Beverly Sparks, Associate Dean for Extension, 706/542-3824, firstname.lastname@example.org
A beautiful spring has finally arrived in Athens. The warmer temperatures and abundant rainfall have provided vibrant colors in the flowers and foliage and the water level in area lakes is higher than I have seen in years. A new growing season is upon us!
In this issue of Extension E-News there is some outstanding news:
- Please join me in welcoming Dr. Erick Smith to UGA Extension. Dr. Smith is our new small fruits horticulturist housed on the Tifton Campus. His official start date was April 1, 2013. Read more.
- We will celebrate the career and retirement of Dr. Dave Kissel, director of our Environmental Services Laboratories, on April 26th from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Garden Terrace Room at the State Botanical Gardens in Athens. Please join us and help recognize and celebrate Dr. Kissel's distinguished career. View invitation.
- Upon the retirement of Dr. Kissel, Dr. Leticia Sonon has agreed to serve as interim director of our Environmental Services Laboratories. She will assume these duties effective May 1, 2013. Please join me in thanking Dr. Sonon for her willingness to take on this leadership role.
- The budget development process for our state budget for FY14 is about to conclude. If the budget is approved as presented (keep your fingers crossed), Cooperative Extension and our college have many reasons to be thankful. The state budget for FY 14 includes restoration of a portion (0.75 percent) of the proposed 3 percent cut to Cooperative Extension; four positions for Extension/research faculty in the areas of dairy/heat stress management, Food PIC director, peach horticulture and beef cattle management (Ted Dyer's position); funds for replacement of worn out/outdated equipment for our experiment stations ($1M); and funds for renovation of restoration of buildings on the Tifton campus. Additional good news…funding for cabins at Rock Eagle ($7.5 M) as well as maintenance and renovation funds for experiment station and Extension facilities ($4M) was included in the budget. All we are waiting on is Governor Deal to sign off on the conference version and that should happen within the next couple of weeks. When this budget is approved, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL LEGISLATORS AND THANK THEM FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF THE BUDGETS FOR EXTENSION AND THE AGRICULTURAL EXERIMENT STATIONS. The federal side of our budget continues to be in question. Bottom line is we are anticipating a cut in our Smith Lever funds for FY13 at the 7.72 percent level. Work on the Federal budget continues for FY14 and we will focus our efforts on restoring this cut and maintaining our Smith-Lever funding at the FY12 level.
- During the last four weeks, I represented UGA Cooperative Extension at two important meetings. First, the annual meeting of NEDA (National Extension Directors Association) in San Antonio, Texas, and second, the spring meeting of the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors (ASRED) in Little Rock, Arkansas. Extension directors/administrators throughout the United States and the southern region are all facing fiscal challenges. Louisiana State University and Clemson sustained the highest of the cuts, losing over 45 percent of their state budgets in the last three years. North Carolina State University is also facing another round of significant budget cuts. The good news is it appears some of our sister states (Florida, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kentucky) are turning the corner towards economic recovery and are beginning to rebuild and hire new employees.
In this issue of Extension E-News:
- Tony Tyson shares good news about matching funds for new computer/technology purchases;
- Steve Brown provides an update on the “new” distance diagnostics system;
- Deborah Murray reports on the number of Georgians without health insurance and how those numbers should change in 2014; and
- Arch Smith reminds 4-H agents to fill out essential paperwork and shares good news about more new cabins at Rock Eagle.
Tony Tyson, Director of Extension County Operations, 706/542-1060, email@example.com
Funds available for technology upgrades in county offices
As I write this article, we have just sent out notification to the district directors that there will be some year-end funds available to upgrade computer equipment in county Extension offices. The funds that are being made available are salary savings dollars left from positions that have been vacant for part of this fiscal year. As in years past, we are making these funds available as matching dollars to purchase computers and other equipment necessary to deliver Extension programs at the county level. You should be receiving additional instructions from your district office very soon.
OCTS field staff members have already prepared specifications for new equipment to be placed in county offices. In order to be supported by our OCTS personnel, you will need to ensure that your equipment meets these specifications. There are detailed specifications for desktop computers, laptops, ipads and printers. These funds may also be used for digital cameras, digital projectors, GPS units and other types of digital equipment. If you need advice on any of these items, talk to your OCTS contact.
