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Amanda Swennes

Personnel Profiles

Amanda Swennes

Want to know when the next University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences publication will come out? It's all etched neatly on Amanda Swennes' dry erase board.

Amanda joined the Office of Communications (now the Office of Communications and Technology Services) as its publications expert in May 2008. Her job responsibilities include managing, editing, designing and publishing numbered publications for the college's research, Extension and teaching faculty.

Over the past four years she's put her talent for organization to work reducing publication turnaround time to less than three weeks, redesigning the numbered publications website, integrating publications into the new Extension website, and ensuring publications stay up-to-date within the college's three-year review guidelines.

Keeping publications current and available to the public has been one of her biggest challenges, especially with the loss of so many specialists and other subject-matter experts in recent years. Authors are asked to review their publications every three years and decide if they are okay as-is, need revisions, or are outdated and need to be archived.

"Even if the information is still good, if someone downloaded one of our publications and saw a date from the late '90s, I think they'd be less likely to trust it and use it," she said of the older Extension publications. "It's important for our college, as the state's go-to resource for expert, research-based information, to provide the most up-to-date information possible."

Today, nearly 600 agriculture and natural resource publications are available for free on the CAES publications website (caes.uga.edu/publications). Topics range from commercial horticulture and home gardening to livestock production and management to pest control and running a successful agricultural business.

Amanda sends monthly updates to the EXTALL listserv with a list of new and revised CAES numbered publications as well as a Top 10 list of what topics have been popular that month. You can also follow @UGAExtensionPub on Twitter, or check out the publications homepage for what's new.

Amanda SwennesOne of the next big projects on Swennes' dry erase board is helping OCTS launch a new CAES for-sale publications website via Amazon.com later this year.

"Our existing for-sale publications ordering system is clunky and cumbersome," she said. "Moving to our own Amazon store will mean buyers can browse available titles and see photos and a summary before they purchase, and then push a 'checkout' button and pay instantly with a credit card rather than having to call the office, mail or fax in an order form, or even stop by the office with a personal check."

She's also collaborating with colleagues in OCTS to develop e-books and apps for some of the more popular publications.

"I'm especially excited about these possibilities," she said. "With smart phones and e-readers, we're all getting used to having access to information anytime, anywhere."

And being connected anytime, anywhere is an issue that's especially important for Swennes, who has been managing and publishing CAES publications from Boston since 2010. She and her husband relocated temporarily so he could pursue a postdoctoral fellowship and residency program at MIT after graduating from UGA's College of Veterinary Medicine.

"I love my job, but we were given an opportunity we just couldn't pass up. I'm incredibly fortunate that our college's administration has supported my working from a distance," she said. "It's a point of pride for me that I'm able to work so closely with our faculty, staff and the public to get them the information they need without missing a beat. I do miss Athens, though. Especially the warm weather and Mexican food."

Before starting with the Office of Communications and Technology Services, Amanda worked as a public relations specialist for the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach. She earned her master's degree from UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2006.

(Original article by Stephanie Schupska, UGA Office of Public Affairs. Updates by Amanda Swennes, UGA CAES Office of Communications and Technology Services.)

Released June 2012.

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