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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for July 2012

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

Extension Colleagues:

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot."
~ Michael Altshuler

The summer of 2012 seems to be passing by at warp speed and the demands on Extension workers' time goes into high gear this time of year. Let us all pause for a few minutes and take time to recognize and celebrate recent milestones and accomplishments of our colleagues.

The long-awaited 2012 NACAA meeting will take place in Charleston this week. We all wish the South Carolina delegation, the NACAA leadership team and President Paul Wigley a very successful meeting. Paul, you have provided great leadership for NACAA and we are very proud of your service on the national level.

The 2020 CAES Strategic Plan has been submitted to the CAES administrative team and Dean Angle will soon be releasing "next steps"/plans for implementation of reaching the seven goals outlined in the document. Many of you will be asked to serve on one of the seven action teams. Thanks to our colleagues, Laura Perry Johnson and Jean Bertrand for their leadership through the strategic planning process.

A mild winter and relatively volatile weather has presented challenges for our agricultural producers, agents and specialists. Some are dealing with flooding, others dealing with near drought conditions and we are seeing insect and disease problems never experienced before in Georgia. Our specialists have been involved in detecting and monitoring new disease and insect problems that pose significant risk to our producers (spotted wing drosophila in blueberries, Southern corn rust, Asian soybean rust). Thanks to our specialists and agents for dealing with these issues in a very timely and professional manner and providing such a great service to our agricultural producers.

Georgia 4-H is about to complete camping season and we are in the final stages of preparation for 4-H State Congress. It is hard to believe the 2012 4-H year is coming to a close and that 2013 4-H year will kick off in early August for many school systems around the state. Thanks to our agents, camp counselors, volunteers, camp staffs and 4-H'ers for another great 4-H camping season. I look forward to being with many of you in Atlanta on July 24-27 for State 4-H Congress.

Congratulations to Melinda Miller, Lowndes County CEC and 4-H agent, for being selected to serve in the position of Southwest District 4-H PDC. Melinda will officially begin in her new position on August 1, 2012. Norman McGlohon will be making an announcement regarding the new ANR-PDC for Northeast District following the NACAA meeting next week.

Congratulations to Nancy Hinkle, professor and Extension entomologist, on recently receiving a lifetime achievement award from her peers for her work in livestock entomology.

I will be charging the search and screening committee for our Southeast DED position on July 23. Tony Tyson has agreed to chair the committee and other members include Bill Tyson, Travis Zetterower, Denny Thigpen, Jim Fountain, Greg Price, Cheryl Poppell, Laura Smith, Jared Whitaker, Al Parker and Tom Couch. Thanks to everyone for agreeing to serve on this important committee. We hope to have the new DED of Southeast District on board by December 1.

In the next two months you should see job announcements come out for three tenure-track faculty positions that will have split Extension/research responsibilities. These include a vegetable horticulturist, a peach/small fruits horticulturist and a peanut entomologist. We will be moving forward with advertising to fill these positions by early spring 2013.

I hope each of you is finding some time this summer to relax and enjoy your family and friends. Make sure you take time to refresh before the summer of 2012 slips away.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson writes about building and maintaining relationships with elected officials;
  • Arch Smith updates us on the GAEL conference;
  • Deborah Murray shares the top three initiatives FACS agents are delivering for Georgia families;
  • Steve Brown writes about "The Biofuel Era;" and
  • Laura Perry Johnson updates us on the CAES Strategic Planning process.
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County Operations

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

Election season is upon us

In case you haven't noticed, we are in the middle of an election season. Georgia's primary election will be held on July 31, 2012 and early voting for that election has already begun. The general election will be held on November 6, 2012. Of course this is a Presidential election year. Also, all state representative and U.S. Congress seats will be up for election, as well as some state and federal senate seats. Local elections are also in full swing with many of your county commissioners, board of education members, sheriffs, etc. up for election.

I have written in this column before about the need for us as Extension workers to be careful during elections. Since we receive funding from all levels of government, it is usually not in our best interest to take public positions in contested elections. It is certainly ok (and advisable) to inform and to show appreciation to our elected officials while they are in office, but to take sides in an election can result in unpleasant consequences if the person we campaigned against wins the election.

