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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for May 2012

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

Extension Colleagues:

There is much to celebrate this month in our college. The Extension state fiscal situation for FY13 has been clarified and Governor Deal signed off on the budget last week. It is now time to contact our state legislators and thank them for the support they provided. Last year in late March and early May, we were implementing a plan to use vacant positions, additional retirements, additional reductions in operating and phasing out many of our rehires as part of our strategy to deal with additional budget cuts to CAES. Now, thankfully, over the next few months we will be preparing to hire new faculty in the areas of vegetable horticulture, peanut entomology, peach horticulture and soybean breeding. We will also be working with the district directors to fill top priority agent positions and filling critical vacancies on the district leadership teams in Southwest (4-H PDC), Northeast (ANR-PDC) and Southeast Districts (DED). In addition, we received funds in the college for renovations and repairs to facilities, equipment purchases and replacement of cabins at Rock Eagle. Please let your local legislators and commissioners know how much their support is appreciated and that we will invest those dollars wisely.

Highlights of activities in the last month:

There were two opportunities to interact with local governmental officials during the past four weeks. First, thanks to Jeff Christie and GACAA for the great job they did with the Extension exhibit and Farm House events at the ACCG meeting in Savannah. We had a record number of county officials go through the exhibit and into the Farm House event on Sunday. Thanks to everyone who worked on the preparation and serving lines and worked the exhibit. Second, I had the opportunity to represent the southern region Extension directors at a meeting with key leadership of NACo (National Association of County Commissioners). Ross King also attended the meeting representing directors of state associations for county commissioners. There was much frank and open discussion about the relationship/partnership of local county government and Cooperative Extension. The take home message for me was that we (Extension) must never take a close working relationship with our county governments for granted. With limited resources at the state and local level, it has never been more important for us to work together with our commissioners to understand and meet the needs of our clientele. I am very appreciative of our relationship with ACCG and the great work our agents do to keep the lines of communication open with county commissioners across the state.

As part of my responsibilities with the National 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees, I attended the National 4-H Gala in New York City. Our own Jennifer Nettles (former Georgia 4-H'er and now recording artist with the Grammy-winning group Sugarland) was recognized during the evening and performed with six of our current members of Clovers and Company. It was an outstanding event and a very proud night for Georgia 4-H.

On May 11 we celebrated the end of another academic session with wonderful graduation ceremonies for both the university and the CAES. I am impressed with the young people graduating from CAES and how well prepared they are to go on to the next phase of their lives. I am certainly looking forward to the opportunity to hire some of these bright young graduates seeking careers in Extension.

We celebrated the retirement of District Director Ken Lewis with a wonderful reception at the Tift County Extension office. Thanks to the Southwest District Leadership team and the Tift County Office for hosting the event and sending Ken off for a month of retirement before he returns to serve for a year as a rehire in the ANR-PDC role.

We named the new district director of Southwest District. Laura Perry Johnson officially moves into her new role on June 1. Be sure to read this month's feature article about Laura.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson provides details on the new Advancing Georgia's Leaders in Agriculture program;
  • Arch Smith shares news of several 4-H awards and activities;
  • Deborah Murray, the new associate dean for FACS Extension and outreach, introduces herself in her first Extension E-News column;
  • Steve Brown gives an update on the university's training program with the Georgia National Guard and a flag presentation set to celebrate team two's return from Afghanistan; and
  • Laura Perry Johnson provides a look into the making of our college's soon-to-be-revealed strategic plan.

County Operations

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

New Leadership Training Opportunity

I wanted to take time this month to make sure you are all aware of a new agricultural leadership opportunity that will be open to members of the CAES faculty and staff and Georgians who are involved in agriculture and natural resources. Over the next few weeks we will be relying on county Extension offices to help get out the word about this exciting new program.

The CAES has developed the new statewide leadership development program for adults involved in the agricultural and natural resources industries. The new program, Advancing Georgia's Leaders in Agriculture (AGLA), replaces the former Georgia Agrileaders Forum.

