Making Connections: Demonstrating Collaborations, Systems, and Complex Ideas with Interactive Tools

Thank you to those of you that joined us live on January 8th…but for those of you who were unable to join us, or those that did and just want a second look, here is the link to the video recording!

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Incrementally Closer Hour by Hour, Day by Day

Saw this picture on LinkedIn yesterday.  The contents reflect the conversations I participated in at Fall Conference….so just sharing with everyone.  We discussed how some people focus on how many years they have been in a position/location….whereas others focus on what they have accomplished, no matter where they have been housed. My perspective is that the latter is optimal….and that the latter are people that are more fun to work with! I don’t want to work with a veteran just because they have been there a long time….I want to work with the people (veteran or new person or even someone external to our organization) who can get something done!

Here’s hoping that in 2019 you “bring it” to each and every hour….filling your life with the kinds of opportunities and moments that make your life exactly what you want it to be.  Don’t just fill your hours, but use each hour/day intentionally taking one step closer to your professional goals…hour by hour, day by day incrementally closer to your professional dreams.  …Just think how far you will have traveled after one year! And if we multiply this effort by all the people in Extension…we can move mountains!

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Today’s Extension Life Hacks Webinar

Thanks for the really great feedback on today’s Extension Life Hacks webinar.  Personally I love the format of these and apparently you do too!

If you missed today’s webinar and would like to watch it, here is a link to the recording.

And here is a link to Karly’s Accountability Spreadsheet!


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Chris Pine Follows Me on Twitter!

Yep…you read that right….Chris Pine.  🙂  If you don’t know who Chris Pine is then you probably haven’t watched many movies lately.  Now while Chris Pine following me on Twitter did catch my attention, and on the surface was very flattering…it in itself really isn’t blog worthy or flattering at all….let me tell you why.

So…if you click on the Chris Pine that follows me on Twitter, it has a lovely picture of him.  And, yes, that really is Chris Pine…but again…it is very unlikely that it’s actually the Chris Pine that we all watch on the movie screen.  I don’t know Chris Pine…and quite frankly, I can’t even do a 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon to Chris Pine….so I’m 99.99% sure it’s not really Chris Pine.  Which opens up the real reason for writing this blog.

Many times the profiles that follow us on social media are not truly who they on the surface purport to be….which means that someone who doesn’t want to be identified is now following me on social media.  Now, it could just be someone who knows that I like sci-fi movies, or I’m not sure whether I will or will not like Star Trek 4 (2 strikes: loss of Pine, not following Kelvin timeline), or am interested in theoretical physics, but then again, it might not be someone who knows me at all, but rather, is trying to figure out who I am for not so positive reasons.  Just be safe, my friends, ’tis the season for cyber-stalking and apparently in the case of Chris Pine, identity theft.

And, just in case the .01% is the truth and it really is Chris Pine.  🙂 Chris, I’m so sorry that my gut instinct thought that I was being followed by a creep…I’m sure you’re probably not a creep in real life.   Chris….my advice to you would be to go back to the negotiations table on Star Trek 4.  I would like to tell myself that I will not go because it doesn’t follow the Kelvin timeline…but the truth is, I’ll be there the week that Star Trek 4 comes out whether you are in it or not, ready to “Boldly Go, Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

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You Can’t See Your Own Dirt

I’m at a national conference, and while there, I’ve met and talked with tons of people from other states and had the opportunity to talk with plenty of people from Nebraska. Last night as I was thinking about some of these conversations, I had the epiphany that “People Can’t See Their Own Dirt”….let me explain.

Within our professions we expend a great deal of energy trying to fix problems. And, we also are able to quickly identify problems. When we are transferred to another county/state/position in Extension, we quickly can assess where these problems are, and are frustrated, perhaps even dumbfounded that the previous person at that position either didn’t identify the problem or either refused or was incapable in some way of addressing the problem. And yet, as we exited our initial position we also are able to identify issues that we weren’t able to address in the time that we were there. Why is it that as human beings we always think that someone else’s dirt is in someway dirtier? Why are we incapable of realizing that while we see someone else’s dirt, we have in someway created dirt in our wake too, and left it there for someone else to clean up?

