Jackie has no idea I am doing this. But it is time to shout out a terrific assistant I have had the pleasure to work with for these past seven months.
When the opportunity to work with an assistant arose, Jackie immediately came to mind. A former 4-H’er in Sussex County, I knew her love for 4-H and for photography would allow her to hit the ground running. I didn’t realize how fast she would take off! But I felt instinctively that our overall Extension programs would benefit from her enthusiasm.
Charged with a goal to expand Extension’s role in social media, Jackie was instrumental in helping me to develop interesting content to share via the many different platforms. Although familiar with Facebook and Instagram, she was new to most other social media platforms, had never worked on an Apple computer, or worked with video or video editing. Social media succeeds when there is good content to share. Jackie helped to develop new content, different than what we had previously been sharing.
Because of her 4-H training, photography skills, critical eye and judgment, I knew she’d be a quick study.
My instincts and intuition served me well. Jackie made us all look good. Here are some of the things Jackie learned working for Extension.
1. Jackie learned how to set up recording devices for optimal audio and visual. Jackie worked with digital tape camcorders, Flipcams, smart phones, iPads, and DSLR video.
2. Jackie learned the different microphone mechanisms, Built in, shoe mounted and hand-held boom or shotgun mics, and wired and wireless lapel or lavalier mics.
3. Jackie embodied the 4-H motto, Learn by Doing, by plunging into unfamiliar Mac territory, and undaunted, learned how to import video, create projects, clip and splice video segments.
4. She quickly owned iMovie. Laying down duplicate audio tracks, fading music in and out, using cutaways, captions, titles, transitions, and of course, knowing when to implement the Ken Burns technique of panning across still images. This is her first solo effort. She took to it like a fish to water!
5. Jackie learned some hard lessons too – having to scrap ideas she loved because we needed to conform to UD branding standards (e.g. fonts & colors) and learned the importance of copyright usage as it applies to music. Private use is one thing, but when we produce a product for the public, we must always be mindful of the legal limitations and respect ownership.
6. Jackie learned the importance of keeping all stock footage, and what B-Roll is and how it can add interest to a video. She learned about voice overs and narrated two videos and directed others as they recorded their voice over. Jackie created this promotional video for Delaware Ag Week and you can hear her also. Her first attempt and at her first week on the job!
7. Patience. She had it and used it. Everything she created went through some kind of a review. Just when you think you have it just right, someone will come in and ask for something to be removed or added or changed. Getting it just right can take time. Jackie produced a 7-minute looping video that ran during the Delaware State Fair. It is not on YouTube, but it was a comprehensive Centennial visual celebration and segments of it were used for WHYY’s coverage of the fair (you can see some of it beginning at 0:55)
8. Already aware of the power of the image, Jackie saw how strong pictures made a difference on social media. I showed her the insights and analytics that measure engagement on the different platforms and she saw that a good photo went a long, long way. With some of her earnings, she went out and bought her first Nikon camera and she and I would go out and take photos – experiment! Her photos accompanied many of my stories: Mr. State Fair, What’s the Buzz on Seedless Watermelons to name a couple.
9. Jackie learned about Flickr – how naming an image can greatly enhance SEO and the pros and cons of selecting some photos for Creative Commons licensing. One of her pictures, so licensed, was sourced in a website about Delaware – an image she uploaded in one of our Flickr accounts! Although credited to UD Carvel REC, it is Jackie’s picture that appears at # 26.
10. She applied her growing skills for all sorts of reasons. Some of these were sad and somber assignments. We lost a very wonderful man, Mark Manno, Delaware 4-H’s Project Leader in September, and for his memorial service I was asked if I could put something together. Jackie and I researched all of our photo libraries, we selected appropriate music and I let her decide where and how to place the images. We sought input from others, and Jackie sat in her chair, easily moving this, that and the other around as we received suggestions. It turned out to be a lovely, thoughtful project. I think Mark would be very proud of her. 4-H’ers just know how to get it done!
I’ve only touched on a few of Jackie’s many learning experiences. She tolerated boring tasks (not every day was exciting), she enjoyed the challenges and sought for perfection in her work. But she was able to do some fun things too, like decorate our office Christmas tree. Jackie learned some advanced Photoshop skills. She learned to work with Extension professionals in the field and directed them or got them to pose for just the right shot. Jackie learned that not every project would be a YouTube. Some were short videos for Facebook, or pictures for Instagram or Twitter.
Jackie also formally shared her learning experiences at the University of Delaware Undergraduate Research Symposium and did a terrific presentation on Extension communications.
I had the great pleasure to watch her confidence grow, to photograph her as she became engaged this summer (at the Delaware State Fair, of course) and I learned from her as well. Working with Jackie was an opportunity to see what topics interests our future leaders – what inspires them, the ideas they get excited about and I definitely benefited as I rediscovered Extension through her perspective.
As Jackie completes her second sophomore semester, I hope she will consider a future in agriculture or as an agriculture communicator. She has the passion and the talent to make a terrific Extension agent, 4-H agent, and overall cheerleader for Extension. I am so proud that Delaware 4-H has yet again, prepared and shaped a future leader. Jackie is one of thousands in Delaware touched by 4-H. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to show her how 4-H and Extension are connected – and if asked, I am sure Jackie would share how her horizons are broadened.
There is nothing quite like Cooperative Extension. It is hard to improve on a perfect organization. But through social media, technology, words and images, Jackie, as another 4-H motto goes, made the best better!
Thank you and good luck sweetheart! Your future is as bright as the sparkle in your eyes!