Recently, several of us took part in an appreciation luncheon for State Representative Richard Smith from Columbus. Richard is a retired Extension agent and the luncheon was sponsored by the Extension Retirees Association. Rick Jasperse is another retired Extension agent who currently serves in the state legislature. The retiree's association is also planning an appreciation luncheon for Rick later in September. Both of these gentlemen were instrumental in supporting the favorable budget our college received in the last legislative session.

At the luncheon for Richard, he stressed the importance of getting to know your state representatives and senators. He made a point of stating that every Extension agent (and staff member) in the state should get to know their state representatives and senators on a first name basis. He also recommended that we stay in contact with them throughout the year and not wait until late fall to contact them. He said that most organizations set up meetings with their legislators in the late fall and that by that point it is too late to do much good. Ideally, if you have specific requests of your legislators you should contact them by late summer. The governor develops his budget beginning in September and Richard stated on more than one occasion that it is much easier to keep something in the governor's budget than to try to add something later when the legislature is in session.

Of course, everything Richard said about building relationships with state elected officials also holds true for local officials, especially county commissioners and county managers/administrators. After the elections, we will have a whole new bunch of newly elected officials. Shortly after they are elected is a perfect time to introduce yourself. At this point, they are eager to learn about their constituents and if you contact them early, you can probably get on their agenda before their calendars get full. It's always a nice gesture to send them a personal hand-written note of congratulations as well.

And, don't forget to vote!

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Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

The Biofuel Era

A couple of years ago, I pushed to have a statewide agent training initiative on biofuels. Some may argue that this was premature given the fact that the biofuel industry in Georgia is in its infancy. But growers were, and still are, being tempted to get into the biomass production business and I thought it was time that Cooperative Extension get prepared for the inevitable onslaught of questions that will come with this agricultural revolution.

I still believe the biofuel era is coming to Georgia. Currently, the risks and uncertainties of anything new are holding things back, but once this train starts moving, it's going to be a fast one. Perhaps we're still a breakthrough or two away from the start of this race, but progress is happening daily and entrepreneurs are working hard to be on the ground floor when biofuel production really starts to generate big money.

Everyone knows that, up to this point, ethanol production in the U.S. has been almost totally from corn. There are some major tradeoffs associated with that kind of biofuel production system. The real revolution won't start until we can start making biofuels from waste products and non-food/feed sources. Even so, peer-reviewed research has shown some pretty incredible economic advantages to using corn ethanol for fuel.

  • In 2011, ethanol reduced wholesale gasoline prices by an average of $1.09 per gallon.
  • Regular grade gasoline prices averaged $3.52 per gallon in 2011, but would have been closer to $4.60 per gallon without the inclusion of more than 13 billion gallons of lower-priced ethanol.
  • The average American household consumed 1,124 gallons of gasoline in 2011, meaning ethanol reduced average household spending at the pump by more than $1,200.
  • Since 2000, ethanol has kept gasoline prices an average of $0.29 per gallon cheaper than they otherwise would have been.
  • Based on the $0.29-per-gallon average annual savings, ethanol has helped save American drivers and the economy more than $477 billion in gasoline expenditures since 2000 - an average of $39.8 billion a year.

As I write this, several corn ethanol plants in the Midwest are shutting down due to the high cost of corn. The one ethanol plant in South Georgia continues to operate under bankruptcy. Corn prices continue to rise as hot, dry conditions grip the corn belt. So, even though using ethanol as a fuel has lots of economic advantages, producing ethanol from corn is not the long-term answer to our energy problems. Georgia's biofuel future is dependent upon finding ways to use other feedstocks to make energy. One promising development came from Tulane University which announced in the late summer of 2011 the discovery of a Clostridium-genus bacterium that can convert nearly any form of cellulose into isobutanol. Butanol has some advantages over ethanol. It better tolerates water contamination and is less corrosive than ethanol. It is more suitable for distribution through existing gasoline pipelines. At around $4.00 per gallon, the prices for isobutanol far outstrip the $2.20 per gallon pricing for fuel ethanol.

