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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for August, 2011

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

Extension Colleagues:

There is nothing like the shift that takes place in Athens in mid-August. Another academic year is getting started. The roads are jammed and students are moving back into town and packing the isles of the grocery stores and tables at local restaurants. Parking spots are few and far between in downtown Athens. Bulldog fever is taking hold.

As of this writing, there is still an air of uncertainty in the budget news at both the state and federal levels. The state revenue figures continue to be positive and are sending a message of economic recovery in the state. However, Governor Deal has indicated he wants all state agencies to prepare for a 2 percent additional cut in FY13. The federal budget news coming from Washington D.C. indicates even more uncertainty. Estimates of potential cuts at the federal level are between 10 to 16 percent. Needless to say, we will be following both budget situations as they unfold and will continue to manage the overall budget with a close eye on potential additional cuts.

Highlights of activities during the past month:

  • The 69th State 4-H Congress held in Atlanta was a great success. Arch provides highlights of State 4-H Congress in his report this month.
  • We recently had the opportunity to visit with staffers from the Governor's Office of Planning and Budgets and share information about the budget needs of Cooperative Extension and the Agricultural Experiment Stations. The staffers visited and toured the Griffin Campus, Spalding County and Henry County Extension offices as well as Camp Fortson.
  • Tony Tyson and a UGA delegation of more than 35 agents and spouses attended NACAA meeting in Kansas last week. Please read Tony Tyson's report in this newsletter regarding the leadership UGA is providing to NACAA.
  • I attended the state meeting of GEAFCS last week on Jekyll Island. Over 50 people registered for the conference and learned more about the FACS programming going on across the state. On Friday morning, Dean Linda Kirk Fox gave an excellent presentation on "The Future for Family and Consumer Sciences: The Climate of Change and Challenge."
  • I also attended a two-day meeting of the CAES Advisory Council last week at Rock Eagle. The current membership of our advisory council is taking a very active role in providing input on key issues and playing an active role in advocating for our needs with stakeholders and legislators.

Our district directors are actively working to fill 15 county agent positions. These are a combination of positions that are advertised internally or externally. All of these positions are deemed to be top priority agent positions within the state. We certainly look forward to having faculty in these key positions as soon as possible.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson provides highlights of this year's NACAA meeting in Kansas;
  • Arch Smith highlights activities of the past 4-H year and talks about opportunities in the upcoming year;
  • Elizabeth Andress provides an update on Relationship Smarts trainings across the state and explains the importance of this program, especially for teenagers; and
  • Steve Brown discusses changes within the DDDI system.

In closing, I offer up a word of thanks. Over the past three weeks I have been reminded of the many blessings that go along with being a part of our Extension "family." On the afternoon of our closing banquet at State 4-H Congress, I received a call from my husband who was experiencing tightness in his chest and had checked himself into the hospital. Three weeks have passed since the triple by-pass heart surgery and Allen is recovering very nicely! He is now back at work and walking a couple of miles every day but is missing the freedom of driving his truck, going on golf outings and processing his ever present stack of firewood. There are only three more weeks to go before he can resume these activities. This caretaker is very appreciative of colleagues pitching in to cover meetings, appointments, and travel assignments so I could spend some time at home with Allen. And to those who have sent cards, emails, and spoken words of encouragement, concern and prayers, thanks!


County Operations

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

Georgia Agents Step Up to Lead!

As I write this article, I am in Overland Park, Kansas attending the 96th Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents. As is usually the case at these national agent association meetings, this has been a week of learning and renewing acquaintances, but most of all it has been a time to recharge the batteries and come back home excited about the careers we have chosen. It has been an especially rewarding week for me to observe first-hand the level of leadership that Georgia agents have assumed in this organization. I have always said that Georgia has the best county agents in the country and this week certainly confirmed my belief!

As many of you may know, Paul Wigley, CEC in Calhoun Co. accepted the gavel to lead NACAA this year as president. We are extremely proud of Paul and his accomplishments, and I know he will continue the tradition of outstanding NACAA presidents from Georgia. In addition to Paul, several other Georgia agents have important leadership roles in NACAA.

