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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Taking Social Networking to the Next Level

Texas AgriLife Extension recently launched an initiative to utilize Facebook as a recruiting tool to enhance our recruiting efforts. This effort has also evolved to utilizing Facebook to market Texas AgriLife Extension Service as an organization that provides a wide range of research based resources through community based educational programs.

Now that Texas AgriLife Extension Service has a presence in the social networking arena, the question is how we utilize this venue beyond recruiting and marketing. Christ (2005) predicted that social networking sites would force public relation professionals to rethink how they approach relationship development with their stakeholders. Research in the Public Relations Review (Waters, Burnett, Lamm & Lucas, 2009) reported that social networking sites can be an effective way to reach stakeholder groups if there is some understanding of how the stakeholders use the site. Waters, Burnett, Lamm and Lucas (2009) also reported that as social networking sites become more ingrained in daily life, they will soon see a more diverse audience in terms of age, culture, and socio-economic status. Waters, Burnett, Lamm and Lucas (2009) indicated that organizations will need to begin using more social networking applications to meet the growing needs and expectations of their stakeholders.

Here are a few facts about Facebook that is our motivation to explore this as a venue to recruit future employees, market Texas AgriLife Extension and interpret Texas AgriLife Extension (Facebook, 2010): Social networking has now surpassed the use of common email nation wide.

* Facebook has more than 400 million users.
* 50% of the active users log on to Facebook in any given day.
* More than 3 billion photos are uploaded to the site each month.
* More than 5 billion pieces of content (weblinks, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) is shared each week.
* More than 3.5 million events are created each month.
* More than 1.5 million local businesses have a active Page on Facebook.
* More than 20 million people become fans of Pages each day.
* Pages have created more than 5.3 billion fans.
* Average user has 130 friends on the site.
* The average user sends 8 friend requests per month.
* Average user becomes a fan of 4 Pages each month.
* Average user is invited to 3 events per month.
* More than 70 translations available on the site.
* About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States.
* There are more than 100 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devises.

Some specific demographics related to Texas AgriLife Extension Service's Facebook page is as follows:

* Texas AgriLife Extension Service's page has more than 1,800 fans.
* 64% of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service fans are female.
* Texas AgriLife Extension Service fans range in age from 13 years of age to over 55.
* 74% of fans are 18 to 44 years of age.
* There are 1,781 fans from the United States.
* Texas AgriLife Extension Service's page had in the range of 800 visits this past week.
* Texas AgriLife Extension Service page has fans from Canada, India, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Spain, Greece, Indonesia, South Korea, Pakistan and Turkey.

As an agency, Texas AgriLife Extension Service has a challenge in terms of where do we go next related to the utilization of social networking. The following are some ideas that agents should consider related to how Texas AgriLife Extension Service can utilize social media to enhance program delivery, market educational programs, and interpret Extension programs to targeted stakeholders which will assist in ensuring that Texas AgriLife Extension Service remains a relevant educational agency;

* Utilization of blogs to deliver educational content which can be delivered to clientele's mobile devise.
* Utilization of social networking as a platform for interactive learning related to the management of diabetes.
* Utilization of social networking as a platform to provide leadership lessons to 4-H youth.
* Utilization of social media to interpret programs to legislative staffers who routinely use social media personally and professionally.
* Utilization of social media as a component of a systematic educational strategy which uses social media to introduce basic information followed by providing a link to a more in-depth online learning module followed by the utilization of both social media and on-line learning modules to announce a more comprehensive face to face educational event.

One of the new and innovative approaches utilizing a form of social networking to interpret programs and increasing Extension visibility is the utilization of short videos attached to an electronic post card that is sent to elected officials and elected officials staffers. This innovative interpretation approach is currently being conducted in Travis County. To view an example of one of these videos click on http://traviscountyextensionoffice.createsend5.com/T/ViewEmail/r/C66341E542926DE2/CFE05E22D4B1F796C5EC08CADFFC107B

Now that Texas AgriLife Extension Service has its foot in the door in the utilization of blogs, electronic post cards, and Facebook- careful consideration needs to be given to how these tools can increase our capacity to deliver programs, communicate with clientele and interpret our programs.

Reference

Christ, P. (2005). Internet technologies and trends transforming public relations.
Journal of Website Promotion. 1 (4) , 3-14.

Waters, R.D., Burnett, E., Lamm, A., & Lucas, J. (2009). Engaging stakeholders through social networking: How nonprofit organizations are using Facebook. Public Relations Review.

Monday, April 19, 2010

2010 Summer College Interns

This summer , District 11 will host several college interns regardless to the fact that all these interns will be unpaid. Research indicates that providing college students with meaningful internship opportunities with employers increases the chance that they will stay in that career field after graduation.

