Staff FYI News

For Your Information is an internal newsletter for Illinois Extension staff and Extension stakeholders. The monthly newsletter includes the latest communication, technology, and programmatic information, as well as highlights of staff-related accomplishments and announcements.

May 2022

Dr. Shelly Nickols-Richardson
Associate Dean and Director of Extension

When I was young, the phrase “I see you” usually preceded my getting into trouble. Most often, it had to do with sneaking something sweet before the evening meal and not being swift enough to get through the kitchen without being spotted by a parent or tattled on by a sibling.

When my children were growing up, I used these three words with them to redirect what I anticipated would be problematic behavior into something more constructive. It would go like this. Spoken: “I see you…” Unspoken: …with that uncapped magic marker in your hand heading toward the wall. Of course, these words would be accompanied by body language designed to offer a better choice as evidenced by construction paper in my hands.

In today’s time, “I see you” has another meaning. I like this current use of these fundamental words. Spoken: “I see you.” Unspoken: I understand. Spoken: “I see you.” Unspoken: I am impressed. Spoken: “I see you.” Unspoken: I relate to what you are going through, appreciate what you have done, and will be there with you if it gets tougher and when it gets better. Three words that acknowledge. Three words that praise. Three words that are powerful. “I see you.” 


Inclusive Extension
Amanda Cole, Interim Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

Civil Rights Compliance Reminder: REPRESENTATION MATTERS: Document all efforts to recruit new members for open Extension Council seats each year. Analyze your current Extension Council grid and look for opportunities to have representation that reflects the communities you serve. These efforts for recruitment, both successful and unsuccessful, should be captured in subfolder 09 Committee Membership REG in your unit’s Civil Rights Box folder. Speak with your county director to learn more and to share names of potential volunteers.

Upcoming Cultural Events in June

LGBTQIA+ Pride Month: The purpose of the month is to recognize the impact that LGBTQIA+ individuals have had on society locally, nationally, and internationally. Pride Month was initially inspired by the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan and works to achieve equal justice and opportunity for LGBTQIA+ community members. Celebrations, including pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQIA+ Pride Month events, attract millions of participants around the world.

Juneteenth: President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on June 17, 2021, officially making it a United States federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S. The holiday was first celebrated in Texas where, on that date in 1865 in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. Why is it called “Juneteenth?” It is a blend of two words: June and nineteenth. It is believed to be the oldest African American holiday in the United States, with annual celebrations on June 19 in different parts of the country dating back to 1866. Also known as Freedom Day, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S., it is sometimes called America’s second Independence Day.

A few of the major holidays celebrated around the world during June:

  • 6/4 to 6/6 – Shavuot (Judaism)
  • 6/5 – Pentecost (Catholicism, Christianity, Episcopalianism)
  • 6/5 – First of Núr – Light (Bahá'í)
  • 6/12 – Trinity Sunday (Christianity)
  • 6/16 – Corpus Christi (Catholicism)
  • 6/16 – Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Martyrdom (Sikhism)
  • 6/21 – Litha/Midsummer (Wicca)
  • 6/24 – First of Rahmat – Mercy (Bahá'í)


Bridget Lee-Calfas, Director of Communications

Translation Specialist Job Posting: We have listed the full-time Translation Specialist position, which we know will expand our ability to effectively and equitably connect with diverse audiences and partners across the state. Applications are due by June 1. Partial-remote work is negotiable.

Website Training: There have been unit Extension website platform updates and new website editors added since the initial 2019 web trainings. Dan Horn and Judy Bingman are hitting the road this month to provide technical training and marketing best practices to help guide content development for your unit’s site. Thanks to those who have attended one of the five sessions already held. The final three workshops are:

  • May 18: Adams County Office
  • May 19: Effingham County Office
  • May 20: Franklin County Office

Marketing Resources: Marketing resource are on our Communication/Information Technology website. Check here when you're hunting the latest training, marketing assets, and resources, including how to request help from your communications, web, or IT teams.

Need your website data?: A tableau dashboard provide web stats for current websites (beginning with extension.illinois) and legacy sites (beginning with web.extension). Use the short link to access the data.


4-H Youth Development
Lisa Diaz, Assistant Dean and Director of Illinois 4-H

Youth in Illinois “Go Fish”:  Youth from across Illinois headed into the great outdoors to participate in the statewide 4-H Hooks Us Together Virtual Fishing Crappie Challenge in April. While the competition took place virtually, this competition series gets youth outdoors and learning about the environment through a fun activity. In May, the competition will focus on largemouth bass and in June, channel catfish

National Youth Events: Our Illinois youth delegation returned last month from the National Healthy Living Summit. Teen health leaders from across the country gathered at the summit to focus on learning about and solving healthy living issues. The Illinois youth delegates will bring back what they’ve learned to help positively impact their homes, communities, and local economies.

