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Friday, March 5, 2010

Utilization of Technology Essential in Extensions' Effectiveness

As Extension develops educational program delivery strategies that include distance education, one of the most challenging aspects is to establish a culture among County Extension Agents to integrate this educational program delivery strategy into ongoing programming to ensure added value to program delivery strategies. County Extension Agents could view this educational strategy as a competitor to traditional program delivery efforts, and fearing that the lack of interaction with the learner will lead to less effective learning experiences.

An excellent example of utilizing technology is the web site developed in the East Region where County Extension Agents demonstrate healthy, nutritious and easy recipe ideas at http://healthyliving.tamu.edu.

We will soon establish a District 11 Distance Education Committee to design training needs for agents in utilizing distance education, and develop strategies to integrate distance education into ongoing Extension educational programming efforts.

Some examples were clientele, can benefit from utilizing technology in Extension programming efforts would include more cost effective utilization of Extension Specialists, providing clientele with on-demand information, ability to reach a larger audience, and provides a complimentary element to face-to-face educational methods.

Even our more traditional audiences have turned to the internet for quick information. According to the National Agricultural Statistical Service (2007), 55% of all farmers have access to the internet and 75% of farms with sales and government payment of $250,000 or more have internet services. It is estimated that there are 248,241,969 internet users in North America which provides a tremendous audience for Extension to provide research-based information to clientele. Extension clientele are already using technology, such as the internet, to obtain information which may or may not be research-based.

TEXAS BRIGADES!

Everything you ever wanted to know about quail, deer, and bass including anatomy, botany, habitat management, population dynamics, conservation, biology, and a whole lot more can be learned at the Texas Brigades. The Texas Brigades is a wildlife education and leadership development program. Each 5 day long camp teaches life skills and increases knowledge of wildlife and habitat management. It is a fun, intensive, hands-on experience that is open to 13-17 year olds.

Camp dates and locations for 2010:

South Texas Buckskin Brigade, June 13-17, Carrizo Springs

Rolling Plains Bobwhite Brigade, June 19-23, Coleman

South Texas Bobwhite Brigade, June 27 – July 1, Campbellton

Bass Brigade, July 12-16, Santa Anna

North Texas Buckskin Brigade, July 18-22, Albany

The application deadline is April 1. Applications and more information about the Brigades can be found at http://www.texasbrigades.org. Please promote this wonderful opportunity to 4-H members and families in your county!

There are also wonderful professional development opportunities for Agents to serve as volunteers at the Brigades. Visit the website to find out more information if you are interesting in serving as a volunteer!

This article was submitted by Jodi McManus, District 11 4-H and Youth Specialist.