It is important that we take the time to carefully plan an effective internship program., Listed below are several key elements that are crucial to a successful internship program;

  • Effective Supervision- Due to the training nature of an internship, it is imperative that interns are provided with sufficient supervision. Considerable time investment will be needed, especially on the front-end, to plan for and implement necessary training. It is also recommended that the host/mentor agent plan ongoing weekly meetings to stay up-to-date with the intern's progress.

  • Meaningful Assignments- Gone are the days of using interns as simple "go-fers". Students are seeking opportunities that will stimulate them and provide real experience.

  • Appropriate Documentation- Documentation is very important for effective learning to take place. It is strongly advisable that an host/mentor agent and intern create mutually agreed upon learning objectives.

  • Ensure Interns Feel Welcome- Just as you would a new full-time employee, it is very important that interns be provided with a warm introduction to Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

  • Evaluation- An internship can only be a true learning experience if constructive feedback is provided. An effective evaluation will focus on the interns’ learning objectives that were identified at the start of the internship.

If you know of an college student in your county that would like to participate or would like to host an intern this summer please give me a call so we can set them up with the proper administrative materials and agreements.

Program area committee and leadership advisory board centra trainings scheduled

A series Centra trainings for County Extension Agents have been planned that relate to working with Program Area Committees and Leadership Advisory Boards. These trainings are appropriate for new County Extension Agents as well as those with several years of experience. Those Agents who are participating in the upcoming Program Excellence Academy should not participate, as most of the topics will be covered fully at the Academy. Details of the four scheduled Centra's are outlined below:

May 3-2010, 10:00 Central Time (US & Canada);

* Selection, Rotation and Training of PAC Members- (HFS153187) Event ID: HFS153187

June 21-2010, 10:00 AM Central Time (US & Canada);

* Selection, Rotation and Training of LAB Members(PPN497890) Event ID: PPN497890

July 12 2010, 10:00 AM Central Time (US & Canada);

* Identifying Issues with the Leadership Advisory Board (HKT149078) Event ID: HKT149078

August 9 2010, 10:00 AM Central Time (US & Canada);

* Engaging Planning Groups in Program Development (JDH030125) Event ID: JDH030125

In order for agents to enroll in these sessions, participants need to go to the Centra site at : http://webconference.tamus.edu/main/tce and search for the Event ID for the session they choose to attend. All of these are public events and are located in the event folder "Program Development -2010". For more information and assistance please contact Dr. Jeff Ripley, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist.

Farm Assistance -Planning Solutions

As the size and risks associated with agricultural production have grown larger, farmers and ranches are finding that more of the information they need to make sound financial decisions is either unavailable or beyond their field of expertise. The FARM Assistance program, which is part of Texas AgriLife Extension Service's Risk Management Education Program, seeks to bridge this gap and provide individuals with a sound, statistically-based strategic financial analysis. The data garnered from these analysis provide a significant amount insight on the agricultural industry, as a whole, and enables FARM Assistance to conduct research to help industry groups, policymakers, and individuals identify trends and gauge impacts at the industry-level. This extensive research element, coupled with the analysis conducted at the producer level, enables FARM Assistance to fulfill its primary duty of helping Texas agriculture make informed decisions.

Mac Young, Extension Specialist Risk Management, heads up FARM Assistance in the Coastal Bend area of Texas and has assembled several publications that can be viewed on his home page http://coastalbend.tamu.edu/Extension/Risk%20Management/AgEco.htm, these publications provide a great value to your local producers and I would like to remind you that Mac is available to present any of these publications at various field days and seminars that you have planned this spring and summer. These publications have been complied with data directly from your producers and can be extremely valuable to those needing to make important decisions.

BLT Match Hours For FY11 Proposal

Just a reminder that proposals are due, including electronic signatures by all personnel on the proposal, this Friday, April 23rd. Any forms, space match, teacher match and cost-share, are due to Norma Davila by Friday, April 30th.

I know there are a couple of counties that are having some technical difficulties, and we're working on those. BLT Match hours for the second quarter( January -March), are due by Monday May 3rd at 5 pm . FCS agents, please visit with your coworkers to get these proposals submitted as well as the quarter matching hours.

For any quesitons give Norma , Elaine, or my self a call, DM

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Involving Elected Officials in Extension Educational Programs."

