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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for November, 2011

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

Extension Colleagues:

Folks…let's celebrate! Our DAWGS got off to a bumpy start but things have certainly turned around in the last seven weeks. For avid DAWG fans, it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but I like our chances of finishing out the season with wins and competing for an SEC championship. More great news on state revenue figures for October! We are now into 17 months of positive state revenues! I can't imagine a better start for 2012 than for this trend to continue through the upcoming holiday season and legislative session.

October and the first two weeks of November have been extremely busy. I was pleased to attend Sunbelt Expo, the plan of work sessions in all four districts, the annual GACAA conference in Valdosta, and the annual APLU meeting in San Francisco. At Sunbelt Expo and at our GACAA meeting I got a refresher course on all our agents and specialists are doing to communicate and translate new research, innovations and technology to our producers. The CAES displays and field demonstrations at Sunbelt Expo were fabulous. Thanks to Tim Flanders for nominating this year's farmer of the year from Georgia, Mr. Carlos Vickers of Nashville, Ga. The poster sessions and award presentations at GACAA highlighted the great work over the past year conducted on the local level. A special thanks to Dr. Casey Ritz, Johnny Whiddon and the leadership of GACAA for a great annual meeting.

I enjoyed attending each of the plan of work meetings and getting to visit with most of you. There was some great discussion and input on the status of our restructuring plan in county operations and on the immediate budget situation. Per our discussion at the POW session, we remain optimistic that the Governor's 2 percent cut we are holding back in the state budget will remain in our budget. And, we hope to have some resolution to potential cuts in the federal budget during the next six weeks. Please continue your work to communicate appreciation for support and our budget needs with legislators and county funding partners. Your work in this area is valued and appreciated.

I wrote this particular entry in Extension E-News from San Francisco where I am attending the annual meeting of APLU (Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities). Much of this meeting centers around the significant fiscal challenges land grant universities face, the solutions to dealing with the reality of these fiscal changes and communicating the value of our land grant system at the national and state levels. My presentation last week at the GACAA annual awards banquet hit on the issue of the need to more clearly communicate the value and success of our land grant institutions. I look forward to hearing these presentations and bringing home the latest information and ideas from APLU.

Mark your calendars and get ready for Winter Conference 2012! Plan to arrive at Rock Eagle by 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18. The conference will wrap up no later than 12:00 on Friday, Jan. 20 with a keynote speaker/closing session. Marcie Simpson and the program planning committee are putting final touches on a great program that includes the following:

  • District meetings
  • Opening session with CAES/FACS administration
  • Program area meetings
  • Poster sessions
  • Small group rotation sessions
  • Two sessions for program area training/training from support units
  • Special meals/entertainment
  • Networking opportunities

Expect more detailed information regarding Winter Conference 2012 soon!

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson encourages agents to attend the communications training set for May 2012;
  • Arch Smith praises our own Dr. Lori Purcell Bledsoe for her excellent service as president of the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents;
  • Elizabeth Andress reminds FACS agents how valuable the programming is that they deliver to Georgia families during these tight economic times; and
  • Steve Brown discusses yet another new service offered by UGA Cooperative Extension — farm training for National Guardsmen working in Afghanistan.

Hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!


County Operations

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

Do the Citizens of Your County Know What You Do?

In years past, when most of our communities were small and mostly rural, it's a good bet that the majority of people in your county knew about Cooperative Extension and what we did. However, that may no longer be the case, particularly in some of our more populated counties. With smaller Extension staffs and more people to serve, it is safe to assume that today we reach a smaller percentage of the population face-to-face. I think we all agree that every citizen benefits either directly or indirectly from our programming efforts. However, many may not be aware that UGA Cooperative Extension provides those benefits.

One way to get your message out is through effective use of mass media. Many of you already do an outstanding job reaching clientele by newspaper, television, radio and even social media. For those of you who feel you need some help in this area, the Office of Communications and Technology Services will be offering a Communications Workshop on May 2-4, 2012. This training is listed as Independent Session 17545 and the official title is "Foundations of Communication." Training registration closes Friday, Nov. 18, 2012. However if you missed the deadline and wish to sign up, contact your program development coordinator.