AGLA is a two-year program for adults involved in Georgia's agricultural and natural resources industries. It will include ten sessions and a graduation. The eight in-state sessions will be held in various location throughout Georgia and the national session will include a trip to Washington, DC and one other region of the U.S. Finally, the international session will include travel to two to three countries in one region of the world. The sessions will include a total of 52 days over the two-year period.

The program is being developed Rochelle Strickland, a faculty member in ALEC, with help from Kristi Farner, assistant director.

Each Extension district will be allowed to nominate one faculty or staff member for the first class of AGLA. Anyone who is interested in participating should contact their district director. CAES departments will also be eligible to nominate faculty and staff. The deadline for applications is July 13, 2012. The first class will be announced by Sept. 1, 2012 and the first session will be held in late October 2012 on the UGA campus. The applications for Class I will be available on the AGLA website ( by May 16th. The website also contains more detailed information about the program. The college will cover the program tuition of $3,500 for all successful CAES faculty and staff applicants.

District directors will be contacting county offices soon to request assistance in publicizing this program to county clientele. If you know of individuals in your county who might be good candidates, please encourage them to apply. We are excited about this wonderful opportunity to gain leadership skills and make connections that will benefit the participants personally, and in the long term will benefit the agriculture and natural resources industry in Georgia.


Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

CAES Contributes to U.S. Mission in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is a long way from the University of Georgia. The images of the rocky, barren Afghan landscape aren't always consistent with our concept of agriculture, but Afghanistan produces a wide variety of agricultural commodities, including wheat, vegetables, apples, almonds, grapes, pomegranates, sheep, goats and much more. The truth is, more than 70 percent of Afghans are farmers and the U.S. military recognizes that stabilization of this war-torn country depends on the improvement of their agriculture. The Afghan government has a Ministry of Agriculture, but it lacks the expertise necessary to help Afghan farmers improve their very primitive methods.

A few years ago, the U.S. military began forming Agribusiness Development Teams (ADTs) with the mission of improving the capacity of the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture to assist Afghan farmers. The concept is to increase Afghan farmers' confidence in their government so that they are less likely to join the Taliban or grow poppies that fuel the drug business that funds the Taliban. (Despite what most people think, poppies are not the most profitable crop for the typical Afghan farmer.)

ADTs are military units and are well armed. They fight when necessary, but their primary mission is the improvement of Afghan agriculture.

A couple of years ago, I was contacted by the Georgia National Guard. They had been given the assignment of forming three successive ADTs, each of which would serve one-year deployments. They wanted UGA to provide them with agricultural training that would prepare them for that assignment. With the help of many of our faculty, we trained ADT1 in February of 2011 and ADT2 in November of 2011. We will train ADT3 this September.

ADT1 has just returned home and ADT2 has been in Afghanistan for about a month now. Both teams have kept in contact, letting us know of their accomplishments, sending photos and requesting additional information. Upon completion of training for ADT1, Dean Angle presented their commander, Colonel Bill Williams, with a UGA flag. That flag flew over their base in Logar Province and came under sporadic enemy fire. On June 11 at 2 p.m., Colonel Williams will return the flag to us in a ceremony in the lobby of Conner Hall. The flag has been signed by all members of the unit.

We are currently planning the week-long training session for ADT3. The team informs us that they have been cleared to include four civilians on their deployment beginning next spring and would love to have CAES faculty and staff apply for those positions. Soooo, for those of you that may be so inclined, this is a unique opportunity. I realize that a very small percentage of our employees would have an interest, but if you are one of those, contact me for details. Of course, in order to participate you would have to be selected by the Georgia National Guard and would have to have approval for a leave of absence from CAES. Some training is required and you would be a paid employee of the military for the time of deployment.


Family and Consumer Sciences

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

Settling in and planting roots

I want to thank everyone for the warm welcome I have received. I look forward to working with all of you in my new role as associate dean for Extension and outreach and FACS program leader.

I have many years of extension experience, all in Kentucky. I have worked in many different positions in Extension: as a county extension agent for FACS as well as a 4-H/youth development agent; and as a district director and regional coordinator for Extension.

