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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for May 2010

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

Extension colleagues:

Last weekend we celebrated the end of another academic session with graduation ceremonies for both the university and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. I am always so impressed with the young people graduating from CAES and how well prepared they are to go on to the next phase of their lives. I just wish we currently had job opportunities in Cooperative Extension for those aspiring to enter the world of public service!

I am encouraging many of these students to pursue graduate work and be ready to apply when they graduate with their masters. It is rewarding to know many of these students were positively influenced by their county agent and want to pursue a career with Extension. Thanks for your work with our students.

At the time of this writing, the Extension budget situation for FY11 has been clarified. Our cuts for next year are similar to those proposed back in January in the Governor's original budget proposal (an additional 12.4%). We are currently in the process of making final plans to deal with these cuts and will soon move to implement the changes necessary for the reduced budget. Vacant positions, additional retirements, additional reductions in operating and phasing out many of our current rehires will all be used as part of our strategy to deal with these cuts. I know you are aware our workforce continues to shrink and many of you have first hand knowledge of the challenges of dealing with vacancies in your office or program area. It is critical we continue the process and dialogue surrounding Review of County Operations. I hope to see many of you in the coming weeks at our upcoming listening sessions.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson gives details on the upcoming activities for the Review of County Operations. Thanks to all of you for your participation in the process thus far.
  • Arch Smith provides highlights of our GAE4-HA annual meeting and the activities in our 4-H program in late April through early May.
  • Jorge Atiles updates us on FACS programs and sends a message of appreciation to the organization as he prepares to depart for Oklahoma State University. Jorge, thanks for your dedicated service. You will certainly be missed.
  • Steve Brown writes an interesting article about Cooperative Extension in 2040 and includes information about the new Agriculture Energy Innovation Center in Tifton.
  • The great work of Kris Peavy is highlighted in this issue…check out her profile!
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County Operations

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

Listening Sessions Scheduled: We knew completing the Review of County Operations by August was going to be an ambitious task, and it is proving to be just as challenging as we imagined. May is here already and time is slipping away from us. We are making progress, however. We have completed the first step which was the survey of all Extension employees. Based on initial indications, we had a 90 percent return rate which is phenomenal! Nick Fuhrman is in the process of compiling the results, and we plan to share the results soon. We owe Nick a huge debt of gratitude for his hard work.

We received feedback that some of the questions on the survey were difficult to answer. We knew that would be the case. We are facing some difficult decisions, and part of the process is to ask the hard questions. I'm sure some of the questions made you uncomfortable, and you would just as soon not have had to answer them. Believe me, I felt the same way. However, it is important that we know your thoughts, and I hope most of you made an honest attempt.

The next phase in the process will be listening sessions for faculty. These will be held in each district and there will also be sessions in Athens, Tifton and Griffin for state faculty. Our intent with these listening sessions is to delve deeper into some of the questions and allow you to discuss and share your thoughts in a group setting. The dates and locations for the listening sessions are as follows:

Northeast District May 27 Watkinsville
Northwest District May 24
June 1
Griffin
Cartersville
Southeast District May 18 Statesboro
Southwest District May 24 Tifton
State Faculty* May 25
June 1
June 3
June 7
Griffin Campus
Athens Campus
Tifton Campus
Athens Campus (for FACS faculty)

*The dates for the state faculty listening sessions are still tentative.

 

In June and early July we plan to hold meetings with many of our stakeholder groups including, commodity organizations, ACCG and school officials. The purpose of these meetings will be to explain our current situation and to seek their input as we move forward in the process.

As we've said many times, we need your input, so if you have thoughts please share them with us or with members of the steering committee.

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Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Cooperative Extension in 2040: If we hired a new employee today, what will Extension look like when that employee retires? The great response to the recent county operations survey is indicative of the high level of interest in the future of Cooperative Extension in Georgia. I feel confident that if we take the time to understand our situation, we will make the right decisions. When we do, our future will still look bright.

We can't effectively shape our own future without some understanding of our clientele. In ANR, our future is undeniably linked to the future of agriculture in general. As we take a critical look at how we may operate in the future, we have to predict what our clientele's lives will be like as well.

