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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for October, 2011

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

Extension Colleagues:

The fall harvest season is here and it is a great time to be in Georgia! Some of my favorite sights (and smells) traveling Georgia this time of year include freshly dug peanuts, cotton ready to harvest, apple houses overflowing with customers, pumpkin farms, corn mazes, state and county fairs and Athens in full fall color. Fall 2011 football is also progressing well and our Bulldogs continue to make this year an exciting and nail biting season. And, most importantly, the state revenue figures for the month of September are up again (5.6 percent). By now I think we can declare this stretch of months of positive growth a trend!

Update highlights from my desk since the last issue of E-News:

  • District directors are making great progress on filling 15 agent positions that fall into the highest priority category. We are very excited about the number and quality of the applicants and look forward to having these new employees on board.
  • We celebrated with our Extension colleagues Casey Ritz, Extension poultry specialist, Ronnie Barentine, Pulaski County CEC, and Paul Thomas, Extension horticulturist, for their recognition at the D.W. Brooks Awards for Excellence luncheon on Oct. 4.
  • I participated in the NEAFCS national meeting in Albuquerque, NM, and was so proud of the work presented by our Georgia delegation at the meeting. When the JCEP team made their presentation at the opening session, both Paul Wigley and Laurie Bledsoe were present and did a wonderful job representing NACAA, NEA4-HA and UGA Extension.
  • My first meeting with the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees was held in conjunction with the World Food Prize meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 11-14. The National 4-H Council Board of Trustee meeting was interesting and it became very obvious to me that many very dedicated individuals serve on this board. With the proposal to change the current National 4-H Council Board of Trustees into the leadership and governing board of the national 4-H system, this group has a lot on their plate. The group is working on a plan of communication to make the discussions open and the process as transparent as possible. A six-person task force is working with all national partners to refine and put the details of the restructuring plan in place.
  • Also while in Des Moines I saw the new home of the World Food Prize — the restored building of the first Des Moines Public Library. The restoration of the building was amazing but the exhibitions of the World Food Prize laureates are excellent. I highly recommend visiting this site if you find yourself in Des Moines. It will make you very proud to be associated with the agriculture community and the work we do to feed the world.

As always, if you have questions or concerns that any member of the Extension administrative team can address, please do not hesitate to contact us. I also look forward to being at each upcoming District POW meeting where we will review and update the status of our work on reorganization of county operations.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson discusses the issue of pay raises (or lack thereof!);
  • Arch Smith reviews National 4-H Week activities, highlights the induction of Dr. Tom Rodgers into the National 4-H Hall of Fame and 4-H efforts at The Georgia National Fair;
  • Elizabeth Andress passes out praise to a number of FACS agents working across the state to make food and water safer for Georgia families and helping their coworkers work smarter, not harder; and
  • Steve Brown's article entitled Brain vs. Brawn addresses the challenges agriculture faces in meeting future demands for food.

See you soon at your local POW meeting!

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County Operations

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

Will We Ever Get A Pay Raise?

I don't have to tell any of you that we are living in extraordinary times. The economic situation in our country, and indeed in the world, is as serious as it has been since the Great Depression. Home values have dropped, unemployment remains high, and the Fed has lowered interest rates to unprecedented lows. And yet, most of us have fared much better than our grandparents did in the 1930s.

As a result of this economy and the subsequent reduction in state revenues, we have not had across the board pay raises since January 2009. For many of you, that means you haven't received a pay increase since you started working for Extension! I think most of us were understanding at first, but I'm finding as I travel around the state I am beginning to be asked more often, "When will we ever get a pay raise?". I wish I had the answer to that question.

There are signs that the economy in Georgia may be improving. We have had positive growth in monthly tax revenues for the past 15 months. Thus far this improvement has not generated much talk of pay raises coming out of Atlanta. Most legislators I have heard from remain cautious and warn that we need to be prepared for a double-dip recession just in case. The Governor has stated that his first priority is to rebuild the state's reserve fund (rainy day fund).

Because of the unprecedented nature of this recession we can't really look to history for answers. Mark Eason (CAES director of fiscal affairs) has looked at the history of salary increases in state government going all the way back to 1966. Until this current situation, we have never gone more than one year without receiving pay raises. And that happened only three times during that stretch – in 1977, 1992 and 2004.

As you know, we are in the process of filling some critical vacancies in Extension. Some of you have asked why we don't take those funds and use some of the money to give pay raises instead of filling positions. Unfortunately we don't have that flexibility. Pay increases are typically done once a year, and it begins with the legislature budgeting a pool of funds for each state department for pay increases. We typically received an allocation of a certain percentage of our personal services budget to use as our raise pool. The percentage we get is the same as is allocated for the Board of Regents which is typically the same percentage that is allocated for public school teachers. Once we receive our allocation, in the spring of each year CAES administrators go through the process of budget development and assign raises to all state-funded employees based on merit. For the past decade or so, these raises have taken effect in January of the following year. Since there has been no raise pool for the past three years, we have not been allowed to assign pay raises except in the case of promotions and in some cases, reclassifications.

