Monday, June 28, 2010

Being Prepared for Hurricanes

With a tropical storm Alex currently entering the Gulf of Mexico it is a reminder that we are in the midst of the Texas Gulf Coast Hurricane season. Extension agents should take steps to ensure that their county if impacted by tropical storms or Hurricanes have…

    * Updated emergency plans for the County Extension Office
    * Have personal plans to ensure the safety and well being of themselves and their families
    * Understand their professional roles and responsibilities during an emergency

I would also want to remind County Extension Agents of the resources related to Hurricane preparedness and recovery on the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN). This information can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

Also here is an excellent tracking web site forwarded to me by one of our county Judges

Annual and Sick Leave

During the summer time many of you may have an opportunity to take some annual leave as a vacation or personal time for various reasons. Recently, I have been getting many requests for annual leave.  I would like to remind agents that annual leave should not be taken until it is approved.  In requesting annual leave please submit your request at lease one day in advance of the first personal leave day requested.  I will not approve leave if requested after the date that has been requested, starting in July 2010.  Sick leave however can be requested after you become sick. If you are sick for more than two days a doctors excuse is required before leave can be approved. Please send in your doctor excuses to me a the district office.  If you have a doctors appointment for you or your family it is advised that you request these days in advance.  

I have noticed that some of you request annual leave and or sick leave as your certify your leave at the beginning of the month.  This should not be done, since your leave has not been approved. Please
appropriately request your leave in advance so that your leave can be approved prior to you certifying your leave. Each agent must certify leave at the beginning of the month after each pay date.

Legislative Tour of Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Corpus Christi

I would like to personally thank all of the agents that participated in the tour and luncheon on June 23rd. I know that these events just add to your busy schedule and I appreciate the great posters, programs and support that you provided for the tour. We hosted State Representatives Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles from District 35, and Abel Herrero from District 34. Along with the State Representatives several of their aids also attended. The state representatives commented to me that they were very much aware of Extension and the role we play in meeting the needs of our clientele. By the end of the tour they new what an outcome program was and how Extension agents are engaged in local issues. My main focus was making these two state funding partners aware of how we partner with Texas Agrilife Research in disseminating research based knowledge out to producers ,consumers, and families. Again thank you for your help in making this interpretation event a success.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Getting Back in the Box During Challenging Times- Focusing on the basics

It is no question that today’s College Football is a different game than it was 5 or 10 years ago with all the high powered “spread offenses” that are being utilized.  However, when things don’t go well with this  “out of the box” offense,  the coach always focuses attention on getting “back in the box” focusing on the basics such as blocking, tackling, running good routes, and fundamental pass catching.  Extension today is very similar to the spread offense where we employ a lot of  “out of the box” thinking, but when times become challenging it is important  that we focus on the basics.

We all constantly talk about thinking “outside the box.” That’s fine, and we most certainly should think outside the box. But here’s another approach that we had better not ignore – get back inside the box and get better at the basics as it relates to Extension programming.  Sometimes Texas AgriLife Extension Services’ greatest returns on investment are realized when we invest in improving on our customers’ basic expectations.

Some of the basics that leads to success in Extension programming includes;
    * Volunteer Management.
    * Effective communication with clientele.
    * Effective internal communication
    * Effective utilization of the Program Development Process
    * Comprehensive reporting.
    * Effective utilization of Program Specialists.
    * Effective utilization of teaching methodologies (result demonstrations, newsletters, news articles, etc.).
    * Mastery of subject matter.
    * Responsiveness to clientele requests.
    * Effectively working with funding partners.
    * Effective interpretation strategies.

District 11 4-H Horse Show
I would like to thank all of the agents and volunteers that assisted with the management of this past weekends 4-H show.  I also would like to especially thank Jodi McManus for providing excellent coordination of the event. At this event there is always many times that agents need to be ready to provide leadership, and fair representation of the state horse show rules.  Mr. Shannon Deforest is to be commended for providing great leadership to our District 11 Horse Show for the past many years. I would like to recognize Shannon for his dedication as horse show chairman, and making the horse show and excellent opportunity for our members and leaders. His many years of service on the state horse committee has certainly paid dividends for our District horse program.

