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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for December, 2010

Photo: Beverly SparksBeverly Sparks, Associate Dean for Extension, 706/542-3824,

Extension Colleagues:

Wow, what a year! 2010 has had many challenges and opportunities for us to show our creativity and resiliency. Thanks to each of you for your positive attitude and continued focus on providing excellent programming during these challenging times. Now, take a much deserved break and spend some quality time with your family and friends!

We end the year with some positive news on state revenue figures. We are now into a six-month positive trend with state revenue up in November by 6 percent. Let's hope 2011 is a year of recovery and continued positive growth. At our upcoming virtual 2011 Winter School, we will have an update on our state budget and predictions for 2011 from one of our own experts, Dr. Jeff Dorfman. I look forward to some good news, Jeff!

The focus of our work on the Review of County Operations - Refining the County Delivery Model has now shifted to helping our stakeholders and funding partners understand how the staffing changes will impact Extension programs at the local level and our District Directors are aggressively moving through phase 1 of the implementation plan. Here are a few highlights of activities in the past month:

  • A list of high priority County Extension Agent (17) and County Extension Coordinator (2) positions were internally advertised in mid November and interviews have begun on many of these positions;
  • We announced the release of an additional County Extension Agent position (Hall County ANR) and the Northeast District Director position and are currently accepting applications from internal applicants. Due to the holiday break, we will accept applications until January 1st;
  • District Directors are working to advertise and/or upgrade existing positions to either Extension Associate-Resource Manager, Extension Associate-4-H Educator or Extension Associate 4-H/Resource Manager positions in many counties across the state;
  • And, our District Directors are in the midst of performance evaluations.

In this newsletter, we announce some key changes in administrative/leadership positions within Extension. Effective January 1, 2011, the following individuals will have new titles and/or responsibilities for our organization:

  • Dr. Kris Braman becomes the Interim Director of the Center for Urban Agriculture. Kris replaces Dr. Gil Landry. We thank Gil for his distinguished career, dedication and service to the turf industry and the Center for Urban Agriculture. I have great confidence in Kris' leadership capabilities. She brings a strong appreciation for Extension urban programs to her new role. I look forward to working closely with Kris, the faculty and staff in the center, our Northwest District team and our urban agents as we work towards our goal of focusing, documenting and communicating the impact of our urban Extension and research programs.
  • Marcie Simpson assumes the responsibilities of Coordinator for Extension Organizational Development (Dr. Mary Ellen Blackburn's former position). Marcie will also serve as our accountability coordinator. As she combines these two roles, Sunshine Jordan will be expanding her responsibilities as she takes on a greater role in reporting and accountability. Congratulations to both Marcie and Sunshine!
  • We remove the "interim" from Arch Smith's title as he becomes our State Program Leader 4-H Youth Development/Director of 4-H. Arch has done an outstanding job of providing leadership for our 4-H program on an interim basis and I can think of no one more qualified or dedicated to take on the leadership of the finest 4-H program in the nation.

Please join me in congratulating these individuals and please offer your support as they take on these challenging responsibilities.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson reviews the progress we are making on restructuring of county operations;
  • Arch Smith reviews impact numbers for our 4-H program in 2010 and talks about new year resolutions of our 4-H staff;
  • Elizabeth Andress provides an update of activities with FACS agents and faculty; and,
  • Steve Brown provides his perspective on 2010 and the future of those working in agriculture.

Hope you and your family have a great holiday!


County Operations

Photo: Tony TysonTony Tyson, Director of Extension County Operations, 706/542-1060,

Reorganization Begins

The pace of change for Cooperative Extension has definitely picked up over the past couple of months. We spent the early fall communicating the plan with our employees, constituents and funding partners. In November, we started the implementation process and now you will begin seeing some of the changes particularly related to county staffing.

We have internally advertised 18 County Extension Agent positions and two dedicated County Coordinator positions in the metro area. District Directors have been busy interviewing candidates for these positions and some positions have been filled effective early next year.

We have also received approval from UGA Human Resources to create the new job classification with the official title of County Extension Associate. Some of these positions will be filled by reclassification of existing staff (secretaries and program assistants) and some will be advertised. District Directors are now beginning to request a few reclassifications and advertising the first round of these positions.

Some of the Extension Associates will have the responsibility of "resource manager" as all or a portion of their job duties. In some of the lower tier counties, this person will be responsible for assisting clientele with access to a variety of Extension resources including publications and other online resources, diagnostic services and access to area or regional educational opportunities. These duties will be in addition to the duties of a traditional county secretary. In order to prepare these individuals to be a valuable resource in their county, we will be designing a new training program to meet these particular needs. A committee has been appointed and will begin work in early January to design this training.

