Working Regionally: Getting Organized (Part 2 of 3)


This 3-publication set provides information about forming and sustaining a food safety regional group on published research conducted by the regional group.

Lead Author
Lead Author:
Julie Garden-Robinson, Professor and Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension
Other Authors

Rebecca West, Program Assistant, NDSU Extension
Londa Nwadike, Extension Associate Professor of Food Safety, Kansas State University and the University of Missouri
Shannon Coleman, Associate Professor and State Extension Epecialist, Iowa State University

Web only
Publication Sections

Get your regional Extension group up and running.

Do we need formal goals to begin?

  • No, simply start with one or two obvious or immediate goals.
  • Plan with your group’s main topic of focus in mind.
  • Determine your constituents’ current greatest needs.
  • Plan, but don’t get bogged down with strategic planning.
  • Allow goals to evolve naturally as your group develops.
  • Be mindful that group goals may be completely implicit.
  • Be flexible to allow your group to respond to immediate needs that may pop up, such as when a pandemic hits.

Monthly/regular meetings are a chance to learn, share and bond.

  • Use a recurring time and place – for example, the third Friday of every month from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
  • Create an email listserv.
  • Set up a digital cloud storage account for your meeting minutes and other group documents.
  • Consider having dual leaders to take turns preparing the agenda, sending out digital meeting invitations and leading the meeting.
  • If possible, hire a note taker (graduate student, intern or program assistant) to attend meetings and write meeting minutes. This removes pressure from leadership so they can focus on running the meeting.
  • Record meetings and share the link and meeting minutes to the entire listserv as soon as possible after the meeting.
  • When you decide your regional group is getting fairly large, break up into two or three smaller working groups (subcommittees) and have the smaller groups and large regional group alternate meetings every other month.

Create interest, connection and excitement at your meetings.

  • Have members do a presentation of their latest research; this is especially helpful when introducing new members to the group so others can better understand their background and expertise.
  • Invite industry stakeholders to present at your meetings. For example, our Extension group formed a partnership with an international canning supply company in providing safe home food preservation products, recipes and advice.
  • Invite other regional Extension groups from outside your region to present on their expertise or recent research on a topic of interest to your group. This is a great way to build national Extension relationships.

Become more established as you move into the future.

  • Think about branding your group by creating a formal name and logo to put on all of your products and presentations.
  • Create a website for your group that may be housed by one of the universities in your region.
  • Keep a running group curriculum vitae to record your accomplishments. This is handy for professional evaluations and other applications.

Read more about NCFSEN

We thank our many NCFSEN colleagues for their participation in this effort.


This publication was made possible in part with funding from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Foundation. We thank them for their support.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
K State Research and Extension
University of Missouri Extension

Reference. Garden-Robinson, J., West, R., Coleman, S., Ingham, B., McGarry, J., & Nwadike, L. (2021). Organizing Extension family and consumer sciences groups around a common topic: Lessons learned and best practices. Journal of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, 16, 93-98.

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