One consideration that you should keep in mind when deciding which computers need to be replaced is that after July, 2014 Microsoft will no longer provide company support for Windows XP. Therefore, if you have computers that run XP you will either need to replace the computer or upgrade the software. I spoke to Travis Zetterower of OCTS and he indicated that they have already sent out a list of Dell computer model numbers that would be candidates to upgrade the operating software. If the computers you have are not on that list, you will need to replace the computer.
As in recent years, we are requiring a minimum of a 50/50 match of local and state funds to qualify for the state dollars. The local funds may come from the county, the board of education, or grants. The funds may also come from your local program funds if you have money available that can be used for this purpose. If you have a critical need and are not able to secure local funds for matching, I would encourage you to discuss this with your district director. If no other options are available, we will try to address critical needs with state funds only.
We are fortunate to have this opportunity to upgrade our computer equipment. I know that government entities are often criticized for spending money at the end of the year for unnecessary purchases. In our case, nothing could be further from the truth. Since we do not have funds budgeted for technology upgrades, this is how we ensure that our equipment is up-to-date. And, because we require local matching funds, everyone gets more bang for their buck!
Steve Brown, ANR State Program Leader, 706/542-1060, firstname.lastname@example.org
Quick and accurate diagnosis of problems is a foundation of good Extension work. Our Distance Diagnostics through Digital Imaging system is one of several ways that we can accomplish that goal. As you know, DDDI had served us well, but for a number of reasons had become increasingly difficult to use.
Last year, I appointed a task force to look into the situation and make suggestions for improvement. That task force has done an excellent job and we are now starting to see the results of their work. If you haven't used the system lately, I think you will find that the submission and diagnosis process has been greatly simplified. I think this will alleviate much of the frustration on both sides of the process. I appreciate Sheri Clark and her staff's hard work during this process. They have listened to all the concerns and responded with some great modifications.
Other problems still remain. We still don't have enough diagnosticians and the ones we have are pulled in many directions. Response time may not always be ideal, but I think in general it has gotten better. We are in the process of filling several key specialist positions and that should help.
We still need submitter and diagnostician training. The system has many helpful features, some of which are brand new, that can make using the system a better experience. We need to make sure everyone knows about all the features of the system and how they can be used to best fit your needs. We are trying to provide some training opportunities, so watch for those and take advantage of them when you can.
We are also making some end of the year funds available for supplies and equipment upgrades at the county level. There won't be enough money to get everyone a Cadillac system, but we can address some of the most pressing needs.
So, DDDI is alive and well. If you haven't used it in a while, or if some of you new agents have never used it, please give it a try. Let me know if you have suggestions for further improvements.
Deborah Murray, FACS State Program Leader, 706/542-4862, email@example.com
Georgians without health insurance:
Someone you work with doesn't have health insurance
The 2011 Census Bureau's American Community Survey estimated that nearly 21 percent or nearly 1.7 million Georgians 64 and under did not have private (employer provided or direct purchase) or government (Medicaid, Medicare, Military, State, or Tribal) health insurance coverage. Some of our counties have rates as high as 30 percent. Unfortunately, we are in the top ten states with the highest rates of uninsured. Massachusetts, which enacted health care reform in 2006, has the lowest rate of uninsured at 4.9 percent. Read more at Gallup.com.
What does it mean to not have health insurance coverage?
According to Families USA, a health care advocacy group for families, “people without insurance are more likely to go without preventive care, to delay or forgo medical care, and to die prematurely. When sick, the uninsured may turn to emergency rooms for care, where oftentimes they are charged more for services than insured patients. And when uninsured patients can't afford their medical bills, the cost of this care is passed on to the insured in the form of higher premiums.”
Beginning in January 2014, uninsured Georgians will have access to a federally-facilitated marketplace of subsidized options for health insurance coverage. This is important to improving the health of Georgians and those who are involved in our agriculture, family and consumer sciences, and 4-H programs. Health and Human Services has identified agriculture related organizations as community groups to conduct consumer education to reach the uninsured populations. On April 9, HHS released a funding opportunity to conduct consumer education for these marketplaces. There is $2.8 million available to the State of Georgia to do consumer education. We are currently reviewing the funding opportunity for a proposal submission. It is important that we assist our rural and urban families in providing the best unbiased consumer information possible. We will keep you posted.
Arch Smith, 4-H & Youth Development State Program Leader, 706/542-4H4H, firstname.lastname@example.org
The tax exempt status of county 4-H clubs has been made possible by a Group Exemption Number (GEN) provided by USDA. The IRS and USDA determined that this exemption will now be the responsibility of each Land Grant University. The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is in the process of creating the Georgia Extension 4-H Foundation. It will be the umbrella organization for all 4-H clubs in Georgia. This new foundation will also have a new GEN.