The following is a list of leadership roles currently held by Georgia agents:

Tim Varnedore – Jeff Davis County – Served as NACAA Southern Region director for 2010 -2011 and was reinstated for 2011-2012.

Johnny Whiddon – Brooks County – Served as NACAA agronomy chair for 2009-2011 and was reinstated for another 2 year term.

Rickey Ensley – Polk County – Served as 2009-2011 Southern Region vice chairman for the NACAA Scholarship Committee and was elected as the 2011-2013 chairman for the NACAA Scholarship Committee.

Dr. Laura Griffith – Webster County – Served as 2010-2011 Southern Region vice chairman for the NACAA Early Career Development Committee and was elected as the 2011-2013 chairman for the NACAA Early Career Development Committee.

Tammy Cheely – Warren County – Served as 2008-2011 Southern Region vice chairman for the NACAA Animal Science Committee.

Mickey Fourakers – Retired County Agent from Lowndes County – Served as 2009-2011 Southern Region vice chairman for the NACAA Life Members (GOTCHA) Committee.

Keith Mickler – Floyd County – Serving a 4 year term from 2008-2012 as chairman of the NACAA Public Relations Committee.

Mickey Cummings – Retired/ Rehire from Union County was appointed as NACAA policy chairman for 2011-2013.

Steven Patrick – Habersham County – Served as 2009- 2011 Southern Region vice chairman of the National Resources/Aquaculture Committee and was elected as the 2011-2012 chairman for the NACAA Natural Resources/Aquaculture Committee.

We also had several honorees. Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Dr. John Beasley, Keith Fielder, Mitchell May and Bobby Smith. Jonael Bosques-Mendez and Stephanie Ray Butcher were honored with the Achievement Awards. Several Georgia agents presented posters highlighting their work. Keith Mickler and Steve Morgan were selected as finalists in their respective categories.

Overall, it was an outstanding week for Georgia Extension agents. Our folks represented us well and we are proud to call them our own!


Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Improving Rapid Diagnosis via DDDI

Last month I wrote about how important it is to Extension to keep our diagnostic capabilities intact. One method we use to provide a quick diagnosis of problems is the DDDI system ( UGA has been a leader in developing this system and we currently host similar diagnostic systems for 11 other states and 10 countries. Several things have put pressure on our ability to keep DDDI functional and relevant to our changing needs. Of course, budget constraints have been a big issue. The DDDI staff has done an excellent job of keeping things running without much money. Income from hosting other systems has been critical to the budget. With the recent departure of David Barber, we made some changes in staff responsibilities and administrative structure. The DDDI unit now resides administratively under the Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratory which is led by Dr. David Kissel.

Advances in technology during the decade since DDDI came about have also changed things. Now, most everyone has a camera on their cell phone and can quickly email images to someone they trust for a quick diagnosis. Although this defeats the purpose of a DDDI system, it is quick assuming the diagnostician is responsive. Lastly, the National Plant Disease Network, which has provided considerable financial support, has requirements that are not always consistent with our mission of providing rapid, practical diagnoses, not necessarily laboratory-confirmed and species specific scientific confirmations.

A recent Wimba-based listening session brought these and other issues together for discussion.  As a result of that discussion, we have made the following changes:

To simplify submission:
"State" and "County" data will be pre-populated if available.

To simplify diagnosis:
Diagnosticians may indicate the diagnostic lab or location with which they are affiliated by clicking "Modify Account" under "Manage Your Account." After that selection is made, your lab or location will be pre-populated and you will not have to re-enter for every diagnosis. Remember to click "Submit Changes" on the "Modify Account" screen for the change to take effect.

"Diagnostic Confidence Level" has been pre-selected as "Suspected" and "Lab Method" has been pre-selected as "Image." These selections may be overridden by the diagnostician as applicable.

"Date Sample Received" will be pre-populated.

