Tag Archives: Websites

Governor McAuliffe announces launch of Virginia grants website

Governor McAuliffe recently launched the first ever Virginia Grants website, a new public resource for anyone interested in state, federal, and private funding opportunities. The website will serve as a hub for taxpayers to search for grant opportunities, and have a better idea of how federal tax dollars are being spent, and which grants present opportunities for state and local governments as well as private businesses and organizations.

“The new Virginia Grants website will help my administration serve taxpayers better by increasing transparency and accountability and offering residents a single hub for grant funding opportunities that may help them grow their businesses, improve their communities or make life better for their families,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Using technology to improve government customer service and seize more opportunities to fund important priorities is a great step forward in our efforts to build a new Virginia economy.”

In a communication to state agencies, Governor McAuliffe urged state agencies to utilize this website when applying for grants in order to foster collaboration amongst agencies. He also directed agencies to publish grants they offer on the Virginia Grants site so that Virginians can browse and apply for state grants more easily.

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Want a spot on the Extension website? Here’s how!

Since the redesigned Virginia Cooperative Extension website launched in October 2014, we’ve seen an increase of almost 35 percent in visits, 30 percent in visitors, and 50 percent in pageviews to the site. Of the visitors to the site, 55 percent are new visitors. That means many more people are looking at all the great information Extension has to offer than ever!

What does this mean for you? If your research, outreach, and program information is not on the site, you’re missing out on a big audience!

The best way to get your own topic page started on the website is to take out a job in our Job System and be as descriptive as you can. We highly recommend looking at how others in Extension have organized their topic pages to give you ideas on what would work best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean by “topic page”?

The Extension website was reorganized to break research, programs, and outreach activities out of organizational silos. Most states’ Extension services have gone to this model to help visitors to the websites find the information they’re looking for without Continue reading

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New home for Impact Communication: Telling the VCE Story

For regular visitors to the Impact Communication: Telling the VCE Story website, be advised that the content and resources has been moved to the Intranet: http://www.intra.ext.vt.edu/reports/impact-communications/index.html

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Procedure for unit office web updates

Requests for minor unit office changes (quick updates that include changing dates, links, removing content, etc.) can be emailed to Constance Moulder at cmwhitt@vt.edu. The standard completion time for unit office updates is two-three business days. All update requests should be combined into one email.

As a reminder, make sure to include the VCE logo, VCE full indicia statement and ADA statement (when applicable) on all documents (printed or electronic) that are distributed publicly including promotion for workshops, events, seminars, classes, organizational meetings, and newsletters. Requests to post items that do not have this information will be sent back to the client to be updated.

Requests for new unit office pages and extensive content revisions and additions must be submitted via the Online Project Request System. Instructions for completing the online submission form for a unit office website update are featured on the Local Unit Website Requests page.

— Constance Moulder

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New Extension website: How to make updates and get your own topic page

website-baYou may have noticed by this point that the Extension website has a new look and lots of new pages of information. The goal of the redesign is to make the site more user-friendly by putting your important research and outreach information front-and-center.

What’s new on the homepage?

The biggest change you’ll see is that the homepage has a rotating banner to highlight multiple news stories at the same time. The old format only allowed one news story to be shown. The confusing navigation has also been simplified to be in a horizontal, drop-down format. Important links are in the right sidebar and appear on every page in the site.

The middle section of the homepage is where programs, topics, events, and urgent notices can be featured, using our new feature buttons. We also have a feed to our new news blog. The events feed is manually created, so if you have an event that appeals to a large audience, send it to us to be posted.

What are topic pages?

Screen-Shot-2014-10-21-at-11.16.09-AMTopic pages can range from being a primary source to housing links to another page or site. For example, the Home Food Preservation topic page contains basic overview information and links to the popular publications under this category. A topic page like this allows casual browsers to find information without needing to navigate the publications database. This will in turn drive more visitors to specific publications categories to increase exposure.

Topic pages are also more search-engine friendly. By utilizing keywords and linking to related topics, information will be easier to find when users search on Google or Bing for a specific topic they are interested in.

How to get your own page

The redesigned website launched on Oct. 16, and we are continuing to build topic pages in the order in which they were requested. If you would like to have a topic page to showcase your research and allow easy access to your publications, please either fill out the request survey or take out a job request in our Job System.

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Show us your stuff – Promote your programs on the VCE Website

We hope that you have had a chance to explore the new and improved Virginia Cooperative Extension website. Thank you to everyone that has contributed content to the site so far.

As you will see, there are many opportunities to promote programs, events, impact, and educational content through the homepage and topic pages.

However, we need your help to keep the content fresh and engaging. Here are a few of the ways that you can help us.

1)    Submit an article for the Extension News Page.

