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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for November 2010

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

Extension Colleagues:

Folks, we have great news on state revenue figures for October! We are now into a five-month positive trend with state revenue up 8.2 percent! This is indeed very good news and we hope the trend continues through the holiday season and into 2011. Additional great news — it has been announced that our own Billy Skaggs (CEC Hall County) has been named to a key leadership position on Agriculture Commissioner-Elect Gary Black's staff. We are certainly going to miss Billy and Betsy being a part of the Extension family, but we are so very proud of this accomplishment. Please join me in congratulating Billy. We look forward to building a close working relationship with Billy and Commissioner-Elect Black as they assume their new duties with the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

October and the first two weeks of November have been extremely busy. I was pleased to be able to attend plan-of-work sessions in all four districts, state staff/faculty meetings in Tifton, Athens and Griffin, the annual GESA professional improvement day and the annual GACAA conference. At each of these meetings we discussed the latest information on the Review of County Operations. I appreciate the great discussion and input we received on the final plan and hope we were successful in answering your questions or addressing your concerns.

The focus of our work on the Review of County Operations - Refining the County Delivery Model now shifts to helping our stakeholders and funding partners understand how the staffing changes will impact Extension programs at the local level. In addition, we will be moving aggressively to begin the implementation phase. Please let me emphasize we expect the implementation phase to take up to 18 months.

The next steps are as follows:

  • A list of high priority county Extension agent (17) and county Extension coordinator (2) positions will be internally advertised in mid November and we will begin filling these positions prior to the end of 2010.
  • A list of high priority Extension associate-resource manager, Extension associate-4-H educator and Extension associate 4-H-resource manager positions will be released and advertised externally in late November-early December and we will begin filling these positions as soon as possible.
  • We will continue working with agents from the Atlanta metro counties and the Urban Ag Center to develop a more cohesive delivery system for urban programs.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about the process or recommendations, please contact any member of the Extension administrative team.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson emphasizes the importance of communicating with our clientele, stakeholders and funding partners as we begin implementation of our restructuring plan.
  • Arch Smith reviews activities of junior conference, provides highlights of the dedication ceremony at the new Rock Hawk Tower and Interpretive Center, and issues and invitation to Art at the Rock.
  • Elizabeth Andress provides highlights from the Family and Consumer Sciences Program Development Conference and gives an update on the numerous ways FCS reaches out to help make Georgia families physically, mentally and fiscally healthy.
  • Steve Brown updates the ongoing (lively) discussion on the use of distance technology and Extension learning centers.

Hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving holiday!


County Operations

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

Communication is Key!

On Nov. 4, 2010 a news release was posted on Georgia FACES outlining the reorganization plan for county operations. Hopefully you have all had a chance to read it by now. Once the plan was released to the public, we began to get phone calls and emails from the media, public officials and the general public. I am certain that many of you have received similar calls and emails. As anticipated, some people are unhappy with the plan and some just have questions. Almost everyone wants to know how or why their particular county was assigned the designated tier.

As we have said before, we need your help as we communicate the changes that are being implemented. We have posted several resources on the website for Review of County Operations that should help as you respond to these questions. These resources include the following:

  • An agent tip sheet,
  • Cooperative Extension restructuring Q&A,
  • A Powerpoint presentation entitled "Serving Georgia: A Guide to the New UGA Extension Program Delivery Model,"
  • A map of the Cooperative Extension tier system,
  • A description of the service tiers and
  • A video of Dr. Sparks explaining the new Extension delivery model.

Obviously, there will always be individuals who will want to talk to an administrator or "someone in charge." In those cases, we encourage you to refer them to your district director or to me, Dr. Brown or Dr. Sparks. Some will probably insist on going all the way to the top and request to speak to the dean. Dean Angle is prepared to respond to these requests as well.

Contrary to what some may believe, we are pleased that citizens are expressing their concerns over the plans. If no one cared, we would be questioning the perceived value of our programs. It is clear that people do care!

As outlined in the agent tip sheet referred to earlier, we offer the following advice when responding to questions from the public:

  • Remain positive even if the visitor/caller is angry about the changes.
  • Reiterate that this change is necessary due to lost funds and faculty.
  • Assure citizens we are doing all we can to offer some level of continued service to all Georgia counties.
  • Offer avenues to respond. Letters to the editor of local newspapers or letters to local elected officials that detail why Extension is important in your community and how it benefits the community are appropriate. Blaming officials for making cuts precipitated by the economic downturn are not. Nobody wanted this economic situation to make these cuts necessary, but stressing the importance of restoring funds for needed positions when funds are available would be helpful.

Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Drainin' the Swamp

It's hard to drain the swamp when you're up to your, umm rear end, in alligators. There's a lot of truth in this old saying. Extension has been a great alligator fighter for many years, but maybe it's time we figure out how to drain the swamp.

During the last couple of weeks, I've heard a lot of discussion about the learning center portion of our re-organization plan. It has been a healthy and honest discussion. We all share the same passion for Extension and we are all worried about Extension's future. There is no doubt in my mind that every comment I've heard has come from a desire to make the right decisions that will lead us out of this budget mess. No one person, including me, has the divine insight into how to make that happen. But in my humble opinion, it's time to take a few bites to our, umm rear end, and start draining the swamp.