The Host Site Identification is a short list of hosts previously associated with the sample type (Insect ID, Forestry, etc.). If the organism you wish to enter is not in the short list, click "Search the Database" enter search criteria and select the most appropriate option. Once used, it will become available on the short list. The same holds true for "Primary Diagnosis/Identification." If the appropriate organism is not in the short list, search the database.

In the near future, the following changes will be made:
Email reminders will be sent to diagnosticians who have not responded to samples after 1 day. Previously the reminder was sent after 7 days. We recognize that not all samples can be diagnosed within 24 hours, but it won't hurt to give diagnosticians reminders that samples are waiting.

We will provide PDF reports (styled to simulate UGA letterhead) for all UGA DDDI samples, not just physical samples. These reports will be appropriate for distribution to clients as necessary.

We have provided date range specification for free text searches so users may search for samples submitted during a specific time period. Please keep in mind that access to digital samples is a privilege of all UGA DDDI users. Only sample submitters or users associated with the sample county of origin may view physical sample data.

For personnel serving multiple counties, we encourage you to register for separate UGA DDDI accounts for each county you serve. That way you can keep apprised and have access to all samples associated with the counties you serve.

Text only (DOCX) and text with screen shot (PDF) versions of instructions for administrative management of UGA DDDI evaluator responsibility are available. It is the responsibility of the departmental coordinator to maintain control of how samples are routed within their department. You can do this yourself or you can contact Sherri Clark ( who will be glad to help.

We are working hard to communicate these changes and increase the efficiency of our DDDI system. Please feel free to submit questions or additional suggestions for improvement to Sherri Clark.


Family and Consumer Sciences

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

One Certainty is that Relationships Matter

Summer is a time when family and consumer sciences professionals gather in many venues for annual meetings and conferences, as mentioned in last month's article about AAFCS and branding of our profession. Relationships outside our own organization are developed and nurtured through these opportunities as well as some summer personal enrichment travels. We are daily aware of how important relationships are within UGA Cooperative Extension as we present our communities throughout the state with programs integrated across agriculture and natural resources, 4-H and youth development and family and consumer sciences. All of these areas are important to healthy, economically vibrant communities, families and infrastructure.

One family and consumer sciences program offering is about building healthy relationships during the teen years, when forming intimate relationships is part of daily living in a new way compared to earlier years. Relationship Smarts is a research-based curriculum developed by The Dibble Institute that incorporates hands-on activities to focus on skills and knowledge necessary for healthy dating relationships. Relationship Smarts recognizes that healthy intimate partner relationships can have a positive impact on young people's lives. This program focuses on interpersonal skills, safety, and knowing oneself. This type of programming has a variety of purposes beyond setting the stage for healthy marriages; it can enhance all types of peer and adult relationships. Extension educators in the business of youth development across all types of subject matter competencies should recognize the value of interpersonal skill development in all types of relationships. Since 2008, the Relationship Smarts program has been offered 48 times (in part or with the entire series) and reached 1,157 youth across 19 counties. In 2010 alone the program was offered 25 times to 511 youth across 14 counties. The evaluation findings from 377 youth (57 percent male) across 13 counties show strong positive impact. After participating, youths reported greater awareness and understanding of healthy relationships. At least 72 percent reported gaining knowledge. At least 75 percent reported feeling more confident in their ability to maintain healthy relationships.

Select family and consumer sciences and 4-H agents are trained to deliver this program and work together in this important youth development arena. I do not want to intentionally leave out any activity by some agents, but here are a few examples of local programs. Leigh Anne Aaron (CYFAR, Madison County) offered a six-lesson series to 28 seventh graders and 31 eighth graders at Madison County Middle School. She also offered a full 12-lesson series to 15 high school youth enrolled in the CYFAR "Teens as Planners" program. Marnie Dekle (FACS, Candler County) offered a two-lesson series to 13 male eighth graders at Metter Middle School. Kisha Faulk (FACS, Fulton County) offered a five-lesson series to 16 youths ages 12-16 at East Point Library. Rebbeca Thomas (4-H, Chattooga County) offered a six-lesson series to 125 youth at Lyerly (41), Menlo (39), Trion (19) and Summerville (26) Middle Schools. If you want more information about this program, contact any of these agents and Ted Futris, Extension family life specialist. More information can be found by visiting our FACS website at

