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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for January, 2011

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

Extension Colleagues:

Happy New Year to all! 2011 is off to a cold and snowy start. In the past week, snow and ice have greatly restricted travel and resulted in the cancellation of many activities. Governor Deal's inauguration activities, numerous training sessions of our Extension Winter School, interviews, committee meetings, performance evaluations and everyday personal activities have all been victims of the storm. Cancellations and rescheduling have inconvenienced many. Thanks for your patience and understanding as we work to catch up, reschedule and get our professional appointments and Winter School sessions back on the calendar. Thanks to our program leaders, program coordinators and support staff for their patience, flexibility and good humor as we work through the challenges of rescheduling many Winter School sessions. I am told Winter School sessions may now go well into February!

2011 starts with some positive news on state revenue figures. We now have seven months on record with a positive trend in state revenue. For December 2010, state revenues were up by over 10 percent. Let's hope this trend continues through 2011 and this becomes a year we look back on as a year of recovery and significant positive growth.

Here are a few highlights of activities in the past month:

  • District Directors continue the process of screening, interviewing and filling high priority County Extension Agent (18) and County Extension Coordinator (2) positions that were internally advertised in mid-November. Many interviews are in process and announcements on many of these positions will be made in January;
  • A screening committee for the Northeast District Director position has been charged and will begin their work immediately. We hope to complete the interview process and name a new District Director for Northeast District in early March;
  • District Directors continue to work on advertising and/or upgrading 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 working diligently to wrap up performance evaluations.

The week before Christmas I announced some key changes in administrative/leadership positions within Extension. It is apparent many of our colleagues missed that issue of Extension E-News! So, I will be a bit repetitive with the following announcement, but this news is definitely worth repeating and celebrating! Effective January 1, 2011 these individuals assumed new titles and/or responsibilities for our organization:

  • Dr. Kris Braman is the Interim Director of the Center for Urban Agriculture. Kris 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 for Urban Agriculture, 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 is now the Coordinator for Extension Organizational Development (Dr. Mary Ellen Blackburn's former position) as well as our accountability coordinator. As Marcie combines these two roles we will also be expanding the responsibilities of Sunshine Jordan. Sunshine will take on a greater role in reporting and accountability.
  • Arch Smith is officially 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.

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 provides an update on a new calendar system that will greatly benefit county operations and all program areas as we move to the new delivery system;
  • Arch Smith reviews the January schedule for our 4-H program including counselor selection, portfolio submission and camp promotion;
  • Elizabeth Andress kicks off the new year with news on selection of a new Dean for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences; and,
  • Steve Brown gives his perspective of our ANR programs as he views them from attending regional and national commodity meetings.

County Operations

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

County Office Utilization of UGA Calendars

During the past few months, the university has migrated to a new email system and more recently to a new calendar system for employees and units. The Microsoft Live Collaboration Suite also includes a skydrive for each employee and several collaboration tools that were not previously available. All of this is available to us at no cost. In recent meetings with District Directors, Chris Adcock and other members of the Office of Communications and Technology Services, we have discussed ways we can put these tools to use to improve our internal operations and to better serve our clientele.

One tool that we intend to use more effectively and broadly is the enterprise calendar system. We realize the majority of Extension employees are not currently using this system and that some are using other online calendar systems such as the one offered by Google. We are also aware that many employees do not use any online calendar system and still keep paper calendars. In order for us to truly achieve the benefits of an enterprise calendar system, it will be necessary for everyone to eventually move their calendars online. We plan to begin by getting the county and district office calendars online.

There are several organizational, as well as personal, advantages for having online calendars. It will allow us to significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to schedule meetings and will eliminate the current system of multiple emails and phone calls to arrange meeting times. It will also allow office staff to better serve clientele by being able to see when agents are busy and when they might be available to meet with clients. And it will allow faculty and staff to collaborate more effectively. This program also makes your calendar available to you no matter where you are as long as you have Internet access and a PC, laptop or smartphone.

