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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for April, 2011

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

Extension Colleagues:

There is much to report in this issue of Extension E-News.

The budget development processes for both our state and federal budgets is about to conclude. First, let's discuss the good news on the state side. The positive trend in state revenue figures continues and we are now into the ninth month of increases. State revenues for the month of March grew at a 10.7 percent rate. Total revenues for March totaled $1.1 billion with an increase of $107 million over March 2010.

This week the FY12 state budget was passed and includes funds that will decrease the amount of our proposed FY12 budget cut for both Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Experiment Stations. Please note that these funds in reality serve to reduce the amount of our overall cut in the state budget. Cooperative Extension received $400,000 and these funds reduce the proposed cut of 8 percent to 6.69 percent. The Agricultural Experiment Station received $600,000 and these funds reduce the budget cut from the proposed 8 percent to 6.35 percent. The additional good news is that bond funds for both CES and AES are in the FY12 budget. Funding for cabins at Rock Eagle ($2.5 million) as well as maintenance and renovation funds for experiment station and Extension facilities ($4 million) were included in the bond fund projects approved by the legislators. We are MOST appreciative of this funding from our legislators. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL LEGISLATORS AND THANK THEM FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF THE BUDGETS FOR EXTENSION AND THE AGRICULTURAL EXERIMENT STATIONS.

Second, the news from the federal side isn't as positive. The Continuing resolution for FY11 for our federal budget calls for a decrease in our Smith Lever funds by 1.41 percent. (Recall the House version called for a 10 percent reduction in Smith Lever funds and the Senate version called for a 1 percent increase). The bottom line is this cut reduces our Smith Lever funds for FY11 by $111,038. Work on the Federal FY12 budget will now begin and we will focus our efforts on restoring our Smith Lever funding.

Budget meetings for the college begin today (Friday, April 15) and wrap up early next week. Our goal is to complete the CAES budget process for FY12 by mid-May. We will work hard to minimize the impact of both state and federal budget cuts to CES and maximize the use of the resources we do have. I greatly appreciate the work of our department heads, district directors and unit heads during this difficult time.


Steve Brown and I represented UGA Cooperative Extension at the spring meeting of the Association of Southern Region Extension Directors (ASRED) in early April. Extension directors/administrators throughout the region are all facing similar fiscal challenges. The good news is it appears some states (Tennessee and Kentucky) are turning the corner towards economic recovery and are beginning to rebuild and hire new employees. A prevalent theme during the conference was the desire to work together as sister land grant institutions to secure grant funds for the region and use resources better across the region.

This month I was reminded of how cool it is to share a professional connection with family members. On April 10, it was a humbling experience to be honored as a Georgia Entomological Society Fellow at the GES annual meeting in Cordele. It was especially rewarding to have my dad and brother (both GES members) and mom present during the awards luncheon. It was a very special day for the entire family.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson discusses and clarifies the roles of the new Extension associate positions in county operations;
  • Arch Smith provides an update from 4-H including information on Form 990 tax return, Georgia hosting the National Collegiate 4-H Conference in Atlanta, the Effingham County 4-H Awards Banquet, the Lowndes Distracted Driving Youth Leadership Council and the upcoming GAE4-HA annual meeting;
  • Elizabeth Andress announces new College of Family and Consumer Sciences' appointments and prepares agents to guide home food preservers; and
  • Steve Brown discusses a recent article in Progressive Farmer magazine on the relevance of Cooperative Extension.

County Operations

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

Role of the New Extension Associate Positions

As part of our recent reorganization of Extension County Operations, we created a new job classification with the job title of County Extension Associate. There has been some confusion as to roles of this new Extension employee in the county offices and I thought I would take this opportunity to try to clarify.

First, not every county will have an Extension Associate. They will be used primarily in the lower tier counties and especially in counties that will not have a resident county agent in the current plan. These are classified positions, but they are what we commonly refer to as "exempt" classified positions. This means that they are monthly salaried positions and are not subject to the 40 hour per week limitations like other classified employees. They do not have to clock in and out in the Kronos system.

The Extension Associate position actually encompasses two different job descriptions, which we have chosen to describe as "Resource Manager" and "4-H Associate." Some Extension Associates will split their time between these responsibilities and some will be assigned to one or the other. If this person is the only Extension employee in a tier two county, they may split their time equally between the two responsibilities. For instance, they could keep office hours in the mornings and spend the afternoon working with 4-Hers.