To drain the swamp, we've got to break out of traditional wisdom and have some insight into the future. Imagine, if you will, Georgia Cooperative Extension in the year 2020. The world will be different, but our mission will be the same — delivery and application of unbiased, science-based information that makes life better for Georgians. Distance learning technology MUST be an integral part of how we operate in the future. Our progressive clientele are already operating that way, and in the future, the sons and daughters of even our most anti-tech clientele will operate that way. Those who don't understand Extension already see us as an archaic remnant of a once-useful agency. Stubbornly clinging to our traditional, yet admittedly successful, delivery methods dooms us to live with that image. Imagine state-of-the-art learning centers where our experts can deliver cutting edge information as usual, but then we can hear from a USDA official in Washington, someone from the Governor's office in Atlanta and a commodity broker in Amsterdam. Imagine, if you will, an agronomist doing a live lunchtime meeting for peanut farmers in Burke County from a peanut field in Miller County.

These things are possible now, but we don't have the infrastructure to really commit Extension to that method of delivery. Learning centers aren't the single commitment that will take us into the future, but I believe they are a step in the right direction. Times are tough in the present, but the way out of this mess is through a commitment to be relevant in the future. We must stay committed to our traditional mission, but not necessarily the same methods. Let's continue the discussion and find a way we can all commit to a common vision of Extension methodology in the future. I welcome your comments.


Family and Consumer Sciences

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

Making a Difference

On the Griffin campus this past week, I heard about many Extension Family and Consumer Sciences programs that impact communities and individuals in the state. Physically, mentally and fiscally healthy families and individuals are important outcomes for Georgia. I heard about how Extension FCS agents have been instrumental in educating customers at, or even organizing, farmers' markets. Encouraging customers to try a variety of local foods, select and protect quality and safety at home and preserve seasonal produce for later use were all key messages in many locations this past summer. This education results in satisfaction with and support of local agriculture as well as good nutrition and family food habits. I also heard about how Extension FCS agents help citizens get physical, through Walk Georgia related events and other community-wide programs. Encouraging physical activity in combination with cancer cooking schools, diabetes cooking schools and nutrition education at other venues needs to be repeated. This is consistent programming available throughout Georgia given the statistics I heard about disease and obesity for the state at the same meeting.

I heard about Extension FCS agents helping families with their money and credit management skills, as well as income tax preparation and filing. I heard how Extension is providing a mandated two-hour financial educational program for consumers facing bankruptcy in order to receive a discharge. Personal Financial Choices, the curriculum, involves a proven planning process for a sound financial future and covers emotions, communication, banking, relationships and values. Participants finishing the course indicate that they will keep track of their spending, pay bills on time, reduce spending for one or more expenses, and start an emergency savings fund.

I heard how the Guide for New Parents delivered through hospitals was very successful not only in integrating knowledge across our issue areas into a targeted delivery method that helped these parents, but also in increasing parents' confidence, knowledge and awareness of UGA Cooperative Extension. I heard how we are assisting families with making their homes more healthy through radon education and testing, how we are helping child care providers receive continuing education hours required to meet state licensing requirements, and how we help people understand the explosion of information about being "green" in the home. I heard lots more than can be written or cited here, and there was plenty to provide thoughts and ideas to take home and incorporate into upcoming programming.

Dr. Darby Sewell, dean of human sciences at ABAC in Tifton, opened the Family and Consumer Sciences Program Development Conference with a message about the profession of Family and Consumer Sciences. She shared words about how passion for the profession involves head — or our knowledge, heart — which is our motivation, and soul — or our commitment. She used the words of many of our present and past national leaders to describe the unique holistic, integrative focus of our profession. As we later listened to descriptions of many of our Extension programs in the state, it was apparent that we are positioned to address complex issues facing families and individuals today with an appreciation for the interrelatedness of knowledge areas that can help them improve and overcome challenges they face on a daily basis.

Finally, agents at the conference were challenged to participate in conversations. One conversation should be about marketing our programs and possibilities to those who need to take advantage of them and need to know how to participate. Other conversations that should take place are within our organization. We should strive to find ways to continue hearing about what is happening statewide in FCS programs, not just within our districts or the counties next door. We should also make sure other program areas in Extension know about our programs and successes. Yet another conversation that should take place is with our legislators and other government officials. Let your local funders know what you are doing and accomplishing for your communities and participate in opportunities to educate and inform our state legislators about FCS. Finally, and most importantly, keep involved with your communities and let them know Extension can help with many issues Georgians face these days.


4-H and Youth Development

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

Junior conference highlights 4-H service projects

Nearly 700 4-H'ers attended Junior 4-H Conference at Rock Eagle this month. 4-H has many programs that provide educational youth development opportunities. Here are of few results from Junior Conference which serves seventh and eighth grade 4-H youths.

• Leadership skills were developed by the 36 district junior board members who represent their peers and planned the conference in partnership with an adult committee.