My most recent administrative leadership role was directing the Health Education through Extension Leadership program, an innovative partnership with the colleges of medicine and public health. I am currently providing leadership with the medical community on a national pilot project to build an innovative partnership between Extension and academic health centers to create a health Extension program to support communities and primary care practices.

On a personal note, my husband is retired and we have a family farm in Kentucky that has been in the family for more than 100 years. Our daughter and her family live on the farm. We have two children and five grandchildren including two identical twin boys who will be two years old in August, a beautiful 16-month-old granddaughter, an eight-year-old grandson and a seven-year-old granddaughter, all back in Kentucky. We are in the process of buying a home in Athens and getting our roots firmly planted.


4-H and Youth Development

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

April was filled with honors, videos and conferences

In mid-April, Beverly Sparks and I attended the National 4-H Legacy Awards Gala in New York. Georgia 4-H provided the highlight of the evening when former State 4-H Leader Bo Ryles presented the Distinguished Alumni Medallion to Jennifer Nettles, former Coffee County 4-H member and lead vocalist for the Grammy-Award winning duo Sugarland. (Jennifer's 4-H agent was Kevin Tatum.)

Not only was Jennifer Nettles recognized by National 4-H Council, but six Georgia 4-H Clovers and Company members – Jada Cato from Henry County, Mary Clayton Gilbert from Bartow County, Ashton Prior from Morgan County, Caylee Hammock from Schley County, Michael Woods from Hancock County, and Austin French from Crisp County – entertained the audience with "Somebody to Love." They were accompanied by Clovers and Company directors Bo Ryles and David Jones. Clovers and Co. coordinator Cheryl Varnadoe also assisted in chaperoning the Clovers members to New York. After she was presented her alumni medallion, Jennifer joined the six Clovers and Company members along with three Clovers and Company alumni to perform the hit tune "Stand Up" from Sugarland's album "The Incredible Machine." It was a great evening for Georgia 4-H. We appreciate National 4-H Council recognizing a Georgia 4-H alumnus for the second year in a row with the Distinguished Alumni Medallion. The 2011 recipient was Nancy Grace, CNN television host/ commentator and former Bibb County 4-H member.

To view video highlights and photos from the Gala, please visit the website.

The Georgia 4-H program will also be recognized later this month by National 4-H Council in one of their Revolution of Responsibility videos. Last year, fire destroyed the Twiggs County public library and Georgia 4-H members raised funds and collected books to help rebuild the library. Recently a film crew from Atlanta, along with members of the National 4-H Council staff, visited Twiggs County to document their efforts. We're happy that these 4-H'ers will be recognized for their generosity, but we know that we have multiple situations across the state where Georgia 4-H members help their local communities.

Last month, the Georgia Association of Extension 4-H Agents held their annual professional development meeting at the Lake Blackshear retreat. The theme for the week was "Leadership at the Lake" and the leadership of GAE4-HA should be commended for the excellent conference. Monte Stephens, outgoing president, presided over the conference. He will be succeeded as president by Lynn Davis of Turner County. Stacey Ellison of Houston County will serve as president-elect and Dorothea Graham of Haralson County was elected vice president. Abby Smith of Effingham County will serve as secretary for the coming year and Kate Whiting of Peach County will serve her second year as treasurer. We send a special thanks to the GAE4-HA Executive Committee and the GAE4-HA Board of Directors for their work throughout the past year in leading our state's association.

A number of vendors distributed free 4-H materials at the conference. While examining some of the items, I noticed several instances in which the 4-H name and emblem were not being used in accordance with the guidelines. As we approach the summer camping season and you purchase t-shirts and other items for promotion, please review the Use of the 4-H Name and Emblem regulations which can be found on the 4-H National Headquarters website.

The guidelines for use of the 4-H name and emblem are very specific. There are also a number of downloadable graphics available in various formats for use by 4-H personnel.