Some corn ethanol plants are looking at the option of converting to biobutanol production. DuPont and BP plan to make biobutanol the first product of their joint effort to develop, produce, and market next-generation biofuels. In Europe, the Swiss company Butalco is developing genetically-modified yeasts for the production of biobutanol from cellulosic materials.

Our bioenergy experts know a lot more than I do about these developments and trends, but from my perspective, Cooperative Extension needs to be prepared to help advise our growers and agribusinesses on how to best capitalize on this major change looming over the horizon. The biofuel era is coming to Georgia.

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Family and Consumer Sciences

Deborah MurrayDeborah Murray, FACS State Program Leader, 706/542-4862, dmurray@uga.edu

Helping Georgia families

I continue to meet with Extension agents from across the state, including county Extension coordinators, and am appreciative of the support and valuable input from agents, specialists, and administrators on ways to build the FACS program throughout the state. One of my first tasks is to take all of this input and feedback from all of you and work with our leadership team to build an Extension program that is stronger than ever. I am energized by the genuine concern and support for providing strong FACS programming across the state.

One of my first reporting tasks in Cooperative Extension has been to prepare a report about significant outcomes of the FACS Extension program. In looking at impact statements I realized that we are addressing three big initiatives through our work here in Georgia. They are: 1) Supporting Families Managing Through Difficult Economic Times; 2) Keeping Children and Families Safe; and 3) Promoting Healthy Lifestyles in Children and Families. Here are a few accomplishments that I thought you would be interested in knowing:

  • The UGA Family and Consumer Sciences Consumer Economics/Financial Management department started an online database, CASH (Consumer's Acquiring Saving Habits). You enrolled participants from various financial education programs in this database and data was entered to set goals to reduce debt or increase savings. As of July, 2011, 599 individuals enrolled have set a goal to either reduce debt or increase savings by $92,523 each month.
  • Conserving resources used at home reduces impact on the environment and saves money. UGA Extension agents conducted 465 programs on energy conservation last year. You taught more than 7,800 Georgians ways to save energy at home. Many of these programs incorporated water conservation principles, too. Agents introduced a new program, Rethink Waste, addressing recycling, reducing consumption and safely disposing of hazardous household products.
  • Some 140 farmers and market managers were trained to use best practices to keep locally grown and marketed produce safe in Georgia. Evaluation data from Enhancing the Safety of Locally Grown Produce programs is currently being collected and data analysis is scheduled for fall 2012.
  • EFNEP Childhood Overweight Prevention Projects (COPP) used county Extension agents and 4-H program assistants to teach a series of lessons to children using the Georgia 4-H Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles Curriculum. You reached a total of 20,300 Georgia 4-H youths with the following evaluation results:
  • 35% of 14,165 youth were more likely to try to eat foods from all food groups every day.
    28% of 14,655 youth increased the amount of fruits and fruit juice consumed daily.
    27% of 14,668 youth increased the amount of vegetables consumed daily.
    43% of 14,678 youth gained knowledge about serving sizes of foods.
    49% of 14,557 youth gained knowledge on the nutrient density of foods.
    35% of 13,866 youth have a greater understanding of how to eat a healthy diet.

This is a great organization to work for and I am so proud to be a part of it. Thanks for all you do for the families in Georgia!

