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Extension E-Newsletter

Extension E-News

Greetings for May 2014

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

Extension Colleagues:

The Extension state fiscal situation for FY14 has been clarified and Governor Deal has signed off on our budget. It is now time to contact our state legislators and thank them for the support they provided. We received funds in the college for renovations and repairs to facilities and equipment purchases. In addition, six positions included in the budget including a director for Food PIC, a position in poultry research, a position in poultry Extension, a beef cattle research position, a wheat breeder and one county agent position. Please let your local legislators and commissioners know how much their support is appreciated and that we will invest the dollars wisely.

Highlights of activities in the past 30 days include the following:

We are working to fill critical vacancies including the associate state 4-H leader and the director of the UGA Agricultural Services Laboratories. These jobs have been announced and candidates will complete interviews this month.

The close to another academic year is upon us and graduation ceremonies have taken place on our Athens, Griffin and Tifton campuses. Congratulations to all of our 2014 graduates of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Thanks to all of our agents and staff for the great job with the Extension exhibit at the ACCG annual conference.

This year was special in that ACCG invited us to share the spotlight in a joint celebration of our 100-year anniversaries. The GACAA leadership had an updated version of the Farm House and did an excellent job organizing and implementing Farm House with a new format and new venue. The annual meeting of ACCG and the combined Extension/Farm House exhibit and Walk Georgia exhibit and wellness walk were a huge success with our county commissioners. Thanks to everyone for the time and energy dedicated towards the exhibit and Farm House events and for interacting with and informing our county officials about our work. A special thanks goes out to our district directors and program development coordinators for their efforts to greet and discuss Extension programs with the county commissioners in their districts. I have received much positive feedback on the county information packages we distributed and think our efforts to customize our communication for individual counties will pay dividends in the future. View photos from the ACCG 2014 event.

This month we also celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Extension at two special events. UGA Extension and Georgia 4-H participated in the National Convocation Celebration May 7-8 in Washington DC. Members of Clovers and Company performed at the opening reception and performed the National Anthem during the opening ceremony. On May 15, the celebration moved to Athens with a reception and unveiling of our exhibit at the Hargett Library. Over 350 people attended the ceremony. View photos from the 100 Years of Extension event.

The evening ended with a video interview with former President Jimmy Carter regarding the impact of Cooperative Extension. View the UGA version of the video below.


In this issue of Extension E-News:

  • Greg Price says 100 years later, county Extension agents are still the key to the success of Extension's county delivery system;
  • Steve Brown encourages everyone to look outside their circle and see "the big picture;"
  • Deborah Murray recognizes some award-winning FACS experts; and
  • Arch Smith thanks the Fortson Youth Training Center Board for donating the land and buildings at Fortson 4-H Center to Georgia 4-H.


County Operations

Greg PriceGreg Price, Director of Extension County Operations, 706/542-1060,

Celebrating 100 years of the county agent

The celebration of the centennial of Cooperative Extension is an exciting time in our public service history. I have participated in numerous events with excellent speakers and read articles from cities and counties around the nation. I have even followed Extension 100 on Facebook.

There is something inherent about celebrating 100 years that causes one to reflect on the past. Every speaker, every article, every conversation with colleagues always seems to reference something positive about our past. It is indeed a history and legacy of which we are all very proud.

County agent with couple  in years pastExtension has changed in many ways. We all agree and enjoy discussing the technological changes we have experienced. We share how our educational programs have evolved and how we solve problems and then identify new ones. Among all the celebrated success and evolution of Cooperative Extension over the past 100 years, one thing has not changed: the county agent.

The county agent and county delivery system in a unique partnership with state subject matter specialists are the keys to the success of Cooperative Extension. It is that one foundational principle that separates Extension from all other university educational outreach programs. Extension is about local delivery, local demonstration and local engagement. It is about a partnership that brings the application of knowledge directly to the community.

I have been deeply involved in three strategic planning processes during my career. The 1993 Focus Forward plan addresses the value of local programming and the county delivery system. The 2005 report, An Extension for a Changing Georgia, identified a "county presence" as a guiding principle for planning. And, the 2013 report, known as the 2020 CAES Strategic Plan, states a local presence in counties as a "foundational strength" of our organization.

So I applaud our history and the lessons learned. I firmly believe the county delivery system is the one unique component of Cooperative Extension that will ensure the celebration of another 100 years. Happy birthday, Cooperative Extension!