• Some 145 senior 4-H members applied to share their expertise by instructing workshops related to healthy lifestyles, portfolio development and communication. Seventy-five senior 4-H members were selected and they provided nearly 1,500 hours of instruction.

• Georgia 4-H'ers have been collecting pop tabs for 9 years and selling them to benefit the Ronald McDonald Houses of Georgia. In 2010, 17,726 pounds of pop tabs with a value of more $7,000 were donated. To date, the sale of 98,437 pounds of pop tabs has been donated to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Georgia 4-H has donated more than $50,000 to support this worthwhile cause! This project was a direct result of an idea from junior 4-H board members in June of 2002. What an impact!

In 2010, two of our 4-H agents, Casey Hobbs of Walker County and Rebecca Thomas of Chattooga County, had to personally make use of Ronald McDonald house accommodations when their families were in times of crisis. Donations from 2010 junior conference pop tab collections will be given in their honor to the specific houses that hosted them in their times of need.

• Other service projects designed by 4-H'ers and carried out at junior conference include:

  • 24,000 medical supplies to be donated to International Medical Relief,
  • 334 Beanie Babies to be included in Hero packs for military families,
  • 187 holiday cards for veterans,
  • 96 health awareness posters for schools and health departments,
  • 80 stockings for soldiers,
  • baby blankets for needy infants,
  • 75 bookmarks for literacy initiatives and
  • 64 pen pal letters for Cloverleaf 4-H'ers.

In addition, a one-mile fun walk was held to support the college's Walk Georgia program.

Junior conference taught the Essential Elements of 4-H as 4-H'ers experienced belonging to a group of peers, demonstrated generosity through service projects, mastered subject matter through classes and workshops and exercised independence as they learned about opportunities in Georgia 4-H.

On Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, we dedicated the new Rock Hawk Tower and Interpretive Center. There are two stone effigies in Putnam County and both belong to the University of Georgia. Dean Scott Angle and Associate Dean Beverly Sparks were among the program speakers at the dedication ceremony. Funding for the Rock Hawk Tower was made possible by a scenic by-way grant to 4-H from the Georgia Department of Transportation. If you enjoy history, you will be impressed with the information you can learn from a visit to the Rock Hawk Effigy. Additional information about the Rock Hawk will soon be available on the Georgia 4-H website.

Art at the Rock will be held this weekend, Nov. 20 and 21, 2010 at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. The festival will be open from 10 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and from 11:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Sunday. Join us for Sunday lunch at the dining hall and spend the afternoon enjoying local artists.

Artists' work will be displayed inside under the covered area of the GA EMC Building and Senior Pavilion. Musicians will play center stage, and additional marketplace vendors, featuring home grown and hand made items, will be indoors in the Hastings Building. This year's Art at the Rock will also feature a youth exhibit. Visit the Georgia 4-H website for more information about the event.


Personnel actions since October 1, 2010

New Hires

  • DeKalb County—Sherrie Bohles, Office Assistant, 10/18/10
  • DeKalb County—Shunza Thomas, Admin. Assistant, 10/26/10
  • McIntosh County—Stacey Miller, PA (County Funded), 10/25/10
  • Tattnall County—Leo Stalls, PA (County Funded), 10/28/10

Part-time Positions:

  • Colquitt County—Caroline Heath Hoard, CEPA/VISTA, 10/11/10
  • Lowndes County—Teresa Taylor, CEPA 4-H, 10/6/10
  • Randolph County—Kim Clark, CEPA 4-H, 10/7/10
  • Schley County—Maggie Shoemaker, CEPA 4-H, 10/7/10

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Bleckley County—Kathy Baldwin, CEA 4-H to CEC 4-H, 10/1/10
  • Chatham County—Patricia "Trish" West, CEPA to CEA 4-H, 10/1/10
  • Tattnall County—Joshua Lanier, FACS Weatherization to Crop & Soil Sciences Midville Station, 10/13/10
  • Washington County—Joann Milam, CEA FCS to CEC FCS, 10/1/10


  • Barrow County—Britton West, PS Asst Coord, 10/1/10
  • Ben Hill County—Alva Heidel, CEA 4-H, 11/1/10
  • Berrien County—Tim Flanders, CEC/CEA ANR, 10/1/10
  • Butts County—Mary Crile, Secretary, 10/1/10
  • Lowndes County—Susan Giddens, Secretary, 10/1/10
  • Lumpkin County—Gregory Sheppard, PS Assoc Coord, 10/1/10
  • Seminole County—Polly Morgan, EFNEP PSII, 10/1/10
  • Stewart County—Sandra Gay, CEC/CEA FACS, 10/1/10
  • Tift County—Kayla Williamson, CEPA 4-H Part-time, 11/4/10


  • Camden County—Richard Sooy, VISTA, 10/8/10
  • Jackson County—Andrea Dorsey, Secretary, 10/15/10
  • Twiggs County—Guindalen Barron, Secretary, 10/13/10
  • Twiggs County—T. Wade Green, CEC ANR, 10/13/10