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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for March 2013

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

Extension Colleagues:

Allow me to kick off this month's newsletter by bragging on some of our colleagues and announcing the progress we have made on new specialists hires!

The Walter B. Hill Awards, the highest awards present by UGA for accomplishments in Public Service and Outreach, will be presented next month on April 15th. The announcement of winners just came out and UGA Cooperative Extension faculty/staff will be receiving four of the nine awards presented. And, one of our colleagues will receive the prestigious Walter B. Hill Fellow Award. This is another outstanding year for recognition of Extension colleagues in Public Service and Outreach. Please visit the Columns website to see the announcement of the winners. And, please join me in congratulating Linda Rhodes, John Worley, Lori Purcell Bledsoe and Ronnie Barentine!

Thanks to great legislative support, industry support and diligence on the part of department heads and search committees, we are able to announce the hiring of several new faculty positions with Extension assignment/responsibilities. Those are as follows:

  • Eric Smith, Small Fruits Specialist (80% Extension) - Tifton, reports on April 1st
  • Mark Abney, Peanut Entomologist (30% Extension), reports June 1st
  • Tim Coolong, Vegetable Horticulturist (80% Extension), reports July 1st
  • Jillian Fain, Dairy/Youth Livestock program (40% Extension), reports July 1st
  • Jacob Segars, Beef Cattle Specialist (85% Extension) - Tifton, reports on July 1st

Each of these individuals emerged as the top candidate from very strong pools of applicants. Thanks to the search committees for their work in recruiting and bringing such talented individuals to us. We look forward to the arrival of these new colleagues and welcome them to the UGA Extension family.

Late February and March have been an active time for the CAES and we have been closely following budget development processes for both our state and federal budgets. On the state side, the process is not yet complete but we are seeing signs of strong support for CAES in Atlanta. The House version of the state budget provides for restoration of a portion of the 3% cut to Extension ($291,000 restored), adds funding for four faculty positions working in the areas of peach research/Extension, beef cattle Extension, dairy cattle heat stress management and director for the Food Product Innovation Center in Griffin. In addition, the House version of the state budget provides for bond funds for equipment need in our Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) budget (1M), major repair and renovation funds for AES and CES (4M), funds for additional cabins at Rock Eagle (2.5M) and funds for renovation of the Tift Building on our Tifton campus ($2.35M). As of this writing, we have not yet seen the Senate version of the state budget. So stay tuned and thanks to each of you for your part in keeping our legislatures aware of our needs and up to date on the impact of our programs. The federal budget situation is still unclear and the impact of sequestration to our CES and AES is not known at this time. We will keep you posted as news becomes available.

Next week I will join Extension Directors from across the nation at our National Extension Directors Association annual meeting in San Antonio. Much of the discussion at this meeting will be centered on best practices to communicate the value of Extension programming to funding partners at the national and state levels (especially during 2014 and the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Smith Lever Act). Another important topic we will discuss is the work being conducted by the ECOP 4-H Working Group to address the issue of leadership structure for National 4-H Council, National 4-H Headquarters and the state 4-H programs. Over the past 10 months, five Extension directors and five state 4-H program leaders from across the nation have been working on recommendation to ECOP to address an overarching structure for national leadership. Immediately following the NEDA meeting, the chair of the ECOP 4-H working group will make these recommendations to ECOP. I will have more details to report in next month's newsletter.

In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Tony Tyson provides information on how county Extension offices can soon begin to accept credit card payments;
  • Arch Smith discusses 4-H Project Achievement and its positive impact on students;
  • Deborah Murray writes about growing Georgia's economy through home-based businesses; and
  • Steve Brown explains program planning in ANR.


County Operations

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

"Just Put It On My Card"

"Just put it on my card." These are words that will soon be heard in Extension offices across the state of Georgia. If all goes as planned, we will soon enter the 21st century and begin to accept payments via credits cards in county Extension offices. I had mentioned in a recent newsletter article that we had a committee working on this effort. They have moved quickly, and within weeks we will have credit card machines in two Extension offices with more to follow shortly thereafter.

The committee includes Assistant Director of Fiscal Affairs for CAES Sadie Brown, NW District Extension Director Greg Price, UGA Director of Internal Auditing Matt Whitley and UGA Credit Card Coordinator Kim Seabolt. We have selected seven pilot counties to be the "guinea pigs" for this effort. These counties are Bibb, Fayette, Elbert, Clarke, Gwinnett, Bulloch and Tift. The first two counties to receive credit card machines will be Clarke and Gwinnett. We will start in these two counties, work out the bugs, and then roll it out to the remaining pilot counties.

We have worked out an arrangement to acquire the machines through the state contract and each county will be assigned a merchant number. The credit card payments will be automatically deposited into the county Extension checking account. We will be able to use the credit card system to accept payments for anything that we are currently charging for in the county offices. This will include things like soil samples, 4-H camp fees and registrations for county programs.

