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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Utilizing Volunteers in Interpreting Extension Programs

The utilization of volunteers who serve on various committees and task forces is an excellent strategy to implement in both formal and informal interpretation efforts. The involvement of volunteers in the interpretation process is ingrained in many counties' interpretation culture. In counties where volunteers are utilized in interpretation agents have spent quality time arming committee and task force members with the type of information needed for them to effectively interpret Extension educational programs. However, there are counties in District 11 where volunteers could be more effectively utilized in formal or informal interpretation efforts.

Elected officials place tremendous creditability on information related to Extension educational programs when it is provided by constituents . However, volunteers don't provide interpretation by chance-- it happens as a result of planning, training, and design.

The following are some suggestions related to working with committee's this fall in program planning activities to ensure that every county has a strategy to involve volunteers in the interpretation of Extension programs. In order for volunteers to be effective in interpreting programs they must...

  • Be an individual that opinion is valued and respected by elected officials.
  • Be a participant in an effective county program that results in measurable outcomes.
  • Have an understanding of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service as an organization.
  • Be armed with appropriate data related to Texas AgriLife Extension's roles in providing educational programming efforts at the county level.
  • Embraces the philosophy that an investment in Texas AgriLife Extension Service programs is an investment that provides a return to the county in terms of economic, environmental and/or social outcomes.
  • Be equipped with information related to specific program(s) outcomes.

As your DEA I am utilizing our Performance Appraisal Conferences to ensure that every county has a interpretation plan that includes the utilization of key volunteers in formal and informal interpretation efforts.

Recognize Your Volunteers

Recognition of individuals who have made significant contributions to the youth of Texas is one of the most important things the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program can do. Each year, the Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program provides awards and recognition for various individuals and groups that provide support to the 4-H program. Therefore, County Extension Agents, 4-H members or 4-H volunteers are encouraged nominate worthy candidates.

Awards available include:

· Citation for Outstanding Service to 4-H – recognizes an individual or business for outstanding contributions on a regional or state basis.

· 4-H Alumni Award – recognizes former 4-H members who have made significant achievements in their communities, showing evidence of 4-H’s influence on their adult lives.

· Meritorious Service Award – recognizes two outstanding Extension professionals for their role in making 4-H volunteers more effective

· Salute to Excellence – recognizes outstanding 4-H volunteers for their service to 4-H programs and the impact made on the lives of young people (2 awarded per district)

· Leader’s Legacy Award – recognizes a 4-H leader who has been an integral part of the 4-H and Youth Development Program for 20 years or more

The 2010 Texas 4-H Volunteer Awards Program Handbook is available online at:

http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/volunteers/recognition_volunteer/index_recognition_volunteer.php#handbook

All awards are presented at the Salute to Excellence Banquet on Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at Texas 4-H Roundup.

Please consider submitting nominations from your county. Nominations are due to the District Office no later than March 12, 2010. This article was was submitted by Jodi McManus, District 11 4-H and Youth Specialist.

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Check out our newest agent's blog, Jeff Stapper, Nueces County Agricultural Agent has done a great job in staring his Coastal Bend Agricultural Briefs blog to update his producers in his county.