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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for September 2010

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

Extension Colleagues:

It is the time of year I am always reminded there is no better place in the world than Athens, Ga., on a football Saturday. Go Dawgs! The good news this month is we are off to an exciting academic year on the UGA main campus. Students are falling into the routine of classes and things are settling down to a "normal" hectic pace. The GREAT news is the state revenue figures for the month of August are up again (12.7%) and we are now into a three-month positive trend!

The work over the last six months on the Review of County Operations - Refining the County Delivery Model has resulted in a final report. The report was presented to Dean Angle and the CAES administrative team on Sept. 9 and posted to our website on Sept. 10. Please check the Review of County Operations website and go to the Dean Angle Report section to view the complete report. I am most appreciative of those who led this process and to those employees, stakeholders, funding partners and supporters, both internal and external to UGA, who took the time to provide input. I believe we now have a framework to assist us in making difficult decisions about county delivery. This framework is flexible and will help us make the tough choices in a time of diminishing resources, yet also helps us prioritize where additional resources should be placed when budgets improve.

Highlights of recommendations for action within the report:

  • Develop a tiered system of Extension program and service delivery. Counties are ranked based on several relevant criteria and assigned a tier. Services and educational programs increase at higher tiers;
  • District teams develop staff patterns and propose staffing plans for counties to Extension administration;
  • Better define Urban Extension programs and move to a more efficient delivery structure for metro Atlanta;
  • Examine Cooperative Extension administrative structure and streamline where possible.

Bottom line, the report represents many hours of hard work. There is still much left to do and the Extension administrative team is committed to moving forward with these recommendations. The obvious questions are: Where do we go from here? What actions will be taken as a result of these recommendations? A brief update:

  • District directors and their teams are now at work putting the details to a district wide staffing plan for the tier system;
  • We have had our first meeting with agents from the Atlanta metro counties and the Urban Ag Center to begin discussions around a more cohesive delivery system for urban programs;
  • I am looking at our administrative structure and will make recommendations in mid October to Dean Angle on potential consolidation of key positions and filling our most critical administrative positions;
  • The Extension administrative team will meet in late September to discuss district staffing plans and determine an implementation schedule. Please note the implementation of a staffing plan will be conducted in phases and we expect it will take 12-18 months to fully implement a statewide staffing plan.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about the process or recommendations, please contact any member of the Extension administrative team. Most of the time, they have more accurate information than the Extension grapevine! I hope each of you has a great September.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson officially announces his retirement (causing his boss much anxiety!);
  • Arch Smith highlights 4-H activities and opportunities coming this fall;
  • Elizabeth Andress provides an overview of the 2010 GEAFCS Annual Meeting in Augusta; and,
  • Steve Brown boils down our challenges in ANR program delivery in an article entitled "Just the Facts."
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County Operations

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

It's True — I'm Retiring!

Many of you are probably aware by now that I have decided to retire effective Oct. 1, 2010. This decision came after many months of prayerful consideration, and I take this step with very mixed emotions. I have been employed by the University of Georgia for 31 years, and I have been blessed to work with many wonderful people. Under normal circumstances, I probably would continue working full time for two more years, but life has presented me with an unexpected challenge.

Two years ago, Ramona, my wife and companion for 32 years, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (at age 51!). Obviously this was not part of the plan that we had carefully laid out for our retirement years. Since we learned of her illness, providing care for Ramona has become my number one priority. As her illness has progressed, it has become increasingly difficult to balance her needs with the obligations of full time employment. And of course, this has all come during a very difficult time in the history of Cooperative Extension.

My plan is to continue working part-time for at least the next year in my current role. I will assist Beverly with implementing the necessary changes in our organization and hopefully help train two new district directors over the next 12 months.(Lannie and John are transitioning into full retirement.) Even though I will continue to do the same work, the flexibility of part-time employment will hopefully allow me to spend the time necessary to see that Ramona's needs are met.

So, like many others have done recently, I won't be disappearing from the scene entirely. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming months to move toward a stronger more sustainable Georgia Cooperative Extension. I want to thank all of you for your dedication and hard work over the past few months as we have worked to develop our plan for the future. We recognize that it has been a stressful time for many of you – yet you have continued to do good work and provide quality programming for the people who matter most, our clientele.

Lastly, I want to thank my coworkers and those who have been there throughout my years in Extension. If I have accomplished anything worthwhile in my career, it could not have been possible without the support of those around me. I include Ramona foremost among those who were there to support me. She kept the home fires burning and was there to raise four wonderful children while I was travelling around the state and dedicating much of my time to serving the people of Georgia. For that I will be forever grateful.

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Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Just the Facts

Extension has a phenomenal legacy of service to Georgia agriculture and a phenomenal legacy of grassroots and political support.

Our budget has been reduced by almost 24 percent in just two years. Despite the fact that more than 90 percent of our budget is in people, we've had no layoffs.

