At the 2014 Michigan State University Extension Fall Extension Conference, we introduced the concept of including a local initiative in an educator’s plan of work. This would allow the opportunity to respond to or address a programming topic or issue that:
- The educator has expertise in or has knowledge and skills in that he or she would like to further develop but it may not be a priority in the work team plan or,
- Is a local programmatic need that is not directly being addressed in a work team plan, and
- Provides time to respond to local needs, or develops local strategic relationships and constituent interactions.
These types of initiative are an excellent way for Extension educators to engage in local programming in the county where they are housed to demonstrate the value of Extension to the local community and bring visibility to the work of MSU Extension staff.
As expected, this topic has created a lot of interest across the state. We want to take this opportunity to continue to clarify the intent of the local initiative option in individual plans.
The expectation is that staff will reserve 80 to 100 percent of their programming time for planned activities in conjunction with their institute and team(s) and corresponding plans. Up to 20 percent is available to use in planning for individual local initiatives. Prior to developing a plan for the individual local initiative, it is expected that staff will have a discussion with their institute director (ID) and the appropriate district coordinator (DC) to ensure the proposed initiative aligns with the overall mission of MSU Extension and is in alignment with the individual’s identified role in the organization. Some key points to keep in mind when considering a local initiative for your plan are:
- The proposed initiative must be in alignment with the overall mission of MSU Extension.
- Plans and initiatives must be discussed with and approved by the institute director and the district coordinator. If you are not sure where to begin and need ideas, remember DCs are an excellent resource due to their local vantage points. They can provide suggestions to you for initiatives that are in need of addressing.
- Staff is expected and will be responsible to report at the end of the year what they accomplished with this allocation of time.
We will continue to work toward full implementation of this concept of plan of work flexibility between team and local program planning for our next cycle of plan development. In the meantime, if you have an opportunity you would like to pursue during this program year or find you need to alter your plan to give attention to an important local issue, please do not hesitate to discuss this with your ID or DC. Please send any questions you might have to your DC or ID and we will put together an FAQ to update and share periodically in this Spotlight or a webinar. We will also work toward a full set of guidelines to include in next year’s plan of work instructions.