Professional relationships with supportive agencies and organizations in our state were recognized last week at the GEAFCS annual meeting held on Jekyll Island. First, let me say thank you and recognize Susan Moore, Laurens County, for doing an outstanding job as program and arrangements chair. I cannot possibly thank all those here by name with major roles in mounting this annual meeting and our awards programs. If you have co-workers who assisted from your office I am sure you know that and can appreciate what they have done to help our organization maintain its own relationships and activities. GEAFCS did present the John Harrell Mass Media Award to La Voz Latina, a bilingual newspaper serving Georgia's Coastal Empire and the South Carolina low country. La Voz Latina regularly incorporates FACS information into columns in their paper. Editor John Newton accepted the award and it was a pleasure hearing his tremendous support for our work.

The Wayne County Farm Bureau received our GEAFCS Friend of Extension Award this year. President Neil Nichols accepted it at the meeting. This farm bureau donates regularly to FACS programs, hosted a Farm Day for more than 400 pre-K students, sponsored a Food Buy for comparison shopping and co-sponsored the Farm City Week Luncheon. Robert Howell, president of the Georgia Egg Commission and a long-time support of FACS Extension, was presented two awards supported by the egg commission. Caroline Richardson, McDuffie County, was recognized for her youth "eggucation" program with 4-H members. Edda Cotto-Rivera, Dekalb County, was recognized for her adult "eggucation" work this past year.

Many other organizational collaborations were part of individual and team awards received by agents through the association programs. Family and consumer sciences programs regularly this way and is integral in many ways to relationships with agriculture and youth development community-based programs. I congratulate our agents for their outstanding work in both their programs and outreach as well as building organizational and community relationships.


4-H and Youth Development

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

August marks the beginning of a new 4-H year. We just completed the 107th year of 4-H in Georgia and by all standards it was another great success.

We finished 4-H camp a few weeks ago, followed by State 4-H Congress, the highlight of the 4-H year. During congress we honored 48 project winners, over 100 special event winners and 32 scholarship winners. In addition, we recognized the Leadership in Action winners, the 2011 summer camp leadership counselors and the leadership of our 4-H Centers and Cooperative Extension.

We also honored some outstanding 4-H agents including Lauren Dye of Elbert County, winner of the Ryles Rising Star Award for agents with less than five years of service. We also presented the William H. Booth Awards. Congratulations go to Ian Cowie, Northeast District; Grace Garnier, Northwest District; Ann Wildes, Southeast District; and Cindy Meadows, Southwest District. Ann Wildes was also named the state winner of the Booth Award for her outstanding service to 4-H.

At the congress closing banquet we also presented the 4-H Green Jacket Award to a former 4-H member who served as district 4-H officer and attended camp, project achievement and many other 4-H activities — our Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, The Honorable David Ralston. In his comments of acceptance the Speaker said, "And because of what 4-H does, I just want to tell y'all that as long as I'm honored to be the Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, the 4-H program in Georgia will continue. It will be strong, it will grow, and it will have the resources it needs to serve our young people and our state here in Georgia." The Green Jacket Award is given in appreciation to a public servant who has supported 4-H.

One other award was presented during the evening when the Georgia 4-H Program was recognized with the Citizen Airman Air Force Reserve Command Award for 2010. Georgia has the largest 4-H military membership of any state in the nation. Casey Mull, our state military liaison, and Marcus Eason, our Operation Military Kids program coordinator, do a tremendous job in supporting our military 4-H efforts in Georgia.

