County Educators helped the Extension Team think through specific questions raised by the Engineer and the City and provide data to help with the Engineer’s water quality modeling.

Throughout the project, progress meetings were held with the City and the engineer. The City provided feedback that focused the Extension Team’s work. The Extension Team has helped the City and Engineering firm adjust perceptions about the nutrient topic leading to a better understanding of agricultural producers’ needs and current changes in practices. We also provided some planning techniques and tools that the Engineering firm is using within the planning reports.

The Engineering firm concludes that this project provides a program design that many municipalities are going to use in the future to address their water quality issues.

We believe this project effectively demonstrates the results of a Land Grant’s mission when we integrate research, outreach and partnering across disciplines. As Extension uses this interdisciplinary approach, we will be successful in implementing initiatives that will provide what Ohioans will need to thrive in 2035.

(Submitted by Myra Moss, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Heart of Ohio EERA)

Innovation preserves our stream banks

A lazy summer day sees fishermen with their poles and catch sitting on the banks of the gently flowing Muskingum River enjoying the sounds of water rushing over Devol’s Dam near Marietta, Ohio. Just a few hundred yards upstream, township trustees oversee a project to reduce stream bank erosion to maintain this tranquil setting. This stabilization is imperative to saving not just the stream bank, but also the road that is access to homes along this portion of the Muskingum River.

As flood waters have eroded the riverbank and caused road slippage, multiple efforts and many thousands of dollars have been focused on retaining the stream bank, only to see continued decline. With financial support through a Partners in Watershed Management grant with Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, the township is working with Uretek USA on an underground polymer injection technology. By infiltrating and compacting unstable soil and voids, this technology creates soil stabilization.

Photo: Uretek USA

Photo: Uretek USA

The project began with Dynamic Cone Penetration (DCP) testing to measure soil solidity and identify volatile zones. Testing was completed to a depth that indicated solid rock. Injection holes were then drilled to various depths in patterned grids. Overall length of the three injection regions ranged from 50 to 100 linear feet. Utilizing the URETEK Deep Injection Process, a total of 11,175 lbs. of environmentally safe and water resistant expansive polymer were injected down into the soils through small ¾” diameter tubes, drilled and inserted from the pavement surface.

This new-to-Ohio riparian barrier process is designed to be economically and environmentally beneficial. The work was completed in four days with only one lane closed during the day and all lanes open during the night. Without this repair, the adjoining road would be abandoned and homes in the area would dramatically lose value. Families might even be forced to relocate.

Continued erosion affects water quality by introducing pollutants and sediments into streams. It reduces the ability to grow trees in the area that shade and cool waters helping prevent algae growth. And it disrupts the habitat of many species of plants and animals.

By engaging multiple entities, this project is an example of how Ohio State University Extension works to create opportunities through collaboration. These collaborations empower communities to solve problems that impact the lives of their residents.

(Submitted by Darlene Lukshin, Program Specialist, Washington County & Buckeye Hills EERA)

Building Regional Sustainability through Urban-Rural Connections

Cities and surrounding rural areas are highly connected and interdependent on a number of realms: socially, economically and environmentally to name a few. To succeed, cities in America need a healthy and sustainable rural economy and culture; and in turn rural America needs vibrant, well-functioning cities and suburbs in order to thrive and flourish (Dabson, 2007).  Meaningful dialogue, understanding and collaboration is critically important when seeking solutions to issues that affect cities and nearby rural counterparts.

Urban-Rural Combined 2015-07-23For example, agricultural land uses in watersheds that provide source water for metropolitan areas has become a major concern as of late. While it is a city’s responsibility to provide quality drinking and recreational water resources to residents at a reasonable cost, it is the goal of agricultural producers to provide food for America’s consumers, also at a reasonable cost, while bringing in sufficient revenues needed to stay in business.

Inputs used to increase food production – fertilizers and herbicides, for example – can enter the rural watershed and affect the city’s water resources downstream. The cost to the city of treating and removing nutrients and herbicides from their drinking water can impact on resident’s water rates. The loss of fertilizers and herbicides due to run off increases a farmer’s cost of production.

How can meaningful dialogue and collaboration between urban and rural entities be created around issues such as these? Is it possible to find common ground that can be built upon to benefit and meet the needs of all parties? In the scenario above, common ground may be that both the farmer and the city would like to see fertilizers and herbicides stay on the fields and out of the watershed. Dialogue and collaboration is needed to discover and implement the combination of educational programming, best management practices, incentives and other types of support that is most effective in helping these entities meet their common goals.

A recent issue brief published by the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) provides examples of urban-rural collaborative efforts through a series of case studies highlighting examples from communities across the country: Creating Opportunity and Prosperity Through Strengthening Rural-Urban Connections. NADO concludes that “in order to move forward, a national statement of shared purpose along the lines that if metropolitan America is to drive national prosperity, then to succeed it will need a healthy and sustainable rural economy and culture, and if rural America is to flourish, it will need vibrant, well-functioning cities and suburbs.” Finding common concerns, understanding interconnections, recognizing interdependence and building collaborations are key steps in building regional sustainability.

(Submitted by Myra Moss, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Heart of Ohio EERA)