There is no question that 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 of elected officials in county "show case" educational events enables the elected officials 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 by;

* Serving as Honorary Chair of diabetes educational task force or committee that sponsors the Extension Do-Well-Be-Well program.
* Providing 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.
* Serving as Honorary Chair of educational agriculture task force or committee that sponsors major educational event.
* Serving as master of ceremony for the media event that kicks off major educational events.
* Serving as Team Captain or Honorary Team Captain for a Walk Across Texas Team made up of County officials or County employees.
* Serving as master of ceremony for a 4-H achievement event.

It is important to remember, Extension has an unusually wide range of stakeholders-legislators, funders, clientele audiences, and agency partners-who are interested in knowing the quality and effectiveness of our programs (Braverman & Engle, 2009).

Reference

Braverman, M. & Engle, M. (2009). Theory and Rigor in Extension Program Evaluation Planning. Journal of Extension. (47) 3. Retrieved at http://www.joe.org/joe/2009june/a1.php

Content for this post was provided by Ron Woolley, District Extension Administrator- Texas AgriLife Extension Service and Darrell Dromgoole Associate Director-Co. Programs Texas AgriLife Extension Service

District 11 4-H Round Up

I have not had a chance to review the evaluations , however, it seemed to be a successful day as the young people and the leaders were enjoying the event and had a good overall experience. It was good to see many of the agents on Saturday and I was especially pleased to see how each one of you took pride in judging, facilitating and supporting your 4-H delegation from your counties. I also want to thank the Washington County staff for coordinating the excellent facilities at Blinn College. If you had leaders that judged at the event please follow through with a note of appreciation for their donation of time and making our event successful. Also a big thanks to Jodi McManus for her great leadership as coordinator of 4-H Round up. I had a chance to interact with leaders and parents at the event , they had many great things to say about your ongoing efforts in supporting your 4-H young people.

Friday, April 2, 2010

New Tools for District 11 Agents

I was introduced recently to a new tool that agents can use to capture a face to face program and place on their website for future reference or even for clientele that may not been able to attend the original progam. The tool is a microphone in a form of a USB device that will capture audio and attach it to a PowerPoint using Camtasia . Your power points can then have audio from a presenter making it better that just viewing the slide presentation on a web site. I want to thank Pete Flores and Larry Falconer for working on this new project and they will soon be offering a training on how to use this new tool. Please go to the District 11 website and see new information and click the link to see the first presentation that was captured. The presentation was conducted by Dennis Hale and JD Folbre at a Karnes/Wilson Forage Producers Seminar. http://coastalbend.tamu.edu/Edvideos/S1P1/S1P1.html

I believe this new tool will be of much value to our programs, in is very easy to capture our programs and presentations and place them on our web sites. This technology can be used by all areas of our programs to keep clientele current on a specific topic or issue.

The other tool that we have incorporated on to our District Web site is to showcase educational youtube videos of agents. Pete Flores has provided some videos to get started and the area on the site is called AgriLife County Cannel, this cannel will have videos of Agents in District 11 and others providing technical information for our clientele. Go to the new information area and click on the county channel to view the sample videos that we are showcaseing. If you have a video of you providing a technical skill or other area of interest to our clientele let us know so we can see about putting it on the county channel.

I have also been reviewing your websites and it seems that our county web sites are not very current with information for our producers, clientele and or 4-H membership. If we are going to have websites we must keep them updated. It is better to have limited information about our offices such as location or staff , than to have information on the sites that are not current. Please designate an agent, support staff member or even volunteer to monitor the site and update requlary.

4-H Round up Volunteer Leadership and Judges

It was disappointing to see that agents had not sent in information on any leaders that would assist with next week’s 4-H Round-up in Brenham. Please make a special effort to recruit adult leaders to assist with the judging at the contests. I will also like to remind agents that our District 11 4-H Roundup will not be a success if we do not provide a great atmosphere and provide the best possible experience for our participants, their parents and leaders. Any contest, show and or competitive experience is only as good as the judge(s). We can do a great job of organizing the event but if we do not have enough high quality judges we have failed.

4-H Scheduling and Professional Development Retreat

By this time you should have already received an email providing more information on the upcoming 4-H Retreat in La Grange on May 25-26, 2010. Jodi and I have been working on the agenda and are excited about the upcoming professional development opportunity. Most of you know that I have been very involved in 4-H programming in my tenure as an agent. I will be discussing some new concepts and direction for our District 11 4-H program at the retreat. I will also challenge you to help Jodi and I to continue to make District 11 the best 4-H District in the State. We will also be having a social on Tuesday evening of the retreat. This will be a great time for us to network with one another in a more relaxed atmosphere. If you have any questions give me a call.

Your County Commissioners Court Monthly Reports, travel and teXas reports are due on April 7th, 2010. Please remember to email or send hard copies of your commissioners court reports to me and or Barbara. DM