In order for each county 4-H club in Georgia to maintain tax exempt status and to acknowledge tax deductible gifts to 4-H, we have sent each county Extension coordinator the articles of association that must be signed by the county Extension coordinator and two other individuals in the county office. It is very important that the articles of association be returned to the State 4-H Office by April 26. If you have questions, please contact Kay Brown or me at 706-542-8804.
We appreciate that the Georgia General Assembly included $7.5 million in FY2014 bond funds for construction of new cabins at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. We now have nine new cabins in use and two under construction. With the remaining FY2013 bond funds and FY2014 bond funding, we hope to construct an additional 23 cabins over the next two years for a total of 34 new cabins.
Georgia 4-H is working with the Jekyll Island Authority to develop a plan to have uninterrupted 4-H programs at the new youth facility on Jekyll Island. The General Assembly appropriated $12 million dollars in the DNR to build new lodging, staff housing, administrative offices, an auditorium, classroom space and a swimming pool. There will also be improvements to the landscaping and hardscape at the Jekyll Island 4-H Center. Georgia 4-H will benefit from this new facility that will offer better accommodations for our environmental education and summer camping programs.
There are many positive changes in the near future at our 4-H centers which will help Georgia 4-H continue "To Make the Best Better."
Please remember that each county should file its form 990 on or before May 15, 2013.
We are pleased to announce that the April winner for the Outstanding Extension Program contest is the Farm Safety Workshop coordinated by Norman Edwards with Walker County Cooperative Extension.
This farm safety workshop included classroom presentation and farm equipment demonstrations. The coordinator invited Dr. Glen Rains, UGA Professor, to speak to a crowd of 60 Walker County farmers/EMS personnel/youth/citizens about the importance of being safe and practicing safe principles each day on our farms. The coordinator also worked in conjunction with the local Farm Bureau office which provided travel dollars for the speaker and refreshments. One hour of pesticide recertification credit was also offered due to pesticide safety being covered during the training.
With agriculture being one of the most dangerous industries in the United States, it was realized that education is vital to reducing the number of injuries or fatalities on our farms. In Walker County there has been an increasing number of serious farm accidents over the last few years that included severe injuries and even death. With programs like the Farm Safety Workshop, there is a hope to educate and increase awareness to the risks associated with everyday tasks on our local farms.
- Bibb County – Kathryn Hensley, Program Asst AG, 3/7/2013
- Crisp County – Anna McIntyre, Public Serv Rep, 3/1/2013
- Cook County – Bonnie Mitchell, Public Serv Rep, 4/1/2013
- Coweta County – Sandra Bauer, Program Asst, 3/14/2013
- Glynn County – Adrien Crapps, Public Serv Rep, 5/1/2013
- Houston County – April Baggs, Public Serv Rep, 5/1/2013
- Houston County – Rebecca Creasy, Public Serv Asst, 5/1/2013
- Houston County – Charlotte Mote, Public Serv Rep, 5/1/2013
- Lanier and Clinch Counties – Jeremy Taylor, Public Serv Rep, 3/1/2013
- Meriwether County – Robert Gafnea, Public Serv Rep AG/4-H, 3/1/2013
- Ware County – Tatum Sikes, CEPA, 3/28/2013
- Washington County – Georgeanne Cook, Public Serv Asst, 6/1/2013
- Worth County – Keli Gunn, CEPA, 4/11/2013
- Richmond County – Sid Mullis, Sr Public Serv Assoc, 3/7/2013
- Ben Hill County – Jeri Gilleland, Public Serv Rep, transferred from County Extension Associate, 4/1/2013
- Morgan County – Lucy Ray, Public Serv Asst, transferred from Jasper to Morgan County, 3/15/2013
- Worth County – D Scott Carlson, Public Serv Asst, transferred from Ben Hill to Worth County, 3/1/2013
- Bacon County – John Ed Smith, CEC-ANR Retiree Rehire, 3/29/13
- Baldwin County – Janet Palmer, Public Serv Asst, 3/31/2013
- Brooks County – Johnny Whiddon, Public Serv Assoc, 4/30/2013
- Columbia County – Carol Rodriguez, County Secretary, 3/22/2013
- Floyd County – Elizabeth Brewster, Public Serv Asst, 3/5/2013