Some employees may not want others to see their calendar and especially their personal information. This is not a problem since you are able to decide who you share your calendar with, and you can also mark your personal appointments (such as doctor's appointments) as private so that no one else can view them. Others will only be able to tell if you are free or busy.

For the past several months, Brenda Rodgers has been piloting this system in Northeast District in four counties - Elbert, Wilkes, Rabun and Towns. Our next step will be to expand the pilot to an additional three counties per district and then later in the year to the remaining counties. The calendar system will be tied to individual email addresses and as we expand the system, it will be critical that each county have an online calendar that will be associated with their "uge" email address and that each agent who works in the county invite the "uge" account to their meetings, trainings, and other office related information. Using this system, each county will have a calendar that shows the appointments and programs for each program area represented in the county. These calendars can be shared with the district office and with adjoining counties that may have joint programming with your county.

Some of you will be contacted shortly to serve as a pilot county for your district. Others will be contacted later in the year. We will provide training on setting up and using the calendar system. I think anyone who is currently using the system will tell you that it is relatively simple to learn. We realize that this will be a change for many of you, but I think you will find that this tool will help improve efficiency for each of us individually as well as for the entire organization.


Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Observations from the January Meeting Circuit

January is always a busy month. It seems you get rested and recharged during the holidays only to get inundated with new pressures the first day back. Since the holidays, I have attended the Beltwide Cotton Conference in Atlanta, the Southeastern Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah and a bioenergy crop field day in Soperton. I'm going to try to attend the peanut farm show in Albany and the corn short course in Tifton, too.

In my former role as a specialist, I was often on the program of such meetings, and spent significant time preparing presentations in my relatively narrow area of expertise. Now, as an administrator, some would argue that I don't do much of anything, but that's not totally true. I go to conferences because I think it's imperative that someone in my role keeps up-to-date on the issues affecting Georgia agriculture. I go to maintain personal relationships with not only our employees, but key clientele that use the information we generate and disseminate.

Attending these events as an administrator gives me a very different perspective than the one I used to have. The single thing that struck me during this January's meeting circuit is the impact that UGA Cooperative Extension has on these commodity organizations. The Beltwide Cotton Conference represents the cotton industry from California to Virginia, but it was amazing to see what a dominant role UGA Extension specialists and agents had on the program.

The fruit and vegetable conference represents the entire southeastern U.S. There were numerous universities represented, but UGA clearly dominated. Congratulations to Stormy Sparks for winning the Donnie H. Morris Award for Excellence in Extension from the GFVGA and to Stanley Culpepper for winning EPA's Montreal Protocol Award. Many of our specialists made key presentations, and the role of our agents was especially impressive. Many agents made oral and poster presentations and several moderated sessions. Walking through the trade show, I was amazed at how many retired and former Extension employees were manning booths as employees of private industry. Obviously, the knowledge and experience gained in Extension is valued by private industry.

Dr. Sparks attended the Soybean and Small Grain Expo in Perry, the same day I was focusing on bioenergy in Soperton. I'm sure UGA's impact at that event was similar. Our impact on every other commodity, even those that don't meet in January, is similar.

I was proud to see how UGA Cooperative Extension, while bruised and bleeding from budget cuts, continues to be the driving force behind every viable agricultural industry in the state. Our specialists and agents are truly awesome. Thank you for making us all look good.


Family and Consumer Sciences

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

Starting a New Year and New Leadership

2011 is off to an interesting start. What promised to be a very, very busy month just became more so as we try to rearrange calendars and schedule postponed in-service training sessions. FACS has offered a very timely and great slate of subject matter in-service sessions in addition to one session focusing on a targeted audience of seniors in the state. I will be putting together a summary of what FACS Extension programs in Georgia offer all citizens, where we can, for the candidates soon to be interviewed for Dean, College of Family and Consumer Sciences, as well as Department Head, Foods and Nutrition. We are in an important time period for leadership within our college.