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4-H and Youth Development

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

GAEL conference, environmental education and in-school clubs

I attended the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders Conference held July 8-10 at the new convention center on Jekyll Island. For more than 28 years, the Georgia Association of Extension 4-H Agents has sponsored the Oceans of Fun activities at GAEL where GAE4-HA members provide educational and recreational opportunities for children of educators attending the GAEL conference. GAEL membership includes school superintendents, school principals, curriculum directors, assistant principals and associate superintendents from Georgia school systems. It is a professional association very similar to our professional associations in Extension. This is a great opportunity to showcase the Georgia 4-H program. In addition to the efforts of GAE4-HA, Georgia 4-H and the Georgia 4-H Foundation also support the GAEL conference in many ways. Over the years, I have met numerous superintendents and school principals that I enjoy seeing and talking to during the conference, but most importantly, Georgia 4-H and the GAE4-HA get to share with these school administrators more about our 4-H program. Jenny Brown served as chair of Oceans of Fun for GAEL and was assisted by her husband Cliff Brown. Also facilitating the Oceans of Fun activities were Menia Chester - Fulton County, Ashley Davis - Tift County, Kasey Reid - Jasper County, Lauren Healey - Oconee County, Cheryl Poppell - Toombs County, Al Parker and his wife, Joan, Monte Stephens - Oconee County, Abby Smith - Effingham County, Ann Wildes, retired agent from Bacon County, Kim Taylor - Cobb County, and Rachel Stewart - Tattnall County. Working the state 4-H exhibit in the Exhibit Hall was Mandy Marable, Melanie Biersmith, Judy Ashley, and me.

While at GAEL, I was reminded of the importance of our relationship with local school systems and the access they allow us to have to the students with in-school club meetings. In the next few weeks, most of you will be meeting with your local school systems to discuss the upcoming school year. Even though we haven't finished the 2011-2012 program year, it is time to begin preparing for the 2012-2013 school year. I know many of you visit with your school officials before classes start and I want to make you aware of a new resource available. It is a small handout that emphasizes the "4-H'ers learn by doing" approach and highlights our delivery through Science, Healthy Living, Communication Citizenship, and Leadership. The brochures will be available during State 4-H Congress, but if you do not attend congress or are unable to pick up some of these brochures, contact Mandy Marable and she will send them to you.

During the GAEL conference, Georgia 4-H was recognized several times for our support of GAEL. On Tuesday evening Clovers and Company, a great ambassador group for Georgia 4-H, performed for the evening festivities and once again they made The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UGA Cooperative Extension and Georgia 4-H look great in front of an audience of school administrators and educational leaders from across our state.

As we prepare for the 2012-13 school year, please include the 4-H Environmental Education Program in your back-to-school packets. Again, this year we are taking requests for EE brochures to be mailed to you and already 30 counties have taken advantage of this opportunity. It's not too late to request brochures. You can do so by visiting the staff only EE website.

This is also the time of year when we begin generating reports for EE participation for the previous school year. We are pleased to report that the 2011-12 school year was among the most well attended in the history of the EE program. Despite hard economic times and increased accountability in schools, teachers and administrators still find value in allowing their students to participate in a 4-H Environmental Education Program. More than 41,000 participants took advantage of the outdoor classrooms provided by the five 4-H centers across Georgia last school year.

Because we also recognize that many of these 41,000 participants are not aware of the additional experiences available to them through the 4-H programs offered through county Extension offices, we have created a new Friends magazine for EE participants called "EE Friends." The eight-page, full color magazine follows the same format as all of our other Friends magazines but it is designed to serve two primary purposes: 1) to allow an opportunity for teachers and students to reflect upon their EE experience once back at school, and 2) to raise awareness of local 4-H programs and 4-H summer camp opportunities available to them through their local county Extension office. We look forward to sharing this new resource with each of you during the August 4-H updates.

In the same way that in-school programming allows us to build great relationships with schools, the Georgia 4-H Environmental Education Program is an extremely valuable partnership with school systems across Georgia. We appreciate your support of the program.

Please remember as we enter a new school year to thank not only those who support us financially – and I know many school boards do provide funding for local Extension offices – but also express gratitude to your school administrators, school principals, and school board members for allowing us to conduct in-school club meetings in your counties.

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CAES Strategic Planning

Laura Perry JohnsonLaura Perry Johnson, Co-Chair of CAES Strategic Planning Committee, 229/386-3414, lpj4h@uga.edu

What CAES does well

From the outset of the strategic planning process, we asked every person and group we interacted with the same questions. Two of those questions were, "What does CAES do well?" and "What does CAES not do so well?" Those very basic questions formed the foundation for our strategic plan. Obviously, we used the answers to what we do not do well to help form our strategic goals for moving forward. However, one thing that is unusual about the CAES Strategic Plan is that there is a section that enumerates where we as a college already excel. These are called our "Foundational Strengths" in the plan and recognize those things we already do a good job at. The CAES Strategic Planning Committee and those who gave us input identified these strengths and things that make us effective and should be continued to remain at the level we are, but can be enhanced to make us even better.