The Breckenridge Event Center is an excellent facility for our show and will again be our home for the 2011 show.  We will soon be evaluating our horse show evaluations and implementing a plan to make this event better next year. Thanks to the Jackson County 4-H program for their help and sponsorship of the event.

District 11 Leadership Lab-Texas 4-H Center
We had a great group of young people in Brownwood this past week for our leader lab. We teamed up with District 3 for a great three days of fun and leadership learning opportunities.  The highlight of the event was the parade of mascots for the leadership Olympics teams .  I wish I had pictures, I am sure they are on Face book. Our District 11 agents need to be commended for creating a great atmosphere for our young people. Your are certainly excellent role models as you continue to support your 4-H members in our District events. Agents need to remember that your4-H  members attending lab should come back to the county and implement leadership concepts learned at lab.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Developing Plan for Building Effective Relationships with New Commissioners and Judges

One of the prerequisites to effectively implementing any of the components related to our District 11 Interpretation Initiative is establishing effective working relationships with the elected officials. With upcoming elections at the county level which could potentially result in the election of new County Commissioners and/or a new County Judge it is important that agents have a plan that includes targeted interpretation for newly elected County Commissioners or County Judges.

We should work together this summer to ensure that there is a county strategy to implement the County Program’s interpretation initiative related to providing quality interpretative efforts for newly elected County Judges and Commissioners. The following are some suggestions to establish relationships with newly elected officials that should be considered by agents.
  • Agents and myself can send a congratulatory letter to the new elected officials. This letter could provide an overview of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and briefly outline their specific responsibilities related to working with Commissioners Court.
  • Provide personal visit to newly elected officials to provide overview of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and briefly outline the District Extension Administrator responsibilities related to working with Commissioners Court.
  • Conduct formal meeting shortly after introductory meetings and letter is sent with County Extension Agent(s) to provide briefing of Extension programs in that county that are specifically of interest to newly elected official and specifically outlines measurable outcomes . For example, if the newly elected official has a high percentage of individuals in their precinct who are undeserved and at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and hypertension, focus of the conversation may be on the recent results and public value of Extension’s Do-Well-Be-Well with Diabetes or Walk Across Texas programs.
  •  Agents in larger populated counties may provide information to newly elected officials that is specific to their precinct–such as Extension in Precinct #3.
  • Conduct a reception for newly elected officials prior to District Judges and Commissioners Conference for the purpose of enhancing the newly elected official’s knowledge and understanding of Extension’s relationship.
  • Showcase Extension Programs through educational exhibits on display at District County Commissioners Conference.  Commissioner Court members like to see programs from their counties highlighted through these exhibits.
  • Conduct newly elected officials reception or Extension Open House for the purpose of enhancing the newly elected official’s knowledge and understanding of Extension’s relationship.
Every county in the district  should  must have a interpretation plan that includes formal interpretation events, involvement of elected officials in “show case” educational events and other appropriate interpretation methodologies for 2010.

State 4-H Round Up
I would like to congratulate our agents in District 11 for their excellent support of our 4-H members while at State 4-H Round up last week. Our district was well represented during the contests and many events last week in College Station. I also would like to especially congratulate Jodi McManus our District 11 4-H Specialist and the many agents in our district that have made a special effort in establishing District 11 as a major player in earning 4-H Foundation Scholarships. Our youth were awarded an amazing $282,000 at the 4-H Foundation Scholarship Assembly on Friday. The reviewing of scholarship and editing of applications, and the mock interviews certainly have reaped major rewards for our 4-H members as they transition to their next chapter in their life.