I realize it doesn't help pay the bills, but if there's any consolation, we are not alone. All state employees, including teachers, are in the same boat. And federal employees are under a federal pay freeze. Overall, the private sector has been in a downsizing mode and unfortunately many have suffered layoffs.

On the positive side, we are more optimistic that things may be showing signs of improvement. If state revenues continue to improve, our chances of receiving raises in the not too distant future will improve as well. I know it may ring hollow right now, but things will improve. We appreciate the dedication of each of our employees. Your clientele continue to sing your praises at every opportunity. Just be sure to encourage them to sing your praises in Atlanta where it counts the most!

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Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Brain vs. Brawn

Earlier this year, I went to Washington with a group of ANR program leaders from the Southern and North Central Regions of the U.S. The trip was very worthwhile on several levels, but one highlight for me was a presentation by Keith Fuglie of USDA-ERS. He had conducted an evaluation of how agriculture was going to keep up with a growing human population, projected to be 9 billion by 2050.

As you can imagine, there are several different ways to go about projecting the future, and he had studied them all. If you go with the median projection, the total demand for food and biofuel will increase 88 percent by 2050. That's a pretty intimidating number when you think about it.

Where will that kind of growth in agricultural production come from? There is very little new land to put into production, in fact urbanization is quickly decreasing the availability of land in many parts of the world. Perhaps we can increase inputs in some places (more machinery, more fuel, more labor, more fertilizer, more chemicals), but that will become increasingly difficult and cost prohibitive as fossil fuels and mineral deposits are depleted.

So, the only way we can realistically expect to find an 88 percent increase in productivity is through improved efficiency with what we have (the ole' more-with-less model that we in Extension are all too familiar with). According to Dr. Fuglie, since 1948, almost all of the improvement in U.S. productivity has come from efficiency, not more inputs. Our yields have gone up due to genetic improvements, input efficiencies, and better management of farm assets, not massive increases in inputs.

What really caught my attention were the results of studies that show the economic return of investments in agricultural research and extension. Countries with the greatest investment in ag research1 and Extension2 have demonstrated the greatest improvements in efficiency. Not a big surprise to those of us in the business of ag research and Extension, but a message that MUST be told to policy makers! In industrialized countries, ag Extension returned 40 percent per year (over 50 percent in the U.S.), while in developing countries the number is 49 percent (90 percent in Africa).

Most folks my age won't be around in 2050, but our children and grandchildren will be. Why should the average taxpayer support spending money on agriculture? To not do so is irresponsible. We will not be able to support life on this planet unless we become more efficient food producers. It's clear that we will not feed ourselves by pumping more water, burning more diesel fuel and mining more minerals (brawn). We will survive by using our brains. That is what Extension has been teaching people to do for almost 100 years. Now is no time to stop.

  1. Alston, JM, MC Marra, PG Pardey, and TJ Wyatt (2000) A meta analysis of rates of return to agricultural R&D: Ex Pede Herculem? Research Report No. 113. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC. http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/pubs/pubs/abstract/113/rr113.pdf
  2. Evenson, RE (1997) .The economic contributions of agricultural extension to agricultural and rural development. In, Improving Agricultural Extension: A Reference Manual (B Swanson, R Bentz, and A Sofranko, eds.). Food and Agricultural Organization, Rome, pp 27–36.
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Family and Consumer Sciences

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

Celebrating FACS Successes

We are at a time in our organization where some of our organizational planning is beginning to once again take place. Soon agents will have the opportunity look at in-service, winter conference and other program planning offerings for the upcoming year. At the same time, it is a season to also celebrate some past successes.

The National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences met in late September in Albuquerque, NM. It was a great meeting and the good weather helped us feel invigorated. At the risk of leaving someone out of the following report, I do want to showcase how many of our members made Georgia proud through their presentations and awards received. Susan Howington (Henry County) led with a workshop on her county's community farmers market and her health and food safety education efforts. Kisha Faulk (Fulton County) presented her Make the Most of My Money financial education program for non-violent defendants. Rachel Hubbard, Katie Barnes, Peggy Bledsoe, Wayne Coachman, Sylvia Davis, Sandra Gay, Joan Mason, Roxie Price, Andrea Scarrow and Suzanne Williams (SW District) submitted a workshop on Allergy Alert education related to children's health. Another group effort came from Terri Black, Marnie Dekle, Denise Everson, Lauren Boykin, Angie Daughtry, Lee Anna Deal, Sondra Fortner, Lauren Healey, Connie Page and Cheryl Varnadoe. They taught a session about the role of our cotton boll and consumer jamboree in teaching teens consumer decision-making skills. Judy Harrison, foods specialist, represented a team too large to document as the national award winner for food safety in presenting the Wash Your Paws, Georgia! handwashing initiative.

