Monday, November 29, 2010

Conducting Effective Performance Appraisal Conferences

Performance appraisal conferences involving District Extension Administrators and agents are too often less than successful interactions because of lack of preparedness and organization.  Agents should prepare with this outline in mind.

Performance Appraisal Conference – Total County Faculty
1. General Items
* Set the stage for a positive performance appraisal.

* Review the purpose of the Performance Appraisal Conference.

* agents share highlights and accomplishments from Outcome Programs (review Outcome Summaries).

* agents share highlights and accomplishments from Other Significant Programs .

* Review how these programs are addressing county issues.
2. Program Development, Interpretation, and Outreach.
* Review membership and meetings of Leadership Advisory Board.

* Review membership and meetings of Program Area Committees, task forces, coalitions, etc.

* Review involvement of other planning groups.

* Discuss LAB sponsored educational activities, annual meeting (in counties that still have some type of annual event), and informational events.

* Review interpretation events for County Commissioners Court and Legislators.

* Review LAB newsletters and “Extension Education-Making a Difference 2009″ document.
3. 4-H and Youth Development Program
* Review 4-H enrollment for past three years and discuss expansion efforts.

* Review involvement for 4-H volunteers and mentors.

* Review County 4-H management- 4-H club manager training, 4-H Council Meetings, 4-H VLAT Meetings, and 4-H volunteer training.

* Identify goals for 4-H and youth development program and enrollment.
4. Staff Management
* Discuss and review Office Conference agendas and minutes.

* Review support staff supervision and performance appraisal.

* Discuss County budgeting process and additional resource acquisition.

* Review support group annual financial review forms and discuss financial Best Management Practices.
Performance Appraisal Conference- Individual Conference
Comprehensive Review
Discuss and review Agent’s Performance Summary, review DEA's summary with the agent and establish clear goals for progress for each domain.
1. Educational Effectiveness and Quality- Outcome Programs
* The Relevance, Response, and Results of Outcome Program

* The target audience and outreach to new audiences.

* Committee involvement.

* Marketing efforts.

* Partners and collaborations.

* Quality and quantity of educational activities.

* Evaluation strategy and results.

* Interpretation efforts.
2. Educational Effectiveness and Quality- Output Programs
* How programs addresses key programmatic areas.

* The target audience and outreach to new audiences.

* Committee involvement.

* Marketing efforts.

* Partners and collaborations.

* Quality and quantity of educational activities.

* Evaluation strategy and results.

* Interpretation efforts.
3. Program and Organizational Support
* County Budget management.

* Grants, sponsorship, donations, in-kind support, etc.

* Training efforts related to financial Best Management Practices for support groups.

* Utilization of volunteers.

* Involvement of other agents, specialists, elected officials, etc.

* Management for support staff.
4. Cooperation and Coordination
* External partnerships and collaborations.

* Multi-county and interdisciplinary programming.

* interpersonal skills and teamwork.

* Cooperation with co-workers, other agents, and volunteers.

* Office conferences

* New audiences reached.

* New partnerships formed.

* Use of Extension organizations.
5. Personal Development of Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviors
* Participation in professional development activities.

* Graduate study.

* Professional organization involvement.

* Professionalism exhibited.

* Scholarly contributions (publications, fact sheets, websites, exhibits, etc).

* Dossier updates.

* Awards and recognition.

* Involvement of community organizations and activities. More information on your PAS confrences soon. DM

Congratulations, Karnes City High School, has been featured in a recent issue of the Healthy Schools Program Success Stories Newsletter! The story can be found online at
High School Students Benefit from Walking Program
Karnes City High School participated in a partnership formed with Texas AgriLife Extension- Karnes County through a physical activ-ity curriculum called Walk Across Texas. All high school students and staff members received a free pedometer and were asked to track the number of steps they took over eight weeks.
Meredith Carter with AgriLife Extension reports that everyone was excit-ed about the opportunity to increase physical activity levels and teach-ers noticed an increase in attention span in their students after the walks. Great Job Meredith!!!

Think Pink Event
On October 28th 42 women converged to participate in the “Think Pink Event” at the Methodist Activity Center in Bellville, Texas.  The event was the result of the Friend to Friend program which was adapted by Texas AgriLife Extension Service to assist with increasing the number of women meeting the American Cancer Society screening standards.  The event was co-sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the Department of State Health Services, Bellville General Hospital and The Rose.  In addition to sponsorships, the event received donations from a host of community supporters.  At the end of the “Think Pink Event”, 33 women received a clinical exam from the Nurse Practitioner and a referral to get a free mammogram.  On October 29th and November 2nd , 33 women received mammograms from The Rose.  The results clearly indicate the impact of the event.    The “Friend to Friend” program will not only make a difference butt will ultimately save lives. 
Great Job Michelle !!!!

