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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