One of our priorities as we move forward is to continue to develop leadership skills in our faculty. We are currently conducting the inaugural class of the ExTEND Academy which is an advanced leadership development program for Extension faculty. Early next year we will announce a request for applications for the third class of the Extension Academy for Professional Excellence. This program will be open to both county level and state level Extension faculty and will consist of two three-day training sessions, one in the spring and one in the fall. We strongly encourage all interested faculty to submit an application. This should be an excellent program and will be a prerequisite for the next ExTEND Academy which will probably take place in 2012.

As we approach the holidays, I encourage all of you to take advantage of your time off, recharge your batteries and enjoy time with your family. Happy Holidays!


Agriculture and Natural Resources

Photo: Steve Brown Steve Brown, ANR State Program Leader, 706/542-1060,

Agricultural Expertise—A Commodity in Short Supply

The year 2010 will not be remembered as one of our finest in Georgia Cooperative Extension. But it WILL be remembered. We've undergone a major downsizing that has been painful for us as well as our clientele. I'm sure our younger employees get tired of hearing us older employees talk about 1991. Bad years are probably more memorable than good ones. I'm confident that our younger employees will look back on 2010 much like we look back on 1991. It was a tough time, but a turning point, and an adjustment that resulted in some necessary changes in our course.

Sometimes it may seem like the general public has lost interest in our work and that taxpayers will slowly cease to fund us. Despite the public's general lack of understanding of agriculture and its link to their dinner plates, the cold hard facts of life are still very much in our favor. The human population continues to grow and 100 percent of us eat. Despite the widespread ignorance of agricultural issues, food production WILL continue to be vital to our survival. Food production problems WILL continue to strain our ability to produce enough food. Research, Extension and instructional programs WILL continue to be essential to food production.

Commodity prices are spiking right now for the second time in recent years. The first time, ethanol was blamed for causing some short term shortages in food and feed supplies. Now the market has taken ethanol into account and there are still shortages in the world market supply of several commodities. For the first time in my lifetime, there is actually competition for acres of farmland. Cotton demand is up, so cotton prices go up. Peanut shellers are fearful that growers will plant so much cotton that there won't be enough peanuts, so peanut prices rise to entice production. There is a similar dance going on with corn and soybeans in the Midwest. Forgive my overly simplistic economics, but the fact is, food, fiber and fuel demand is rising, available acreage is slowly declining and there is actually a competition for agricultural land. Fifty years ago, we would have never thought of land as a limiting factor in food production.

My point is that even though ignorance of agricultural issues abounds, there is no escaping the fact that we are in a good profession. Agricultural expertise is vital to human survival on this planet and expertise, just like land, is in short supply. For many years, we have been spoiled in this country by an abundant, cheap food supply. When food shortages occur, agricultural experts will suddenly be the most important commodity that government can support.

Yes, 2010 was a not a good year for us, but agriculture is still a great profession and the value of agricultural expertise to society can only go up. Have a happy New Year and feel confident that 2011 will be the beginning of better times for those of us in the agricultural expertise business.


Family and Consumer Sciences

Photo: Elizabeth AndressElizabeth Andress, Interim FACS State Program Leader, 706/542-4860,

Looking Ahead

The past months have been about writing impacts of the past year's achievements and developing plans of work for a new cycle. Extension FACS agents have shared many successes that include collaborations and community-wide efforts, as well as how the delivery of our curricula-based educational programs benefit families and individuals. It is a shame we cannot offer these opportunities throughout more of Georgia, but we will continue to work on ways we might find funding to do just that.

Telling our story as a profession and as Georgia Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences was a common theme at last month's meeting in Griffin. Joann Milam (Washington County) and Terri Black (Burke County) presented a challenge – or really several – to us at that conference. They described, and received support from all of us in FACS, a new plan to communicate regularly with our state legislators. True to their promise, they have already designed and written a factsheet, and hand-signed postcards, to be mailed out in January. I have no doubt they will follow through to coordinate future communications to this audience. Others in SE District helped with signing the postcards. Thank you also to those dedicated individuals. Are you telling your story locally? As you write annual reports, and impact statements before those, can you find other ways to use them to make sure our citizens and government know how we impact families in Georgia?

Next month, we also start learning more about who has applied for the positions of Dean for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences as well as Department Head, Foods and Nutrition. Interviews take place in February. I will assemble some impact statements and program descriptions in an organized manner so we can make a significant impression on these candidates. I may contact some of you to provide specific information and examples, or to make sure I have accessed impact statements you have submitted online. If you would like to email me your impact statements or sections of your annual reports, that would be great and will not go unappreciated. We want to make sure candidates for both of these positions know and understand our Extension FACS programs. Joan Koonce, Financial Planning Specialist, and I are both on the search committee for the Dean.

