Beverly Sparks, Associate Dean for Extension, 706/542-3824, firstname.lastname@example.org
First, a sincere thank you goes out to those that responded to the call to complete a survey on the expectations and value of Extension E-News in the January issue. For those of you that did not respond, you have a final opportunity to submit input. Please go to the link below to complete a survey that will help us improve and better define the messages we prepare in Extension E-News.
Year 2013 is off to a roaring start and there has been much activity during the first six weeks. CAES administration, faculty, students, 4-H'ers and CAES Council advisors have had many contacts with many legislators attending the ACCG Legislative reception and training sessions, Georgia Agribusiness Council Dinner and Legislative Breakfast, CAES Legislative Reception, and 4-H Day at the Capitol. There have also been many personal visits to legislative offices and Dean Angle has been actively providing testimony before legislative committees in both the House and the Senate. I ask that you continue to work closely with our legislators, keep them informed about our budget challenges and communicate the impact of our programs. As always, thanks for your assistance at the local level and keep up the great work!
|State 4-H President Tifara Brown of Ben Hill County addressed both the House and Senate on Feb. 4 for 4-H Day at the Capitol. She thanked them for their support of 4-H over the past year. Georgia 4-H is especially appreciative of their hosts for the day - Chairman Ross Tolleson and Representatives Richard Smith and Rick Jasperse. Pictured left to right are Arch Smith, Scott Angle, Rick Jasperse (Rep. Dist. 11), Tifara Brown and Beverly Sparks.|
Also, during the last six weeks CAES hosted 2013 Georgia Ag Forecast sessions in Athens, Rome, Macon, Tifton, Bainbridge, and Lyons with a total attendance of more than 850 participants. We had several new venues this year. Thanks to those of you that were actively involved in turning out the crowds in Rome, Bainbridge and Lyons. Maria Bowie and the rest of the planning committee are very appreciative of the assistance they receive at the local level in marketing and caring out all the Georgia Ag Forecast sessions.
A few highlights since the last issue of Extension E-News and preview of upcoming activities:
- Great news came out of Governor Deal's office this week. The state of Georgia's net tax collections for January 2013 were up 10.4 percent over the same month last year. This is very positive news coming at a great time as our legislators begin discussions on the state budget for 2014.
- District directors continue the process of screening, interviewing and filling high priority county Extension agent positions (without any new state dollars coming into our budget). If you review the last six issues of Extension E-News and go through the personnel sections you will find 20 agent positions (with state funding) that have been filled and many others that have been filled using federal or grant funds. We have also had success in filling Extension associate and county Extension program assistant positions. I am very appreciative and thankful to our district directors and county Extension coordinators for their creativity in finding additional funding to support agent and well as support staff positions.
- We have been working closely with several of our department heads to interview and recruit new specialists into critical Extension positions. At this time we can announce the hiring of Jacob Segars into the beef cattle specialist position in Tifton. Jacob will report to his new duties on July 1, 2013. Dr. Eric Smith will report to Tifton on April 1, 2013, and will be serving in the role of small fruits horticulturist with most of his work concentrated on blueberries. We hope to be able to announce hires in the vegetable horticulturist, peanut entomologist (20% Extension), and dairy (teaching and youth programs) positions in the very near future.
In this issue of Extension E-News:
- Tony Tyson writes about customer service;
- Arch Smith answers three "big picture" questions posed by 4-H agents from Southwest District;
- Deborah Murray discusses Extension leadership on health issues and provides up-to-date information on the challenges of obesity and other health issues among Georgians; and
- Steve Brown explains how global programs benefit agents and Extension clients.
Tony Tyson, Director of Extension County Operations, 706/542-1060, email@example.com
What Should Our Customers Expect From Us?
Those of you who write a regular newspaper or newsletter article can probably relate to the dilemma of coming up with a topic each week or month. Sometimes I struggle with what to write about, so this month I am stealing an idea I got from Laura Perry Johnson at her recent district update meeting. After all there are very few original ideas – most of the good ones have already been thought of by someone else. So, why not borrow?
Although I missed her talk, Laura sent me a copy of her presentation and I thought it contained some excellent thoughts. Thanks, Laura! And for purposes of full disclosure, I think Laura stole some of her ideas from Bill Cheesborough, director of fiscal affairs for CAES.
Here are some highlights:
- We are a vendor of service. Without clients, we do not have a job! We are here because of them! This is true at all levels – county, district and state.
- Customers quit buying for the following reasons:
- They die (1%)
- They move away (3%)
- Other companies (5%)
- Competition (9%)
- Dissatisfaction (14%)
- No contact, indifference, attitude of provider (68%)
- Most people will forgive a mistake. Few will forgive a poor attitude!
- Be the same all the time. Give consistent, optimal service all the time - not selective, superior service some of the time!
- Make it easy for the customer to do business with you.
- Don't take complaints personally…but, do personalize the complaint.
