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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for July 2010

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

Extension colleagues:

I hope each of you is finding time this summer to renew and enjoy family and friends. The demands on Extension workers' time seems to go into high gear this time of year. So, make sure you take time to refresh before the summer of 2010 slips away.

The Review of County Operations-Refining the County Delivery Model committee made great progress in June and early July at gathering input and information from key partners and stakeholders. And their work continues. Personal contacts, surveys and interviews have been completed or will soon be conducted with many commodity groups, county commissioners, educators, UGA administrators and FVSU administration. Thanks to Steve Brown, Tony Tyson, Jeff Christie, Judy Ashley and Jorge Atiles for going the extra mile this past month to keep this process on track. The entire steering committee will come back together in August to review all input gathered and discuss alternatives for the UGA Cooperative Extension county delivery model. Remember…stay informed on where we are in the process by checking in frequently on the website.

News items since the last issue of Extension E-News:

In June and early July, I visited Rock Eagle on several occasions and shared in the experience of 4-H camp. I attended my first Wednesday evening variety show and Thursday evening Rock Eagle Pageant. These are two great very high energy events! A special thanks to all Extension employees and volunteers that work so hard to make the 4-H camp experience a lifelong positive experience and memory maker for more than 9,000 4-H campers in 2010.

Dean Laura Jolly announced Elizabeth Andress, professor and Extension food safety specialist, will serve as interim director of UGA Family and Consumer Sciences Extension (replacing Jorge Atiles). Elizabeth will work with the administrative team in FACS and with the Extension leadership team in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to provide leadership for all of our FACS Extension programs. Welcome aboard Elizabeth! We look forward to working with you in this new role.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson provides some great advice to Extension employees on dealing with the upcoming election season.
  • Arch Smith reviews the June and early July activities of 4-H and provides information on the upcoming 68th State Congress.
  • Elizabeth Andress, our new Interim FACS State Program Leader, introduces herself.
  • Steve Brown writes about the importance of impact statements and answering the "So what" question about Extension programs.
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County Operations

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

Election Season is Upon Us!

It seems over the past couple of weeks, campaign signs have popped up everywhere. And we are beginning to be deluged with TV and radio ads for various politicians. The most annoying sign that we have entered campaign season is the robo-calls that always seem to come as I sit down to enjoy my evening meal! From all indications, it appears that the 2010 elections will be more contentious than most. Primary elections in Georgia will be held on Tuesday July 20. Primary runoffs will be on August 10 and the general election will be on November 2.

Election years can be especially tricky for Extension employees, particularly if you are based in a county office. UGA Cooperative Extension receives significant funding from federal, state and local governments, and as Extension employees we need to be very careful not to publicly advocate for a particular candidate or political party. I can remember in years past, more than one county Extension employee who had to be moved to another county after they publicly backed the wrong candidate in a local election! Needless to say, it is not a wise thing to do.

As an Extension employee, it is generally not a good idea to put campaign signs in your yard or campaign bumper stickers on your vehicle. Incumbents can be particularly tricky. In many cases, you may have developed a close working relationship with the individual, and because our employees are often held in high esteem in the community, it is not unusual for a candidate to ask an employee to endorse them or even to appear in a campaign ad. I would strongly advise against doing this even if you are convinced that the candidate is a shoo-in! That is exactly how the previously mentioned employees found themselves having to uproot their families and move across the state. Simply explain to them that you are a public employee and must remain neutral. They will usually understand.

After the election is a different story. This is a great time for the County coordinator to call or send a note of congratulations to let the individual know that you are anxious to work with them for the benefit of the community. This is also a particularly good time to contact newly elected individuals. Right after the election they will be very anxious to meet with you, and this is a great opportunity to educate them about Extension and the impact we have in the community.

Obviously, we all have our favorite candidates and it is our civic duty to vote. We also have a first amendment right to speak our convictions. We must also remember that rights come with responsibility and consequences. As an employee of an organization which receives the bulk of its funding from all three levels of government, it is generally wise and prudent to exercise restraint when it comes to participating in the political process.

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Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Answering the "So What" Question

(Editor's note: Please see Nick Fuhrman's profile which supports Steve's point and explains how Nick supports Extension in this area.)