Agriculture and Natural Resources

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

The Big Picture

I've found out there was a bit more to this job than they told me when I signed on! Like most new administrators, I was experienced in a fairly narrow scope and pretty naïve about the big picture. After eight years in administration, I'd like to think I have a pretty good grasp on the big picture now. The view from our individual perspectives is narrow, but more complicated than anyone outside that viewpoint can understand. That narrow view focuses on finding solutions to those specific complex challenges that face our clientele. It's hard, demanding work but it's also rewarding when our clientele know and appreciate what we do. From the narrow perspective, there is a clear link between hard work and positive feedback. The big picture is more fuzzy. It's easy to brag on specific accomplishments, but when we start talking about Cooperative Extension as a whole, even some of our greatest fans start to get confused. The diversity of what we do is our greatest strength, and at the same time, our greatest detriment.

As an administrator trying to represent all the good things that this huge, complex organization does, I can easily find myself uncomfortably immersed in many of those narrow viewpoints where I don't have a lot of background and expertise. Internally, Georgia Extension gets along amazingly well given our diversity. But we are human and, from my perspective, you can't help but notice some trends on how we as talented professionals in one program area view other program areas. Occasionally, I get exposed to some of one group's underlying misunderstandings of what other groups do and, occasionally, some resentment of how our limited resources are allocated. Any organization our size has the same issues, and probably more. I know I'm supposed to be upbeat and positive, but to deny the fact that we are not always "one big happy family" is to live with my head totally buried in the sand.

Our three major program areas are so unique that it takes a lot of effort for a single employee to learn what employees in the other two do for a living. Even within a single program area there can be so much diversity in assignments that we don't understand each other very well.

With a research and/or teaching assignment, you can possibly afford to live exclusively in that narrow world of expertise. But in my opinion, there is something about Cooperative Extension that binds our myriad of disciplines together. From my perspective, there are some incredibly good things going on across the breadth of Georgia Extension. It takes a constant effort to make the public aware of those things and maybe sometimes we struggle to even make each other aware.

Our ongoing 100 year anniversary celebration is making progress at framing the big picture. It takes a lot of work to be the very best at what you do as an individual. Many of you are indeed the very best. But I gotta believe that we're even better when we realize how our individual accomplishments fit into the big picture.


Family and Consumer Sciences

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

Congratulations for Outstanding Extension Work

At the 2014 College of Family and Consumer Sciences Awards and Recognition program held on April 21, Connie Crawley received the Outstanding Outreach Faculty Award. This honor, which comes with a $1,000 cash award, is awarded annually to recognize exceptional creativity and scholarship in the development, application and evaluation of outreach and public service programs. Bibb County Extension Coordinator Jan Baggarly nominated Connie and had this to say. "Mrs. Crawley is an exemplary professional in all aspects. She is an outstanding Extension nutrition and health specialist who develops superior lessons for county Extension agents to utilize in teaching county residents and writes and produces top notch teaching curricula, supporting materials, and newsletters. She also serves as a credible resource to agents for nutrition, diabetic, health and wellness information."

The annual Thomas F. Rodgers Outreach Agent Award to recognize exceptional creativity and scholarship in the development, application, and evaluation of outreach and public service programs was awarded to Janet Hollingsworth, the county Extension coordinator in Appling County. Janet also received a cash award of $1,000. Dr. Tom Rodgers, former associate dean for Extension and outreach in the college, assisted Dean Fox in presenting this award. Joann Milam, Janet's district director, had this to say about Janet. "Meeting the needs for programming, materials, and assistance at the county, state, and national levels, Mrs. Hollingsworth has made a career of helping people to build better, more satisfying and more productive lives. She exhibits a dedication to delivering quality programming to her clients and to the Extension mission. Her personal and professional ethics, commitment to the citizens in her counties, enthusiasm and skill make her an exemplary representative of University of Georgia Cooperative Extension."

Bertha Riojas, the EFNEP program assistant in Colquitt County, received the college's annual Outstanding Paraprofessional Award that came with a $500 cash award. Andrea Scarrow, her family and consumer science agent, nominated Bertha and said this in her nomination letter. "Ms. Riojas gets the work done with excellence, but it is always more than just accomplishing a task; Bertha goes out of her way to inspire her clientele that they too can achieve their goals and dreams of a better life. Young mothers often look to Bertha as a mentor, learning how to provide a happy and healthy home for their family. Many of these young moms have been uprooted, crossed cultures and borders into a foreign land, and feel very isolated and lonely. Through Back on Track and EFNEP programming, Ms. Riojas has literally helped many find their way to establishing a more stable, even flourishing family."

