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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for June 2012

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

Extension Colleagues:

I hope your summer is off to a great start.

What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time, Extension E-News topics included information on the extended statewide drought, more budget cuts, no salary increases and pending employee layoffs. Now, 12 months later, it is so nice to be addressing topics related to widespread rainfall across much of Georgia, funds to deal with salary compression and hiring new employees.

News items since the last issue of Extension E-News:

President Adams has approved university-wide budget allocations that allow for two separate adjustments for employees earning $40,000 or less. First, the minimum hiring rate will go from $21,000 to $22,000 (effective July 1, 2012). Also, those making between $22,0000 and $40,400 will receive an internal salary compression adjustment (ISCA). The ISCA is based on current salary and ranges from 1 percent to 3 percent and is effective July 1, 2012. While we are all grateful for these funds and adjustments, we have valued employees that fall outside this salary range that are experiencing salary compression and will not receive an increase. I certainly appreciate your continued patience and understanding and look forward to better fiscal times when we can reward more of our employees for their diligence and dedication. Please contact your DED if you have additional questions/concerns regarding the salary compression adjustments.

In early June, four of our Extension employees completed the 12-month leadership academy program offered through the office of the vice president for public service and outreach. Congratulations to Jule-Lynn Macie (Rockdale County CEC), Melanie Biersmith (State Staff-4-H), Bobby Smith (Morgan County CEC) and Janet Valente (FACS PDS). At the graduation ceremony, Vice President Jennifer Frum (a CAES alum) announced the VPPSO Leadership Academy would be renamed in honor of the late Vivian Fisher, our former Extension colleague and one of the principle conveners/designers of the first VPPSO Leadership Academy.

In the next two weeks, we will be conducting interviews for two critical positions within our leadership ranks. We interview Jule-Lynn Macie and Bobby Smith for the ANR-PDC position in Northeast District on June 18. Then, on June 20, Lynn Davis and Melinda Miller will interview for the 4-H PDC position for Southwest District. I encourage you to participate in the seminars and provide feedback to the district directors on these candidates. And, thanks to Jule-Lynn, Bobby, Lynn and Melinda for stepping forward and being willing to serve the organization in these demanding positions.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson writes about the opportunities for leadership positions in UGA Cooperative Extension;
  • Steve Brown reminds us that the recent rainfall is a blessing, but South Georgia in particular, is never more than a few weeks away from a drought;
  • Arch Smith shares, with pride I might add, several stories of Georgia 4-H accolades and recognition from across the nation;
  • Debbie Murray writes about her first month on the job as associate dean for Extension and Outreach for the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences; and
  • Laura Perry Johnson updates on the CAES Strategic Planning process. It's at the printer!

Colleagues, this is the time of year I feel compelled to remind you to please take some rejuvenation time for you and your family/friends as we move through the summer months. Vacation to you may mean a sandy beach, a cool mountain stream, fishing at the lake, hiking the outback, golfing, traveling, or relaxing at your own "Ritz Carlton" and catching up on projects. Whatever it means to you, remember we all need time away from our jobs to reinvigorate and stay healthy. Have a great summer and safe travels to all.


County Operations

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

Leadership opportunities in Extension

Last month I wrote about "Advancing Georgia's Leaders in Agriculture (AGLA)," a new leadership development program for individuals involved in Georgia's agriculture and natural resource industries. This includes employees of CAES. This month I want to carry that theme a little further and discuss the need for leaders in our own organization.

We have been discussing for some time the changes in leadership that were going to occur in Georgia Cooperative Extension. Well that process has begun. Laura Perry Johnson took the reins of Southwest District as the new district Extension director on June 1 and Deborah Murray assumed the role of associate dean for Extension FACS in May. We currently have two searches underway for program development coordinators - Southwest District 4-H PDC and Northeast District ANR PDC. Within the next month or so, we will be announcing the DED position for Southeast District. And hopefully, toward the end of this year, Dr. Sparks will announce my position, director of county operations. Several more retirements are anticipated among Extension leadership within the next couple of years.

What this means is that a new generation of leadership will be stepping up to lead our organization into the future. I think we have done a pretty good job preparing people to step into these roles. Over the past few years, we have conducted several leadership programs for Extension faculty including the Extension Academy for Professional Excellence (three classes) and the ExTEND Advanced Leadership Academy (one class). Faculty have also participated in two classes of UGA's Public Service and Outreach Leadership Academy and several have participated in the national LEAD 21 program. And of course, each of you practices leadership skills every day in the roles that you currently occupy.