What will be the issues impacting their lives? Throughout our history, we've always been able to stay relevant to agriculture, even as agriculture has gone through phenomenal changes. The future unfolds one day at a time, but if we're wise, we will see what's coming and we will be prepared.

On May 3, I attended a groundbreaking ceremony on the Tifton Campus for the Agriculture Energy Innovation Center. Formerly known as the Future Farmstead project, this initiative will develop a realistic concept of how farm families will live in the future. To survive, farms will have to become more energy efficient, even energy independent. Farmers will have to make the most out of their water and soil resources. Farm families will have to become more efficient users of time, balancing the operational needs of diverse farming operations with other family activities. Farm parents will have to learn how to provide their children with quality educational opportunities in very rural environments.

As a part of the Agriculture Energy Innovation Center, a farm home will be built on the Tifton Campus. This home will be a net zero (or possibly a net positive) energy structure, meaning it will supply its own energy needs or maybe even produce electricity that can be sold back to the grid. A person living in this home will have the capacity to monitor and remotely operate numerous farm activities.

Imagine having your morning cup of coffee in the kitchen of this home. On the wall is a monitor showing the location of your dairy cows and the amount of milk each one produced during that morning's milking. You push a button that opens a gate allowing the cows to move to another pasture.

Imagine monitoring the amount of methane produced from dairy cattle waste products and using it in methane-powered greenhouse heaters. Imagine reading soil moisture sensors in a cotton field from your kitchen table as you send the kids out to catch a school bus that runs on biodiesel produced on your farm. As you pour a second cup of coffee, you push a button that starts a center pivot irrigation system that automatically meters out water where it's needed and skips spots that don't need watering today. Now, imagine sitting down at your computer to watch current prices and sell a load of pecans to China.

Some of these futuristic gadgets already exist, but these things and many we haven't even thought about yet will be common place in a few years. The Tifton facility will not only be a place to showcase technology, it will be a great teaching facility for Georgia Extension. I hope we can use this facility for training farmers, agribusiness employees and our own employees. It will also be a great venue for teaching the public about food production and land stewardship. As you think about what Extension will look like in the year 2040, don't forget to consider what agriculture will look like. Agriculture will still need a lot of help. Let's get ready and be prepared.

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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 - This month, FACS specialists are conducting their first Focus on Outcomes team meetings with selected county agents. These meetings will help set the program priorities for each outcome.

FACS County Delivery Listening Session - This session will take place for the FACS state Extension faculty and staff on June 7 in 312 Dawson Hall at 1:30 pm. At this meeting, we will gather additional feedback for the review of the county operations process.

Awards - Although I am sure I will miss some award recognitions, I'd like to congratulate the recipients of the 2010 Gamma Sigma Delta Awards (UGA Chapter). FACS took home all but one of the awards this year. The award winners are as follows:

  • Junior Research: Dr. Jung Sun Lee (Family and Consumer Sciences)
  • Senior Research: Dr. Mary Ann Johnson (Family and Consumer Sciences)
  • Junior Teaching: Dr. John Maerz (Forestry)
  • Senior Teaching: Dr. Richard Lewis (Family and Consumer Sciences)
  • Junior Extension: Dr. Ted Futris (Family and Consumer Sciences)
  • Senior Extension: Dr. Elizabeth Andress (Family and Consumer Sciences)

Changes - Thanks Cooperative Extension for 11 years of opportunities for me to develop as a housing specialist and later as a program leader and associate dean. You may already know that I have accepted a new job with Oklahoma State University. I will be housed in the College of Human Environmental Sciences as associate dean for Extension and engagement and also in the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service as assistant director for Family and Consumer Sciences. My wife Julia will also be working at OSU as an associate professor in early childhood education.

We look forward to our new careers, and at the same time we will miss Georgia and the wonderful people and colleagues we have been privileged to work with. I will begin at OSU on July 1. In the meantime, I will be working with Dean Laura Jolly and Associate Dean Beverly Sparks to ensure that FACS Extension programs continue to develop and become even stronger. UGA Cooperative Extension is the strongest arm of public service at UGA and I know I will continue to hear about your great accomplishments and, most importantly, about how you continue to improve the lives of the people of Georgia. Thanks!