- Tell the customer what you CAN do for them, not what you CANNOT!
Lastly, here are two thoughtful questions we should ask ourselves every day.
- If we were a "For Profit," would we still be in business?
- If you had to run for re-election would you still have your job?
In the meantime, put a smile on your face. Springtime is just around the corner.
Steve Brown, ANR State Program Leader, 706/542-1060, firstname.lastname@example.org
Why Should Extension Get Involved in Global Programs?
If you've been involved in United States agriculture for as long as I have, you've seen some amazing changes. Many would recognize the rise of technology in what was once known as a low-tech industry as the most prominent change. But to me, the transition of what was once a locally driven agricultural economy to a global economy has resulted in an equally profound impact. Virtually every commodity we grow in Georgia is influenced by something that happens outside the U.S. Ask a Georgia vegetable grower about how the weather in Mexico influences the price he receives for cantaloupes. Ask a Georgia cotton grower about how the Chinese government influences the price he gets for his crop. Ask textile workers about how they lost their job to overseas competition.
We all recognize the global nature of agricultural economics, but we are also keenly aware that our political support is locally driven. In our college and especially in Extension, it's state, federal and county funding that drives our train. So why would we even think about having an international presence?
Global programs are probably more easily justified in the research and teaching components of our college. Researchers have opportunities to gain knowledge in different environments and collaborate with other international experts and that collaboration ultimately helps us here at home. Students with an international experience have a huge advantage in the market place over those that don't. But what do Extension workers have to gain from global programs? Sometimes we may even pay a political price for doing something outside of our county or state boundaries.
I believe that in order to be there for our clientele in the long run, we must have a higher level of understanding of the processes driving modern agriculture. Those clientele that would rather our agents never leave the county have a short-sighted view of how we can help them. Anything Cooperative Extension can do to give our employees a better understanding of global connections helps us to better help our clientele.
Ultimately, our job is to have a positive influence on the lives of our clientele. We understand that and have no desire to use our resources for anything other than that purpose. However, I personally believe that in this age of an ever-shrinking world, a strong global presence actually enhances the Georgia taxpayer's investment in us. The trick is to convince our clientele of that.
Of course, there has to be a common sense, balanced approach to our global efforts. CAES is currently involved in a number of fascinating global programs. Not everyone will have an opportunity to participate in one of these programs, but if you get an opportunity, I hope that you will consider how that might help you be a better Extension employee right here in Georgia. Don't miss the opportunity to help your clientele understand that, whether they want to or not, they live in a global economy.
Deborah Murray, FACS State Program Leader, 706/542-4862, email@example.com
Extension Leadership in Health
As you are aware, the concern for individual, family, and community health is everywhere. Data shows that Georgia, although slowly improving its national health status ranking still, ranks 36th in overall health rankings, and 39th in health outcomes. If you are not familiar with the stats you need to become familiar with how we stand in regards to the state's health. Each of us has a role in improving the state's health status and we should be communicating to stakeholders what that role is and how we are addressing health through our agriculture, family and consumer sciences, and our 4-H/youth development programs.
Did you know?
- In Georgia, 2 million adults are obese and almost 750,000 adults have diabetes.
- In the past 5 years, the high school graduation rate increased from 61.2 percent to 67.8 percent of ninth graders who graduate in 4 years.
- While Georgia is still challenged by a high infant mortality rate, in the past 10 years it has declined from 8.4 to 7.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.
- In the past 5 years, the rate of preventable hospitalizations decreased from 82.0 to 68.4 discharges per 1,000 Medicare enrollees.
- In the past 10 years, the rate of uninsured population increased from 15.0 percent to 19.3 percent.
- Smoking is more prevalent among non-Hispanic whites at 18.8 percent than Hispanics at 13.6 percent.
- In October, 2012, 1,963,601 Georgians participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the food stamp program).
Obesity is our biggest challenge
In Georgia, obesity is more prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks at 37.6 percent than non-Hispanic whites at 26.1 percent; and a sedentary lifestyle is more prevalent among Hispanics at 30.1 percent than non-Hispanic whites at 22.6 percent. Our children are most at risk for developing chronic diseases associated with obesity as 37.3% are overweight or obese.
Whether we are working with the people who grow our food, teaching children positive health behaviors, or working with families who make the decisions about health care, the food they eat and what they do to be physically active, it is paramount during this time of budget cuts to communicate clearly how we are addressing these issues and why we are important to Georgia. It is important to also identify partners who can support us in our efforts, whether they are existing partners such as county governments, state agencies, foundations, and or corporations. The obesity initiative here at UGA is helping us do that. Beverly Sparks leads an Extension and outreach group, and Cliff Baile, CAES and FACS, is leading the UGA Initiative pulling together diverse colleges and partners at the university and throughout the state to address this issue.