The primary role of the Resource Manager is to assist clientele with access to Extension resources and services in the absence of an agent. These resources and services include printed publications, online content, other educational materials and sample submission for all diagnostic services (e.g. soil and water tests, feed and animal waste analysis, radon testing). They will also help publicize programs and workshops in nearby counties and assist clientele with registration for these educational programs.

The role of the 4-H Associate is to conduct a basic 4-H program for the county. If there is no 4-H agent in the county, this person will be the 4-H leader for their county, but will work under the leadership of a 4-H agent in a nearby county.

The job responsibilities of the Extension Associate will vary according to the needs of the county and depending on what other Extension positions there are in that particular county. They could be the only Extension employee in the county or they could be in a county with one or more other employees.

Marcie Simpson is working with a team to develop a new training program for Resource Managers. This training will cover many of the duties of a county secretary, but will also train Resource Managers to better assist clientele in accessing Extension resources and services.

The 4-H staff will provide the training for the 4-H Associate portion of the job description. This training will encompass many of the same elements that we currently use to train 4-H agents and program assistants.

Implementation of the staffing plan is still a work in progress and is evolving as we work with individual counties to best meet their needs with the resources available. The Extension Associates will be an important piece of the plan as we work to maintain an Extension presence in some of our lower tier counties.


Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Look to Real Data to Prove Extension's Relevance

Many of you probably read the March Progressive Farmer article titled "Is Extension Still Relevant?". We shouldn't be offended by the question. It's a good question that all public and private organizations should periodically address. So ask the question, but if you're going to propose an answer, do it with real data.

We all know how difficult it is to document what we do, but real data DOES exist. The Progressive Farmer article attempted to address the question of our relevance with the old "man on the street interview" method. It's what news agencies do on a slow news day. They go out and interview random people on the street and ask them how the President is doing, or what they think about the price of gasoline, or who they think will win American Idol. It's the absolute worst way to provide an answer to an important question. While a scientific survey of opinions would be of value, random comments are misleading and dangerous. Editors tend to pick the comments with the most entertainment or shock value, not necessarily the most valid points.

Progressive Farmer is obviously a strong supporter of agriculture, so why would they stoop to this method of answering a valid question? The article did address some pertinent issues about the perception of Extension and it contained some positive comments. But the overall tone was strongly influenced by a couple of "man on the street" comments (none of which came from Georgia). One Michigan farmer said he hadn't been in his county Extension office in years and couldn't tell you who his agent was. A Wisconsin Extension specialist said that his county production meetings consist of 70 percent CCAs and only 30 percent farmers. These statements may be totally true, but there are huge differences among states, and in some states, Extension is not as influential as in Georgia. That is even more reason not to address a serious national issue with a few random opinions.

We, no doubt, have farmers in Georgia that would say they don't use Extension, but what does that really mean? They don't call their county agent? They don't go to events where our specialists speak? They don't go to field days? They don't read our publications? I contend that it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to be a farmer and not benefit from Extension programming. If a farmer uses a private consultant, that consultant most likely learned his trade from Extension. If a farmer buys pesticides, he had to go through training offered by Extension, and the product probably has a label to be sold in Georgia because of Extension data. If he does business with fertilizer dealers and applicators or pesticide dealers and applicators, they were most likely trained by Extension. If he purchased seed, the variety was tested by Extension. If he raises animals, his feed ration was probably tested by Extension and his nutrient management plan was either done by Extension or by someone trained by Extension. If he ever had a soil, water, or forage sample tested, it was analyzed by Extension. If he used information to help him better market his crop, it probably came from Extension. The ag policy behind the Farm Bill that keeps him in business was influenced by Extension. The local zoning ordinances in his community may very well have been influenced by Extension.

Truth be known, the pest control operator that treats his house for termites or roaches was trained by and is in business because of Extension. More often than not, his kids participate in 4-H livestock shows and attend 4-H camp.

Progressive Farmer should be ashamed. If they asked, they could get real data about the influence of Extension on American agriculture. But they chose the "man on the street" method. I'd like to follow up with that farmer from Michigan and get the real story about how Extension has influenced his life. Extension may be hurting in Georgia Progressive Farmer, but we are still positively affecting lives. We'd be glad to tell you about it.


Family and Consumer Sciences

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

Timely Interests in Family and Consumer Sciences

This month, I want to make sure that this official communication announces the selection of a new dean for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences. Dr. Linda Kirk Fox will officially join the University of Georgia in this capacity on July 6. Dr. Fox has an Extension background, most recently serving as an associate dean and the associate director for Extension in Washington State University's College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences. She has been at WSU since 2002 and before that she was a faculty member and Extension specialist in family economics at the University of Idaho. She also was in a county Extension position in the 1980s. And, she served as director of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences at University of Idaho from 1999-2002. She holds three degrees from Oregon State University, including a doctorate in family resource management.