Georgia grows 49 commodities that have at least $10 million in farm-gate value. Some 21 of those have more than $100 million in farm-gate value, including poultry which accounts for almost $5 billion. An $8 billion green industry is not totally accounted for in the farm-gate value.

Georgia agriculture has significant needs for information pertaining to water quantity and quality, soil conservation, food safety, and sustainability. There is a growing demand for information on organic and locally-grown foods. We have demanding pest management issues, pesticide regulation issues and urbanization issues.

Georgia has 159 counties, each with unique ANR needs, unique personalities and unique politics. Each one needs and deserves ANR support from the University of Georgia.

Extension has experienced a rapid loss of 88 county agent positions, more than 20 specialist positions and several key support and administrative positions. These positions are not vacant, they are gone. Just 114 ANR agents remain. Too many ANR agents have to cover multiple counties and/or programmatic areas. There are numerous critical needs for more training.

We're down to 78 total Extension specialist EFTs, many teach, supervise graduate students, conduct research and serve in various leadership roles not directly related to their Extension appointment.

The state Legislature and numerous commodity groups are watching us to see what we do.

We have surveyed ourselves and we have listened to our stakeholders. We have backed up and tried to see the big picture of where we are and where we are going.

We made a plan. Now we're going to implement the plan.

We remain committed to the county delivery system. We're committed to building a leaner, meaner, new and improved Cooperative Extension. We're committed to staying relevant to Georgia agriculture. We're committed to rebuilding.

We're going to value tradition, but we're not going to be a prisoner to it. We're going to get over the feeling that we have to be everything to everybody all the time.

We're not going to be afraid of change. We're not going to look back. We're going to make it work.

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Family and Consumer Sciences

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

FACS Does Make A Difference

Sept. 9 was Georgia Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Day. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? That is how the 2010 GEAFCS Annual Meeting opened in Augusta last Thursday. Don Grantham, commissioner for Super 10 District in Richmond County, welcomed the group and read the entire proclamation from Mayor Deke Copenhaver recognizing GEAFCS Day in Augusta. The proclamation recognizes that we are professionals who are a viable and responsive force dealing with the state's needs as well as opportunities and challenges in the 21st century. Furthermore, the proclamation also urges all citizens to recognize and applaud the efforts and achievements of this outstanding organization. What a great motivator and pronouncement to begin our annual meeting.

Both Commissioner Grantham's welcome and Mayor Copenhaver's proclamation acknowledged that our profession brings important life skills to citizens of all ages, pairing University of Georgia research with community-based programs to ensure Georgians are learning for life and living well. Commissioner Grantham had visited our website and read the College of Family and Consumer Sciences mission statement out loud. And he stated how much he appreciates how we touch the entire family unit. He documented how much value Extension FACS brings to Richmond County, Augusta and the state of Georgia. Thanks to Betty English, Richmond County, for this heartening opening as well as for her impacts in Richmond County.

After these energizing and encouraging words, the annual meeting provided several excellent professional updates through a variety of guest speakers. Deep appreciation is expressed to Christa Campbell, Elbert County, and her committee for planning an excellent annual meeting. President Lisa Jordan, Chatham County, steered us through another outstanding year with her strong executive board. We know the officers, board and committees will keep GEAFCS vital in the next year and I am sorry I can not name everyone. Next time you see a FACS agent, express your thanks for their leadership within the Extension organization. With reduced staffing, most everyone has a key role in our association.

Another exciting part of our annual meeting is recognizing and sharing outstanding county or team programs through the awards program. GEAFCS had more than 50 award winners, 14 of whom are also regional award winners and 8 who are national award recipients for 2010. Outstanding programs were recognized in food safety, financial management, health, safety, early childhood curriculum, radon education, and various topics delivered through mass media and educational technology. Other quality programs in categories of individual career accomplishments, as well as community partnerships, were also highlighted as award winners.

Let me end with some quotes from another speaker, Ellen Hester, who provided energy through her "Healthy Humor" presentation. "We need mental CPR: We have to take care of clogged attitudes as much as our clogged arteries." And, "Eliminate excuses for not doing what matters most to us." Let's keep doing what matters the most to us as individuals and Extension employees to help improve family, individual and community life in Georgia.

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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

Fall is bustling time for Georgia 4-H

The hint of fall has been in the air for the past few days, Georgia 4-H members have returned to school and our 4-H agents and program assistants are busy holding club meetings and preparing for local and state fairs.

Georgia 4-H is fortunate to participate in the Georgia National Fair set for Oct. 7-17 in Perry. Many Georgia 4-H'ers will exhibit their animals, put up fair booths and work in the Clover Café and Georgia Clovers and Company will perform.

National 4-H Week will be Oct. 3-9, and the Georgia 4-H Staff has made available on the 4-H website many resources for counties to use during National 4-H Week.