It is actually very fulfilling to recognize that while there are many things we can do better as a college, we are already doing some things very well! These can be broken down into four categories — teaching, research, extension and support.

Teaching: CAES is very well recognized as "student-friendly" and we often hear of students transferring to CAES for the great advising, small classes and high interaction with the faculty. Over and over we heard that CAES is recognized for excellence in teaching, advising, placement and out-of-classroom activities. This is a "Foundational Strength" we can be proud of and want to strive to make even better.

Research: In the area of research, it was widely noted that CAES has one of the best applied research programs in the nation and that the discovery and innovation in the area of production agriculture definitely contributes to agriculture's success and profitability in Georgia and beyond. In addition, CAES is noted for strong basic research in several areas and these pockets of basic research are nationally-recognized and contribute to a positive academic image for UGA and CAES.

Extension: In Extension programming, the Georgia 4-H Program was noted by many as one of the highlights of our college and is a youth development program that has significant impact across the state. This program is often cited as the best in the nation. Additionally, the local presence of the University of Georgia in 158 of our counties is duly noted and appreciated by many. This connection to the local communities provides a means for development and delivery of educational programming (supported by strong research programs as noted above) with grassroots needs assessment and local input and collaboration. This time-tested model is still recognized as one of the "Foundational Strengths" of our college.

Support: The strong tradition of excellence in teaching, research and extension as noted above results in strong support and advocates for the entire college. CAES enjoys a tradition and history of strong legislative support from rural and agriculturally-minded legislators and industries. It was also noted over and over that the CAES administration values the integration of all program areas and maintains a culture of respect and teamwork. Other examples of "Foundational Strengths" in this area were our strong record of generated grants, gifts and private funds, excellent record of generated income from intellectual property, loyal and involved alumni and industry representatives that advocate for CAES and high level of interaction with decision makers and users of CAES programs.

This is quite an impressive list and should make us proud of the strengths we have and the things we do well. In order to maintain we must at least keep these at the current level. As the strategic plan becomes public and those things we need to do a better job at are revealed and we develop action teams around those goals, we need to remember that we still have to maintain our current "Foundational Strengths."

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Personnel actions since June 1, 2012

New Hires

  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens, Savannah—James "Jamie"  Burghardt, Horticulture Coordinator, 6/1/12
  • Bartow County—Brielle Shinall, Secretary, 6/7/12
  • Calhoun County—Thomas "Jay" Hathorn, CEA ANR Agent, 6/1/12
  • Coweta County—Rachel Fautsch, 4-H Agent, 7/1/12
  • Coweta County—Pete Toal, CEPA, 6/7/12
  • Lanier County—Justin Lanier, Intern, 6/14/12
  • Liberty County—Temberly Mitchell, PA - State 4-H office funded, 6/25/12
  • Mitchell County—Max Demott, CEA ANR Agent, 6/1/12
  • Pulaski County—Ashleigh Day, Intern, 6/14/12
  • Tattnall County—Anthony Catanzariti, PA - Grant funded - Job Training Unlimited, 6/4/12

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Southwest District—Dr. Laura Perry Johnson, Director (formerly SWD 4-H PDC), 6/1/12
  • Tattnall County—Chris Tyson, Acting CEC from Worth County, 6/30/12

Retirements

  • Bacon County—K. Ann Wildes, County Extension Agent (4-H), Retire/Rehire term ended, 6/30/12
  • Early County—Jeanette Smith, CEPA 4-H, 6/30/12
  • Fulton County—Bobby Wilson, ANR Agent, 6/30/12
  • Sumter County—Joan Mason, FACS, Retire/Rehire term ended, 6/30/12
  • Wheeler County—Mike Hayes, County Extension Coordinator (ANR), 6/30/12

Departures

  • Bacon County—Stacey Lynn Jones, PA - Blueberry Growers Association, 6/29/12
  • Long County—Austin Overbey, PA - 4-H, 20 hrs/wk, 6/15/12
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