Beverly Sparks, Associate Dean for Extension, 706/542-3824, firstname.lastname@example.org
Is it mid-March already? Are you ready to declare winter 2010-2011 officially over? With recent rains, warm temperatures and the landscape coming alive with color it is certainly tempting to bid farewell to the cold temperatures and bring out the spring wardrobe. This past weekend was cleanup time in my gardens at home and my husband Allen had to remind me several times that our county agents are saying it is much too early to put tender plants in the ground.
It is hard to believe the Review of County Operations process started a year ago this month. We have accomplished a great deal in 12 months and I am very proud of our employees and the Extension administrative team. Extension Services in states facing similar budget reductions to UGA are asking to hear about our progress. Our sister land-grant universities in North Carolina, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas have requested information on the review process. And, this week I am participating in a panel discussion at the National Extension Directors Association annual meeting to provide background information on the process and give a progress report. I hope to return from this national meeting with a broader understanding of how other states are dealing with declining state investment in their programs.
Highlights in activities since the last edition of Extension E-News include the following:
- Please join me in congratulating Norman McGlohon for being named the new Extension director for the Northeast District. Norman assumes the role officially on April 1, 2011. However, he is already working closely with Director John Parks and other members of the Extension administrative team to insure a smooth transition of leadership for Northeast District.
- We have been closely following budget development processes for both our state and federal budgets in recent weeks. The process is not yet complete and our budgets on the state and federal side will not be finalized until later this spring. There are however some positive signs at both the state and federal levels. The state revenue figures are up again — stretching a positive trend into an eighth month! The Senate version of our federal budget calls for restoration of our Smith Lever funds and includes a 1 percent increase. (Recall the House version calls for a 10 percent reduction in Smith Lever funds). This week the FY 12 state budget passed the house and includes an increase in funds for both Cooperative Extension (200K) and Agricultural Experiment Stations (200K). Note that these funds would in reality serve to reduce the amount of our overall budget cut in the state budget. We are most appreciative of this show of support from our legislators.
- The Georgia Department of Agriculture is embarking on a strategic planning process and CAES has been asked to be involved. Initial discussions about how GDA and CAES can work more closely together have already resulted in plans for providing GDA inspectors with food safety trainings.
- In meetings with GDA and ACCG leadership this month I heard many positive comments about the work of our agents across this state.
- Legislators are letting me know how our cuts are affecting their folks back at home. There is evidence of good support for restoration of state funds when the economy improves.
So, my best advice at this time is to stay calm, stay focused on your work and stay tuned for more information on our ever changing budget situations.
In this issue of Extension E-News:
- Tony Tyson reminds Extension faculty of the steps involved in the promotion process and provides some important deadlines for those who are considering the process,
- Arch Smith provides an update from 4-H including highlights from the National 4-H Leadership meeting, the Georgia Junior National Livestock Show and the Step Up and Lead Conference,
- Elizabeth Andress writes on how Family and Consumer Science agents go about "Helping in Tough Situations," and
- Steve Brown shares the success of the recent agricultural training Extension provided to the Georgia National Guard.
Thanks again for all you do for the citizens of Georgia. And, don't forget to take some time to enjoy the transitions of spring while they last!
Tony Tyson, Director of Extension County Operations, 706/542-1060, email@example.com
Public Service Promotion Cycle Begins Again
As the coordinator for the public service faculty promotion process for CAES, it seems to me that the process never ends. A little over a month ago, last year's candidates for promotion were officially notified of the final results by the vice president for public service and outreach. The deadline for this year's candidates to notify our office of their intent to seek promotion was March 1.
Currently there are 52 public service faculty who have notified us of their intent to seek promotion this year. This number is up significantly over the normal number of 35 or 40 individuals seeking promotion. I suspect the increase in interest is at least partially due to the fact that we have not received raises for the past two years, and getting promoted is one way that a faculty member can guarantee a pay increase. This is one question that I get frequently when speaking to groups of faculty – they want to know if they successfully go through the promotion process, will they receive their raise. The answer is "yes." The university has honored its commitment to provide the pay increases for faculty promotions (tenure track and public service) even though we have not received additional salary dollars from the state. I don't see any reason to believe that will not continue.