On May 17 the Executive Dining Room, or the Georgia 4-H Room in the Dining Hall at Rock Eagle 4-H Center, will be dedicated in honor of Dr. Jim and Mrs. Renee Williamson of St. Simons Island, Ga. Jim and Renee were 4-H members from Ben Hill and Floyd Counties, respectively. They met as students at the University of Georgia. After a successful career with Purina, the Williamsons moved back to St. Simons to be closer to family. They have been wonderful supporters of not only 4-H but the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Jim and Renee have endowed the sheep and meat goats project and provided funding for Renee's Putt Putt Course at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. It is fitting that their most recent gift to the Georgia 4-H Foundation will be recognized through the naming of the Executive Dining Room in the Rock Eagle Dining Hall. The recognition will take place during the joint meeting of the Georgia 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees and the Georgia 4-H Advisory Committee.


CAES Strategic Planning

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

Are we set up for success?

As we are hopefully beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel for the strategic planning process, the questions arise – "Was all this work worth it? Will we use this information?" I can tell you emphatically that the committee has invested so much time and effort because we are convinced and committed to using the information we have gathered. Furthermore, if you study the research on successful strategic planning, we have done the things we needed to do in order to set us up for success.

Here are some factors that set a plan up for success:

  • Clear and comprehensive grasp of external opportunities and challenges (this was covered with the trend data we collected)
  • Realistic assessment of the organization's strengths and weaknesses (this was revealed in the do well, not do well question)
  • Includes stakeholder input (we definitely did that)
  • Has an empowered planning committee (we have)
  • Involvement of senior leadership (Yes!)
  • Committed to change
  • Has room for flexibility
  • Has a realistic time frame
  • Draws on the best practices of the organization

As I type this list, I can give evidence of each factor being incorporated in our process.

For a plan to be a successful one, there are usually six basic parts and we have followed this protocol. The parts are:

  1. Mission Statement
  2. Vision Statement
  3. Values Statement
  4. Goals and Objectives (where you want to go)
  5. Strategies and Tactics (how you will get there)
  6. Implementation Plan

No matter how "right" we have done things up to this point – it will take the embracing and involvement of our entire college to make the implementation of this plan successful. The top reasons plans fail are poor communication, lack of motivating leadership, no real plan behind the idea, passive management and no motivation or personal responsibility on the part of the "workers" to make the plan succeed.

Therefore, the successful implementation of this strategic plan that is designed to move us toward the vision we collectively came up with and the goals we said we wanted to accomplish are dependent upon ALL OF US and our personal involvement and commitment. If you have been only marginally involved in strategic planning to this point I encourage you to go to the website and educate yourself as to the process and become engaged. For the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to be the best it can be, we all have to contribute and help move the organization to a higher level. Find more details at


Personnel actions since April 1, 2012

New Hires

  • Bacon County, Blueberry Research Center - John Justin Barber, Program Assistant, 4/26/12
  • Calhoun County - Cynthia Edwards, CEPA 4-H Vista
  • Chatham County - Lisa Hudson, Program Assistant EFNEP, 4/12/12
  • Colquitt County - Janelle Jelks, CEPA 4-H Vista
  • Houston County - Kassie Love, CEPA 4-H Vista
  • Pierce County - Alvin "Trey" Walker III, County Extension Associate 4-H,  4/1/12
  • Randolph County - Vince Gadson, CEPA 4-H, 4/19/12
  • Taylor County - Sherry Waller, CEPA 4-H, 4/26/12

County-Funded Positions

  • McIntosh County - Brenda Kay Sailors, Program Assistant, 4/17/12

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Bulloch County - Lee Anna Deal, Interim CEC-4-H (until 3/31/13), 4/1/12
  • Bulloch County - Cathy Deal, Program Assistant. Reclassified position to County Extension Associate 4-H, 4/1/12
  • Tattnall County - Cliff Riner, CEC-ANR (was Interim CEC-ANR), 4/1/12


  • Nancy Peebles, County Secretary - Franklin County (April 1)


  • Chatham County - Lee Ann Powell, CEA-FACS Weatherization, 4/3/12
  • Dodge County - Cynthia Jones, GEFA Weatherization, 4/3/12
  • Dodge County - Ronald Mullis, GEFA Weatherization, 4/3/12
  • Tattnall County - Clinton Sikes, GEFA Weatherization, 4/3/12

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