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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for July, 2011

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

Extension Colleagues:

It appears the spring and summer of 2011 will go into the record books as one of the driest for South Georgia and much of the southeastern United States. Our own Buster Haddock even made the front page of the New York Times last week in an article about the drought! It is a challenging and stressful time for many of our clientele. And, I know your work takes on an added layer of stress when your clients are enduring such difficult times. In my travels across the state I often get comments about how much the county agent does for the community and how much your work is appreciated. Perhaps you don't hear it often enough so I will tell you again. Thanks for all you do for your clientele each and every day, but especially thank you for going the extra mile during these very difficult times.

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

Dean Linda Kirk Fox has arrived and is on board as the new dean for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Welcome aboard Dean Fox! We look forward to working with you.

Our Extension family was greatly saddened by the death of our colleague and friend, Marco Fonseca, state coordinator of the Georgia Master Gardener Program. Last week, Marco lost his battle to recover from liver transplant surgery. A tribute to Marco appears in this issue of Extension E-News.

The state revenue numbers are up again for June, extending a positive trend for 12 months. This is indeed great news for Georgia and we all look forward to continued growth and recovery of the state budget.

Also, please notice our new Outstanding Extension Program contest. This contest replaces the former Featured Website of the month. We are now accepting nominations. Our first winner will be highlighted in September on the new Cooperative Extension website! To nominate your program, visit the nomination form.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson updates information on the implementation of our staffing plan and provides a list of high priority county agent positions we will advertise and fill;
  • Arch Smith writes about the 69th 4-H State Congress. He also provides an update on the "Green Sheet," now referred to as the Base Programming Guide for Georgia 4-H, and discusses the five educational programs that are the core of Georgia 4-H;
  • Elizabeth Andress provides an update on the current drive to better market FCS as a career choice. The effort also hopes to brand the essence of FCS as programs that create "healthy and sustainable families;" and
  • Steve Brown writes about the importance of our diagnostic capabilities including our Agricultural and Environmental Services Lab and the Distance Diagnostics through Digital Imaging system.

The demands on Extension workers go into high gear this time of year. I hope each of you is finding some time this summer to relax and enjoy family and friends! Make sure you take time to refresh before the summer of 2011 slips away.

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County Operations

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

We Are Advertising Agent Positions!

Since we established this newsletter last year, it seems we have not been able to share much good news. This month is different. I am delighted to announce that we are in the process of filling several county agent positions! We have gone through a difficult three years, and during that time we have not had the opportunity to fill any agent positions using state funds. Through attrition, we have lost more than 90 agent positions and as you are aware, we have critical vacancies all across the state.

Because of the large number of vacant positions, we have been able to meet our cuts in the state budget, and we now have the flexibility to begin strategically filling some critical positions. The following list includes the positions that we plan to advertise externally over the next few months. The ones with an asterisk have already been released and we are currently accepting applications for those.

Northeast District Northwest District
Jackson ANR*
Barrow 4-H
Columbia ANR
Dawson-Lumpkin ANR
Fayette ANR*
Bibb 4-H*
Carroll ANR*
Rockdale 4-H
Cobb ANR
Southeast District Southwest District
Liberty 4-H*
Effingham 4-H*
Wayne 4-H
Thomas ANR*
Tift 4-H*
Cook ANR

 

We have also advertised internally for the 4-H program development coordinator position in Southeast District and there will be several other positions that will be advertised internally.

Over the next few months we will be watching budgets closely, both at the state and federal level. Based on what happens, we will continually evaluate our situation and decide whether we can release additional positions. Let's keep our fingers crossed! We hope we have a class full of new agents for Foundations Training next year.

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Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Step One: Diagnose the Problem

I'm old enough to remember when Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was a new concept. The basic tenets of the idea were pretty simple, and we still teach them to farmers today. The first step in solving a problem is to understand exactly what the problem is. For decades, Cooperative Extension has been THE place to go to find out why your plants or animals weren't doing well. Whether it was a disease, an insect, a parasite, a weed, a nematode, a nutrient deficiency, a chemical contaminant or a host of other maladies, we have the diagnosticians that can figure it out.