In closing, I wanted to share with you an outstanding example of a county coordinator using local media to let people know what we do. Judy Ashley, County Extension Coordinator in Walton County, wrote an excellent column for her local newspaper reminding local citizens who's who in their office and what they are working on. I hope you will check out her column and consider writing something similar for your local newspaper. Read Judy's column.


Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

A CAES Contribution to the Stabilization of Afghanistan

If you get a chance, take a look at the most recent issue of Southscapes. The feature article is about the training we conducted for the Georgia National Guard back in February. The Agribusiness Development Team we trained is currently stationed in Afghanistan. Their mission is to help the Afghan government do a better job helping their farmers (70 percent of the Afghan population). A couple of those we trained were graduates of our college. The Southscapes' article includes a photo of members of that unit hoisting the UGA flag that we gave them over their base in Logar Province, Afghanistan.

During the week of November 14-18 we are training a second Georgia National Guard unit. This one will replace the one currently deployed. Thanks to all our faculty that have agreed to provide segments of the training. During the week, the participants will be exposed to training in dairy cattle, goats, poultry, wheat production, fruit and vegetable production, irrigation and watershed management, pest management and more. While the first training was held in Athens, the second is being conducted on in Tifton.

Being responsible for pulling all of this together has been a huge, but rewarding, challenge. It's easy to complain about our jobs sometimes. It's easy to think about how we are not paid enough for our education and experience or how we aren't appreciated for all we do. But when we do our jobs supporting Georgia farmers, we aren't being shot at or dodging IEDs in the road. These brave men and women of the Georgia National Guard will face that possibility everyday they are deployed.

During the second training, we established a video connection with the currently deployed unit. We spoke with them and heard about how their mission was progressing and how our training has helped them in their mission. Whatever you may think about the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, these soldiers are going, with or without our help. I'm glad that we can do our part to help. Our CAES mission is diverse, and before these opportunities, we would probably not have listed military training among the many things that we do. Now that we have done it, I would contend that this is pretty important.

It is my hope that some of the information conveyed to these soldiers will eventually find its way to poor Afghan farmers that will put it to use and be more productive, more able to support their families, less likely to join the Taliban and less likely to grow the poppies that supply the illegal drugs that flow out of that part of the world. By learning more about what it takes to stabilize a country like Afghanistan, I hope that Americans will come to realize that a country that can feed itself is a more stable and more secure country than one that cannot.


Family and Consumer Sciences

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

Being Mindful Of What We Do

This is a season of celebrating abundance in our harvests and giving thanks for what we have in life. However, those of us working with families every day are often reminded that not everyone has enough for basic daily needs. Choices have to be made by many about which bills to pay each month and whether to offer nutritious meals or repair and replace the family's clothing this week. We program to deal with an epidemic of obesity, yet many do not have enough to eat. We program to protect and maintain our houses and property, yet many do not have decent shelter or the means to protect the investment they have made in housing. We know the programs we offer to help with resource management, making the most of the food dollar and making healthy lifestyle choices can help individuals get the most value from their time and money. Yet, as our staff shrinks our outreach to families in the state becomes more limited.

It is more important than ever that we are mindful about doing the most valuable programming addressing needs in our communities and helping families, individuals and small businesses in tough times. Just as we use this season to personally reflect on what we have and what we need in our own lives, we should reflect on the stewardship we show for the government resources being invested in our educational programs. An important way we can demonstrate the value of our profession to the state is by documenting the impacts and outcomes of our work. FACS agents have access to standardized evaluation forms for many of our curricula. If these are submitted to our evaluation specialist, you can receive feedback to use locally and we collect statewide data to help with future budget requests. Some curricula have evaluation forms returned directly to the state specialist. If you need assistance with these or any program evaluations, the specialists are more than willing to help. It is time to renew our human subjects application and review our protocols for collecting evaluation data. You might see some changes in the methods we use early in 2012.

At Winter Conference 2012, we will discuss the evaluation story on several of our programs. Hopefully at that time, we can also brief FACS agents about upcoming changes in our methods for standard evaluations. At this statewide meeting, we also will review our progress with the Focus on Outcomes initiative. It is time to see what impacts have been generated and reported on to date and discuss changes needed, if any, for some of the teams. If you have any unsubmitted program results to report against any of our Focus on Outcomes objectives, now is the time to get them turned in and entered into Georgia Counts. As a reminder, our current Focus on Outcomes teams and objectives are listed in the employees-only section of our website. This is also a good place to find resources for various program areas. (Most team pages have links to your curricula and other teaching resources, exhibits, etc.)