There are a number of advantages to being able to accept credit card payments besides the fact that many of you have been asking for it for several years. The main reason is that our clientele are asking for it. We are one of the few remaining places that don't accept credit card payments. Many people just simply do not pay with cash or checks any longer. We are moving to an electronic world, and that includes how people pay for things. One big benefit for the organization is that it should reduce the amount of cash we are handling in the county offices. Whenever we have had a problem regarding mishandling of county funds and theft in recent years, it almost always involves cash. While we won't eliminate cash transactions, this should greatly reduce the amount of cash being handled in the county offices. The use of credit cards automatically creates an audit trail which should help improve accountability and reduce liability for our employees.

One additional advantage is that it will simplify things for our clients and our staff. On large ticket items like camp fees, some people can't come up with that amount of cash all at once, so we often take payments in installments. Credit cards will create another option for them to pay and avoid the record keeping required when accepting payments on an installment plan.

Hopefully within the next few months, this will be an option that is available to all of our county offices. We don't anticipate that it will be a requirement for counties to adopt this technology, but rather it will be an option for those who wish to go in this direction. Matt Whitley is currently working on draft policies and procedures, that when adopted, will become part of our county funds policy. I hope you agree with me that this is a step forward for our organization and will improve our ability to serve our clients more efficiently.


Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

Program Planning in ANR

My father always said, "Whatever you do, you need a plan." It seems that our mission in Cooperative Extension gets more and more complex with time, and more than ever, we need a plan in order to get anything done. We've had a program planning process in place for a long time, but unfortunately, many (I would guess, most) of our employees really don't understand it. I'll be the first to admit that, as a specialist, I didn't have a clue how it worked. I knew I had to write an outlook statement every now and then, but really didn't know why. The program planning process sometimes seems like a complex, burdensome sideline to your real job. Perhaps it's not as simple as it could be, but if you take a few minutes to study it, you find that it's not that mysterious. Program planning is a process, not an event. It's going on all the time. It's really just an attempt to get over a thousand hard-working, dedicated Extension workers to actually work together instead of trying to save the world by ourselves.

I've always envied how organized our sister program areas are with regard to program planning. In 4-H and FACS, the process seems so much cleaner. There seems to be a real consensus about the priority programs, a plan to make it work and a plan to document the impact.

The process is not so clean in ANR, but in our own defense, I would argue the task is a bit more daunting. What is an ANR "program?" If we were to choose a dozen priority programs for ANR, a hundred more would scream that we were not sensitive to their needs. If we choose the popular, "buzz word" topics like sustainability, climate change, water quality and IPM (not that these aren't important) we have to eventually get down to the details of what a program in these areas really means. They mean different things in different commodities and in different parts of the state. The truth is we have been working in these areas for years, but we've done a poor job of making them "programs." Alternatively, should we select our biggest commodities to focus on and call them programs? What about new and small acreage, but high value commodities? Shouldn't an agent help a grower with a new, innovative enterprise as much as he helps a poultry, cotton or peanut grower? Many times they are the same person anyway. Isn't just being there to assist with whatever ANR happens to be in your county a "program?" So called "base programming" is huge in ANR.

If we are going to have effective ANR "programs," they can't be just words. They have to be real. They have to be defined and implemented and evaluated. If we are going to use that evaluation data to impress someone (especially those that fund us) we must have some consistency in how we measure our success. In my opinion, we already have literally hundreds of active ANR programs. The trick is to better define them and consolidate our reporting system to capture what we are already doing. That's why the ANR PDCs have recently prepared several canned ANR programs that agents can use in their plans of work. The Georgia Counts system can now capture activities in those programs and generate cumulative data. Impact statements can be tied to those programs and, suddenly, we can show what Cooperative Extension, not one person, has done.

Not all ANR programs can be handled with a statewide plan. Local agents will always have the option to plan local programs. But when we find that a lot of us are doing the same local programs, it makes sense to consolidate those efforts and show a bigger impact.


Family and Consumer Sciences

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

Growing the Economy in Georgia

We have entered into a memorandum of understanding and partnership with the UGA Small Business Development Center for FACS agents to deliver a series of workshops on Starting a Home Based Business across Georgia. Extension agents are currently being recruited to be trained to deliver the workshops funded by the SBDC. Michael Rupured and Joan Koonce are leading this effort for Extension.

Home-based businesses include a variety of entrepreneurial activities. The location of the business is what makes them unique. The entrepreneur works from their home, garage, workshop, or barn. Home-based businesses can be any business, product or service, production and/or sales. Home-based businesses contribute to local economic growth. According to the Kaufman Foundation, more than half of all U.S. businesses are based at home with an estimated 6.6 million home-based enterprises providing at least half of the household income. Read more at Most likely every county in Georgia has a home-based business. To maximize the impact of home-based businesses on the local economy, Extension needs to work with and support potential entrepreneurs. Many people have good ideas for a business but fail because of poor planning. Planning involves making informed, thoughtful decisions. Many successful businesses began as a home based business.

Did you know?