  • The best articles are educational in nature. We want to move away from the after-the-fact/event articles, to more education-related topics. These would be similar to what you might submit to a trade publication or as a column in a newspaper.
  • You can still submit an article about an upcoming event or program, as long as you include an educational component, such as “here’s one of the things you’ll learn…”
  • A post-event article can also be submitted, as long as it includes how the program/event impacted the target audience.
  • Articles must be in your area of expertise.
  • Please have at least one person review the article for the educational content before it is submitted.
  • Articles should be between 350 and 500 words. This is based on research that shows 350 words are the minimum to be indexed in Google, and people don’t have the attention span to read more than 500 words.
  • Include a list of topics that your article should be associated with. For example, if you article is about pumpkins, you may want to tag it to: specialty crops and agritourism.
  • Submit your article and photo (300 dpi) to Lori Greiner. Research has shown that articles that include photos will receive more views than articles that don’t.

2)    Make sure to post your programs and events on your local VCE calendar.

  • We will be selecting programs and events to feature on the calendar each week.  Priority will be given to those events that are open to the entire state. If you have an event that you would like to have considered for the homepage, please submit your item to Brandi Evans.

3)    Please notify us of any trainings or certification classes that should be                 featured on the homepage.

  • We require that an informational page be created on the website for any training or certification in order for it to be linked from the homepage. If you have content that you would like to have included, please submit an online job request.

4)    Submit suggestions for the spotlight and featured topic pages.

  • We will be developing a monthly calendar and we are open to your suggestions. Some topics make more sense to feature at certain times of the year. Send your suggestions to Lori Greiner.

5)    Submit content for a new topic page.

  • We realize that there other topics/sub-topics that should be included on the website. If you have content that you feel would make a good topic page, please submit your request online job request.

We thank you in advance for your contributions to the site. If you have any specific questions, please contact either Lori Greiner or Susan Gill.

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Master Gardener program unveils new website

In September, the VCE Master Gardener Program unveiled a new website. The revamped site was almost a year in the making.

Planning for the new website began in October of last year after the office realized a need for a fresh and more user-friendly site. The launch of the website brings many new and exciting features as well as an updated look.

Master Gardener website screen shot

The new site allows for users to choose a category from the home page — current master gardeners, prospective master gardeners, and master gardener coordinators. Each category caters to the needs of the specific user. This feature helps users have a more tailored experience with the site.

Users will also be able to connect and stay updated with the VCE Master Gardener Facebook posts through the live feed displayed on the home page.

Coordinators will also see many new and helpful features. Through a password-protected area, coordinators can access resources including the ability to request certificates, download marketing tools and templates, and view social media guidelines.

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Update: Extension website redesign information

The launch of the new Virginia Cooperative Extension website is quickly approaching, and we need your help. For almost a year, we have sent messages to Extension specialists regarding the new topic pages and have encouraged participation in the new site by filling out the topic request survey.

The survey is still open, but we are not reviewing new submissions until after the site launches to give us time to complete the topic pages that have already been started.

The final deadline is Sept. 15 to finalize all topic pages for the new site’s launch, slated for Oct. 15. This means content on the existing Extension websites that has not been requested to be moved to the new site will not be publicly accessible after the new site launches. Once the new site is live, we will resume accepting requests for new content.

If you do not want to lose public access to your information when the new site launches, you must fill out a topic page request and/or contact Susan Gill or Lori Greiner ASAP. We will not automatically move your existing content, so it is vital that you inform us of what needs to be moved over and where.

Note: This does not apply to the Publications or Offices websites. They are not part of this project, will not be moved into the new site, and will remain as they are. Their design will be updated as Phase 2 and Phase 3 of this overall project, likely to occur in 2015-2016.

If you are still unclear as to the redesign/restructure will work and look, please watch the recorded webinar from Aug. 18. It will give you a tour of the new site and how the restructure will work. (Downloadable version here).

Thank you for your assistance in completing this large project!

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Virginia Ag Pest Advisory gets a face-lift

Screenshot of the Virginia Ag Pest Advisory WordPress blog.

Screenshot of the new advisory format.

The Virginia Ag Pest Advisory system has been delivering time-sensitive crop pest updates to Virginia farmers and agriculture industry representatives for more than 15 years. Prior to the advent of the advisory, information was primarily being sent to growers via newsletters, which was not very efficient. For the information to be helpful, the user needs to receive it as quickly as possible.

Under the guidance of Ron Stinner, who at that time was director of the Southern Region IPM Center in Raleigh, North Carolina, a system was developed whereby our Virginia Tech/Virginia Cooperative Extension entomologists, plant pathologists, and weed scientists created short updates during the week. All of the updates were collected, and the list was emailed once a week to more than 350 growers, agricultural industry representatives, Extension agents, and other faculty members across the state and region. The updates were tagged by author, short title, pest group (insects, weeds, or diseases), and commodity (potatoes, cotton, vegetables, peanuts, etc.) so the email recipients could select only those updates that were most relevant to them.

Over the years, this advisory has provided subscribers with in-season, real-time pest alerts; pest survey results; the status of emerging and migrating pests; pesticide resistance issues; notifications of pesticide labeling changes; and reminders of economic thresholds, sampling procedures, and best management recommendations.

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New blog helps improve communication skills

Strategies for Better Communication is a blog where you can find information and resources about public relations, marketing, branding, photography, web best practices, and other communication tools that can help you be a more effective communicator.

It is published by the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Office of Communications and Marketing blog screen shot

Make sure to check out our first posts!

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