Screening interviews are being held this month for both of these administrative positions. Both have the ability to influence our Extension programming as well as provide support and leadership for it. The search processes are going on simultaneously, and screening interviews for both positions take place January 18-21. The candidates chosen for full interviews will be coming to campus in February and state staff will be very busy interacting with candidates for both positions to make sure we find someone supportive of Extension as well as help the candidates understand what our Georgia FACS Extension programs encompass and contribute to the college and state. I am serving on both search committees, and Dr. Joan Koonce is also on the dean search committee. In fact, both of us will be missing speaking to some of you in Winter School sessions in order to participate in these interviews. I am looking through the Impact Statement database to prepare summaries for these candidates, but I will also repeat a suggestion I made last month in this newsletter. Email me your impact statements or sections of your annual reports that you want to make sure are candidates for our statewide summary. This will be helpful and will not go unappreciated.

We also have the leadership of Joann Milam (Washington County) and Terri Black (Burke County) to recognize for a legislative educational project. I mentioned last month that these two ladies proposed a plan at our Program Development Conference in Griffin to communicate regularly with our state legislators. The goal of this strategy is to bring attention to what is, and what could be, offered to Georgia citizens with state funding and support. True to their promise, Joann and Terri took input from many of you to design and write a factsheet, and then they hand-signed cards to each legislator that accompanied the factsheet. You should have received this from me via email. (If you have not received that or seen the information from your DED or CEC, please let me know.) The legislative packets were mailed Dec. 28th and Joann already had a positive response from a newly elected representative at the start of the month. The state budget will continue to be tightened, I am sure, but we still need to make sure we educate our representatives as to the value of FACS programs to our citizens and communities.

There are many wonderful FACS programs being carried out by county- and grant- supported county educators that are not highlighted in this particular mailing. Those are, and will still be, recognized in other strategies and educational efforts. This particular project and effort is targeted toward improving awareness and educating state legislators as to what their funding is accomplishing and what more could be done if support is maintained or increased from the state. This first factsheet to state legislators could not highlight all of our base and special programs. This education program targeted to the legislature also includes quarterly messages that will highlight different programs and impacts each time. If you receive a request for information or impacts from Joann or Terri, or your program development specialist, please be sure to contribute.

It may not have been announced, but I will continue to act as Interim state program leader for the next six months while our college completes the search for a Dean. I look forward to doing so and hope to continue to grow our proposals for additional positions and collaborations, as well as represent the fantastic work being carried out by FACS county agents.


4-H and Youth Development

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

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from the Georgia State 4-H Office and the Georgia 4-H centers. We hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and were able to spend time relaxing with family during the holidays.

We look forward to another great year working with all of Cooperative Extension and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as we make every effort to maintain Georgia 4-H as the best 4-H program in the nation.

Georgia 4-H was honored that Governor Nathan Deal's inauguration committee invited 18 4-H members and three adults to assist with the swearing-in ceremony on Monday, Jan.10. Due to the inclement weather, the formal ceremony, which was to be held outside of the Capitol, and other inaugural activities were cancelled. While we were disappointed that 4-H was not able to participate, it was certainly a privilege to have been asked to be a part of the inauguration of Georgia's 82nd governor.

2011 got off to a very cold start with a lot of ice and snow across the state, but it has not dampened the spirit of 4-H members. During the weekend of January 8-9, we held Counselor Selection Weekend. There were 78 participants in the selection process. This was one of the largest groups of counselor applicants that I can recall. We all can take a lot of pride in our work with Georgia youths because this was an excellent group of 4-H camp counselor applicants. The most disappointing part about the weekend was that we can only hire around 30 first year counselors in the program for the summer of 2011.

It is hard to believe on a 20-degree morning that it is time to promote 4-H summer camp. As I thought about summer camp and the hot days of June and July, I pulled out a copy of a letter dated February 23, 1968, from county agent S. F. Yelton in Warren County. The letter was written to remind me that the deadline for making application for summer camp was March 8 and that I needed to send my $5.00 deposit with my application. Many of our county agents and program assistants will be encouraging 4-H'ers over the next few weeks and months to sign up for summer camp. The summer camping experience has long been one of the core programs of Georgia 4-H and just one part of what makes Georgia 4-H a great success.