I believe the next few years will be critical for the future of Extension. As state and federal budgets improve, we will be poised to take our programs in exciting new directions, but it will take leaders with a vision to help us realize our full potential. It is always a big decision to leave the security of a position you have grown comfortable with and apply for a leadership position. It can be a little scary to take on new challenges, and the fear of rejection can sometimes prevent people from putting themselves out there. I hope that those of you who have prepared yourselves for these opportunities will step up and be willing to take on this challenge.


Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

The next drought

No matter how much rain a storm would bring, South Georgians always say we are never more than a week away from a drought. Just after most of Georgia has been blessed with several inches of rain might seem like an odd time to talk about drought, but we've been on the verge of a historic drought over most of the last year and a few inches of rainfall won't begin to fill our rivers, lakes and ponds.

Georgia's economy runs on agriculture and agriculture runs on water. Despite an overall sluggish economy, agriculture prices are good and many growers are optimistic about their chances to make a profit this year. But we can never forget how quickly water can become the limiting factor for agricultural profits.

High commodity prices are great, but there are sometimes unintended consequences. I've noticed some interesting trends regarding U.S. agricultural land usage. This year, nationwide, contracts covering more than 6.5 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will expire. This will mark the second-largest turnover in the program's 26-year history. The Red River Farm Network reports that the amount of total land in the CRP has fallen to its lowest level since 1988, down 20 percent from its peak of 36.7 million acres in 2007. As much as half the U.S. land coming out of CRP may be put back into production for the first time in decades.

I'm not aware of any stats regarding CRP land in Georgia, but I suspect we are following the national trend. There are lots of implications associated with moving marginal land out of CRP and back into production. Of course, lower yield potentials affect our production budgets and profit margins. Water and wind erosion may increase when we clear wooded areas and plant crops. Wildlife and overall farm income diversity could be impacted if timber production and hunting leases are impacted.

Our ANR agents and specialists will be helping clients sort through these impacts, but perhaps increased need for water will be the biggest issue.

This past winter and spring, well-drillers worked overtime to try to meet the demand for new wells. One South Georgia well digger said he had never seen demand so high in his 40-year career. When drought comes, we may be putting greater pressure on our precious water supplies. Again, it will be Extension ANR that will help our clientele manage their water resources. Unfortunately, downsizing has left us without an Extension irrigation specialist, but we hope to correct that situation as soon as possible.

Most of our crops look great at this early point in the season. It's our job to think beyond today's snapshot of Georgia agriculture and help our clients prepare for the challenges that inevitably lie ahead.


Family and Consumer Sciences

Deborah MurrayDeborah Murray, FACS State Program Leader, 706/542-4862,

A busy first month

It has been a very busy first month on the job. I have learned a lot about Georgia Cooperative Extension and the State of Georgia. I have participated in district FACS updates, met with the Extension FACS faculty, attended meetings with alums and stakeholders, attended a Georgia 4-H Advisory Committee meeting and dedication of the Dr. Jim and Renee Williamson Dining Room at Rock Eagle, visited other UGA locations as well as other universities in the state, met with the governor's policy advisors for health, education, and public safety, as well as directors of state programs in the Department of Education and Public Health and community stakeholders in the EFNEP program.

I also participated in the Extension Program Development Team meeting and an Extension Administration Retreat on Family and Consumer Sciences. We spent one day and one evening really focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of FACS Extension as well as those of 4-H/youth development and agriculture and natural resources. The retreat was very positive and I feel we are all on the same page with the same goal – building a strong Extension program and a strong Georgia which includes strong families.

There will be changes as we look at how we support FACS programing in each of the six tiers. We have reorganized our Extension FACS team to create a FACS Extension Leadership team that will include Laurie Cantrell, Janet Valente, Sharon Gibson, Irina Kunovskaya, Joni Callihan, Gail Antwine and myself. We will strengthen the links between the state Extension faculty and county agents. We will also work to strengthen relationships within Extension and the faculty in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences as well as those in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. And, we will actively seek opportunities to build a stronger program for supporting Georgia families.

Working together we will define what a strong FACS program looks like in Georgia. We will be creative in our thinking and applications and focused on making a difference at the local level, and on the strengths and unique attributes that Extension brings to collaborations. We will not be meek in our achievements and will develop new social media applications, marketing programs, and methods of program delivery. Our programs will be grass roots driven, evidence based and strongly supported by the administration in both colleges.

