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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Result Demonstrations Provides Excellent Educational Tool

During the recent TCAAA annual meeting in South Padre Island there was a tremendous amount of discussion about Extension’s role in providing educational programming to address agriculture and natural resource issues in Texas. However, there was limited focus on Result Demonstration with a relatively low number of posters submitted to communicate results of Result Demonstrations. It is unfortunate that many times in our quest to get “out of the box” we forget that the Result Demonstration/Applied Research is still one of the most effective teaching tools a County Extension Agent-Agriculture and Natural Resource can implement in their county to address complex agriculture and natural resource issues.

As Texas AgriLife Extension works to help Texans address rapidly emerging and complex issues, agents can increase the effectiveness and rate of adoption of new practices by conducting Result Demonstrations and utilizing this as teaching method. Result Demonstrations are the very foundation of Texas AgriLife Extension Service. Through the work of Seaman A. Knapp and Walter C. Porter, these demonstrations help demonstrate to farmers how to reduce boll weevil damage on cotton in Texas. The adoption of production practices and changes in behavior of producers as a result of these demonstrations was instrumental in the eventual passage of legislation (Smith Lever Act of 1914) that authorized Cooperative Extension as a part of the Land-Grant Colleges. No other educational method affects the rate of adoption by its target audiences as much as does the result demonstration.

Listed below is a link to a publication entitled “Result Demonstration-A Method that Works”:

http://txspace.tamu.edu/bitstream/handle/1969.1/87475/pdf_2449.pdf?sequence=1

In preparation for upcoming Program Planning Conferences, You as agents should work with  Regional Program Directors-Agriculture and Natural Resources and myself  to ensure that expectations are established for every County Extension Agent-Agriculture and Natural Resource related to establishing an effective Result Demonstration program at the county level.

Six 4-H Connect Trainings Planned
The 4-H and Youth Development Program will be hosting six individual on-line Centra trainings for County Extension Professional and Support Staff starting in September and concluding in October at  http://texas4-hpractitioners.blogspot.com/2010/08/six-4-h-connect-trainings-planned.html .

The dates for these trainings are:

    * September 2nd – 2-4 pm EVENT ID: XDP971171
    * September 14th – 2-4 pm EVENT ID: NLR058218
    * September 27th -2-4 pm EVENT ID: LPQ119562
    * October 6th – 9-11 am EVENT ID: SPM197640
    * October 7th – 2-4 pm EVENT ID: LJR305281
    * October 19 – 9-11 am EVENT ID: PSW34996

These two hour block trainings will cover the following items:

    * Reporting for both enrollment and custom events
    * New event payment process
    * Youth Protection Standard processing
    * Awards and Recognition
    * Club Chartering and Club Manager/Project Leader Login
    * Establishing and managing 4-H Clubs
    * Group Enrollment
    * Tagging/Archiving, and Moving Youth/Adult Profiles
    * Plus, your questions answered!

Each Centra is limited to 50 computers so it is advised that if a particular date works best, you should sign up now! Each Centra is tentatively planned to be recorded for reference and viewing at your convenience.

District 11 TEA-FCS Retreat
I recently had the opportunity to participate in the District 11 TEA-FCS retreat in Austin, Texas.  We participated in a tour of the Central Market on Lamar St.  The Market is owned and operated by HEB Food Stores. This store is a very large store with excellent variety of a meat market, fish market, fresh bakery, winery, and a very large produce section. I am not much of a grocery shopper, but the store was very impressive as the store target busy costumers. The store also will take you call in order or email and shop for you and have it ready for pick up on your way home or delivered to your workplace and home. Our FCS agents,Elaine Fries and myself enjoyed the tour of the operation as well as lunch out in the market patio area.

The agents also had a business meeting and asked me to provide some administrative updates. The association offers excellent opportunities for agents to share ideas on programing and enjoy fellowship among processionals. I want to thank the agents for having me and I look forward to attending many more in the future.

District 11 Committees
It is time once again to ask for you to volunteer for two District 11 Committees, the award committee and the marketing and interpretation committee.  The District Award Committee must identify and nominate agents for the Superior Service Awards. We have many excellent agents in our District we need to make sure our district is properly represented with nominations. Nominations due October 8, 2010. To see the last round of award presentation photos, as well as this year's guidelines and online application, go to .
 