This year we also have launched the "I Am Georgia 4-H" campaign. This effort was started by Collegiate 4-H member Richie Knight, and former 4-H'er and now 4-H volunteer Nicole Batten. They have worked with the Georgia 4-H Tech Team to initiate this campaign. The initial work by Richie and Nicole, with additional work by members of the state 4-H faculty, resulted in the development of a website that has materials both for the "I Am Georgia 4-H" campaign and National 4-H Week. This information can be viewed from the homepage of www.georgia4h.org and on the staff section. We encourage everyone to use the "I Am Georgia 4-H" logo, not only during National 4-H Week but throughout the year to heighten awareness of the positive youth development work we do in Georgia 4-H.

We mentioned last month that the 2010 Georgia 4-H Gala was a great success. If you haven't visited the "I Am Georgia 4-H" You Tube channel, do so and view the many videos that were shown during the gala and comments from Dr. M. K. "Curly" Cook, the 2010 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives David Ralston's comments can also be viewed on the You Tube channel. He indicated a strong support for the Georgia 4-H program and I believe you will be very impressed with what he had to say about his 4-H experience and the value of the 4-H program.

This past Saturday, Sept. 11, we dedicated two new cottages at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. Cabin 31 was dedicated in honor of outgoing Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin. The funding for the cabin was made possible by the Georgia Development Authority. Cabin 32, the Kroger Customer Cabin, was also dedicated with funding provided by The Kroger Company. We also rededicated the Gas Building at Rock Eagle and in appreciation of the support of the Georgia Propane Gas Association.

The Georgia Youth Summit was held Sept. 11-13 with nearly 700 young people participating in the event. They discussed issues related to health, the economy, safety, and education in Georgia.

Like any other time of year, fall is a busy period for Georgia 4-H. Please know that we do appreciate the tremendous work that our county agents and 4-H program assistants are doing to provide positive youth development for the young people of our state.

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Personnel actions since August 1, 2010

New Hires

  • Emanuel County—Lesli Dolph, CEPA, 7/22/10
  • Fulton County—Wanda Montsho, EFNEP CEPA, 8/12/10
  • Gordon County—Rebecca Pass, 4-H CEPA, 8/9/10
  • Laurens County—Bernadette Meeks, CEPA EFNEP, 7/29/10
  • Washington County—Kimberly Jackson, Archway Professional, 8/2/10

Part-time Positions:

  • Lanier County—Brian Woodard, CEPA 4-H, Volunteer School Program, 8/9/10

County-Funded Positions

Part-time Positions:

  • Decatur County—Teresa Adkins, CEPA 4-H, 9/1/10
  • Turner County—Will Walker, CEPA 4-H, 8/30/10

Temporary Positions:

  • Long County—Austin Overbey, CEPA, 8/17/10
  • Ware County—Catherine Furman, CEPA, 8/3/10

Retiree/Rehires

  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens—Frank Williams, Utility Worker I, 7/1/10
  • Blueberry Research & Demonstration Farm—Danny Stanaland, AEA, 7/1/10
  • Bulloch County—Patrick Todd, CEA ANR, 7/1/10
  • Coffee County—Eddie McGriff, CEC ANR, 7/1/10
  • SE District Office—Lannie Lanier, DED, 7/1/10
  • SE District Office—Teresa Harvey, PDC 4-H, 7/1/10
  • Tattnall County (Reidsville)—Reid Torrance, CEC ANR, 7/1/10
  • Wayne County—Randy Franks, CEA ANR, 7/1/10

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Bleckley County—Kathy Baldwin, CEA 4-H to CEC 4-H, 10/1/10
  • Washington County—Joann Milam, CEA FCS to CEC FCS, 10/1/10

Retirements

  • Bacon County—John Ed Smith, CEC ANR, 9/30/10
  • Berrien County—Tim Flanders, CEC/CEA ANR, 10/1/10
  • Bleckley County—Gordon Lee, CEC ANR, 9/30/10
  • Charlton County—Terry Thigpen, CEC ANR, 9/30/10
  • Harris County—Susan Eichman, Secretary, 8/30/10
  • Horticulture Department—Gary Wade, Professor, 9/30/10
  • Lowndes County—Susan Giddens, Secretary, 10/1/10
  • Seminole County—Polly Morgan, EFNEP PSII, 10/1/10
  • Soil Test Lab—Vickie Bates, Associate Accountant, 9/30/10
  • Stewart County—Sandra Gay, CEC/CEA FACS, 10/1/10
  • Washington County—Sidney Law, CEC ANR, 9/30/10

Departures

  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens—Mark Ward, Utility Worker I, 8/25/10
  • Chatham County—Brandi Dozier-Muhammad, Intern, 8/16/10
  • Mitchell County—Edd Harrison, CEA ANR, 9/30/10
  • Tattnall County (Glennville)—Jenna Jones, CEPA, County-Funded, 8/27/10
  • VOVRC—James Kennedy III, Intern, 8/6/10
  • Washington County—Janet Darity, Intern, 8/24/10
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