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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for April 2010

Photo: Beverly SparksBeverly Sparks, Associate Dean for Extension, 706/542-3824, caesext@uga.edu

Extension colleagues:

First, thanks for all the great feedback regarding our first issue of Extension E-News. In future issues, the authors promise to focus their remarks and not be so long winded!

As I travel around the state and southern region I am constantly reminded of how fortunate we are to live in the South, work with the great people in this state and get to share in the excitement and anticipation that spring brings to the agricultural world. This is my favorite time of year and I hope each of you is taking time to enjoy the beautiful weather.

At the time of this writing, the Extension budget situation for FY11 has not yet been clarified. However, due to the time required to build a budget for the college, we must proceed with developing plans for each budgetary unit. It appears there will be a very short period of time between confirmation of our budget and the end of the fiscal year. Over the past two weeks, department heads, district directors and unit heads have been working closely with the CAES administrative team on budget development issues. As we get closer to the end to this legislative session more details on our budget situation will be provided.

Early in April, I had the privilege of representing Georgia Cooperative Extension at the spring meeting of the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors (ASRED) in Oklahoma City. It was an informative meeting and the networking opportunities were abundant. The take home message from the meeting was that state budgets throughout the region have declined and our sister land grant institutions are facing many of the same challenges we face in Georgia.

Extension administrators are asking tough questions. How do we continue to deliver high quality Extension programs with fewer resources? How do we continue to offer high quality professional development opportunities for our faculty and staff? Extension leadership teams across the South are working together to identify innovative ways to deliver programs, share resources, collaborate on projects and work together to become more competitive for grant opportunities.

In this issue of Extension E-News we highlight a program where UGA Cooperative Extension is leading the way…training our agents through distance technology. Be sure to read about the recognition our employees recently received for their work in this area. Congratulations, Janet!

Also in this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson provides an update on the activities of the steering committee for the Review of County Operations. I am very pleased with the work of this group and the progress they have made in a short period of time.
  • Arch Smith makes comments on information regarding our 4-H program posted on blog sites at the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • Jorge Atiles gives an update on FACS programs and Focus on Outcomes.
  • Steve Brown reports on the upcoming Bioenergy Training for our agents.
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County Operations

Photo: Tony TysonTony Tyson, Director of Extension County Operations, 706/542-1060, coopext@uga.edu

Update on Review of County Operations: As I travel about the state, many of you inquire as to the status of the Review of County Operations. It is obvious that many are anxious to provide input into the process, and I can assure you that we are anxious to hear your thoughts. In fact, some of you have shared your thoughts already.

We are making progress, and each and every one of you will be hearing from us very soon. The steering committee has met twice – the first meeting was March 11-12 and the second meeting was on April 9. The first meeting began with a presentation by Jeff Dorfman, professor of Ag and Applied Economics. He discussed the current state of the economy and projections as to when economic activity will begin to pick up. The group also shared data concerning the state of Georgia Extension with a detailed look at where vacancies exist in our organization. The remainder of the first meeting was spent in an attempt to define the issues to be addressed, and to design a process to engage the entire organization in the process. In the second meeting, we began to get more specific by more clearly defining the issues to be addressed, the questions that need to be asked and assigning tasks to the members of the steering committee.

As a result of the second meeting, a survey design team is working to develop an electronic survey that will go out to all Extension employees by the end of April. This survey is designed to gauge attitudes and opinions on several issues of importance regarding our future. We are also planning facilitated discussions in late May and early June that will involve all Extension faculty members. These will take place at the district level and there will also be sessions where departmental faculty will be invited to provide input. Simultaneously, we will be gathering input from many of our stakeholders including county elected officials, school officials, commodity groups and others.

To facilitate sharing of information, we have developed a Web site to post information regarding this process, resource materials and results. The site is located on the county operations page of the Extension Web site and can also be accessed directly at http://intranet.caes.uga.edu/coextopr/review/. We have already posted links to previous Georgia Extension strategic plans and Jeff Dorfman's PowerPoint presentation. Very soon we will be posting detailed information regarding county Extension staffing and also links to Extension restructuring plans in other states. I hope you will take the time to review this information, and let us know if there are additional links you would like to see added to this site.

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Agriculture and Natural Resources

Photo: Steve Brown Steve Brown, ANR State Program Leader, 706/542-1060, astdext@uga.edu

ANR Agents Scheduled for Bioenergy Training: High energy costs, wars in the Middle East and climate change are topics of much discussion and controversy. Everyone seems to agree that we need to break our dependency on fossil fuels, but the alternatives are not as easy to implement as some seem to think. As fossil fuels are depleted during our children's lifetimes, we will have to find other sources of energy. Currently, the economics of some biofuel business opportunities are very debatable, but in the near future, we are sure to be growing a higher and higher percentage of our energy. Georgia is in a prime position to take advantage of this major shift in agriculture.

Last year, I was amazed to see five agent training proposals regarding bioenergy from five different departments. I decided then to organize a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary bioenergy training session that would cover the fundamentals of the science that our ANR agents are going to need to address this issue. Our clientele are already exploring opportunities in bioenergy and those opportunities are going to expand rapidly. As with other new crops and technologies, our role will be to provide relevant, unbiased data that will drive a bioenergy industry. Perhaps, we will find ourselves talking growers out of bioenergy opportunities as often as we help them capitalize on opportunities. That's ok. We just have to be prepared to help our clientele make well informed decisions.

Some might say that the reality of bioenergy production is years in the future and there's nothing Extension can do yet. Not so! Georgia growers are already being offered opportunities to participate in corn ethanol co-ops, grow miscanthus for biofuel, capture methane from animal waste and produce biodiesel for on-farm usage. Some of these may be feasible and some may not, but many of our clientele are already considering bioenergy opportunities. We need to prepare NOW to support the huge changes that lie ahead.