I am also pleased to announce that a new department head for Foods and Nutrition will join us on August 1. Dr. Lynn Bailey is a faculty member in the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida. Dr. Bailey is known for being an excellent teacher and for her research with the vitamins folate and vitamin B12. Her research has emphasized estimation of requirements for health maintenance, and risk reduction for both chronic diseases and birth defects. Controlled metabolic studies are conducted with human subjects of all ages including pregnant women and the elderly to assess the adequacy of folate intake throughout the life cycle. Although Dr. Bailey has not been a faculty member in Cooperative Extension, she is very familiar with Extension and has collaborated with Extension nutrition programs in Florida, including curriculum development and in-service training for agents. She also grew up in South Carolina in a 4-H family. In an article about her being named UF Teacher Scholar of the Year in 2008, Dr. Bailey said 4-H motivated her to become a college professor and make nutrition, specifically a vitamin called folate, which can prevent birth defects, the focus of her life's work.

We look forward to these new leaders in our college and Extension programs. At the same time, we have a long history ourselves to be proud of in our home food preservation programming. This is the time of year where many Family and Consumer Sciences agents are planning outreach in this area through collaborations with gardening and farm market programs, as well as summer youth programs and 4-H activities. We just ordered another printing of So Easy to Preserve so our supply should meet the demand. In addition, USDA-NIFA has given us some money to conduct a national survey of Extension food preservation programs and staffing this summer. Our past decade of work in the National Center for Home Food Preservation program has brought us national recognition for helping other states meet their programming opportunities in this area and created the interest in some type of national coordination of related programs being continued by the Cooperative Extension System. At this time, there is no federal funding in the center. We will be seeking information from administrators, state faculty who program in this or related areas, and county agents to document the increased demand as well as the types of staffing and resources that states have available. We also need information on the challenges or needs they have for assistance outside their own states. When you receive the survey instruments here in Georgia, please participate. Hopefully, this will lead to more funding through USDA and/or other partnerships for this type of programming.

Please do what you can in your communities to build on the Family and Consumer Sciences tradition in home food preservation and food safety programming. This is a time of year to capitalize on immediate interest in canning and gardening and let your communities know that Extension, through the University of Georgia, has knowledge and research-based recommendations for food handling and preservation. This is a topic that now touches all ages, types of families and economic situations. This should be a very productive season for the education we can offer our clients.


4-H and Youth Development

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

Study Shows 4-H'ers are Healthier Than Their Peers

It is that time of year when we all must think about paying our taxes and filing our tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service.

Just a reminder to county agents, if you have not filed your Form 990 tax return for your local 4-H program, the filing deadline is May 15, 2011, if your tax year ended December 31, 2010. Information is available on the Georgia 4-H website that can help in filing your taxes. Please call me if I can assist you in answering questions.

It is an extremely busy time for everyone in Extension and, after 26 years, I have come to realize there really is no down time for the Georgia 4-H program.

Since the last Extension newsletter, 4-H agents, program assistants, volunteers and parents have been very busy. On the state level, we've had ambassador training, Cloverleaf project achievements, BB matches, livestock judging and dairy judging contests and camp counselors have been preparing for summer camp. We're currently involved in poultry judging, more Cloverleaf project achievements, and lots of Project S.A.F.E. activities kick off in the next few weeks.

Just this week the National 4-H Council released the results of a study that shows 4-H youths are healthier than their peers. According to recent findings of Tufts University, 4-H youths are engaging in positive healthy living behaviors more often than youths that do not participate in 4-H. According to the study, 4-H'ers, regardless of their background, socio-economic status, race and gender, thrive through the health/safety education and experiences they receive through 4-H programming. The article also indicated that young people involved in 4-H are more likely to spend time exercising or being physically active, two times less likely to engage in drug use and two times less likely to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. We have numerous healthy living initiatives in Georgia Extension and 4-H, including the Walk Georgia program, Health Rocks! program, health ambassadors training others, and 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences working together on "Wash Your Paws, Georgia" and the Childhood Obesity Prevention project.