In January, we start up with a series of in-service classes, the new version of Winter School via Wimba. I hope you will take advantage of the sessions that both address your priority programs for your county as well as provide the opportunity for you to stay up-to-date on other FACS content areas. There have been significant changes in the past year that affect our credit and use of credit, for example. An update will be provided on that topic. We are also using a general session to re-start the dialogue of addressing issues for the target audience in Georgia that is on the aging side of the pendulum. Please participate in this and other sessions, and, as I said last month, be part of the team and conversation. State specialists want and like input from the counties as we plan and put structure around our curricula and programs.


4-H and Youth Development

Photo: Arch SmithArch Smith, Interim 4-H & Youth Development State Program Leader, 706/542-4H4H,

Looking Back at 2010 and Forward to 2011

The Georgia Cloverleaf, the 2010 4-H annual report, will be out in January. I am excited to share that our 2009-2010 4-H program year, which ended on July 31, 2010, reached 170,568 4-H youths. This reflects a 10 percent increase in the number of young people reached by Georgia 4-H during the 2008-2009 year.

We did a better job capturing the actual number of participants in the 4-H program during the past year, and collected other exciting information from our 4-H agents. We had 5,077 4-H clubs in Georgia during the past year, and 79 percent of those club meetings were held during instructional time at school. We also know that 94 percent of all 4-H club meetings were conducted in a school setting, before school, after school, during study hall, or club meeting time throughout the year. It is evident that 4-H has a strong partnership with public and private educational institutions across the state.

Earlier this month, I attended a retirement reception for Mike Garrett, outgoing president of Georgia Power. A few years ago, Bo Ryles and I visited with Mike and invited him to join our Georgia 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees. Mike declined our request, but asked if we would consider his wife, Karen, as a board member. What a great suggestion that turned out to be. Karen Garrett has been a tireless worker for the Georgia 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees. She has helped us make connections with a number of funders across the state and was extremely instrumental in the success of the 2010 Georgia 4-H Gala.

In addition, Mike and Karen worked to ensure that the Georgia Power Building at Rock Eagle 4-H Center would be renovated. Georgia Power has provided more than $500,000 to renovate the building and the newly renovated facility will be available for use during the Junior/Senior Project Achievements in 2011. We unveiled a new plaque during Mike's retirement function which recognizes Karen for her support of 4-H youth development. Mike and Karen Garrett were former 4-H'ers from Telfair County and we're very proud to have them as supporters of the Georgia 4-H Program.

As we end one calendar year and begin a new one, we need to continue to find new ways to deliver the Georgia 4-H program. If Georgia 4-H prepared a list of New Year's resolutions, at the top of the list would be "look for additional ways to involve volunteers in the delivery of our 4-H program." We know that our 4-H horse, shooting sports, and livestock programs have for many years involved 4-H families and volunteers in their program delivery. These three programs reach more than 10,000 young people annually. In June 2010, we conducted Certified Leader Trainings for wildlife judging and forestry judging, and this past fall we saw an increase in participation in those two programs as a result of these volunteer trainings. We will continue to offer volunteer certification training programs during the coming year, and we hope that each of you will engage new volunteers into these trainings to help build capacity for 4-H in your community.

Finally, just last week, Andy Ferrin, senior vice president for marketing at National 4-H Council, and Maggie Bergin, director of brand development at National 4-H Council, spent two days visiting with the State 4-H staff, a group of seven county Extension agents from across the state, and members of the CAES Office of Communications and Technology Services, and members of the UGA News Service, discussing the National 4-H marketing campaign — "Join the Revolution of Responsibility." National 4-H Council was very interested in the work that we have done with the "I Am Georgia 4-H" campaign. We welcomed the opportunity to share our ideas and learn about the new national campaign.

As we continue our youth development work, look for ways to tell the story of the success of Georgia 4-H. 2010 has provided many challenges. Hopefully, 2011 will be a year of opportunity to continue helping young people develop life skills through the nation's best 4-H program.

On behalf of the State 4-H staff and the staff of the Georgia 4-H centers, we wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.


Personnel actions since November 1, 2010

New Hires

  • Forsyth County—Emily Harris, 4-H Agent, 11/1/10
  • Southeast District Office—Joanna Ware, PA 4-H, 11/19/10

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Colquitt County—Glenn Beard, CEA to CEC, 1/1/11
  • Glynn County—Mary Beth Chew, Archway Professional, transferred from Pulaski County, 11/15/10
  • Sumter County—Bill Starr, CEA to CEC, 1/1/11
  • Peach County—Kate Whiting, CEA to CEC, 1/1/11
  • Terrell County—Jakyn Jennings, CEA to CEC, 1/1/11


  • Ben Hill County—Alva Heidel, CEA 4-H, 11/1/10
  • Tift County—Kayla Williamson, CEPA 4-H Part-time, 11/4/10


  • Houston County—Lori Sullivan, Secretary, 1/5/11
  • Joseph Henshaw, FACS Weatherization Program Specialist, 11/11/10