As you continue to list your programs on the new public events section of the Extension website, think about how you are representing and fulfilling your commitment to Focus on Outcomes program priorities. Family and Consumer Sciences has been well-represented on this events listing, and I thank you for your commitment to this system. As of October 13, some 123 events have been listed and 78 of these were FACS programs. I know many more have been added since that time. Remember, however, these should be programs that are open to the public and represent what should be offered through FACS Extension. If you have any questions, feel free to ask Laurie Cantrell, Janet Valente or me.

Remember to keep your ServSafe® programs viable if this is an initiative in your program of work. County environmental health specialists are no longer allowed to specifically advertise one source of food safety certification classes. So if you are used to your inspectors handing out your class brochures or recommending your classes specifically to foodservice outlets, you will need to consider other ways of advertising. The health departments have been instructed to refer interested individuals to where they can learn about accredited certification programs. They specifically have been told that they can no longer hand out lists for Extension as has been commonplace in the past. This is not surprising, as there are more approved programs than the ServSafe® certification program we offer in Extension and competing providers have the right to expect fairness from the referring regulators. All this means to me is that you will need to consider other means of advertising your classes. Many of those needing certification will continue to look for ServSafe® classes because of its name recognition and/or the fact your classes may be the most convenient.

This is a good reminder that many of our programs could use more widespread publicity and news coverage. Are you doing everything you can to promote your programs? Market what you can do to all who will listen. Please stay committed and help us show what FACS is doing on a statewide-basis as well as in your counties. In addition to using Winter Conference 2012 to report on our Focus on Outcomes status, it will soon be time to generate statewide impact statements that could be important to building support for continuation of our many of our programs.


4-H and Youth Development

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

During the last week of October, a delegation of Georgia 4-H agents attended the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Lori Purcell Bledsoe served as president of NAE4-HA during the past year and she has done an excellent job representing 4-H on a national level. We are proud of the contributions she made to NAE4-HA. During her term as president, Lori worked diligently to improve communications from the national board to its membership, improve the fiscal responsibility of the board and create a system of better management for the association and future national meetings. Lori is to be commended for all her efforts while serving as NAE4-HA president.

During the meeting, there was discussion about the future governance of 4-H on the national level. In September, a National 4-H Partnership Summit was held in Columbiana, Alabama. The purpose of the meeting was to create an opportunity for the three national partners — 4-H National Headquarters, National 4-H Council, and State Extension 4-H Administration — to discuss the leadership and governance structure of 4-H and the working relationship of the partners. The goals of the summit were to clarify a unified and common vision for the 4-H partnership, clarify the roles and responsibilities of the partners, and develop a new partnership agreement and/or structure. As a result of this meeting, a 4-H task force was established with the goal to refine and implement this new era in 4-H and to develop a new governance structure for 4-H. The members of the committee include:  Elbert Dickey, dean/director, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension; Manola C. Erby, youth specialist, Alcorn State University; Don Floyd, president & CEO, National 4-H Council; Lisa Lauxman, director, Youth & 4-H, USDA NIFA; Ralph A. Otto, deputy director FCR, Office of the Director – USDA NIFA; and Marshall Stewart, associate director, North Carolina Extension Dept. of 4-H Youth Development.

At the NAE4-HA meeting in Omaha it was noted that local 4-H agents had no representation in this task force. However, during the NAE4-HA business session, Elbert Dickey announced that Dr. Lori Bledsoe would be added as the seventh member of the task force to represent 4-H on the local level. We're glad that Lori has been included in this task force because we know she will represent Georgia and the interests of 4-H agents across the nation in the development of national 4-H governance.