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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

During the month of April, 4-H agents attended the Georgia Association of Extension 4-H Agents meeting held at Amicalola Falls. The meeting was well attended and provided agents with professional development opportunities and allowed the many outstanding program accomplishments of state, district and county 4-H faculty to be recognized. Congratulations to outgoing president Rebecca Thomas and to the GAE4-HA board and planning committee for carrying out such a beneficial meeting for Georgia 4-H professionals.

We also want to congratulate all the counties who have met their 4-H camp quota. Many counties have already exceeded their assigned quota for the summer of 2010. We realize these are difficult economic times for many communities, and we applaud our strong group of county Extension agents and 4-H program assistants for the excellent job they have done promoting camp. Attending camp allows young people to enhance their social development and experience a wonderful week at one of our five Georgia 4-H centers.

The Georgia 4-H S.A.F.E. program is now in season and more than 2,000 Georgia 4-H’ers have participated in statewide archery, shotgun, BB, rimfire, and in a few weeks the trap and skeet contest. A representative from Daisy BB Gun Company attended the State 4-H BB Contest at Rock Eagle on May 1 and reported that the Georgia contest is possibly the largest BB contest in the United States. The Georgia 4-H S.A.F.E. program is recognized throughout the U.S. as one of the best 4-H shooting sports programs in the country. Most of that success is due to the volunteer coaches’ certification process. As we make plans to expand the 4-H leader certification process to other 4-H programs, certified volunteers will become more and more important to our continued success.

Georgia 4-H is proud to have nine individuals from Georgia  inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame since its inception in 2002. In October 2010, Mr. Harold Darden, Associate State 4-H Leader Emeritus who retired in 1975, will be one of 16 inductees from across the nation. Congratulations to Mr. Harold on being selected for the National 4-H Hall of Fame. Georgia 4-H expresses a special appreciation for the tremendous leadership he provided to the 4-H program, particularly to the development of the camping program at Rock Eagle in the late 1950's.

Late spring and summer are extremely busy times for 4-H agents, but please remember the work you do has a tremendous impact upon the success and lives of the young people of our state and is critically important to the mission of Extension and the land grant university.

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Personnel actions since April 1, 2010

New Hires

  • DeKalb County—Stephanie Shumacher, Summer Intern, 5/17/10
  • Terrell County—Pam Gonzalez, Secretary, 4/1/10
    (Funding: State and County)

County-Funded Positions

  • Clayton County—Sandy Foster, FACS Program Specialist, 5/1/10
    (Formerly worked on Clayton County Energy Grant that ended 4/30/10)
  • Terrell County—Rex Turner, CEA ANR, 4/12/10
  • Thomas County—Brenda Benton, Secretary, 4/15/10

Grant-Funded Positions

  • Forsyth County—Amy Cunningham, Weatherization Educator, 4/1/10
    (Moved from Gwinnett County Energy Grant)
  • Mitchell County—Russ Williams, CEPA Intern ANR, 5/6/10
  • Muscogee County—Von Baker, Weatherization Educator, 4/1/10
    (Moved from Fulton County Energy Grant)
  • Tattnall County—Clint Sikes, FACS-GEFA Program Specialist, Weatherization Educator, 4/1/10

Retiree/Rehires

  • Northeast District—John Parks, DED, 4/1/10

Retirements

  • DeKalb County—Lizia Auger, FACS Agent, 5/31/10
  • DeKalb County—Edna Crenshaw, FACS Agent, 5/31/10
  • DeKalb County—Pat Heggs, 4-H Agent, 5/31/10
  • DeKalb County—Theresa Brady, Administrative Assistant I, 5/31/10
  • DeKalb County—Brendolyn Smith, Office Assistant, 5/31/10
  • DeKalb County—Gary Lovett, Offset Equipment Operator, 5/31/10
  • Turner County—Priscilla Dolney, Secretary, 6/1/10

Terminations

  • Chatham County—Jeffrey K. Webb, Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens, Area Extension Agent-Horticulture/Interim Superintendent, 4/14/10
  • Dade County—Kristin Smith, Energy Grant ended 4/30/10
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