Our group of area radon educators was represented by Becky Chenhall in a showcase of excellence presentation about the radon Extension program in Georgia. Joann Milam (Washington County) and Laura Gillman also presented a showcase of excellence presentation on the use of Family and Consumer Sciences resources as a foundation for building a successful yearlong leadership development programs. Joann also conducted a workshop about her interactive diabetes education program that meets needs of physicians as well as citizens in her community. I personally can attest to the popularity of this program. Her group was next door to the state program leaders' meeting and we competed to be heard due to the number of participants that overflowed the room to hear her presentation!

Many of our FACS agents (and some 4-H agents on teams) were recognized as regional and national award winners. I want to point out that Susan Howington received the Continued Excellence award and Rhea Bentley and Joann Milam were recognized with Distinguished Service awards. Judy Harrison and team won the national Food Safety award for Wash Your Paws, Georgia! Becky Chenhall and team were recognized as the national winner for environmental education. We are so fortunate to have these creative, ambitious co-workers in our organization.

I would also like to thank Laurie Cantrell, program development specialist, for leading us through last year as state GEAFCS president. Our board is also an awesome group of dedicated professionals. (And you can ask them or other members about how to buy copies of the NEAFCS "Living Well" cookbook which would make a great gift for speakers, Extension volunteers, family and friends during this holiday season!)

The GEAFCS state meeting, "Living Green," was held in August on Jekyll Island. A big thank you goes out to Susan Moore (Laurens County) who served as meeting chair and directed all the local arrangements. She and her committees did a great job helping us celebrate together while learning about environmental issues, housing and home education programs and other topics.

I would like to recognize a group of FACS agents who recently finished the ExTEND leadership development program for graduates of the Extension Academy. As part of their ExTEND project, Joann Milam, Lisa Jordan, Janet Hollingsworth, Denise Everson and Betty English did an organizational comparison study with other state FACS programs. Working with state specialists, they also compiled a resource guide for county offices without FACS agents. This guide provides directions for finding online FACS Extension publications, covers policies about providing information in various content areas, and lists agents around the state that can be contacted for assistance with consumer calls. This group of agents is also giving their time to make presentations to the organization about the guide and its use. All five made a presentation to Extension administrators in Savannah in May as well as at the FACS district updates in August. Lisa Jordan and Janet Hollingsworth presented the information to NW District secretaries at two separate meetings in September, as well as to SW District secretaries the same month. Joann Milam and Betty English made the presentation to the SE secretaries, also in September, and Lisa Jordan, Denise Everson and Betty English will present to the NE District secretaries this month. Janet and Joann will cover the SE POW kickoff district meeting attendees next week, and Janet Valente will present to the NE CEC's via Wimba.

Dana Lynch (Monroe County) and the rest of the county Extension staff there deserve recognition for their work handling the uranium problems and radon issues facing citizens in their area. Robert Olive from U.S. EPA, Region 4, Ground Water and SDWA Enforcement Section, sent appreciation for Extension's response to this situation and particularly noted that Dana may be one of the hardest working women in Monroe County. The county office also received high praise from the Monroe County Commissioners at a meeting on Oct. 4. Dana and John Pope have been coordinating educational programs and assisting citizens in various ways. The meeting with commissioners also included a representative from the office of Senator Saxby Chambliss, three employees of the health department and Robert Olive with EPA. Other University of Georgia Extension representatives at the meeting included Pam Turner, David Kissel and Uttam Saha. County personnel are doing a great job in Monroe County and so is Becky Chenhall who has been working with them on radon issues. This has been a wonderful show of teamwork.

I am proud to be associated with all of our hardworking FACS and Extension colleagues. In Cooperative Extension we often work on the next project as soon as we wrap up a current one, or concurrently work on several very diverse issues to help people in our communities. However, it is also good to realize we do have an extraordinary amount of talent and leadership skills in our county, area and state faculty. I hope we remember to recognize and even thank each other often for our accomplishments. And I hope we learn from each other and dialogue often about success stories to see how we can continue to best serve families across the state.