Now I hope that you realize that I’m not talking about actual dirt…but rather tasks left undone, policies that changed and yet we were unable to shift the local stakeholders into accepting/embracing, stakeholders that we just couldn’t ever bring around to the level of contribution that they were capable of, companies that could have contributed to our mission etc. We all have dirt in our wake. I’m not asking people to contact me and point out all of my dirt…believe me, I’m fully aware of most of it, I’m sure. I guess I’m just hoping that we all are able to admit that we have left dirt in our wake, and perhaps not judge the person we are following quite so harshly OR be so paranoid about the person following us identifying our dirt and calling us out on it but instead being open to having a conversation about the dirt with the person following us (not stakeholders involved).

We all have made dirt…and well we all have different strengths, talents, and dirt. Instead of pointing fingers and whining, let’s work together toward cleaning it up.

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Tableau Public

I’ve been using Tableau for almost five years now…it’s a cool tool for us data geeks!

Tableau allows you to create excellent professional looking visualizations for all your data.  While the full version would be expensive for any of us individually to afford, lucky for us it also has a free version, called Tableau Public.  Free software does come with drawbacks…Tableau Public does allow other individuals access to your data sets…so make sure that whatever you are using it for does not divulge inappropriate information (ie client names/address/contact information).

Here’s a link to my Tableau Public profile. deb.weitzenkamp .  While, you will quickly be able to identify that the visualizations I’ve created aren’t that spectacular by any means, it will give you an idea of how you might use it in Extension.  I use it every year to show our impact splash of Applejack.  We collect zip codes from Applejack participants, and Tableau has a built in function to plot it to the actual outlines of each zip code, and to shade it for density of records.  While it isn’t a complete data set as we don’t ever get 100% of the people in attendance to give us their zip code…probably closer to 20%…but a sampling. It is however a very quick way to see what type of participation you have in Extension programming in your accountability region….and to visualize if you are offering programming in a uniform way across your accountability region.

Another key feature of Tableau is that it comes with a lot of government data sets.  If you are looking at how your data compares to census data, you can overlay census data.  Geographic data, census data, or USGS data sets.  In addition you can connect to your own data sources like Fitbit, Twitter, Facebook etc.

Similar to my 2015 Youth Livestock Project Participation Viz, I would be an advocate for a statewide Nebraska Extension Impact Tableau dataset, so we could quickly, and conveniently share with stakeholders what type of programming was occurring in each county (contributions by all educators/assistants to a Google form with programming area, year/date, zip code of offering, and number of participants) would be something that could be embedded on our webpages.  Wouldn’t that be a cool, efficient use of Extension time/financial resources!

Check it out by signing up for an account.  Enjoy!!!!

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+Email Accounts

Here’s a little tech tip for those of you working with online systems that require individual email accounts for every participant. Systems require unique email accounts in order to see each registrant as unique and to keep their records uniquely theirs.  So, here’s a tip of how to help families who are working within those systems, but don’t want to sign up for yet another email account.  It’s called the +Email account system. It works for many of the email providers.

To explain a bit deeper.  If you have an email account, say,, and you need to set up children, spouses, aunt and uncle or whoever on a system that the original account holder (ie is already in, then you can use the +feature.  To add another person to a system, but use the same email account, you could use;, or or all of the above.  As long as you don’t add spaces between your + sign and the alpha numeric characters you add on to it, you have unlimited emails all using the same email account.  All of these +email accounts would come into the same email manager (Outlook) as the original email.

It doesn’t work with all email providers though. I’ve noticed that some of the smaller email providers block the the +email feature.  So, if in doubt, try an email to the +email account you are thinking about setting up before you actually use it.  It won’t bounce back if the original email (in this case is valid. It will however appear as a separate email account for most web-based services…allowing you to use one email account for multiple people within the same system.

This is an awesome solution for parents who don’t want to set up an email account for their child, or want to be able to monitor any emails their child is receiving.

Note, since all of these come into the original account, this does not work as a junk email account.  …You will want to set up a separate email account for all of those things you want to sign up for but not give the email account that you actually monitor. You can however, use it with a junk email account, if you want to sign up multiple people using the same junk email account.

Hope this helps you support families in the work that we do!


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