We have about a month to acquire three letters of commendation for your nominee and to submit the two-part nomination (an online application and an e-mailed Adobe PDF). Please help ensure that all deserving employees are considered for this recognition, our highest agency honor for the outstanding performance of AgriLife Extension faculty and staff. Each award-winning individual, unit, and team member will receive a monetary prize and an attractive, framed certificate.  Some changes have occurred in the award categories and guidelines. If you are willing to serve on this committee please let me know by this Friday, Sept 3rd. so we can schedule a Centra or conference call.

The Marketing and Interpretation Committee basically plans and implements the District 11 Judges and Commissioners Conference scheduled for December 14th, in Edna. We need to identify topics for the agenda and submit them for approval. I also need volunteers by Friday, If I don't get some help,  I will have to call some of you and ask for your your help.

HOT OFF THE PRESS!
District Council Newsletter & Community Service Project

The 2010-2011 District Council Officers and advisors have already been working hard to get the ball rolling for the new 4-H year. The team just published their first newsletter to keep D11 counties and members updated on district wide happenings. The newsletter can be found on the *NEW* District 11 4-H website at http://d114-h.tamu.edu. In additional to the newsletter, you can download a flyer announcing the district community service project "Pennies for Patients". The officer team will be meeting monthly via teleconference to discuss upcoming events and activities. If you every have anything you would like to add to their agenda, please email their advisors, Sarah Brandes or Adrian Arredondo. The fall District 11 4-H Council Meeting will be held at District Crossroads on Saturday, November 20, 2010.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Program Interpretation Makes a Difference during Challenging Times

In 2007 James Lindstrom conducted a study entitled The Relationship among Washington State County Commissioners’ Knowledge and Perception of Washington State University Extension and Their Willingness to Fund WSU Extension that investigates the relationship between effective interpretation and Commissioner Courts willingness to fund Extension programs.

This study (Lindstrom, 2007) was designed to determine whether Washington State Commissioners’ Court members’ perceptions, knowledge, and/or understanding of Extension are related to and may have predictability to their willingness to provide funding for local Extension programs.

Lindstrom’s (2007) research suggests that county commissioners’ interaction with Extension influences their knowledge and perceptions related to the value of Extension. This influence on commissioners’ knowledge and perception can potentially impact the commissioners’ views related to funding programs at the local level. Some lessons that Texas AgriLife Extension Service can learn from this research (Lindsrom, 2007) includes;

* involvement of elected officials in Extension “Showcase Events” is imperative to increasing county commissioners and legislators knowledge and perception of Extension programs which in turn potentially impacts funding.

* District Judges and Commissioners Conferences hosted by District Extension Administrators are critical in enhancing relationships between Extension and elected officials. These events, when designed correctly, can be an excellent venue for program interpretation.

* Extension Making a Difference documents and outcome summaries that communicates Texas AgriLife Extension’s public value can enhance elected officials knowledge and perception in Extension programs.

* Formal interpretation events with elected officials conducted annually that communicates Texas AgriLife Extension’s public value are critical to our future funding.

The bottom-line is this research (Lindstrom, 2007) supports the theory that the formula that county commissioners’ court support is predicated upon three elements;

1. Effective programming,

2. Visibility, and

3. Effective interpretation .

During economically challenging times, ensuring that County Extension Programs include effective programming, high visibility of programs, and effective interpretation is essential.

Remember, we have limited control over many factors related to economic challenges facing Extension. However, you as agents have tremendous influence over how we interpret our value to your local stakeholders.

Remote Mic Technology Trainings
Texas AgriLife Extension Service provides information delivery and the Internet is a preferred method for many of our customers use to find information.  Commonly Extension agents present educational programs to live audiences and miss the opportunity to reach online consumers.


A training will be offered for District 11 agents at three locations in September. Austin County will host the first training on September 21st , Jackson County on the 22nd, and the District office in Corpus Christi on the 23rd. Each training will start at 9:30 am and finish at 4:00 pm. The training is geared to equip and train Extension agents in to capture their live presentations and convert the program for delivery via the Internet. Agents will learn how to capture live programs using Camtasia software and USB microphones with just a few clicks of the mouse to produce rich quality video and audio. In addition, the training will cover how to edit and upload the finished product to one of Extension YouTube channels.

I want to recognize Mr. Pete Flores for securing a grant to supply each of our counties with the equipment and software needed to use this technology. I am asking that at least one agent from each County attend one of the trainings. Support staff is also welcome. Please let me know who and where you plan to attend.

REMINDER: Agents Taking College Courses

Fall 2010 classes at many universities begin within the next few weeks. This is a reminder to all agents who are taking college classes, agents are required by system policy to request permission to register as a student.

The study and training request is a web/automated process. The employee is to fill their request form online and submit. After the employee submits the request, it will be routed to their supervisor for further processing and approval.