Competitions Heat Up: In April, youth from around Illinois competed in the SpaceBot Mission Command 4-H Robotics Challenge, Public Speaking Contest, Dairy Quiz Bowl, Horse Bowl, Hippology, and Horse Speaking Contests.


Ag and Ag Business: Travis Burke, Assistant Dean and Program Leader

Spring Planting Update: Farmers have been slightly delayed due to unpredictable rain and weather conditions over the last several weeks. Wet soils across most of the state have been constant with some relief developing over this current week. Our regular crop updates from extension professionals reveal that farmers still have adequate time to get corn and soybeans planted as they work swiftly as the soils dry and land preparation continues. Hopefully by mid-May, they will be full steam ahead with planting intentions.

Biden Visits Kankakee: President Joe Biden visited Kankakee County on May 11 to address the impact of soaring agricultural inputs to America’s family farms. He was accompanied by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The event was held at the fairgrounds in Kankakee County. Additional visits were planned on local farms in the area.

Irwin Featured in Time Magazine: Dr. Scott Irwin, Norton Chair of Agricultural Marketing at University of Illinois, was featured in TIME magazine’s April 14 edition with a story “The Global Food Crisis Will be One of Affordability Rather than Supply.” His story provided a background on the impact of the Ukrainian conflict on global grain supplies, fertilizer, and impacts on the Ukrainian farmers as their planting periods have launched. Also, he discusses the fact that Mother Nature could impact all of these activities. 


Community and Economic Development
Anne Silvis, Assistant Dean and Program Leader

The CREATE BRIDGES project is a partnership of the Southern Rural Development Center, Oklahoma State University Extension, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension, and the University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky (CEDIK), with funding from Wal-Mart. New Mexico State Cooperative Extension and North Carolina State Extension joined University of Illinois Extension for Phase II of the pilot program.

Susan Odum from Illinois Extension received funding to help rural communities build capacity for strengthening the retail, accommodations, tourism, and entertainment sectors of the local economy, which provide jobs and business opportunities that frequently boost rural economies. Counties participating include Alexander, Johnson, Massac, Pulaski, and Union, which are known for their scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, historic sites, state parks, orchards, wineries, restaurants and unique lodging facilities amidst the backdrop of Shawnee Forest Country, the 289,000-acre Shawnee National Forest.

Susan and the Illinois project team guided the rural, economically distressed region through a comprehensive assessment process that included an inventory of retail and hospitality sector businesses, a series of community forum events, and a business retention and expansion (BRE) program outlined to gather input on the needs of retail and hospitality sector businesses.

The final phase is to develop and implement strategies to strengthen the retail and hospitality sector businesses and their workforce based on the data collected during the information gathering phase of the project. As a result of the knowledge gained during the pilot projects in the six states, the CREATE BRIDGES National Team is in the process of finalizing the new innovative curriculum so it can be shared with Extension colleagues across the U.S. Odum hopes that this curriculum can be used to support other rural, economically distressed regions of our state.  


Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy
Shibu Kar, Assistant Dean and Program Leader

Position announcements:

  • Brodie Dunn started as a Visiting Outreach Associate on May 2. Brodie will focus on coordinating and strengthening statewide pollinator programing and connecting Extension field staff working on pollinators and beneficial insects with campus faculty (Entomology) and other agencies.
  • Lora Zimmer joined us as an Office Support Associate on May 2. Lora will be supporting our NREE program office and helping with office correspondence, documentations, meetings, travels, purchases, and other logistics.

Master Naturalist Program: Duane Friend, our new state Master Naturalist and climate change specialist, has been actively visiting different Extension unit offices and meeting with MN coordinators to identify program gaps and opportunities to strengthen the program as well as engage volunteers from underrepresented and underserved communities. We would appreciate your cooperation on developing a robust MN program to enhance awareness and support for statewide natural resource conservation and sustainable environment for a better living.

Thanks so much to Chris Evans, forestry Extension and research specialist, for wonderful service in his Interim role as a MN coordinator and helping Duane transition to this new coordinator role.

Conferences: NREE and other Illinois Extension staff will have active presence in the following conferences:


Administrative Updates

Director Updates:

  • Korina Allen, Office Support Assistant, Unit 20
  • Natalie Grider, EPC 4-H, Unit 12 (Unity Center, McLean County)
  • Kris Juelfs, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, Unit 22
  • Ryan Littlejohn, EPC, 4-H, Unit 25
  • Maisie McClure, EPC, 4-H, Unit 25
  • Sara Seyfert, EPC, 4-H, Unit 13
  • Megan Stites, Office Support Assistant, Unit 13

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