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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Budget Cuts Provides Challenges, But Also Opportunities

County staffing realignment has been tremendously stressful for everyone in Texas AgriLife Extension Service.  However, while this is not something we wanted to go through, it can provide us the push to redefine Texas AgriLife Extension Service and improve. When any organization faces challenges it has two choices which includes.

Blame someone (management, coworkers, the organization, etc) and complain, whine and predict the ultimate downfall of the organization.

Or

Face the challenge head on and determine how these circumstances can be the focus for the organization to become more efficient and effective.

  • Without question the Texas AgriLife Extension Service will be utilizing this unfortunate circumstance to redefine Texas AgriLife Extension Service and improve!
  • While it is tempting to focus on the challenges facing Texas AgriLife Extension from a budgetary standpoint, these challenges should be a force for change that could actually result in a more effective and efficient Extension program.  We must focus on such priorities:
  • Texas AgriLife Extension Service must spend quality time to better prioritize what we do.  
  • Texas AgriLife Extension Service must take steps to better package programs that are designed to result in change in behavior, adoption of technology, and/or economic impact.
  • Texas AgriLife Extension Service must implement plans for technology assisted learning and adopt innovative program delivery that adds value to our traditional program delivery.  Some of these include pod casts, green alerts delivered to the managers Iphone or Blackberry,  crop alerts delivered to crop producers or crop consultants Iphone or Blackberry, blogs, on-line learning modules, etc.  When Extension clientele ask our agents about information about nutrition, water conservation, diabetes management, and other subjects we should be able to state “we have an app for that”.  
  • Texas AgriLife Extension must better utilize our Leadership Advisory Boards, Program Area Committees and Task Forces to identify issues.

During economically challenging times it is critical that we have a systematic program interpretation strategy that communicates public value to elected officials and stakeholders.

Remember, we have limited control over many factors that has led to the need for county realignment. However, agents have tremendous influence over how we provide leadership in redefining our future,  focus our efforts, developing our programs, maximize our results and interpreting our value to our stakeholders.


Time to start thinking of 2011 Program Planning

Program Planning Conferences are one of the most important processes  that agents are involved in during the year.  We will be conducting the program planning process differently this year. There will be more information to come from our Regional program directors and myself in the future.

A time-line for this continuum is as follows and it is imperative that agents work with our Regional Program Directors, our 4-H program specialist and myself to ensure that this program planning is efficient and effective and fosters Program Excellence.  The process can be defined as a series of community based, education activities or events that address relevant clientele issues resulting in positive economic, environmental and/or social outcomes;

    * August/September-  Local Committee Planning Activities

    • (County Program Area Committee meetings, Leadership Advisory Boards, Youth Boards, Task Forces etc.. )
    * August/September-  Agent/Specialist Planning Interaction
    * September/October-  Program Planning Workshops
    * October/November- Program Planning Conferences
    * November- Followup and Plan Approval

Dates and locations with  more to come soon !!! DM

"Who dares to teach must never cease to learn." -John Cotton Dana