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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

The first week of October is National 4-H Week, and 4-H'ers across Georgia were busy recognizing and celebrating 4-H in our state. Wednesday, Oct. 5, was also 4-H National Youth Science Day. Daniel Dorminy of Henry County presented his 4-H project on wind energy in the state capitol for Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Chancellor of the University System Board of Regents Hank Huckaby. 4-H'ers from Fulton, Hall and Oconee Counties also participated in the event. It was a wonderful day for Georgia 4-H. Throughout the week we were able to meet with several outstanding state leaders who support the 4-H program and present them a print of "The 4-H Barn" done by Jim Harrison.

Also during National 4-H Week, Tom F. Rodgers was inducted into the 2011 class of the National 4-H Hall of Fame. Dr. Rodgers served as State 4-H Leader in Georgia for 15 years from 1978 to 1993. A Columbia County 4-H'ers, Dr. Rodgers received degrees from the University of Georgia and North Carolina State University. He was instrumental in starting the Georgia 4-H Environmental Education Program in 1979. During the 1980's, he was responsible for raising funds to renovate cabins and most of the buildings at Rock Eagle and add the Museum of Natural History. During his tenure as State 4-H Leader, Jekyll Island 4-H Center was acquired for use by 4-H. He charted a course for Georgia 4-H to continue its legacy in providing excellent youth development opportunities for young people. Dr. Rodgers kept Georgia at the forefront of 4-H programming in the United States and is one of four Georgia 4-H Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. It is very fitting that he is the 11th Georgian to be inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame since its inception in 2002. In addition to Rodgers, Peggy Adkins was inducted as a former president of NAE4-HA. Peggy served as curriculum coordinator for the Georgia 4-H program for many years. Only 16 people are selected to receive the National 4-H Hall of Fame honor each year.

We are currently in our third year of partnership with the Georgia Cyber Academy. GCA is a public, chartered school serving K-10th grade students and with an enrollment approaching 10,000. GCA approached Georgia 4-H about a partnership in late 2009. An issue team of 13 4-H agents works with Melanie Biersmith and Lori Bledsoe to bring two online 4-H meetings a month to the GCA students. Topics range from science to leadership to public speaking and are divided into Cloverleaf meetings (serving 4-6th graders) and Junior/Senior meetings (serving 7-10th graders). We also provide them opportunities to elect officers, attend an officer training and attend a face-to-face event called "GCA Day at Rock Eagle." The single most important message we deliver to the GCA students through club meetings, newsletters, and GCA Day is for them to connect with their local county Extension office and plug in with the 4-H activities already going on in their community. Many success stories emerge you include these students on your newsletter lists, invite them to your community and/or homeschool clubs, and engage them in your activities. Search for GCA students who are enrolled in 4-H by checking 4-H enrollment (their school will be listed as GCA). All information related to the GCA and Georgia 4-H partnership is online at www.georgia4h.org/gca.

From mini-booths to pizza and performing arts to scarecrows, Georgia 4-H'ers from around the state have been busy preparing for and competing in the Georgia National Fair at the Georgia Agricenter in Perry. For the past 22 years, the Georgia National Fair has offered 4-H'ers the chance to showcase their projects, creative ideas, and cooking skills. Hundreds of 4-H'ers enter their photos, graphic designs, decorated agricultural products, terrariums, and inventions, as well as compete in public speaking, the challenge bowl, livestock shows and talent shows. They barbecue chicken, cook with eggs, churn homemade ice cream, perform with Clovers & Co., and promote Georgia 4-H, all while spending time with their families, having fun, and most importantly, learning to "make their best, better!"

We hope you had a chance to visit the Clover Café and sample a chicken combo basket during the Georgia National Fair. We appreciate the support of Perdue Farms and the Georgia Poultry Federation in making the Clover Café a success each year. Proceeds from food sales are used to sponsor the 4-H poultry project and poultry judging contests.

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Personnel actions since September 1, 2011

New Hires

  • Lowndes County—Lindsey Griffin, County Secretary, 9/29/11
  • Houston County—Kelli Barnes, CEPA VISTA, 11/1/2011
  • Madison County—Adam Speir, Public Serv Rep, 9/1/11
  • Pickens County—Clarcy Kirby, CEAssociate, 9/1/11
  • Randolph/Calhoun County—Tasha Bentley, CEPA VISTA, 11/1/2011
  • Thomas County—Andrew Sawyer, CEA ANR,  11/1/2011

Temporary Part-time Positions:

  • Tift County—Michael Goodman, CEPA 4-H, 9/22/11

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Colquitt County—Mona Powell, from Colquitt County Secretary to Southwest District Office, Administrative Specialist I, 10/1/2011
  • Worth County—Melissa Norton, CEPA 4-H to CEAssociate 4-H, 9/1/11

Departures

  • Clinch County—Eileen Smith, Secretary, 9/21/11
  • Randolph County—Buster Haddock, CEA ANR, 9/30/11
  • Tift County—Katie Barnes, CEA FACS, 10/28/2011
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