Monday, January 25, 2010

Using Social Networking

Basic Social Media Etiquette What you need to know and do when you use social media

On February 1st we will have new guidelines working with social networking in association with our job responsibilities. You can go to to view our new guidelines next Monday.

Social media represent an innovative and powerful tool for interacting with Extension 's many audiences. The potential for social media tools to provide education , to create communities of interest , to build relationships, and to develop dialog continues to grow. many Extension personnel, like people all over the world, are already using social media venues for personal and professional purposes.

If you will be using an account in Facebook, Twitter, and other social media spaces, refer to our guidelines for tips on creating the identity behind you effort. Set up separate accounts for your professional activities and for your personal and family interactions. Facebook allows only one account per e-mail address, so you can set up a peronal address for free with other carriesrs such as Google's Gmail or Yahoo, to create a second, personal Facebook account. Choose your photo's wisely, choose your posts wisely, even if you are using your accounts for personal use, a county Extension agent or specialist comments can be interpreted wrongly or provide the wrong image to anyone ready your posts or viewing your pictures. It will be very hard to separate professional and personal images in small communities and now we must deal with larger communities on the web. County Extension Agents will always be viewed as leaders and role models in our communities. What we say and do will always be closely monitored by our supporters and most importantly by those that may not agree with some of you. We must continue to live up to the image of the County Extension Agent that has been developed for many years as the person that local clientele views as respected leaders in a community. A CEA must be objective as they continue to extend relevant , research based knowledge to our audiences. The same goes for support staff in our offices, our clientele will also view our support staff as individuals that represent our program. It is up CEA's to monitor social networking by our support staff, and to review guidelines established by the county as a resource in monitoring there use of these sites.

We must use our new web based programs to provide good information in a timely manner, however we must learn to use these web based tools wisely. Remember what you post on these sites will never really go away. If you are going to use these tools, always stay positive. If some one posts something profane or inappropriate to your page, delete it with out a comment. Replying will only spread negativity and may even be interpreted with originating with you.

Protect the AgriLIFE brand!!! if you list your employer in your profile , anything your post can be linked to the county, agency or even the university.

2009 Volunteer Survey Update

Our District deadline for submitting the survey's was last Friday. If you have not done this already it should be priority to complete this short survey ASAP. As of today, District 11 has a 39% completion rate, not good. My deadline is this Friday, January 29th, and I will not be late, if you need help getting this survey completed, contact Courtney Dodd.

FCS Professional Development Opportunities
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity is a national organization dedicated to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic by changing public policies and creating healthier environments in schools and communities. The center helps to shape and coordinate the efforts of policy-makers, advocates and community organizations by identifying and promoting the most promising obesity-prevention strategies and supporting the nationwide movement to improve food and physical activity environments.

For webminars provided by the foundation go to :
these webminars are about an hour long and can support many of the areas we work with.
Some of the examples some excellent webinars are:

- “Engaging Youth in Child Obesity Prevention”

- Part II: “Intervening Early-Childcare as an Untapped Setting for Preventing Childhood Obesity”

- “Is it Working? What Every Health Advocate Should Know About Evaluating Policy and Environmental Change

This information was provided by Gloria Fernandez-VanZante, EFNEP Agent in Nueces County.

District 11 Travels:

This week I will be in Victoria, Washington, Wharton, and Matagorda Counties conducting Civil Rights and Performance reviews. DM

Monday, January 18, 2010

Accountability and Evaluation Expectations

You can evaluate and not be accountable , but you cannot be accountable without some form of evaluation.

Customer satisfaction is the degree to which there is match between the customer's expectations of the product and the actual performance of the product. Expectations are formed based on information consumers receive from promotions, family, friends, opinion leaders, research, and past experience with the product.

Customer satisfaction is an important measure of the ability of an organization to successfully meet the needs of its customer. It also helps demonstrate an organization's worth and effectiveness to its stakeholders - to maintain their support.

The concept of customer satisfaction is easily transferred to Extension programming – with the product being an “educational program.” To assure continued relations with our clientele in the future, we need to ask basic questions:

  • How satisfied are they with the product they receive?
  • Are we meeting their expectations?
  • What are we doing right, wrong?
  • How can we improve to keep their support?
  • Did the product help them make a decision about their own situation?

The customer satisfaction program within Texas AgriLife Extension Service is designed to address these basic questions - to help ensure the agency continues to provide timely, relevant, and effective educational programs to the citizen of Texas.

Each year we will identify counties in the district to be required to send in customer satisfaction surveys as an evaluation for a program held in the county. Fiscal Year 2010 counties are Aransas, Jackson, Karnes and Wharton. I am requiring for 2010 to change the requirement to have at least one set of forms by every agent in each of our District 11 counties. That is all of our counties not just the state required counties. I know that everyone of you have many programs one set of customer satisfaction surveys collected and sent in to organizational development is pretty easy to do. When sending in the collected survey's please provide a cover sheet letting the evaluations specialists know where the surveys are coming from and ad a copy of the agenda of the program being evaluated.

one day Interpretation piece

The Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program sent each county office on January 4th, ten copies of the success report for one day 4-H conducted this past October 10, 2009. We are very proud of our 4-H members , volunteers and county Extension faculty in making this event a successful as what it was. No other in the history of tour program have we reached as many people as we did during he time leading up to and the day of one day 4-H.