Training sessions are scheduled for April 26-27 in Tifton and April 28-29 at Rock Eagle. Thanks to Dewey Lee (Crop and Soil Sciences) for chairing the task force that has put these training sessions together.

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Family and Consumer Sciences

Photo: Jorge AtilesJorge Atiles, FACS State Program Leader, 706/542-4860, jhatiles@uga.edu

Focus on Outcomes Update: FACS county agents completed work with their county leadership systems to identify the two most critical outcomes to address in each county for their next plan of work. Although the two focus outcomes will be the priority for standard programs, agents can also choose additional focus outcomes following the ranking for their counties. Focus outcomes are listed below based on the total number of counties that selected each. 

  • Georgians will decrease morbidity from chronic disease through improved nutrition practices (29)
  • The quality of child care in Georgia will improve (18)
  • Georgians will achieve better health through selecting, purchasing and preparing healthful foods (15)
  • Georgians will reduce their risk for foodborne illness (12)
  • Georgians will attain and maintain safe and affordable housing (9)
  • Georgians will increase their savings and financial wealth (8)
  • Georgians will raise their credit scores (4)
  • Georgians form and maintain healthy intimate partner relationships (2)
  • Georgians will reduce exposure to indoor environmental hazards (0)
  • Georgians will preserve and store food safely (0)

In addition, many FACS Extension agents and educators work on programs with special outcomes which are directly funded by external grants. They include the following:

New Extension hires: Let's welcome our newest Extension personnel - Clinton Sikes (Tattnall County) and Christopher Cox (Clayton County). Both Clinton and Christopher work with the Extension Weatherization Monitoring and Education program.

Upcoming Extension retirees: We wish Sandra McKinney a great retirement! Sandra has been a fantastic FACS agent. The people of Crisp County have been very fortunate to have her as an agent.

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4-H and Youth Development

Photo: Arch SmithArch Smith, Interim 4-H & Youth Development State Program Leader, 706/542-4H4H, asmith@uga.edu

A few weeks ago, the following comment appeared in one of the blogs on the Atlanta Journal Constitution Web site. "Most of those 150,000 4-H students' parents are not even aware that their children participate in 4-H."

You and I know that is not the case, because we who work in 4-H know that much of our success is due to parental involvement with their children's 4-H work. I was asked to prepare a response and post on the blog and I thought it appropriate to share my response with you all.

"More than 5,000 Georgia 4-H members' parents do know that their children belong to
4-H and have participated in a 4-H learning opportunity. I can say that with certainty because more than 60,000 4-H members attended either camp, environmental education, or a leadership conference or educational competitive event at one of the five Georgia 4-H centers last year. That includes almost 9,700 4-H members who attended 4-H camp at one of the five 4-H centers, over 37,000 school students who attended a 4-H Environmental Education experience at one of the 4-H centers and over 6,600 4-H'ers who participated in the 4-H Project Achievement competition at Rock Eagle and in many school facilities across our state. Over 2,000 4-H'ers participated in evaluation contests for which they had several training sessions in the county prior to attending the evaluation contest. Nearly 2,500 4-H and FFA members worked with livestock exhibits to be shown at state livestock shows.

In addition, there are countless 4-H programs at the local level that involve citizenship, leadership and other educational opportunities in the areas of healthy lifestyles, science, engineering and technology, and citizenship that is provided by county Extension agents, program assistants, and over 18,000 adult volunteer leaders who assist with the 4-H program locally.

All fifth grade 4-H members who attend in-school club meetings are given materials to take home and learn about 4-H and the many opportunities available to them through the program. While some parents may not see this evidence of 4-H membership, many do. Every 4-H'er's parent may not know that his or her child is participating in 4-H, but I'm confident the majority are not only aware, but are actively engaged in their children's 4-H activities. These parents are one of the most valuable assets to the 4-H program and a huge part of our success over the past 100 years."

I encourage each of you to keep up the good work. Also, be sure to visit the Georgia 4-H e-News on the Georgia 4-H Web site for additional updates on the Georgia 4-H program.

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Personnel actions since March 1, 2010

New Hires

  • Camden County—Heather Murphy, Program Assistant, 3/31/10
    (Funding: Georgia Dept of Labor Works Program)
  • Terrell County—Pam Gonzalez, Secretary, 4/1/10
    (Funding: State and County)
  • Georgia 4-H—Nathan Crouch, Maintenance Worker

Grant-Funded Positions

  • Weatherization Educators:
    • Clayton County—Christopher Cox, FACS
    • Tattnall County—Clint Sikes, FACS-GEFA Program Specialist, 4/1/10

100% County Funded

  • Liberty County—Gypsy James, CEPA 4-H, 3/11/10

Transfers

  • Ag Business Office—Lindsey Barner, Assoc Accountant (Transfer to Dept 584)

Retirements

  • Crisp County—Sandra McKinney, FACS Agent
  • Horticulture—Denne Bertrand, Research Technician III
  • OIT—Julie Messer, Administrative Assistant
  • Soil & Testing Lab—Robert Bond, Laboratory Technician

Terminations

  • Chatham County—Kietta White, FACS CEPA, 3/19/10
  • Chatham County—Jeffrey K. Webb, Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens, Area Extension Agent-Horticulture/Interim Superintendent, 4/14/10
  • Clarke County—Vivian Favors, FACS CEPA
  • Muscogee County—Tegrin Averett, FACS Weatherization Educator, 3/19/10
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