As is the case when you go to a medical doctor with symptoms, sometimes the diagnosis is simple and sometimes it takes lots of tests to figure out what is going on. Our ANR agents have the training and experience to diagnose most of the common problems facing Georgia agriculture, but for the more complex problems, they must be backed up by labs that can do the appropriate tests. We are blessed with some of the best. The Agricultural and Environmental Services Lab (AESL) handles thousands of soil, water, forage and feed samples each year and delivers timely, accurate diagnoses. The UGA Department of Plant Pathology operates popular plant disease diagnostic labs in Athens and in Tifton. In Griffin, we offer a well-used insect identification lab for homeowners. Almost all of our specialists routinely make more informal diagnoses of problems while in their offices or in the field. These diagnoses are not always biological in nature. Ag engineers commonly diagnose problems with irrigation systems, ventilation systems, feeding systems, etc.

My point is, problem diagnosis is the foundation of what we do in ANR. Without it, we quickly lose our ability to solve problems and therefore our credibility. That's why I believe that, even as budget cuts come and go, we simply must maintain our ability to diagnose problems. Unfortunately, our prolonged budget woes have challenged us to keep diagnostic labs functioning at the levels that we desire. It's also been tough to fill some of the vacant specialist positions that serve key diagnostic roles. Our plant disease labs are dependent upon federal IPM funds and funds from the National Plant Disease Network. We have already taken cuts in these programs and must be prepared for more.

User fees are critical to keep AESL going. Our clients get a good return on their nominal fee for a soil or water sample. But other diagnostic services have traditionally been free. If someone walks into an entomologist's office and asks, "What is this bug?" do we charge them a fee before answering? Of course not, but what if it takes a couple of hours of work before we can answer? What if it's not just a curiosity, but the diagnosis affects a pending lawsuit? How do we design a fair and efficient fee structure for our diagnostic services? These are the kinds of questions we need to answer in order to maintain the quality diagnostic services that our clients have come to expect.

Our Distance Diagnostics through Digital Imaging (DDDI) system is an incredible tool that we can use to enhance our diagnostic capabilities. Unfortunately, that system has gone through some growing pains and budget cuts have kept us from doing what should have been done to keep it functioning like it should. Thanks to everyone that participated in the recent Wimba listening session to discuss problems and possible solutions. There were some great suggestions and the DDDI staff is already hard at work to implement some changes. In next month's newsletter, I'm going to discuss those changes. In the meantime, know that the Extension administration is solidly behind the DDDI system. We are committed to making it a system that helps us accomplish our Extension mission, not one that detracts from it. The DDDI staff is a talented group that can make that happen, but we have to help them know how to make the system do what we need it to do.

Ironically, we must do what we preach to others. First we have to diagnose the problem with the system, then fix it so that it can help us do a better job of diagnosing our clients' problems. If you haven't already done so, please send me your comments and suggestions on diagnostics in general and DDDI in particular.

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Family and Consumer Sciences

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

A New Future for Family and Consumer Sciences

Last month the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences held their annual meeting in Phoenix. Georgia was well-represented; especially from within Cooperative Extension. Extension from NIFA-USDA was also present at this meeting as a partner in an ongoing process for a new branding of "family and consumer sciences" as a profession. The process was described at the closing keynote session and we heard from the panel of partners who had participated in this process. A new logo for the profession (not for AAFCS as an association, but the profession) was revealed as part of this session. You may begin seeing your local family and consumer sciences teachers pick up on the new campaign and logos. We will have to eventually see if and how it might fit into our identity in Cooperative Extension, also. Dr. Caroline Crocoll, director of the Division of Family and Consumer Sciences at NIFA-USDA, has been part of the initiative for our profession. Extension faculty present at this session, in addition to me, includes Jessica Hill, Joanne Cavis, Jackie Ogden, Don Bower, Sharon Gibson and Janet Valente. (My apologies if I overlooked someone.)

The new key messages for FCS put forth in the new branding include "the essence of FCS is to create healthy and sustainable families." Also, "the FCS field draws from broad and diverse disciplines to develop and provide the content and programs that help individuals become more effective critical thinkers and problem solvers." The Family and Consumer Sciences/AAFCS Co-Branding Toolkit discusses the process that took place, all nine FCS-related organizational partners, and all new key messages for the profession (as well as for AAFCS). View the toolkit (pdf). The FCS brand/icon is displayed on page 7 of this publication and additional information as well as links to related information can be found at the AAFCS website.