Advanced Degrees
Larry Pierce and Adrian Arrendondo, will be walking the stage this December as these District 11 agents have accomplished the reguirements in order to recive their Masters Degree. Larry Pierce will graduate from TAMU and Adrian Arredondo will graduate from TAMUK. I wanted to recoganize these two agents, it is not an easy task in finsinhing up your masters degree and being very productive agents in their respected counties. Great Job!!!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Conducting Effective Performance Appraisals- Pre – Appraisal Process

An agent’s performance has a significant impact on The Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service capacity to fulfill its mission. However, the effectiveness of the performance appraisal conference is directly correlated to the preparation prior to the conference itself.   If the Pre-Appraisal process is to be effective the Extension agent must …
  • Finalize monthly reports on the TeXas System.
  • Finalize all County Commissioner’s Court reports.
  • Submit annual outcome summaries
  • Review support materials provided to DEA in monthly reports.
  • Review interpretation materials that communicate programmatic outcomes.
  • Review County Media Efforts, such as program area newsletters, radio programs, news releases
  • Complete our Making a Difference Documents- out come and/or out put summaries
  • Review 4-H enrollment goals
  • Review your inter disciplinary programs
  • Review your Showcase Events(including participation of Elected officials)
  • Review Multi-County Programs, Result Demonstrations and tours.
  • Review Leadership Advisory Board and Youth Board Events.
Your Performance Appraisals have been set, however, due to an oversight on my part, I will have to change some earlier conferences in December. Those of you prior to the 15th  may get a call to reschedule.  I will also send you an email this week in preparation for your PAS as to know what to prepare for.  I truly appreciate all of you hard work, on my behalf it is great to get see all the excellent programs you provide to your clientele during the year. I am very fortunate to work with the best agents in the State.

District 11 4-H Events and Activities

I had a great report from Jodi on District 11 Crossroads, a big thanks to those of you that assisted with the planning and implementation of the event. We now move on over to the District 11 Food Show and The Coastal Bend Classic both on December 4th, Looks like we are getting good participation for both events.

Our focus needs to continue to be provide our 4-H members and leaders with the best quality experience possible. If we can remember to keep our focus among our many tasks associated at the end of the year these two events will be greatly successful.

Major Show Entries due December 1st. Those of you that are preparing your entries for the major stock shows, please be aware of the December 1st deadlines. It would be a good idea to review your validation information so no one gets left out. I know this is a process that can bring on much stress right before the holiday, however, please make sure you double check your entries and validations keep good documentation as every year problems always shows up. Cover your tracks!!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I would like to wish our District 11 Extension family a Happy Thanksgiving. Everybody looks forward to the thanksgiving feast. The turkey, the pies, and the celebration, football,shopping or even sitting in a deer blind.

However, thanksgiving is incomplete without a moment of reflection. Spare a moment, and say a prayer of gratitude for life's little blessings. For, it is these little blessings that enrich our life. Here is a quote, that I was forwarded on Twitter, that I wanted to share.

If you learn to appreciate more of what you already have, you'll find yourself having more to appreciate. -Michael Angier
I hope you can send some quality time with your family and friends this Thanksgiving. If you will be traveling be careful on those busy highways. DM

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Involving Elected Officials in Extension Programs

One of the most effective interpretation strategies that can be implemented at the county level is to involve the elected official in “show case” educational events. The involvement in these
events enables the elected official to witness first hand the effectiveness of the county educational programs, demonstrates Texas AgriLife Extension’s partnership with funding partners,
and provides the elected official with a positive platform to interact with constituents. The involvement of elected officials in"show case" educational events is also a component of the

Texas AgriLife Extension Service County Programs Interpretation
Initiative.The following are just a few ideas that can be utilized to get elected officials involved in county programs:
  • Serving as Honorary Chair of diabetes educational task force or committees that sponsor the Extension Do-Well- Be-Well program.
  • Provide a welcome at Extension events such as Farm and Ranch Show, Field Days, Health Fairs, Walk Across Texas Kick off event or Recognition Event, 4-H and Youth educational activity, Cow/Calf Clinic, County Dairy Day, etc.
  • Serve as Honorary Chair of educational task force or committees that sponsor major educational events.
  • Serve as master of ceremony for the media event that kicks off 4-H One Day community service event.
  • Serve as Team Captain or Honorary Team Captain for a Walk Across Texas Team made up of elected officials or elected official’s employees.
  •  Serve as master of ceremony for a 4-H achievement event.
It is important to remember, Extension has an unusually wide range of stakeholders-legislators,
county commissioners court members, supporters, clientele audiences, and agency partners who
are interested in knowing the quality and effectiveness of our programs (Braverman & Engle,
2009). County Extension Agents should have an interpretation plan that includes the involvement of elected officials in educational events and other appropriate interpretation methods.
Commissioner Court Interpretations
Commissioner Court or Elected Officials Luncheons are commonly used venues for Program
Interpretation. While this interpretation method has been utilized for many years and can be classified as a very “traditional “method, it continues to be effective in communicating programmatic outcomes. This method has continued to be effective because it incorporates a social element with carefully designed interpretation messages.