I was also especially honored to visit with the Schertz family from Nueces County. Sam, Matt and Jeff Schertz established a memorial scholarship with the Foundation on behalf of Sam's wife and Matt and Jeff's mother Dot Schertz. Mrs. Schertz passed away this year and the family honored her for her great service to Nueces County youth as a 4-H volunteer and leader. I was agent in Nueces County at the time when Mrs. Schertz was a leader and the boys were very involved.  It was great to see these young men give back to the 4-H program that means so much to them as well as remembering their mother in a very special way.

Legislative Interpretation request
I would like to remind agents in District 11 to notify me if you invite a state representative or senator to any event in your county. You are encouraged to invite your state rep and or senator to a special showcase event,however, it is important that our state leadership know of AgriLife events that our state funding partners may be attending.  Some of the events may be 4-H award banquets, field days, health fairs etc.
I also need to compile a report on a monthly bases on interpretation events, and or special interpretation methods that you conduct each month.

District Horse Show Assignments-Edna, Texas 2010
4-H agents and Ag agents by now you have reviewed you assignments for the upcoming horse show in Edna at the end of the week. I would like to remind agents that this event is an event that horse project members look forward to each year, as they qualify for state. We must strive to conduct the best horse show that we can provide for our horse project members, leaders, and parents. I know that many of you do not have a background in Equine events, however we must support our young people as we would in any other 4-H project. It is all about the experience, if it is a good one, we have succeeded.

Crop tours-Summer 2010
I continue to receive many great reports of your agricultural crop tours being held this month. It is great to see the diversity in programing on your agendas.  I also appreciate the way agents interpret to the local community of how agriculture plays a major role in the local economy. Our crop tours have also traditionally been a great venue for the local agricultural community to enjoy fellowship. Great job , and good luck to agents that will have upcomming crop tours the next few weeks.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

3rd Quarter Reports due June 7th,2010

Effective Extension educational work requires that reports be timely, accurate, concise, and complete.

Failure to report these performance measures can severely impact appropriated funding. Reporting is fundamental to comprehensive Extension programs and should be treated as a significant part of Agents professional obligations. Reporting should be thought of as tool to modify and improve educational programs, as well as to communicate program progress and results to faculty, staff, planning committees, elected officials, clientele, and Extension Administrators.

All reports should contain the following:

* Who are targeted audiences for program/activity and the number attending?
* What issue is being addressed and subject matter covered?
* When did the program/activity take place?
* The impact of the program/activity. Adoption of practices, knowledge gained or behavioral changes should be reported.

The 3nd quarter of the 2010 fiscal year ended in May (March, April, and May). Agents should ensure that they have completed their reports on the TEXAS system before June 7th. Your commissioners court activity reports and travel should also be completed by the 7th.

Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center-Corpus Christi
Legislative Tour-June 23

I want to thank the agents that are preparing to assist with the upcoming legislative tour at the district office. We have the unique opportunity to host a tour of the Research and Extension center and how we are engaged in meeting the needs of your clientele. Our focus for the tour will be "Opportunities in the Coastal Bend"

We were selected to host the tour for state legislators and their aids in the Corpus Christi area, due to the major role local legislators are playing in Austin. These legislators are providing significant leadership in our state government. Several agents will present programs highlighting their outcome summaries others will develop posters from theirs successful 2009 outcome summaries for display at the event. I want to remind agents that will be developing the posters and displays to ask for assistance from our team of support staff at the district office, they are willing to assist with your posters, don't hesitate to call.

June is a busy month-being assessable to our county clientele

As I look at my schedule for the month of June, I have to wonder if I am going to get through it, In reviewing your reports and some of the marketing items you send in to me , your schedules are packed full for this summer as well. I would like to remind you as you are conducting programing out of the office and out of the county that you county office must be continue to be receptive to our local clientele. Please make yourself assessable to your clientele by letting your support staff know where you are at all times. Leave a number where you can be reached or try to return calls in an appropriate amount of time. Try to check in with your support staff or coworkers at least once a day. Our presence in the county is more important than ever to our agency. Be safe on the road and good luck with round up, leader lab, horse show, validations and your many programs and field tours.