These concepts support the messages we have already been putting forth in our work in Extension in Georgia. Family and Consumer Sciences Extension in Georgia is also pleased to have a new associate director for Extension in FACS that understands and has a career history in Cooperative Extension. Dean Linda Kirk Fox officially joined us on July 6. I have previously shared some of her background with you. Dean Fox most recently served as an associate dean and the associate director for Extension in Washington State University's College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. She had been at WSU since 2002. Before that she was a faculty member and Extension specialist in family economics at the University of Idaho. She does have experience in a county Extension position in the 1980s. Dean Fox was already attending some meetings on campus before her official start date. Very relevant to our work, she participated in campus obesity initiative strategy and planning meetings. We are all doing our best on campus to increase awareness of potential in our Extension network for nutrition education and partnerships with initiatives and projects addressing the obesity epidemic in Georgia. We also anxiously await the arrival of our new Foods and Nutrition department head, Dr. Lynn Bailey, on August 6, as she shares the same goals.

Summertime is a time in Extension when we seem to focus on food, and I know you are working in the area of food preservation more actively than in many years past. I have heard how some of you are using this opportunity and interest area to market your other Extension program areas to this audience. If you are not doing so, please consider it. Some of you have received some new and now devoted Extension clients because of their food interests. Think about how you might develop these people into local support groups or regular attendees of programs you offer on nutrition, health, family economics, housing and healthy relationships. We want our citizens to know what Cooperative Extension and the University of Georgia can provide to keep families and individuals healthy and viable community members who also are critical thinkers and problem solvers.

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4-H and Youth Development

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

This week 250 4-H members will gather in Atlanta for project competition and the chance to be named a Master 4-H member. Many of these young people are attending State Congress for the first time and for some this is their last chance to compete. For most the journey began in the fifth grade and has continued for five to eight years. At State Congress we showcase the best of Georgia 4-H. On Thursday evening we will recognize all state winners in the many different program areas offered by Georgia 4-H. We will also honor the county Extension agents with the Bill Booth Award and the Ryles Rising Star Award. GAE4-HA will present the "Friend of 4-H Award" and Georgia 4-H will recognize a public official with the "Green Jacket Award." It will be a busy week and a memorable week for the 4-H'ers that have the chance to participate.

As we think about State 4-H Congress we realize that the 107th year of 4-H in Georgia is nearing an end. In just a few weeks, 4-H agents, program assistants and associates will begin the 108th 4-H year in Georgia with school club meetings. A new crop of fifth graders will join 4-H for the first time and we will offer them many opportunities to develop life skills in 4-H. About 20 years ago the state 4-H staff, 4-H program development coordinators and several 4-H agents developed the "Green Sheet." The "Green Sheet" was a listing of all the educational program offerings of Georgia 4-H and most importantly is designated in school club meetings, project achievement, summer camp and State 4-H Council as the core programs in which each local program would be required to participate. The "Green Sheet" was reviewed and revised in 2001 with the involvement of the district Extension directors. A few months ago the name of the "Green Sheet" was changed to more accurately reflect the core mission of Georgia 4-H. Base Programming Guide for Georgia 4-H is now the more appropriate title we use for the old "Green Sheet" and it includes the five core programs:

Why are these five educational programs the core of Georgia 4-H?

County 4-H curriculum and club meetings provide 4-H leaders access to more than 120,000 students in school. Agents develop in curriculum to meet local needs and during these club meetings 4-H members learn of more opportunities to learn and grow from the many other programs that are offered by 4-H.

4-H Project Achievement involved nearly 55,000 4-H members at the local level, according to the 4-H Census during the 2009-2010 school year. 4-H members develop skills in public speaking skills and record keeping and gain valuable information about their chosen project. This program can eventually lead to a 4-H member achieving Master 4-H status at State 4-H Congress.

