Working Regionally: Getting Together (Part 3 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

Foster a culture of communication in your regional
Extension group.

These are signs of successful collaboration:

  • Supportive.
  • Easy-going and informal.
  • Give and take atmosphere.
  • Mutual respect.
  • Share problems and solutions.
  • Membership is intentional and therefore strongly bonding.

Use meetings to practice communication.

  • Allow for healthy, open discussion during meetings.
  • Explore ideas and voice opinions.
  • Be diplomatic and carefully consider others’ input.
  • Listen with interest, and pause to consider before responding.
  • Arrive at decisions by consensus – rarely vote on issues.

Speak up!

  • Don’t rush, but do start on time to respect those who are present at the beginning of the meeting.
  • Get all members to speak with an active roll call.
  • Use a topic-appropriate icebreaker – for example, “What is your favorite garden vegetable?” or “What is your favorite holiday dish?”
  • Take time to comment on each other’s icebreaker, that way meeting late-comers can participate in the roll call when they arrive.
  • Go around the membership taking turns or use the chat as an alternative if you are short of time because of a guest presentation.
  • Once a year, get an update from at least one member from each state, so that the whole group can hear from members they might not hear from otherwise.
  • Remember that some members are less vocal than others, so be sure to employ these and other strategies to hear everyone’s voice.

Activate your members.

  • Every member should have an active role.
  • Let members brainstorm and come up with how they would like to contribute.
  • Organize into smaller subcommittees or working groups to involve everyone.


  • Start a regional newsletter, ask members to contribute items, or invite outside guest columnists.
  • Identify members with graphic design proclivities.
  • Solicit and collect images from members for use in a variety of publications.
  • Create social media content.
  • Select members to co-author an article.
  • Identify members for mutual peer review of scholarly efforts.
  • Engage members to present at a conference.
  • Create an Extension webinar series and ask members to volunteer to present, along with other area experts on a variety of topical subjects.

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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