The Military Family FACS Extension team of Lisa Jordan, Marnie Dekle, Terri Black, Akilah Mydell, Suzanne Williams, Joann Cavis, Pamela Turner, Laurie Cantrell, Don Bower, and Sharon Gibson (including Casey Mull - 4-H Operation Military Kids Project) will participate in the Georgia Summit organized by Congressman Sanford D. Bishop. The summit is set for June 14 at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. The team has been invited to participate in a panel discussion about Extension's community resources to support military families. Laura Booth of Auburn University and the contact for the National Healthy Homes Initiative will also be present. The bi-partisan Congressional Military Family Caucus was founded in 2009 by Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA). The caucus seeks to educate members of the United States Congress and their staff, the Department of Defense, the Armed Forces and the public about the challenges facing our nation's military families. Our FACS team will represent all of our Extension offices as military families are scattered across the state and support systems need to be strengthened.

I am currently visiting one-on-one with faculty and staff in both colleges and am scheduling county visits with each of our FACS agents. Dean Fox and I will also attend the Georgia Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences annual session set for August 9-10 in Perry, Ga. The theme is "Teamwork – Sustaining Our Future." The future is what we make of it and I am looking forward to a bright but different future for Georgia Extension.


4-H and Youth Development

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

Georgia 4-H receives national praise and recognition

Every other month I participate in a conference call with state 4-H leaders from across the southern region. In our most recent call, I submitted one agenda item related to the national 4-H curriculum working group of which Mandy Marable serves as the curriculum specialist from the southern region to the committee. I then sat quietly and listened. Four different times during the conversation, other state 4-H leaders, a representative from National 4-H Council, and a representative from 4-H National Headquarters gave accolades to Georgia 4-H. Andy Ferrin, vice president for marketing for National 4-H Council, mentioned the success of the National 4-H Gala in New York on April 17 and spoke of how six members of Georgia 4-H Clovers and Company and Jennifer Nettles, former Georgia 4-H'er, helped the National 4-H Gala raise more than half a million dollars for National 4-H Council. Later on the same call, Lisa Lauxman from 4-H National Headquarters talked about the relationship that Georgia 4-H is forming with the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and our efforts to work with them to provide educational programs in a "Friends" magazine based on a transfer of zoonotic diseases between animals and humans. Andy Ferrin continued the praises by discussing the success of a delegation of Georgia 4-H'ers who raised money and collected books to help replace the Twiggs County Library that was destroyed by fire. National 4-H Council was so impressed that they traveled to Georgia and spent the day in Jeffersonville filming a Revolution of Responsibility promotional announcement on the work in Twiggs County. Georgia 4-H will be spotlighted on the national level and we will release the video during State 4-H Council for Georgia 4-H'ers to see. Next, the chair of the Southern Region 4-H Leaders pointed out the successful professional development program the Georgia state 4-H staff planned and facilitated on Jekyll Island in March for all the state 4-H staffs from across the southern region.

Two weeks ago, members of the Tennessee state 4-H staff visited Georgia and spent a day in Athens exploring the successful curriculum development with Georgia 4-H and also our private fund development successes of the Georgia 4-H Foundation.

Just this week, National 4-H Council sent representatives from Molina Healthcare to Georgia to take a firsthand look at the efforts of the Health Rocks! Program that the DeKalb County Extension office is delivering. They spent a day at Rock Eagle to see what children are learning in the Health is Our Pledge (HOP) class at 4-H camp.

Dr. Sparks and I have been asked by National 4-H Council to conduct an educational tour in mid-July for the vice president for marketing for Tractor Supply Company so that he can gain a better understanding of a land grant university and how Extension and 4-H work is delivered across our state. We will be visiting a couple of counties, the Griffin campus, Rock Eagle and the Athens campus to provide him firsthand experience of what is happening in the land grant mission.

I have shared seven examples of how Georgia Extension and Georgia 4-H have been recognized by our colleagues around the country for our great successes in programming and fund development and in delivery of the land grant mission of the land grant university. Each time I tell the story of the success of Georgia 4-H, I always remind the state 4-H staff, our donors, our volunteers, and our supporters that the real work in delivery of Extension and 4-H is at the county level — the front line of University of Georgia Extension and Georgia 4-H with the people who live in the communities in which you live and work. I remind all of us that we have a wonderful Extension service in Georgia and a great 4-H program. I extend a special thanks to all of you who make Georgia 4-H a success.

Another 4-H summer is underway! In addition to the many county activities planned, 4-H'ers and county staff will attend summer camp, State 4-H Horse Show this week, State 4-H Horse School next week, State Council in a few days and State 4-H Congress in Atlanta in a few weeks to put the finishing touches on another great year for Georgia 4-H and recognize our winners. But the people that make Georgia 4-H the best are all of you in the counties and the volunteers that you train and work with who keep Georgia 4-H in the national spotlight. For that I'd like to say "thank you" and I wish you a great 4-H summer. I hope to see all of you somewhere along the way.