4-H camp offers adventure, friendship and fun in a safe and natural environment, and promotes involvement in other opportunities offered by Georgia 4-H to nearly 10,000 4-H members annually. Science and social science are the basis for most classes, but the greatest learning experience may be the self-discovery and group dynamics offered by a week away from home in a residential camping setting.

State 4-H Council is the annual meeting of the Georgia 4-H Council. High school age youth participate in the election process including evaluation of candidates, voting for officers, and review of the Georgia 4-H Constitution including, as needed, amendments to the constitution. Additionally, youths interact in workshop sessions, large group seminars, cooperative games, community service and other leadership opportunities. Youths participate individually and in groups in learning initiatives selected each year. Council also includes the annual Citizenship Ceremony with the oath of new voters and the announcement of the elected state 4-H officers.

The Georgia Youth Summit is a statewide Youth Leadership Summit sponsored by the Department of Community Affairs as a project of the Georgia Rural Development Council's Youth Leadership Initiative. Built around the latest research on positive youth development, the summit focuses on engaging youth in the improvement of their local communities. Youths research local issues, enhance their planning and communication
skills and connect with resources in their community, region and state. The Georgia Youth Summit became a core program in 2000 when the Georgia Department of Community Affairs ask Georgia 4-H to convene a summit of youth leaders from all youth serving organizations in Georgia.

As we close the 107th year of 4-H in Georgia and begin another year the key to our continued success will be our focus on the Base Programming Guide for Georgia 4-H. All our 4-H program offerings have been aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards and the Essential Elements of 4-H as outline by USDA.

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Personnel actions since June 1, 2011

New Hires

  • Coweta County—Kecia Moronese, 4-H Program Assistant, 6/2/11
  • Lowndes County—Jami Lyn Warburg, VISTA 4-H, 6/25/11
  • Twiggs County—Marilyn Mallory, County Secretary, 6/23/11

Part-time Positions:

  • Twiggs County—Kimberly Stephens, PA for 4-H State Mentoring Program, 6/13/11

Temporary Positions:

  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens—Brittany Eason, EPS ANR (Summer Intern), 6/1/11
  • Clarke County—Sam Ingle (Intern), 6/1/11
  • Morgan County—Kaylen Chambless (Intern), 6/2/11
  • Paulding County—Sarah Summers (Summer Intern), 6/14/11

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Bartow County—Paul Pugliese, ANR Agent, transferred from Cherokee County ANR Agent, 6/1/11
  • Brooks County—Carol Smith, CEPA 4-H to CEAssociate 4-H, 7/1/11
  • Bryan County—Carey Anderson, PA 4-H, transferred from Wayne County PA 4-H (County Funded), 6/24/11
  • Cobb County—Janie Reeves, FACS Agent, transferred from Whitfield County FACS Agent, 6/1/11
  • Henry County—Laura Garrett, 4-H Agent, transferred from Clayton County 4-H Agent, 6/1/11
  • Mitchell County—Debra Cox, CEPA 4-H to CEAssociate 4-H, 7/1/11
  • Schley County—Brenda Welch, Secretary to Resource Manager/CEAssociate 4-H, 7/1/11
  • Southwest District Office—Jolain Luke, Adm Asst I to Adm Associate II, 7/1/11

Retirements

  • Bacon County—K. Ann Wildes, 4-H Agent, 6/1/11
  • Lowndes County—Calvin Willis, Ft. Valley CEAgent, 7/1/11

Departures

  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens—Katie Charron, Utility Worker I, 6/10/11
  • Bibb County—Pearl Solomon, FACS EFNEP Agent, 6/30/11
  • DeKalb County—Helen Moore, EFNEP Program Assistant, 6/29/11
  • Effingham County—Jan Hall, 4-H Agent, 6/30/11
  • Gordon County—Beth Watson, 4-H Agent, 6/30/11
  • Haralson County—Keena Hardin, 4-H Agent, 6/30/11
  • Liberty County—Terri Thompson, 4-H Agent, 6/30/11
  • Polk County—Cherise Whittenburg, County Secretary, 6/24/11
  • Troup County—Matthew Comerford, ANR Agent, 6/30/11
  • Ware County—Debra Morgan, PA 4-H (County Funded), 6/13/11
  • Wayne County—Belissa Wangstad, 4-H Agent, 6/30/11
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