An example of a Commissioners Court Luncheon/Breakfast  format that can be utilized for program interpretation is listed below.
Texas AgriLife Extension Service –_____________ County
2010 Program Review
  • Welcome and Introductions- County Coordinator
  • Remarks from District Extension Administrator- Donnie Montemayor
  • Joint Programming – Example: Water Quality & Conservation, Community Development, etc...
  • Agriculture and Natural Resources – Ag Agent
  • 4‐H & Youth Development – 4-H agent or coodinator
    •  Curriculum Enrichment Programs – 4-H Agent or coordinator
  • Family and Consumer Sciences – FCS Agent
    • Diabetes Education -Example 
    • County Extension Education Association – EEA Rep.
    • Better Living for Texans – BLT Assistant or FCS Agent
This format can be extremely effective because it provides a venue to enhance relationships
with elected officials in a social setting, the interpretation message is targeted, outcomes
of programmatic efforts are clearly communicated and volunteers or program beneficiaries can also be utilized. I would like for you make me aware of your end of the year interpretation events, I know you put them in your monthly activity report however a reminder would be great. I would like to be included in your interpretation events if my schedule permits. DM

O’Connell’s dedication to community cited in
Distinguished Achievement Award

John O’Connell’s commitment to leadership and community development has earned him recognition from the Texas Extension Specialists Association. O’Connell, the Texas Sea Grant College Program’s marine agent for Matagorda County, received a County Extension Agent Award for Distinguished Achievement for work ranging from resurrecting a county leadership training program to leading the National Sea Grant
Educators’ strategic plan development efforts. Angela McCorkle, Extension Program Specialist with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service’s Family Development and Resource Management Unit, presented the award to O’Connell during Texas Sea Grant Extension training in early October. “I was honored to be recognized for my work,” said O’Connell, “especially considering these are non-typical programs for a coastal and marine resource agent.” Matagorda County’s leadership training workshop had been discontinued for two years— the victim of high production costs — when O’Connell revived the program in 2009. He recognized that “leadership training for local elected, business and volunteer leaders is crucial to strong communities,” according to his nomination packet, which was submitted by the Ag Economics Chapter of Texas Extension Specialists Association.O’Connell formed an alliance between Texas AgriLife Extension and the Bay City Chamber of Commerce to make the workshop possible. He led work to revise promotional materials and develop the training agenda, which utilized a curriculum already developed by Texas AgriLife Extension. O’Connell also taught many of the courses and recruited teachers for other courses. Through O’Connell’s efforts, the cost to participants was cut in half. O’Connell calls the award “significant because it recognizes that Texas Sea Grant Extension’s efforts go beyond fisheries and purely coastal issues. The work at the heart of this award benefits an entire community.” O’Connell’s award also recognized his commitment to improving customer service offered by area businesses. He formed an advisory committee that reviewed customer service practices and then made training recommendations to area business owners and their employees. In addition to his leadership role with the National Sea Grant Educators Network, O’Connell is Chairman Elect of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System Education and Outreach Council.

FCS Informaton Professional Development from Elaine's Desk
Family Food & Fitness webinars
“Healthy Holiday” Chat.....Thursday, November 18 from 2:00 - 3:00

For more information, visit the Families, Food & Fitness CoP
Contact Ashley Fondren at
“Food Friends” webinar....Wednesday, February 23 from 10:00 - 11:00
For more information, visit the Families, Food & Fitness CoP
Contact Ashley Fondren at
America On the Move” webinar......Thursday, January 20 from 10:00 - 11:00
For more information, visit the Families, Food & Fitness CoP or contact Ashley Fondren at

District 11 Election Results
Now that our elections are over I know we will have many changes in our district. We will certainly need to welcome our new Judges and County commissioners when they take office after the start of the new year.
If you have not already , please update me with an simple email informing me of the status of your county commissioners court.  I need name, address, phone number, party affiliation, and recent occupation. It is especially important to identify newly elected county officials. I am aware that the newly elected officials do not have their office set up until the start of the new year, and we can get more information later. At this time I want to make sure that I am aware of all new changes in the District. Agents please assist your county coordinator in compiling the information we need. Thank you to those of you that have already provided your information. Give me a call if you have any questions. Thanks, DM