Laura's Lean Beef, sold in 7,000 stores throughout 48 states, started out in a log cabin on the family farm of Laura Freeman in 1985. It was a tough time to be a cattle farmer. Beef had developed a reputation for high total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and many health-conscious people had cut back or given it up completely. Laura had these same concerns about food and health, but realized that as a farmer, she could make a difference. She began experimenting with lean, gourmet breeds of cattle like Limousin and Charolais and committed to raising them without hormones or antibiotics. Read more at

Dell Inc., one of the largest sellers of personal computers and servers in the world and a Fortune 500 Company, boasted revenues of $61 Billion with assets toping $27.5 billion in 2007. It started out in Michael Dell's dorm room in 1984. Dell began his part-time business with an idea of putting together and selling upgrade kits for personal computers with a $1,000 investment.

Spanx undergarments made Sara Blakely the world's youngest self-made female billionaire. Blakely launched the SPANX brand from her Atlanta apartment with a $5,000 investment in 2000. Read more at


4-H and Youth Development

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

Sometimes our reward is a big, bright smile

4-H Project Achievement has long been one of the most positive learn-by-doing experiences that Georgia 4-H offers to young students. 4-H Project Achievement allows young people in grades five through twelve to demonstrate the knowledge they have gained through their project work.

We have just completed Jr./Sr. Project Achievement and are about halfway through Cloverleaf competitions. Last year, county agents reported that over 92,000 4-H members received instruction in Project Achievement and over 35,000 presented at the county level. We appreciate all the work of county 4-H staff members, volunteers, Extension specialists, and private donors that help make Project Achievement a success. Many of you have heard me tell this story, but it bears repeating.

From 1985 through 1987 I served as a Carroll County Extension agent. We went into school classrooms and encouraged fifth and sixth grade 4-H members to become involved in 4-H Project Achievement. Many young people got excited about the chance to participate.

A young child said to me at the conclusion of a club meeting, "Mr. Smith, I would like to participate in Project Achievement and give a 4-H demonstration."  I told him, "Come by the Extension office one afternoon, and I'll work with you and we'll get your 4-H project started." He responded, "I do not have a way to get to the 4-H office after school." I asked him, "James, where do you live?" He told me the address, which I quickly recognized as being in a low-income neighborhood, so I told him that I would come by his house and work with him. A few days later, I went to his house. We worked a little while, and I left him some things to do and told him I would be back in a few days. When I returned, he had accomplished the tasks so we were able to get his demonstration together. Over the next few weeks, he practiced and prepared for the 4-H Project Achievement contest. The event was held at a school in Marietta one Saturday morning in late spring. After the contest, we took the children to White Water Theme Park to reward the young 4-H'ers for successfully completing the 4-H Project Achievement process.

As we were about to depart the school and travel to White Water, a little boy stuck his head out the window, held up a white ribbon, and said, "Hey, Mr. Smith! I won third place." There was a wide, bright smile on his face and great pride in his accomplishment. He was proud of the work he had done to prepare for 4-H Cloverleaf Project Achievement. Since there were about 20 or 25 other children in the room when James presented his project, he thought he was competing against the entire group. He never knew that he placed third out of three contestants. I will never forget the sense of accomplishment on that young man's face. James was successful because he did his own work and was able to get up in front the group and deliver his project. It is the positive impact we have on children like James that is my motivation to get up and go to work every morning.


Personnel actions since February 1, 2013

New Hires

  • Bibb County – Kathryn Hensley, Program Asst AG, 3/7/2013
  • Cook County – Bonnie Mitchell, Public Serv Rep 4-H, 4/1/2013
  • Coweta County – Sandra Bauer, Program Asst, 3/14/2013
  • Crisp County – Anna McIntyre, Public Serv Rep 4-H, 3/1/2013
  • Dade County – Richard Lavalla, County Extension Associate, 2/1/2013
  • Lanier and Clinch County – Jeremy Taylor, Public Serv Rep, 3/1/2013
  • Lincoln County – Jodi Lynn Coon, Program Asst, 2/21/2013
  • Meriwether County – Robert Gafnea, Public Serv Rep ANR, 3/1/2013
  • Muscogee County – Teresa Burkett, Temporary County Secretary, 2/21/2013
  • Stephens County – Kayla Hubbard, Secretary, 2/28/2013
  • Stewart County – Christine Buchan, Program Asst, 2/7/2013


  • Richmond County – Sid Mullis, Sr Public Serv Assoc, 3/7/2013

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Morgan County – Lucy Ray, Public Serv Asst, transferred from Jasper County, 3/15/2013
  • Richmond County – Robin Tuir, Public Serv Rep, transferred from Rockdale County (Program Asst), 2/1/2013
  • Worth County – D Scott Carlson, Public Serv Asst, transferred from Ben Hill County, 3/1/2013


  • McIntosh County – Connie Madray, County Secretary, 2/28/2013


  • Dooly County – Brad Sangster, Program Coordinator, 2/15/2013
  • Evans County – Pamela Jenkins, Program Assistant 4-H, 2/5/2013
  • Floyd County – Elizabeth Brewster, Public Serv Asst, 3/5/2013
  • Houston County – Kayleigh Sullivan, Program Asst, 2/15/2013
  • Randolph County – Vincent Gadson, Program Asst, 2/13/2013