When economic times are tough and every expenditure of state taxpayer money is being scrutinized, it's important to be prepared to answer the "so what" question. When asked what we do, it's easy to talk about the activities and the impacts that consume our daily lives – the meetings, the phone calls, the farm visits, the increased yields and improved bottom lines. Those of us in ANR know how these efforts make a difference in the lives of farmers and agri-businessmen in Georgia and in the viability of Georgia's largest industry. Those that are directly affected by our efforts are strong supporters and routinely help us make our case for funding every year. But what about the 95 percent of Georgian's that aren't directly affected by ANR programs (or at least don't know that they are)?

Several years ago, in an effort to answer the "so what" question, we began writing impact statements. With these statements, we try to tell the uninformed person about the tangible impacts of what we do. Our database of ANR impact statements has been a huge asset when it comes to telling our story. We have documented real economic and environmental improvements that have resulted from our programs. Yet in times like these, the "so what" question goes to a level that we have not traditionally operated. The taxpayer that is not affiliated with agriculture (or least doesn't know that he is) is not necessarily impressed that we have helped farmers save millions of dollars. They don't necessarily see the connection between that fact and their daily lives.

In times like this, we need to answer the "so what" question at its most fundamental level. We must continue to document real impact to the agricultural industry, but then we must take the next step and show the Atlanta insurance agent, the Macon car salesman and the Columbus mechanic why that's good for them. What we do can be good for them in several ways. First, anything that helps Georgia's largest industry helps the entire Georgia economy, not just a few farmers. Secondly, what we do insures them a safe, nutritious, domestically-grown food supply that their families consume every day. Thirdly, what we do protects the environment in which they live, the water they drink and, perhaps someday soon, the electricity they use when flipping a light switch or the fuel they burn in their car.

There is no current call for impact statements, but as you go about your daily routine of conducting ANR programs, think about your impact. Be prepared to answer the "so what" question at its most fundamental level. To some extent, it's the administration's challenge to take your impact statements to the next level and answer fundamental "so whats," but we need your help. I know that your impact on the state is phenomenal, but if we don't learn how to answer the "so what" question, the taxpayer may say "so what" to us the next time we try to defend our budget.

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Family and Consumer Sciences

Photo: Elizabeth AndressElizabeth Andress, Interim FACS State Program Leader, 706/542-4860, eandress@uga.edu

Anticipation and Excitement

As I write this, my new role in providing leadership for FACS Extension in the state has just been announced. It is with anticipation I look forward to developing new relationships with co-workers that will extend beyond my food safety and preservation programming. Even though I have been a part of Georgia Cooperative Extension for a long time, I want to learn about all of our programs and look forward to meeting and talking with a wider variety of agents and faculty. Please let me know of your programming highlights and any ideas you might have for the direction of Extension FACS in the state.

I do want to share excitement over great things happening with our one of our newer FACS/4-H collaborations. Several months ago Jorge Atiles shared the Wash Your Paws, Georgia! Handwashing Education Initiative collaboration. This month I would like to share successes from the Childhood Overweight Prevention Project. Extension FACS throughout its history has had a strong foods and nutrition mission and programming emphases. More recently, Extension and other nutrition educators throughout the country have been concerned with the rising incidence of overweight children and the resulting health complications for the children as well as society. The 4-H Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles curriculum, which FACS helped create, has been used this past year in the launch of COPP. It has been a very successful year with 104 4-H agents and program assistants from 68 counties participating. A total of 581 sessions were held during the school year with 16,323 youth participating. This program will be in a total of 76 counties for the coming school year with the addition of eight new sites.

COPP focuses on eating balanced diets with a variety of foods (MyPyramid), eating right-sized portions, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, increasing physical activity and decreasing consumption of high sugar beverages. These are goals aligned with First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, as well as our other FACS nutrition programs for adults. FACS agents have been promoting and educating about these messages in a variety of ways for interested clientele as well as in our current nutrition programs targeted for special needs like diabetics and cancer patients. The importance of issues surrounding healthy lifestyles, food selection and use are relevant throughout the lifespan.

Again, thank you for your warm reception to my new role and please keep me informed about other great programs to highlight in the life of FACS Extension in future issues.

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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

Another Camping Year Comes to a Close

The midpoint of July means the 4-H summer is almost over. We've had a successful summer camping season across our state. On the weekend of June 25-27, we held the 85th meeting of the Georgia 4-H Council at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. Some 137 counties participated in the council which is one of the five core programs of Georgia 4-H. More than 700 4-H'ers and leaders attended. On Sunday morning, more than 75 4-H members participated in the citizenship ceremony in which 4-H members who will be eligible to vote in the next election were sworn in as voters. The citizenship ceremony was led by former Coffee County 4-H’er and chairman of the Georgia 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees, Mr. Kirby Thompson. During the final assembly, outgoing GAE4-HA President Rebecca Thomas presented Dean Scott Angle with the GAE4-HA Friend of 4-H Award for his service to and support of our 4-H program.