This is also the time of year when portfolios are due for the Junior-Senior Project Achievement contests. The inclement weather made it difficult for many counties to submit and deliver their portfolios to Athens. I know all of you have been receiving regular updates from Jenny Jordan and your 4-H program development coordinator concerning portfolios. We have had to make some changes in the judging dates. Project Achievement is also one of the core programs of Georgia 4-H and we certainly appreciate the support we receive from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and from all Extension specialists in the CAES who help make the Project Achievement process an excellent learning experience for thousands of young people.

During the first week of January a number of 4-H'ers from Johnson, Rockdale, and Spalding Counties competed at the Western National Roundup in Denver, Colorado. Due to their flight being cancelled, the Rockdale County team was stranded in Denver and did not return to Georgia until Wednesday, Jan. 12. The Johnson County team also had difficulty getting home as they were stranded in Atlanta for several days. We are glad they are now all safely home and we congratulate them on their success. Johnson County was the National Winning team in the Family and Consumer Science Skill-a-Thon. Maia Price of Spalding County brought home 5th High Individual honors in the Consumer Decisions Contest while Spalding County as a whole placed second in the Group Process portion of the competition. Rockdale County also placed well in the Classic Horse Judging Contest.

As a reminder, all 4-H clubs must file a 990 tax return. USDA and the IRS came to an agreement that 4-H clubs did not have to file a 990 form for 2009. However, all 4-H clubs must file a tax return with the IRS for 2010. So if your 4-H program's fiscal year ended June 30, 2010, you should have filed a tax return with the IRS by Dec. 15, 2010. If you need to know more, there is space available in a class scheduled during Winter School on filing 990 tax returns. Please contact your 4-H PDC or Mandy Marable if you would like to enroll in the 990 Tax Forms class.


Personnel actions since December 1, 2010

New Hires

  • Bibb County—Karen Atkins, Horticulture CEPA, 12/1/10
  • Bibb County—Tara Brown, 4-H CEPA, 12/14/10
  • DeKalb County—Carlethia Rushin, Administrative Assistant, 12/1/10

Temporary Positions:

  • Twiggs County—Alison Sheffield, PA, 12/20/10

County-Funded Positions

  • Macon County—Muqita Lumumba, 4-H CEPA, appointed 1/11/11

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Bacon County—K. Ann Wildes, Interim CEC 4-H to CEA 4-H, 12/31/10
  • Bulloch County—Lee Anna Deal, Interim CEC 4-H to CEA 4-H, 12/1/10
  • Bulloch County—Wes Harris, returned from Afghanistan to CEC ANR, 12/1/10
  • Colquitt County—Glenn Beard, CEA to CEC, 1/1/11
  • Dougherty County—Roxie B. Price, CEA EFNEP, transfer from Brooks County, 1/1/11
  • Mitchell County—Rad Yager, CEA ANR, transfer from Dougherty County, 2/1/11
  • Peach County—Kate Whiting, CEA to CEC, 1/1/11
  • Sumter County—Bill Starr, CEA to CEC, 1/1/11
  • Terrell County—Jakyn Jennings, CEA to CEC, 1/1/11


  • Chattahoochee County—Angel Reynolds, EFNEP CEPA, 12/24/10
  • Clay/Quitman Counties—Carl Childree, CEC/CEA ANR, 1/14/11
  • Forsyth County—Chuck Cornwell, ANR CEPA, 12/22/10
  • Houston County—Lori Sullivan, Secretary, 1/5/11
  • Terrell County—Rex Turner, CEA ANR, 1/6/11
  • Upson County—Lisa Fox, 4-H CEPA, 12/31/10
  • Upson County—Debra Smith, 4-H CEPA, 12/13/10