On April 14-17, the Collegiate 4-H Clubs in Georgia will host the National Collegiate 4-H Conference in Atlanta. Nearly 200 Collegiate 4-H'ers from across the country will participate in the conference which will focus on the national service project "Your Money, Your Future." The primary emphasis of the conference will be financial literacy and preparing Collegiate 4-H'ers to share skills and knowledge they learn at the conference with younger 4-H members across the nation. Clark Howard, the syndicated radio and TV financial expert and consumer advocate, will serve as the keynote speaker on Thursday evening. Conference participants will travel to Athens and visit the University of Georgia campus, tour Rock Eagle 4-H Center and enjoy dinner at the Georgia EMC Building and Senior Pavilion and a performance by Clovers and Company. On Saturday, April 16, Global Youth Service Day, conferees will participate in four service projects throughout Atlanta. Laura Waters, UGA's Collegiate 4-H advisor, has worked with this group of Collegiate 4-H'ers to plan and facilitate this national conference. We congratulate these young people on receiving a $75,000 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board that will help defray some of the conference costs.

The first week in April, I spoke at the Effingham County 4-H Awards Banquet. I was again reminded of the variety of work in which young people are involved and the positive impact 4-H has on young people. I heard several high school seniors share what their 4-H careers mean to them. For anyone who wonders if our work really has positive impact, I can assure you the short time I spent in Effingham County last Thursday evening reaffirmed the fact that we do make tremendous impact in the lives of many youths in our state. When I finished my comments, the Effingham County 4-H'ers presented me with one of their "If you drive while you text ......... YOU could be next!!!" signs and asked that I have it placed at Rock Eagle. This is an effort developed by the 2008 Effingham County Youth Summit team to encourage young people to drive safely and not text and talk on cell phones while driving.

I also received an invitation this week from the Lowndes Distracted Driving Youth Leadership Council. This is a youth-adult partnership between eight youth leaders representing more than a dozen clubs and organizations and dedicated adult leaders, advisors and volunteers. The council is raising awareness of the dangers of distracted driving in the Lowndes-Valdosta area, which will in turn make their community safer. This is Awareness Week in Lowndes County for the council and they hope to raise awareness among 3,200 students who walk the halls of Lowndes County High School, and educate them on the dangers of distracted driving. This project is the result of the 2010 Youth Summit. Current State 4-H Board member Zachary Allen is chair of the Lowndes Distracted Driving Youth Leadership Council. Through programs like this, young people are making a difference in their communities by sharing the need for safe driving not only with 4-H'ers but with other youths in their community.

I look forward to seeing many of you April 20-22 at the Georgia Association of Extension 4-H Agents meeting at Rock Eagle. I also look forward to seeing all the 4-H agents, program assistants and 4-H associates during the 2011 Program Preview – 4-H Family Reunion. Our cap note speaker will be Dr. Andy Horne, dean of the UGA College of Education and Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Georgia.

Lastly, we still have space available for 4-H summer camp. Please keep promoting 4-H camp in your county. 4-H Camp is a good value and a great way to encourage youths to become more involved in Georgia 4-H.


Personnel actions since March 1, 2011

New Hires

  • Muscogee County—Claudia Calle, EFNEP PA, 3/28/11
  • Muscogee County—Theresa Lafleur, EFNEP PA, 3/28/11
  • Upson County—Debra Smith, Extension Associate, 3/1/11

County-Funded Positions

  • Houston County—Teresa Dent, County Secretary (10 hrs/week), 3/10/11

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Ben Hill County—Jeri Gilleland, CEPA 4-H to Extension Associate 4-H, 3/1/11
  • Coweta County—Leigh Massengill, PA to Extension Associate, 3/1/11
  • Crisp County—Tucker Price, CEA to CEC ANR, 3/1/11
  • Crisp County—Emily Reid, CEA 4-H, transfer from Dooly County, 3/1/11
  • Dooly County—Darlene Wehunt, Secretary to Extension Associate 4-H & Resource Manager, 1/1/11
  • Forsyth County—Laura Witcher, PA to Extension Associate, 3/1/11
  • Gordon County—Kurt Sutherland, PA to Extension Associate, 3/1/11
  • Harris County—Martha Roelkey, Secretary to Extension Associate, 1/1/11
  • Henry County—Tracy Gauge, PA to Extension Associate, 3/1/11
  • Laurens County—Gary Brown, CEA 4-H, transfer from Wilkinson County, 3/1/11
  • Muscogee County—Beverly Robidoux, PA to Extension Associate, 3/1/11
  • Southwest District Office—Sue Cromer, title change to Administrative Associate II, 5/1/11


  • Lamar County—Dimple Forrest, Secretary, 4/1/11


  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens—Thomas Missinne, Utility Worker I, 3/2/11
  • Haralson County—Paul Thompson, ANR Agent, 3/15/11
  • Sumter County—Mary Shores, CEPA EFNEP, 4/1/11