The end of another year of summer camp closed with several children being touched by 4-H. The following story of one child was sent to the Bryan County Extension Office. The child's mother emailed Shanna Davis and described her young son's experience. She wrote about how excited he had been to be a part of 4-H this year in the fifth grade and how enthusiastic and happy he was about the monthly classroom meetings. He had received two trophies and two certificates for his participation in 4-H. His mother was proud of those accomplishments. The young man came home talking about how he wanted to go to Cloverleaf Camp. She said during the weeks prior to camp, that was all he could talk about, and he was counting down the days until his first trip away from home and family. As expected, he called on Tuesday night crying, but he did get over the hump and went on to enjoy a good week at camp. The young man said, "I got to meet new friends and other kids who want to do the same thing as I do when I grow up ... be a U.S. Marine. I learned about identifying trees by their bark. I saw new creatures, fish and turtles. I went canoeing and got to do archery. I liked the swimming. The water parks were fun, especially the one with the bucket, squirt guns and diving board and the 4-H symbol." When his mother picked him up on Friday morning, the first words out of his mouth were, "I can't wait to go back next year!" The mother closed her message by saying, "Words do not adequately describe the difference I see in my child. 4-H, Clover Camp in particular, has been a tremendous learning experience for our son. He gained public speaking experience in class. He even worked on his math skills, as he counted literally thousands of coke tabs! He learned how to work toward a goal (camp), and focused on getting there — everything from working on being the best 4-H'er in class to earn that scholarship, to shopping for items to take to camp, to packing and being responsible for his things. At camp, he gained some very much needed social skills. He learned that everyone in his cabin needed to work together to make it enjoyable for everyone. Being behind two years academically has been a heavy burden for him, but slowly, he's learning that he does fit in exactly where he is. In that respect, 4-H has played a vital role at a critical point in his life. Finally, he is quite proud to have learned that he CAN survive being away from Mama for more than eight hours and with that has come a huge boost in his self-confidence. Next year, I don't think I'll get the Tuesday night phone call. He's really disappointed that Ms. Shanna won't come for meetings next year when he's in middle school, but I plan to stay in close contact with her so that he can still be an active 4-H'er. It's one of the things that he enjoys most."

The final sentence of the mother's email stated, "Our family would like to thank you and everyone who is a part of the 4-H program."

Thanks to each of you for what you do every day for 4-H members.


Personnel actions since July 1, 2011

New Hires

  • Sumter County—Tejal Patel, 4-H VISTA, 8/15/11


  • Bacon County—K. Ann Wildes, CEAgent-4-H, 7/1/11
  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens—Jim Fountain, Interim Superintendent, 7/1/11
  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens—Frank Williams, Utility Wkr II, 7/1/11
  • Bleckley County—Gordon Lee, CEAgent-ANR, 7/1/11
  • Blueberry Research & Demonstration Farm—Danny Stanaland, AEA, 7/1/11
  • Charlton County—Terry Thigpen, CEC-ANR, 7/1/11
  • Coffee County—Eddie McGriff, CEC-ANR, 7/1/11
  • Southeast District Office—Lannie Lanier, DED, 7/1/11
  • Southeast District Office—Teresa Harvey, PDC-4-H, 7/1/11
  • Tattnall County-Reidsville—Reid Torrance, CEC-ANR, 7/1/11
  • Washington County—Sidney Law, CEAgent-ANR, 7/1/11

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Brooks County—Carol Smith, CEPA 4-H to CEAssociate 4-H, 7/1/11
  • Lee County—Elaine Spencer, CEPA to CEAssociate, 8/1/11
  • Mitchell County—Debra Cox, CEPA 4-H to CEAssociate 4-H, 7/1/11
  • Schley County—Brenda Welch, Secretary to Resource Manager/CEAssociate 4-H, 7/1/11
  • Southwest District Office—Jolain Luke, Adm Asst I to Adm Associate II, 7/1/11


  • Lowndes County—Calvin Willis, Ft. Valley CEAgent, 7/1/11


  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens—Brittany Eason, Educ. Program Specialist, 7/23/11
  • Coffee County—Jaimie Varnedore, Educ. Program Specialist, 7/29/11
  • Screven County—Heidi Landon, PA (19 hrs), 7/15//11