During State 4-H Council, we also announced the election of the new State 4-H Board of Directors for the 2010-2011 4-H program year. They are as follows: LaVonte Lovette, Jenkins County, president; Amanda Starling, Effingham County, vice president; Jonathan Moss, Oglethorpe County, northeast district representative; Maia Price, Spalding County, northwest district representative; Sydney Strickland, Evans County, southeast district representative; Lillie Williams, Mitchell County, southwest district representative; Conor Dunn, Tift County, state representative; Mary-Clayton Gilbert, Bartow County, state representative; and Zach Allen, Lowndes County, state representative.

On July 8, during the last week of camp at Rock Eagle, Ted Jenkins, former Extension 4-H Specialist and coordinator of the 4-H Summer Camping Program, and his wife Gerrye, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at the Georgia EMC Building. When Ted and Gerrye's children asked the Jenkins how they wanted to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, they said "We would like to have a gathering on Thursday night, July 8, at Rock Eagle and invite all the former counselors to come and celebrate with us." So, this past Thursday, more than 300 people gathered in the Georgia EMC Building and Senior Pavilion prior to the final pageant of this summer's camping program to visit and congratulate Ted and Gerrye on 50 years of wedded bliss. During the evening, those who attended the event were reminded of the tremendous impact that 4-H has had upon the lives of hundreds of people who have participated in the summer camp counselor program. This includes not only the hundreds who have participated in the summer camp counselor program, but the hundreds of thousands of young people who have benefitted from the 4-H program. It was a wonderful evening and reminder of how important the work we do in 4-H is to the success of the future of our state and our country.

Next week, Georgia 4-H'ers will gather in Atlanta for the 68th State 4-H Congress. This annual event celebrates the work of senior 4-H'ers who were district winners at project achievement, which is also one of the five core programs of Georgia 4-H. On Tuesday, July 20, we will recognize the 2010 state 4-H scholarship winners and volunteer leader of the year award recipient in the opening assembly. The 2010 leadership in action winners will be recognized at the evening leadership banquet. On Thursday, July 22, at the Georgia 4-H Congress Annual Banquet, we will recognize the state winners named throughout the year and our 48 senior 4-H project winners who will be competing during State 4-H Congress.

The 2009-2010 4-H program year has been an exciting year with many challenges for the Georgia 4-H staff all across our state. Our 4-H program continues to excel and provide opportunities for young people to develop life skills that will enhance their ability to be productive citizens for many years to come.

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Personnel actions since June 1, 2010

New Hires

Temporary Positions:

  • Bacon County—Stephanie Batton, CEPA 4-H, 6/07/10
    (Funded by Southern Georgia Regional Commission)
  • Bulloch County—Blake Houston, CEPA ANR, 6/07/10
    (Funded by FVSU Team Success)
  • Burke County—Nathan Ketchup, CEPA ANR, 6/07/10
    (Funded by FVSU Team Success)
  • Dodge County—Kymme Johnson, CEPA, 6/14/10
    (Funded by Workforce Investment Act)
  • Jenkins County—Walter Ivy, Jr., CEPA, 6/18/10
    (Funded by FLSA - GA Dept. of Human Resources)
  • Pierce County—Maikala McGauley, CEPA 4-H, 6/07/10
    (Funded by Southern Georgia Regional Commission)
  • Tattnall County—Emily Mock, CEPA 4-H, 6/28/10
    (Funded by Job Training Unlimited)
  • Toombs County—Brittany Garcia 4-H, CEPA, 6/07/10
    (Funded by Job Training Unlimited)
  • Toombs County—Kayla Webb, CEPA 4-H, 6/07/10
    (Funded by Job Training Unlimited)
  • Twiggs County—LaKendrick Bryant, CEPA FCS, 6/07/10
    (Funded by FVSU Team Success)

Retirements

  • Emanuel County—Evelyn Patrick, CEPA 4-H, 6/30/10

Departures

  • DeKalb County—Jataya Randall, CEPA EFNEP, 6/25/10
  • Forsyth County—Teresa Holm, CEA 4-H, 6/30/10
  • Fulton County—Lance Beaton, CEPA Weatherization, 6/30/10
  • Glynn County—Paula VanOtteren, CEPA 4-H, 7/02/10
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