This event , and the support for it , truly demonstrated the strength of our network and the dedicated employees we have working to make our 4-H youth the best they can be.

I would encourage you to use this interpretation piece with clientele, elected officials and others about the purpose of our great youth organization. A e-mail should be set to you shortly out on Microsoft Word that counties can customize with specifics from their one day 4-H event. If you need additional flyers limited numbers can be obtained by contacting Dr. Toby Lepley at the state 4-H office.

Personnel News: I recently conducted interviews this Monday in San Patricio County for the vacant 4-H agent position, I am in the process of identifying a finalist. This week I will conducting a civil rights review and performance reviews in Nueces County at the Extension office and the EFNEP office in Corpus Christi. Next week will be Victoira, Wharton and Matagorda's turn for Performance Reviews.

I would like to congratulate, South Texas Cotton and Grain Association for being honored as this years Texas Agrilife Extension Service Partnership Award, the agency award was presented at last weeks AgriLife Conference in College Station. STCGA has continually place a high priority on Extension educational programs as a means of maintaining sustainability in the region's agricultural sector. Mr. Jeff Nuley and Mr. Eric Schneider were in attendance to accept the award.

2009 Superior Service Awards were also presented at last weeks conference this years Superior Service Awards winners were Sarah Womble, CEA -FCS in Victoira County in the County Extension Agent category. Becky Ham, Goliad County Extension Associate in the Technician category, and Barbara Moretich, our District 11 office manager as part of the state wide team in collecting the Texas Crop and Weather Report . We are very proud of you as you have been recognized for your dedication to our agency.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Conducting Effective Performance Appraisals- Pre - Appraisal Process

An employee's performance has a significant impact on an organization's capacity to fulfill its mission. However, the effectiveness of the performance appraisal conference is directly correlated to the preparation prior to the conference itself.
Due to my short time in a supervisory role I will depend on three main items for your yearly evaluation.

Monthly reports on the TeXas System
County Commissioner's Court reports
Annual outcome summaries
Support materials provided by the agents in monthly reports

I will also review interpretation materials that communicate programmatic outcomes.I have had the great opportunity to interact with many of your county judges and commissioners at the annual conference we sponsored in December. The feedback received from these stakeholders was very informative. Feedback from Regional Program Directors provide an excellent insight regarding agent's effectiveness as it related to programming efforts is provided by our RPD's.

I have had the opportunity to review Specialist feedback. Specialists many times provide feedback regarding educational events conducted in counties that enable me to analysis the effectiveness of a county program.

I plan to have a positive and productive conference with each and everyone of the agents in District 11. Please have all your support material available for review and have the evaluation instruments completed prior to our conferences. I will postpone our conferences if I feel you have not taken the time to prepare properly. Give me a call if you have anyquestions.

The Role of the County Extenssion Agent involving a county fair or junior stock show.
Wtih many county stock show and major stock show season upon us I would like to offers some guidance in working with your shows.

The Texas AgriLife Extension Service asks its County Extension Agents to not serve on County Fair Boards or Jr. Livestock Show Boards for two primary reasons:

1.Our mission as an agency is to provide high quality and relevant educational programs which address the needs of the local citizens. So, our County Extension Agents' role in a county is to provide education and advise to 4-H members, 4-H families, agriculture producers, consumers, homeowners, etc. With this in mind and during a county fair, our agents should be helping and advising 4-H youth and families with their livestock projects and other projects. There are a lot of youth involved in a county fair. So, the agents' time should be focused on helping 4-H youth and families before and during the fair and not on the procedural processes and functions in planning, conducting and managing a county fair.

2. As you know, the agenda items and decisions for a Fair Board can be controversial at times and can cause disagreements across a county and between groups such as communities; 4-H and FFA; etc. In the educational role of an agent, he or she must remain non-biased and impartial and has the responsibility to work with all people. Serving on a Fair Board can undermine an agent’s effectiveness across a county. Also, when an agent serves as an officer or elected member of a Fair Board, the line between the agent’s official duties and volunteer duties can become blurred. A perceived conflict of interest involving the agent and/or the agency, and additional issues of personal and organization liability can be the result. Therefore, we ask that an agent not serve in this role. We do allow our agents to serve as an advisor to the board and we would hope that the board would have the Ag Science teachers serve as advisers to the board as well.

Personell News: District 11 welcomes: Kara Matheney, Colorado County ANR Agent, JD Folbre, Karnes County ANR Agent, Virginia(Ginger) Easton-Smith, Aransas County ANR Agent, and Makenzie Wyatt, Matagorda County 4-H Agent. Kara and JD are completing their first step programs in Austin, and Wilson Counties, Ginger and Makenzie have started in their new appontements.