With the program now in its third cohort, the Extension Emerging Leadership Initiative (EELI) welcomes graduates to help induct a new class by sharing their own stories of success from completion of leadership training.
“The best part of my experience with EELI is the camaraderie within our organization, meeting and getting to know other Extension professionals,” said Senior Agribusiness Extension Agent Will Culler, a 2020 graduate. That may sound good, but you don’t know the other officers around the state. You may have heard of them, you may have seen them or seen what they do, but you haven’t had a chance to find out. Be real to them and make them feel comfortable – and it will help you become a team.
Food Systems and Safety Agent Faith Israel said it was valuable to hear and share stories with others who faced or overcame similar challenges to those she encountered at his business.
“Just hearing what they experienced — for example, they had a difficult time with a co-worker or an uncomfortable conversation — and how they dealt with it, just helped me prepare for, ‘OK, how can I handle this if it happened?'” he said. “Because I want to learn new things, but I can’t learn everything by myself. So I think the just hearing that – their stories, their journeys and what they’re doing with their community – is so rewarding.
After joining the President’s Leadership Office, Clemson Extension Director of Field Operations and Personnel Management Deon Legette was inspired to develop a similar program for Clemson Cooperative Extension employees. Two years later, Legette received the prestigious Martin Luther King Jr. Award.
EELI is a professional development opportunity that annually selects up to 25 professionals at the county or state level with at least three years of experience with Extension who are expected to develop the next generation of leaders. But this group of three is too small to allow for more individual interaction, and the 11 members include staff from Clemson and South Carolina State.
“This group will be charged with leading the way to ensure that the three C’s from the first South Carolina Cooperative Extension conference theme – Coordination, Collaboration, Cultivation – are implemented at both universities through programs planned, management meetings, and other meetings. , “said Legette. “We will be the leaders in promoting this organization, partnership and agriculture between Clemson and South Carolina State.”
Clemson Extension Director Tom Dobbins credited Legette not only for having the knowledge to develop a program for Extension, but for providing the plan and leadership to make it happen.
“Deon is helping to create a culture of success and is helping Extension agents and colleagues reach their full potential,” he said. “EELI people are making a big difference to our organization, and I’m very grateful to Deon for his great work on this.”
Alfred McIntosh, program coordinator for the 1890 Research & Extension Community Economic Development Program, said one of the biggest things he’s taken away from the program so far is motivation.
“I have a greater sense of purpose and service in outreach and Extension,” McIntosh said. “This project will not only give me professional growth, but also increase my personal growth. As an entrepreneur whose work needs to change the lives of people and their communities, I hope to translate the skills gained from attending EELI into my workplace to continue learning and growing.
One thing that cohort members and former graduates often say when asked about the benefits of the program is the relationships and relationships they can build with other Extension professionals. next in the state.
“There are many things I hope to take away from this experience such as learning to lead from where I am, strengthening and expanding my leadership skills and abilities, and the relationships with other Extension leaders, especially those in my cohort. I believe this process will provide opportunities for me to gain valuable knowledge and experiences that will enhance my ability to expand my service to my community,” McIntosh said.
Clemson Extension Water Resources Agent Susan Lunt describes her experience with EELI as “amazing” and says it focuses on overall growth — not just the business model.
“This program is helping me integrate my mission and interests both personally and professionally and see what it means to be involved with Clemson Extension,” Lunt said. “The main purpose of this program is to put you as a person to grow and connect with others in the cohort to build relationships, meaning and trust. The result of my participating in EELI means finding opportunities where I can discover and fulfill my potential and help others do the same.
Yaniqua Eyabi Family Health and Nutrition Agent with 1890 Extension says she has gained experience and learned that her ‘purpose’ – what motivates her to serve others – explains to why he does what he does and the difference it can make.
“I hope to know more about myself so that I can plan a lifestyle where I can continue to challenge myself and get new ideas about myself at EELI,” said Eyabi. “I think I’ve taken the right steps to grow as a business because until now I’ve set clear goals, I’m expanding my network, I’m working on getting of mentorship and support, and I continue to practice my ‘why’ to grow as a professional.
The Morrill Act of 1862 was passed during the American Civil War and allowed for the establishment of land grant colleges like Clemson in the American states, while the second Morrill Act of 1890 expanded in the model to include 1890 land grant societies such as SC. State and other black universities.
Clemson Extension has offices in all South Carolina counties, while SC State has offices in 32 counties and is counting on continuing to expand its footprint. And EELI’s education goes back to the roots of Extension: at the February meeting, Frank Lever III, grandson of A. Frank Lever, the judge responsible for enacting the Smith-Lever Act in establish Extension services in the country.
Extension is the outreach arm of the three-pronged national grant program — education, research and outreach — that improves the quality of life of all South Carolinians by providing non-binding information and research through public outreach programs.
Clemson Extension Area Agribusiness Agent Charlotte Maxwell, based in Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties, said the EELI program helped her understand how the state’s entire Extension system works.
“I applied to be part of this EELI team to better understand the intricacies of the South Carolina Extension system and prepare myself for future leadership roles,” said Maxwell. “I hope to bring new contacts and more confidence in leadership from my place at the end of the project. So far, I have met colleagues from different counties and project area and I began to refine my knowledge of leadership and teamwork.
An EELI group is planned with three groups. The new organization will include leadership professional development, a service program and a partnership with Clemson and SC State.
Addressing the cohort at the March meeting, Clemson University President James P. Clements offered words of encouragement to Extension professionals: “Your work is amazing. You change lives. You connect the state. You’ve built credibility — not just because of your title or your role or what you think you do,” he said. “You are an asset to those who trust you.”
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