If you are a public service faculty member who is going through the promotion process, there are several deadlines and important dates you need to add to your calendar. Some of the dates coming up in the next couple of months include the following:
- April 20: Public Service Promotion Workshop (will be held in Athens and broadcast by Tandberg to several locations around the state)
- May 9: Deadline to upload your mini-dossier in the online system mini-dossier does not include supporting materials or support letters)
- May 12-18: Mini-dossiers judged
- May 23: Results of mini-dossier judging provided to candidates
Once you receive input from the mini-dossier judging, you will need to make a final decision as to whether you want to continue in the process. If you want to continue, make any necessary changes to your dossier. Next it will go before your unit (district or department) committee and then to the college committee. If you are seeking promotion to public service assistant, the college committee will cast the final vote. All others will proceed to the university committee which will vote in late fall. You will then be notified of the final results early next year.
Then the whole process starts over again! If you have any questions about the process, contact the administrative specialist for your district or department, or contact my office. Good luck!
Steve Brown, ANR State Program Leader, 706/542-1060, firstname.lastname@example.org
CAES Comes Through for Georgia National Guard
Most of you have already heard about this event, either internally or via some of the extensive media coverage. Within the next few weeks, the Georgia National Guard will be deployed to Afghanistan. Their mission is to form an Agribusiness Development Team. Several of these teams have been functioning in Afghanistan over the last couple of years. Their purpose is to help stabilize Afghan agriculture, thereby stabilizing the economy of the country, making rural areas less vulnerable to the influence of the Taliban and making the production of poppy less likely.
The GNG asked us to help prepare them for this mission. Their hand-picked team of volunteers has a varied background, some with ag training and some with none. The GNG gave me a quick overview of what commodities are important. Obviously, we are not known for our expertise in Afghan agricultural issues and I struggled to put together an agenda that would be valuable to the soldiers. The training had to be very basic, relevant to Afghan conditions, and as hands-on as possible.
Almost apologetically, I asked a group of our faculty to take on parts of the training. Without exception, everyone wanted to help, but most of the initial responses were something like, "I wouldn't know where to begin", or "I don't know anything about Afghan agriculture." But with a few weeks to prepare, our faculty put together an outstanding program.
Much of the success is attributable to the assistance of Wes Harris, County Extension coordinator for Bulloch County. Wes recently returned from a USDA assignment in Afghanistan and was a huge help to me and all of our faculty as they prepared their presentations.
April Sorrow of the college's Office of Communications and Technology Services did a great job coordinating media coverage for the event, and there was plenty of it. The image of a soldier milking a cow proved to be more than many media outlets could resist. The end result was great publicity for our college and the GNG was very pleased with the training they received. Thanks to all of our faculty for going the extra mile to make this a positive experience. If you had not stepped up to the plate, it could have been the opposite.
In one year, the GNG will send a second team to replace the first, then a third to replace the second. We have already been asked to follow up with more training. We will also be providing some support after deployment in the form of DDDI image diagnosis and by just being available for questions. We look forward to our continued relationship with the GNG as they carry out their mission.
Elizabeth Andress, Interim FACS State Program Leader, 706/542-4860, email@example.com
Helping in Tough Situations
Family and Consumer Sciences Cooperative Extension is known in communities for helping families and individuals with challenges of being healthy and productive citizens. Last week a large number of us met for an update related to ServSafe® and other foodservice educational programming issues. The manner in which a number of Extension agents go out of their way to care and insure that workers obtain certification needed for keeping their jobs or getting promotions is remarkable. They work closely with people who have literacy, language and sight problems, as well as test anxiety. Agents shared with each other the best methods to help those with testing issues. This would not happen without the presence of a local community member and educator who truly wants the best for their neighbors, and without a group of dedicated food safety educators who want to prevent both health and economic burdens from foodborne illness.
