Extension Visioning Team continues its work

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service (NCCES) Strategic Vision & Planning Initiative continues to make significant strides in 2014. In January, the organization’s Visioning Team, made up of about 50 Extension employees, county government partners and volunteer leaders, gathered in Browns Summit to review and synthesize the input from 14 recent public listening sessions and online comments.

The Cooperative Extension Service is engaged in a planning and reorganization process that will strengthen the organization and better align its priorities with the needs of North Carolinians as it prepares to celebrate its 100th year.

“The Visioning Team has begun crafting a plan that will better position our organization for long-term success and sustainability,” said Dr. Joe Zublena, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service director. “The energy, passion and ideas that the team brought to the January planning meetings were nothing short of inspiring. We are that much closer to our goal because of the hard work that every one of them put into this effort.”

Learn more about the overall initiative: www.ces.ncsu.edu/vision-initiative.

Where things stand
During the planning sessions, team members reviewed and incorporated stakeholder input and needs from a variety of conversations and the listening sessions into “big ideas” for designing Extension’s future. The shared goal in this process is to deliver the best Cooperative Extension programs that meet and exceed the needs of North Carolinians and align with core organizational strengths.

“We must prioritize the programs North Carolina needs that we are best equipped to provide,” said Sheri Schwab, associate director in charge of county operations for the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. “Then we can make changes and improvements to our organizational structure to effectively deliver those most critical educational programs.”

To help visualize and capture the progress thus far, Extension developed a short video highlighting the listening session process and the work of the Visioning Team. View the video: http://youtu.be/nCDMKZPPUaQ.

Next steps
The Visioning Team reconvened in Raleigh Feb. 18-20 to continue crafting high-priority themes and to further consolidate ideas into recommendations to administration. The group is also gathering and reviewing additional data and information to facilitate informed and impactful decisions (such as county government surveys, operational budgets, economic indicators, etc.).

The Visioning Team will also meet and continue to refine and focus the strategic plan during March 12-13 and April 15-17.

Putting everything into perspective
The organization is on track to have a final plan in place during the spring of 2014. Regarding the current status of the reorganization process, Extension leadership encourages stakeholders and the public to consider the following tidbits of information.

  • No decisions regarding changes have been made (there are no final plans to report).
  • This planning initiative is a work in progress, which continues to evolve as the team crafts and fine-tunes the plan for the future.
  • The Cooperative Extension Service is restructuring the organization, not gutting the organization.
  • These things take time. The organization is still on schedule to have a final plan ready in the spring of this year.
  • Summaries for each listening session are available on the initiative website: www.ces.ncsu.edu/vision-initiative.

“Thank you for your continued patience and dedication throughout this process,” Zublena said. “We’ll continue to share updates and provide open channels for dialogue as we position the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service for another century of success and stellar service.”

-J. Moore

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