Monday, November 8, 2010

“Making a Difference 2010” Document

As the age of accountability continues to expand, it is imperative that we tell our story in an accurate, valid, and reliable manner.  Therefore, it is critically important to develop a County  “Extension Education - Making a Difference” document which summarizes our successes with Outcome and Other Significant (Output) Programs.
Last Friday I sent the D11 agents an email with  templates for the “Extension Education - Making a Difference” document 2010 .  Please use the materials to compile the Making a Difference document for your county. Also here is a link to the documents.
Each agents should develop their Outcome and Other Significant Summaries which will then be used to complete this document for your county. This document will serve as an Annual Report for Extension in your county and should be distributed to County Commissions Court members, legislators, and key stakeholders.
County Coordinators you are requested to provide leadership in assembling this document to reflect the successes of Extension Programs in your county. Submit your county’s “Extension Education - Making a Difference” 2010 to me, as an electronic file (WP, PDF, MSWord) attached to an e-mail message please cc Barbara Moretich. These documents are due by December 15, 2010.
If you have questions, please let me know. DM 

The formula for greater support from your 
County Commissioners Court
The formula for greater support from elected officials is: excellent Extension programming, program visibility, and effective interpretation.
Key components of the Interpretation Initiative include:

  • Involvement of County Judge, County Commissioners, and Legislators in at least one “showcase” Extension activity or program. Conduct at least one formal interpretation event with the County Commissioners Court and Legislators each year.
  • Prepare and distribute a “Extension Education - Making a Difference” document (annual report) to the County Commissioners Court, Legislators and other key decision makers and stakeholders.Some counties programs to interpret annul report at their annual Leadership Advisory Board meeting.
  • Invite your County Judge and commissioners to our District 11 County Conference in Edna on December 14th, 2010.
District 11 County Judges and Commissioners Conference  December 14th, Edna Texas
I have sent an invitation to your county judge and commissioners for our upcoming Judges and Commissioners Conference on December 14th, in Edna, I expect for  our county coordinators to arrange for personal contacts with each county commissioner and or judge prior to the conference. The county coordinator may ask staff members to make appropriate contacts. If making a face to face contact please have a copy of the letter ,agenda and registration form available.  Kathy Farrow has contacted several of you to assist with exhibits and posters, I would appreciate your prompt assistance in helping her gather the necessary materials. I will soon be making assignments of agents to assist with the conference, depending on the our registration confirmations.

County Swine Validations:
As many of you work with your local market swine validation committees to validate show pigs for this years show season, be aware of our publications to make exhibitors proactive in the recent events concerning the H1N1 virus.

Biosecurity Practices for Swine Validation” and "Biosecurity Practices for Swine Shows and Exhibitions". Texas AgriLife Extension has taken a proactive approach to educating swine exhibitors and those associated with the swine project about proper biosecurity practices. These recommendations have been reviewed by veterinarians, animal scientists, and county Extension agents. These resources are meant to be shared with your county validation committee, livestock show committee members, 4-H leaders and exhibitors. These publications are available at the Extension bookstore.

Performance Reviews 2010
Barbara Moretich sent agents dates of when I am available to conduct your upcoming 2010 performance reviews starting next month, January and in February. For those that have not scheduled a date please do this ASAP. I will be sending an email shortly on what I will be needing for your PAS conferences. I will also be sending out information on Civil Rights Reviews, to those counties that we will having a review this year. I will be expecting for your to complete all materials prior to our conference. Please coordinate with organizational development and any others to have your evaluation materials back to you so that all end of the year out come or out put program summaries can be completed. More to come soon!!!

District 11 Ag Agents Professional Development Retreat
Ag agents that attended last weeks event in Cuero and Shiner, participated in an excellent learning opportunity provided by our leadership of TCAAA. Much like TCAAA state meetings, our district leadership coordinated great opportunities for professional development with programs from specialists, researchers, and great tours of industry in Dewitt and Lavaca Counties.  Agents that presented programs on county programing and result demonstrations did a great job. I plan on using this model to incorporate such a format with the the TEAFCS August retreat for our FCS agents.

I especially appreciate Brent Bachelor's presentation on the Purple Cow. Brent provided an approach to dealing with our challenging times of our state budget issues. Brent discussed transforming our programs as being remarkable and standing out from the herd. I would suggest if you can fit some reading time in get a  copy of the book, Purple Cow  by Seth Godin. Brent suggested that programs such as the Western Rice Belt Production Conference and the Food Challenge are Purple Cows. As we interpret to our stakeholders prior to or legislative session we must continue to make reference to our Purple Cows. I would challenge you to think of your purple cow in your county and use them to interpret to your stakeholders.

Thanks goes out to Phillip Shachelford, Brian Yanta, D11 TCAAA directors, and  Shannon Deforest and Anthony Netardus our conference  hosts. Look forward to 2011 in Matagorda/ Wharton Counties and 2012 in Karnes County.