(See http://od.tamu.edu/employee-development/degree-information/ )

For regular college classes face-to-face or online courses the student will select option #2 “Part-time Study Request”. If they are taking a leave of absence for educational or professional development they will select the alternative option.

If you or your employee have any problems with filling out the form, please give Rebecca Luckey a call at (979) 458-3288.

Monday, August 9, 2010

District 11 Program Development Workshop Sets Stage for Effective Program Planning

Program Planning is one of the most important processes that an agent will provide leadership to with in their county program.

One of the critical components to this process is program planning workshops. The  District 11 Program Development Workshop  will be conducted on September 14 and 15 in Edna, Texas.  This  training will be devoted to program development and will set the stage for effective and quality program planning for the upcoming year.

In preparation for these workshops  Associate Department Heads or Program Leaders will provide one page briefs on new projects and initiatives.  Regional Program Directors will  share these one-pagers with agents in the region.

All agents should have program area committee meeting(s) and/or youth board meeting(s) prior to these workshops.  Agents will e-mail the minutes of those meeting(s) along with a prioritized set of issues that have been identified to be addressed during the coming program year to the appropriate Regional Program Directors and District Extension Administrator  prior to the workshop.

The following are elements of this workshop that are critical for effective planning and effective allocation of resources;

Overview of Program Planning Expectations- The District Extension Administrator  will provide general expectations related to Organizational Support Plans, Individual Development Plans, and other interdisciplinary and team efforts.  Professional development offerings for agents will be distributed when the District Extension Administrator discuss individual development plans.

Community Resource and Economic Development- Regional Program Directors  will provide expectations and suggested strategies for addressing emergency management and other CRED program needs

 4-H and Youth Development Expectations and Discussion- The District Extension Administrator and Regional Program Directors  will provide general expectations related to 4-H management and leadership plans.  Regional Program Directors will provide expectations related to support of 4-H subject matter projects and youth outcome plans.  District 4-H Specialist will provide training related to youth trends and goals for improving 4-H participation.  County staffs should be provided time to meet together to discuss 4-H program planning for the coming year, CRED, and other team efforts.  They should complete a “Proposed Program Plans worksheet” to indicate what outcome/output plans they plan to submit, as well as strategies for increasing 4-H involvement in the coming year (a copy of the worksheet will be provided in the  agent document “Planning for Excellence”).

Program Planning Subject Matter Break-Out Groups – Regional Program Director-FCS will work with FCS agents, Regional Program Director – Agriculture and Natural Resources will work with Ag/Nr Agents, District 4-H Specialist and District Extension Administrator will work with 4-H and Youth Development Agents

The Topics for these Subject Matter Break-Out Sessions will include:
   1. Overview of regional program priorities
   2. Specific information or reminders per discipline
   3. Issue planning groups
   4. Cluster planning groups
   5. Specialist engagement and scheduling
   6. Submission of plan worksheet – Regional Program Directors will provide a worksheet for all agents to submit (Agents will have already received this worksheet in the Planning for Excellence document).  Agents will indicate what subject matter plans they will submit in preparation for the October Program Planning Conferences. This will provide an opportunity for Regional Program Director  to review the agent’s initial plans and initiate conversations with those that may be under or over planning prior to plan submissions.  District 11 PPC's will be scheduled for October 12th Corpus Christi,  13th, Victoria  and the 14th, in Victoria or La Grange TBA

Program planning must be about ensuring that Extension is efficiently allocating resources that results in program excellence not just focused on approving a plan on the TeXas System,  committed to developing better programs that result in measurable outcomes, and devoted to assisting agents to better allocate their time which leads to efficiency at a time when Texas AgriLife Extension Service is experiencing County Program Realignment.

2nd Annual Prestige Leadership Conference PLC

PLC is a Multi-County Council Officer Training.  It was held at J Bar J Ranch in Sealy on July 27-28.  There were 28 Council Officers in attendance from Austin, Colorado, Fayette, Washington and Wharton Counties.   There were four session that covered: Qualities of a Leader/Communication and Teamwork; Basic Parliamentary Procedures; Duties and Responsibilities of Officers; and Organizing and Conducting a Meeting.  Through the various sessions participants were equipped with leadership skills that they can use in their counties to help conduct local officer trainings, have successful council meetings and become better leaders at the club and county level. Youth also participated in a Mock Leaders 4 Life Contest.

Aaron, Shamaine, Rodney, Kara and Kayla lead the sessions.  The success of this program and the responses received from the participants were excellent.

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