UGA representatives at the National 4-H Legacy GalaLinda Kirk Fox, left, dean of the University of Georgia's College of Family and Consumer Sciences, presents the Outreach Paraprofessional Award to Bertha Riojas of the Colquitt County Extension Office in an April 21 ceremony at UGA in Athens.


4-H and Youth Development

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

I looked forward to attending the May 7-8 Cooperative Extension Centennial Convocation in Washington, DC, and celebrating the 100th birthday of Cooperative Extension, but circumstances prevented me from attending. Since I couldn't be in our nation's Capital, I went to the Fortson Youth Training Center Board meeting on Thursday evening, May 8, as I have done once a quarter for the past ten years. The University of Georgia 4-H program has leased Fortson 4-H Center from the Fortson Youth Training Center Board since April 2004. The arrangement has been beneficial for 4-H, and we have worked together to make many improvements to the facilities.

During the meeting, a motion was made, seconded, and—after some discussion—the decision was made to donate the land and buildings at Fortson 4-H Center to the Georgia 4-H Program. This was an emotional moment for many members of the board, especially those who were early campers when Fortson opened in 1963. Several of the board members recalled the countless hours their parents worked tirelessly to build Camp Fortson. As they wiped away tears, they wanted reassurance that 4-H would continue to remember the legacy of their ancestors' efforts. I shared with the Fortson board my remembrances of my only visit with Dorothy Sutton, widow of Bill Sutton who is considered the father of Rock Eagle 4-H Center. Mrs. Sutton visited Rock Eagle during the school year in the early 1990s and saw hundreds of children participating in the 4-H Environmental Education Program. She remarked, "Bill would be so please to see so many young (people) using Rock Eagle during the school year." I reassured the Fortson board that Georgia 4-H will continue to grow the outreach of the facility that was built on an idea started by Robert and Regena Whitaker, built on land given by Mr. and Mrs. Ed Fortson, and built on the countless contributions made by the Rowan, Smith, Copeland, Dodgen, Turner, Pippkin families and many others.

The transfer of the property will take place over the next several months. Fortson 4-H Center is located in Clayton and Henry counties, encompasses 75 acres and can accommodate 174 people. More information on the history of Camp Fortson can be found on page 17 of the 2013 issue of the Georgia Cloverleaf (pdf).

We are grateful to the Fortson Youth Training Center Board for this gift, which will become the largest private gift in the history of the Georgia 4-H program. We are especially appreciative for the commitment of Jerry Whitaker, who has worked closely with us since 2003 when we first began our conversations about leasing the facility. Jerry's support and effort have been invaluable in making this gift possible. Jerry is a former Henry County Master 4-H member and a true "Friend of Georgia 4-H."

I may have missed the centennial celebration in Washington, but the generous gift of the Fortson Youth Training Center Board is an enduring gift and cause for celebration that will benefit Georgia 4-H as we begin Extension's journey toward our bicentennial.


Personnel actions since April 1, 2014

New Hires

  • Ben Hill County – Amanda Rineair, County Secretary, 5/8/2014
  • Dekalb County – Brittany Harrison, CEPA, 5/8/2014
  • Fayette County – Christina Bacon, County Secretary, 4/10/2014
  • Hart County – Joshua Halpin, Public Serv Rep, 4/1/2014
  • Pickens County – Jessica Sarten, Public Serv Rep, 4/1/2014
  • Sumter County – Crystal Perry, Public Serv Asst, 4/1/2014
  • Tift County – Brittney Gunter, CEPA, 4/10/2014

Transfers/Position Changes

  • Mitchell County Andrew Shirley, transferred from Ben Hill to Mitchell County, 4/1/2014


  • Chattooga County Susan Locklear, County Extension Associate, 5/2/2014
  • Colquitt County Matthew Roberts, Public Serv Rep, 5/9/2014
  • Glynn County Kristy Glace, County Extension Associate, 4/4/2014
  • Newton County Debra Eunice, County Secretary, 4/15/2014
  • Worth County Keli Gunn, CEPA, 4/9/2014