Although it is a complex problem, we in Extension are poised to make a significant impact in Georgia. Pat yourselves on the back, agents, specialists, and administrators for the good work we are doing and let's get the messages out in the state.
Arch Smith, 4-H & Youth Development State Program Leader, 706/542-4H4H, firstname.lastname@example.org
This week I visited with 4-H agents at the Southwest District Professional Development Conference in Tifton, Ga. Melinda Miller invited the 4-H agents to send in questions for me to answer. I thought some of the questions were "big picture" ones and not only related to operational details. I thought I would share.
Q. What does the "ideal" base 4-H program look like in the average county?
A. I am not sure where the "average" county is located, but the ideal 4-H county program comprises as many school club meetings as local county Extension staff can meet. When I was a county agent, I met about 35 club meetings each month and most were in the gym or lunch room of a school—not the ideal situation but it did provide access to many young people. The ideal 4-H program has young people participating in project achievement at the local or school level and then providing a chance for many, if not all, of the local participants to attend Cloverleaf and Junior/Senior District Project Achievement competitions. The ideal county 4-H program encourages 4-H members to participate in 4-H summer camping programs. Finally, each county should have four high school students attend State 4-H Council. The ideal county 4-H program in Georgia must first be successful with the four Core 4-H Programs by delivering the four Essential Elements of 4-H:
- Belonging begins in 4-H school club meetings
- Mastery begins in 4-H project achievement
- Independence is practiced at 4-H camp
- Generosity is demonstrated at state council
With the four core programs in place, a county 4-H program should also have youth participating in judging events, quiz bowls, Project SAFE, livestock projects, Health Rocks!, and other educational opportunities that are available through Georgia 4-H.
Q. What do you think Georgia 4-H will look like in five years? Ten Years?
A. If I could predict the future I would not be writing this article, but I do believe our work is a journey instead of a destination. Yes, there is a master plan on paper that shows what Rock Eagle, Jekyll, Fortson and Wahsega 4-H Centers might look in five years and ten years, and those master plans will help us to better deliver the 4-H program in Georgia. But we need to have a vision of Georgia 4-H that helps us have a positive impact serving more 4-H members with quality youth development programs. That means more staff and, most likely, more volunteers who have been trained by certified 4-H training programs. Our 4-H agents and paid staff will have to become better equipped to manage volunteers and recognize the success of volunteers. I think Georgia 4-H will be better in the future than it is today mainly because we have 4-H professionals across the state of Georgia who are committed "To Make the Best Better"
Q. What is your best advice for a new agent? A "not so new" agent?
A. Set high goals for your program, look to experienced agents around you, and strive to replicate their success. Benjamin E. Mays said, "The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach. It isn't a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin." Also, be careful not to listen to those who constantly complain because they will drag you down and prevent you from attaining your goals.
The "not so new" agent should be encouraged to talk with some of the new, young, energetic agents who we have hired in the last few years. Our young agents embrace technology, have new and different ways of reaching youth audiences, and are full of life and energy. I am encouraged by the presence of young professionals who believe we can reach the stars, and I am grateful for the mid-career and seasoned agents who are 4-H superstars!
Well, that may have been a little more of Arch's philosophy than you wanted to read but please remember the following:
- Enjoy the time you have in club meetings because those 4-H members are listening and learning from what you have to share.
- Promote camp – 4-H camp is an unforgettable experience for most who attend.
- If I have not seen you at Junior/Senior Project Achievement in February, I look forward to visiting with you in March.
- State council is June 21-23, 2013— I hope your county will have four 4-H members present.
- Bulloch County—Morgan Lee, Program Assistant 4-H Intern, 1/28/13
- Cook County—Katie Walker, Secretary, 2/1/13
- Early County—Paige McLendon, Secretary, 2/1/13
- Gwinnett County—Marilyn Farnsworth, Secretary, 12/21/12
- Stewart County—Christine Buchan, CEPA, 2/1/13
- Telfair County—Jack Wall, County Extension Agent-ANR, 1/1/13
- Ag Business Office—Anna Savelle transferred to Ag Business Office, 2/1/13
- Dade County—Rich Lavalla, Program Assistant to Extension Associate, 2/1/13
- Glynn County—Don Gardner, Co. Extension Agent-ANR to Interim Co. Extension Coordinator, 1/17/13
- Richmond County—Robin Turi, Public Service Rep, transferred to Richmond County, 2/1/13
- Richmond County—Sid Mullis, CEC, 2/1/13
- Chattahoochie County—Jeanette Cameron, Prog. Asst, 1/30/13
- Coweta County—Brian Selke, Prog. Asst., 1/11/13
- Dooly County—Brad Sangster, Program Coordinator, 2/1/13
- Glynn County—Roberta "Robi" Gray, County Extension Coordinator, 1/16/13
- Muscogee County—Sharon Hicks, Secretary, 1/9/13
- Ware County—Catherine "C.G." Furman, Program Assistant (county-funded), 1/28/13