Family and Consumer Sciences is also helping our citizens meet goals for healthy living in their homes. Our homes are a significant investment that all families need to protect. Some 822 Georgians die from radon-related lung cancer each year. The Extension Radon Education Program seeks to lower that number by strongly encouraging citizens to test and fix their homes if high levels of radon are present. Radon educators work with homeowners who receive high results and encourage them to take steps to lower those levels and reduce the risk of their family members developing lung cancer. In 2010, we reached 5,760 people through educational programs, 47,960 through exhibits and events, and over 6 million through media outlets. We distributed 2,376 radon test kits and over 50 percent of those who received kits tested their home. Twenty-four percent of the test results indicated a need to retest and mitigate.
The first year of our two-year Weatherization Monitoring & Education Program comes to a close this month. This program provides 22 fully grant-funded positions located in 11 county offices across the state. To date the program has reached over 2,500 people through energy education programs in 25 counties. In addition to providing consumer education, the program collects data for a longitudinal study that will follow selected Weatherization clients through the process of having their home weatherized and for several months following that time in order to assess behavior changes. This program helps Georgians meet the governor's Energy Challenge to reduce energy bills by 15 percent by 2020.
Since 2004, FACS Extension agents have provided housing counseling and education as a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved housing counseling agency. Since that time, despite declining numbers of county agents, we have provided services to over 1,200 Georgia households. Through Project ECHO (Education, Counseling & Housing Opportunities), nine county-based FACS faculty provide counseling and education on housing, financial literacy and energy conservation in Burke, Butts, Chatham, Clayton, Colquitt, Gilmer, Glynn, Laurens and Monroe counties. Services and programs include pre-purchase and financial counseling, home buying workshops, financial literacy classes, mortgage delinquency, rental rights and responsibilities, predatory lending, fair housing, and energy conservation. In Colquitt County services are also available in Spanish. In FY 2010 the program provided counseling and classes to 557 Georgia households. The majority of this outreach was through financial literacy workshops that reached 426 households, primarily in Clayton County. Other outreach activities included 88 households attending homebuyer education workshops, five households participating in a preventing mortgage delinquency workshop, eight households attending a post-purchase workshop and 30 households participating in individual counseling (mortgage delinquency, pre-purchase or financial).
The Family and Consumer Sciences umbrella helps to recognize that issues facing individuals and families are interwoven and not isolated. Issues that families and individuals face related to a healthy and affordable food supply are interwoven with other household issues. Protecting our investments in housing and protecting ourselves against debt allows communities to remain viable and households to participate as consumers of goods that industry segments are producing.
Arch Smith, 4-H & Youth Development State Program Leader, 706/542-4H4H, firstname.lastname@example.org
Working to Make the Best Even Better
During the first week of March, I attended the annual National 4-H Leadership meeting with State 4-H leaders and 4-H Foundation executive directors from across the United States. The group gathers to hear updates from our national partners, the 4-H National Headquarters (part of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture) and National 4-H Council, 4-H's private partner on the national level.
Throughout the four days I was proud of the Georgia 4-H program and the many positive things happening in Georgia that give us tremendous advantage over other 4-H programs. I was also reminded as I listened to the speakers and participated in roundtable discussions that the strength of the Georgia 4-H program is based on two things: first, our connection with public education and the fact that we're able to deliver 4-H programs to 170,000 youths primarily during school time; secondly, is the fact that we have the best trained staff in the U.S. Our county Extension agents, county Extension program assistants, and the thousands of 4-H volunteer leaders enable us to deliver quality educational programs that enhance a young person's development. We are not the only successful youth development program in the country, but I certainly believe that because of our access to school systems and our excellent staff that we are the best youth development value in America.
The Georgia Junior National Livestock Show in Perry was held a couple of weeks ago. Listed below are the numbers of animals and young people that participated in the livestock show.
I was impressed with the comments from Gibson Priest, a 4-H member from Bartow County, who spoke at the Junior Livestock Banquet on Feb. 18. Gibson started showing cattle in the 4th grade and said the experience of working with that animal impacted his life and helped him formulate the desire for a career in agriculture. He said "4-H has taught me patience, compassion, communication skills, persuasion skills, understanding and most of all responsibility."