CAES Strategic Planning

Laura Perry JohnsonLaura Perry Johnson, Co-Chair of CAES Strategic Planning Committee, 229/386-3414,

The strategic plan document is at the printer

There is not much news to report on the strategic planning front this month. All month long we have been editing and refining the strategic plan report. On June 4, Jean Bertrand and I shared this with the administration of our college and got their feedback and questions. You may wonder if they changed any of the report. The answer to that question is, NO. They did ask us for clarification in places and it was good to get their review and see if the message the CAES Strategic Planning Committee intended to send, actually was what came through. There were a few places where we had to make some clarifications. We have made the final edits (or what we hope are the final edits!) and the document went to the printer on June 14. We will soon be proofing the final mock up and hope to have the actual report printed by the end of June.

How will you get to see a copy and know what is in the report? We are having copies printed for distribution and the document will be on the web as well. There is a section called "Foundational Strengths" that is a compilation of the things that were widely recognized as things we do well and should continue to do and be known for and continuously improve. Following that, there are seven "Strengthening Goals" that are areas that we can focus on to make improvements in our college. These are broad and include ideas and actions that will touch every person in our college as well as our clientele and the public as a whole.

I hope you are eager to see the report and will ask how you can be involved in the implementation of the plan. A committee of 22 people crafted this plan, but it will take all of us working together to implement it in such a way that we all benefit from the impact of achieving the goals set forth in the plan. Later in the summer you will have the opportunity to see the goals and volunteer to be involved in action teams that will implement this plan. Stay tuned for more details.

In some ways this feels like the end of a HUGE project, but actually it is only the beginning! Even if we have written the perfect strategic plan – it is worth nothing until we use it. The CAES Strategic Planning Committee certainly hopes you will be a part of moving the college forward and implementing the plan.


Personnel actions since May 1, 2012

New Hires

  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens, Savannah—Kelli Bahrs, PA-Summer Camp Teacher, 5/17/12
  • Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens, Savannah—Meredith Wynn, EPS–Summer Intern, 5/21/12
  • Berrien County—Brock Ward, Intern, 5/1/12
  • Bulloch County—Lauren Ashley McCoy, PA-Georgia Southern Univ. Summer Intern, 5/21/12
  • Calhoun County—Cynthia Edwards, VISTA, 5/25/12
  • Catoosa County—Mary Beth Tola, Extension Associate, 6/1/12
  • Chatham County—Etholia Kent, PA-State 4-H office funded, 5/17/12
  • Colquitt County—Janelle Jelks, VISTA, 5/25/12
  • Houston County—Kassie Love, VISTA, 5/25/12
  • Lanier County—Justin Lanier, Intern. 5/14/12
  • Pulaski County—Ashleigh Day, Intern, 5/14/12
  • Telfair County—Kelly Godfrey, PA-FACS Summer Intern, 5/14/12
  • Toombs County—Christopher Earls, EPS- Summer Intern, 5/14/12
  • Toombs County—Brittany Garcia, PA-Job Training Unlimited, Inc. funded, 5/21/12  

Part-time Positions:

  • Bulloch County—Kacie Lanier, PA-County funded, 20 hrs/wk, 5/29/12
  • Chattooga County—Kendra Stallings, ANR Program Assistant, 5/17/12
  • Polk County—Andrea Tolbert, 4-H Program Assistant, 4/19/12

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Bulloch County—Lisa Strickland, County Secretary position reclassified to County Extension Associate–Resource Manager, 5/1/12
  • Crawford County—Brittany White Holloway from Prog. Asst. to 4H/ANR Agent, 5/15/12
  • Jackson County—Keri G. Hobbs, CEA 4-H, moved from CEA 4-H  in Sumter County, 5/31/12
  • Jefferson County—Pamela Sapp, CEC-ANR, transfer from Crop & Soil Sciences, 5/1/12
  • Talbot County—Erica Randall, Extension Associate, moved from Prog. Asst. in Muscogee County, 5/1/12
  • Wilcox County—Sara Sercer from CEPA 4-H to CEAssociate


  • Bartow County—Debbie Hawkins, Secretary, retired 5/1/12
  • Paulding County—Grace Garnier, CEC, retired 5/1/12


  • Chatham County—Lisa Hudson, PA-FACS EFNEP, 5/15/12
  • Mitchell County—Stacy Marshall, Secretary

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