As a new initiative within the 4-H science mission mandate, Georgia 4-H has received funding to support the development of robotics programming across the state. Having been identified as a state with capacity to grow, Georgia received $50,000 from JC Penney via the National 4-H Council. The grant will allow for the creation of teams to compete in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competitions and also for the establishment of non-competitive robotics clubs to build interest, skills, and pathways for future growth and development. Robotics is a natural fit for Georgia 4-H as we continue to program within the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines to help prepare the next generation of highly skilled and trained STEM leaders. Robotics is a great context in which to teach STEM content, but more importantly, it gives students opportunities to develop process skills, problem solve, work cooperatively, and effectively communicate. These are all essential life skills for future success in the workplace. The effort will be led by a robotics leadership team consisting of Ian Cowie (Lumpkin County), Cherry Hovatter (Spalding County), Jakyn Jennings (Terrell County) and Melanie Biersmith (State 4-H Staff). We are very early in the rollout of this initiative and still able to support additional interest. If you or a school in your county has interest in developing either a competitive robotics team or an exploratory robotics club, please contact Melanie Biersmith.

We are very pleased to announce that Allen Nasworthy was hired to serve as the Fortson 4-H Center director. Allen began work on Oct. 31 and we are excited about the contributions he will make to Fortson 4-H Center. Allen is a former Emanuel County 4-H member, was a summer camp counselor at Rock Eagle for three summers, taught Vo-Ag in Henry County for two years, and was manager of Camp John Hope near Perry before accepting the position at Fortson.

Searching for holiday gifts? Visit the Rock Eagle 4-H Center near Eatonton to see and purchase some of the best artwork in the Southeast at Art @ the Rock. This juried art show and marketplace is set for Nov. 19-20 and will feature pottery, jewelry, paintings, ironwork, woodworking, photography, sculptures and many other artistic expressions in an indoor showroom and outdoor marketplace. Enjoy music and food while you visit more than 70 artists and admire their work. Visit for more information.


Personnel actions since October 1, 2011

New Hires

  • Fayette County—Sara Kahley, 4-H CEPA, 10/13/11
  • Fortson 4-H Center—Allen Nasworthy, Director, 10/31/11
  • Houston County—Kelli Barnes, CEPA VISTA, 11/01/11
  • Jackson County—Sam Ingram, Public Service Rep, 11/01/11
  • Randolph/Calhoun County—Tasha Bentley, CEPA VISTA, 11/01/11
  • Rockdale County—Brittany Johnson, 4-H Agent, 11/01/11
  • Thomas County—Andrew Sawyer, CEA ANR, 11/01/11
  • Tift County—Ashley Davis, CEA 4-H, 12/01/11

Part-time Positions:

  • Jenkins County—Davon Jones, PA (Workforce Investment Act), 10/17/11
  • McIntosh County—Stacey Miller, PA (County funded), 10/01/11
  • Screven County—Cynthia Wells, PA (1/2 County funded), 10/24/11

Temporary Part-time Positions:

  • Bibb County—Kathy Hensley, ANR CEPA, 10/17/11
  • Douglas County—Jeremy Cheney, 4-H CEPA, 11/01/11
  • Walker County—Cynthia McConnell, 4-H CEPA, 09/01/11


  • Troup/Meriwether Counties—Randy Drinkard, ANR Agent, 09/01/11

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Bulloch County—Carole Hicks Knight, transferred from Animal and Dairy Science Specialist to Bulloch County, CEA-ANR, 10/01/11
  • Haralson County—Dorothea Graham, CEC, 11/1/11
  • SW District Office—Mona Powell, transferred from Colquitt County Secretary to SW District Office, Administrative Specialist I, 10/1/2011


  • Calhoun County—Paul Wigley, CEC, 01/01/12
  • SE District Office—Phil Torrance, PDC-ANR, 10/01/11
  • SW District Director's Office—Debbie Dotson, Administrative Specialist, 01/01/12
  • SW District PDC 4-H Office—Sue Cromer, Administrative Associate, 01/01/12
  • Turner County—Merilyn Collins, 4-H CEPA, 01/01/12


  • Bibb County—Tonya Dennerson, EFNEP PA, 09/30/11
  • Forsyth County—Jan VandeVelde, ANR PA, 10/27/11
  • Fulton County—Cathy Walker, 4-H CEPA, 10/14/11
  • Glynn County—Sheila Jackson, EFNEP PA, 10/12/11
  • Grady County—Michele Cone, Secretary, 11/25/11
  • Tift County—Katie Barnes, CEA FACS, 10/28/11