October 1999 // Volume 37 // Number 5 // Tools of the Trade // 5TOT3
Chi Epsilon Sigma (National Extension Support Staff Fraternity)
Chi Epsilon Sigma (CES) is a national, professional Extension association first proposed and organized in Ohio for support staff. The purpose of CES is to maintain the standards and ideals, uphold the morale, prestige and respect of Extension support staff, to develop an effective working relationship and a spirit of fraternal fellowship among the present and emeriti employees of Extension, and to encourage professionalism within Extension. Now in its 12th year, Chi Epsilon Sigma is considered a success story by both the administration and support staff members in Ohio.
Now in its twelfth year, Chi Epsilon Sigma is considered a success story by both administration and support staff members in Ohio. Chi Epsilon Sigma (CES) is a national, professional Extension association for support staff, that was proposed and organized in Ohio. The purposes of CES are to maintain the standards and ideals of the Extension Service, uphold the morale, prestige and respect of Extension support staff, develop an effective working relationship and a spirit of fraternal fellowship among present and emeriti employees of Extension, and encourage professionalism within Extension.
The name Chi Epsilon Sigma was chosen because the initials also represented Cooperative Extension Service. The meaning for the Greek letters represent (Chi) life, (Epsilon) loyalty and (Sigma) learning.
CES was patterned after the Extension professional fraternity, Epsilon Sigma Phi. Realizing that an association similar to ESP would benefit support staff as well, Dorothy Rex, an Ohio State University Extension support staff, now emeriti, proposed the idea to her immediate supervisor and administrators at the state level. She received approval and encouragement to proceed.
OSU Extension is comprised of 87 county, five district, and numerous state program and administrative offices. Support staff representatives were chosen to form a planning committee from each of these areas while at the same time keeping a geographical cross-section. This committee developed a survey that was distributed to all support staff in the state. After receiving their positive feedback, the planning committee met frequently that first year to develop the Constitution and Bylaws according to Roberts Rules of Order. A membership drive was held and the first annual meeting was held in 1986.
The executive board of Chi Epsilon Sigma consists of president, president-elect, vice president, secretary/treasurer, membership secretary, annalist, administrative liaison, past president and seven directors (representing each of Ohio's five Extension districts, a campus representative, and an emeriti representative).
Ohio State University Extension has been fortunate to offer a yearly conference for support staff professional development. The annual meeting of Chi Epsilon Sigma has been incorporated as part of this state-wide conference. During the annual meeting, a business meeting is held, new officers are elected, new members recognized, and accomplishments from the previous year are celebrated.
Membership dues are paid from two sources. According to Ohio's staff handbook, membership dues can be paid from the appropriated account of the individual office, pending approval from the department's chair. A high percentage of dues are paid by this method. However, some members choose to pay dues from personal funds. CES officers have continued to keep the dues at a minimum. Ohio's dues are $12 per year for each member. Beginning in 1999, a free, life-time membership is offered to emeriti support staff.
Chi Epsilon Sigma also awards two $200 scholarships to members who apply for professional development training. These scholarships are announced at the annual support staff conference.
Other benefits to members include a membership notebook and Chi Epsilon Sigma pin, a quarterly newsletter, and the opportunity to have a Secret Friend for the year. Each member is encouraged to take advantage of leadership opportunities in the organization to strengthen these skills.
Since the formation of CES, support staff have been given the opportunity to participate in many decisions that affect them. For example, the president of Chi Epsilon Sigma and the presidents of ESP, OEAA, and OEPA meet quarterly with the director of OSU Extension. Officers of CES serve on the selection committee for professional development dollars that are provided annually by administration for support staff. Also, CES representatives have served on numerous other committees (new employee orientation, retirement planning, all agricultural college conference planning, support staff mentoring, and yearly support staff conference planning committees).
Ohio's Alpha Chapter of Chi Epsilon Sigma desires to develop interest in other states to form chapters for a national network. A Beta Chapter of CES was formed with the Arkansas Extension Service. Presentations were made last year to Kentucky and Wyoming Extension support staff and interest has been shown in starting a CES chapter. The officers of Chi Epsilon Sigma are prepared to assist other states in whatever way is necessary.
If you would like additional information about Chi Epsilon Sigma, please contact Lee Ann Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.