Reflecting back on my trip to the National 4-H Leadership meeting, I recalled hearing that it costs a 4-H member in another state $60 to enter a pig in their state show. They also must pay a $30 parking fee, purchase a gate pass and pay a stall fee. How fortunate we are to have the wonderful Georgia Agricenter facility and the support of people like Randy Moore, Jim Floyd, Chairman Gene Sutherland and others who make that facility available to 4-H and FFA for use throughout the year.
Other significant things have been happening in 4-H of which you should be aware of include the following:
Wahsega 4-H Center Director Travis Williams reported that the 2011 Wahsega Volunteer Work Weekend held March 4-6 was a great success. Volunteers braved cool temperatures and rain to do everything from trim limbs, chip brush, fix door latches and remove staples and graffiti from the rec hall walls. Fifteen volunteers attended the weekend event that was coordinated by Rachel Torrance through the Master 4-H Club.
Nearly 800 elementary and middle school students attended a Step Up and Lead Conference sponsored by the Georgia Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and Georgia 4-H. Many county agents, program assistants, collegiate 4-H members and teen leaders helped train these young leaders who had been identified by their school teachers across the state. This partnership was initiated in 2010 with one session at Rock Eagle for about 250 young people, and was expanded this year to three locations — Wahsega 4-H Center, Rock Eagle 4-H Center and the UGA Tifton Campus.
The printed publication of the Georgia Cloverleaf will be sent to counties in the next few days. An online version of the Cloverleaf is available for viewing. The link can be found at the right hand side of the front page of the Georgia 4-H website.
On Monday, March 14, the demolition of Cabin 30 will mark the beginning of construction on the fourth new cabin at Rock Eagle. This cabin is funded by the Georgia 4-H Foundation through the courtesy of the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation and their 42-member local EMC's. We appreciate the support of Mr. Paul Wood, president and CEO of Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, for making this funding possible.
Camp registration is going very well and many counties are already setting records for the number of campers to attend camp this summer. We realize the $225 fee at Rock Eagle and Jekyll, with other costs that have to be added by a county to cover transportation, volunteers, etc., can be steep for some. But information was shared with me this week that indicates the cost for a week of private camp in the U.S. normally runs from $500 to $2,000. 4-H camp may seem expensive to some, but it is still a bargain for most.
I always appreciate being reminded of how strong our 4-H program is in Georgia. The staff of Georgia 4-H is a great team of extraordinary professionals from county Extension agents and county Extension program assistants to volunteers and the staff in our 4-H Centers and the Athens office. We are all working to make the best 4-H program in the country even better.
- Greene County—Myra Stewart, Secretary, 2/3/11
- Northwest District—Jeremy Cheney, 4-H Program Assistant, 1/20/11
- Houston County—Teresa Dent, County Secretary (10 hrs/week), 3/10/11
- Terrell County—Brenda Spell, CEPA 4-H (19 hrs/week), appointed 2/1/11
- Terrell County—David Wagner, CEA ANR (100% county-funded, part-time), 2/15/11
- Appling County—D. Shane Curry, CEA ANR, transfer from Montgomery County, 2/1/11
- Ben Hill County—Jeri Gilleland, CEPA 4-H to Extension Associate 4-H, 3/1/11
- Crisp County—Tucker Price, CEA to CEC ANR, 3/1/11
- Crisp County—Emily Reid, CEA 4-H, transfer from Dooly County, 3/1/11
- Fulton County—Menia Chester, CEC, 2/1/11
- Gordon County—Greg Bowman, CEC, 2/1/11
- Mitchell County—Rad Yager, CEA ANR, transfer from Dougherty County, 2/1/11
- Burke County—Cynthia Cope, CEPA, 2/28/11
- Muscogee County—Esmeralda Hernandez, EFNEP Program Assistant, 2/18/11
- Southeast District Office—Joanna Ware, CEPA Student Worker, 2/16/11
- Thomas County—R.J. Byrne, CEA ANR, 2/28/11
- Wheeler County—Patricia Barron, Secretary, 2/28/11