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Monday, January 10, 2011

County Extension Agent- Generalists or Specialists

I am almost done with my tour of  District 11 Performance Reviews I had good visits with agents last week in Fayette, Wharton, Lavaca, Jackson, and San Patricio Counties. Each personal discussion concludes with professional development, and goals for the future. I am asking the same question of all agents in relation to their professional expectations and how they believe their clientele see them in their county. Most of our D11 agents respond to being either a professional educator or resource person in the county.  Our District 11 resident philosopher and Austin County Extension agent, Mr. Phillip Shackelford explained the duties of a county Extension agent are not of an occupation or a job it is a way of life. I believe that Phillip explained it well as we continue to meet the mission of AgriLife Extension.

Most of you if not all are more generalists rather than specialists in your occupation, depending on your staffing pattern and the size of your county.  We all try to know everything and to be everything to everyone, but we must also remember that in developing oneself professionally it is important to nurture each ones passion. I have asked each agent what is their specialty and challenged them to foster their specialty with this years professional development opportunities.  Our more tenure agent"s each have a special talents and a passion in which they learned over the years, and are resource persons to other agents in our Distinct and in the state.  New agents and mid career agents, with the help of our RPD's I want to challenge your to find your area of expertise and continue to grow as professional educators and ultimately become revered as our experts of the future.

Key leaders in your County
Another question that I am asking of each agent during PAS reviews is if Dr. Smith called one day and asked you if you could give him a few names of advocates and or ambassadors of your county program who would they be.  In the mist of our challenging times we must stay mindful of how are programs are making a difference in our communities.  Take time to think of these individuals and how we can use our volunteers to continue to tell our story.

County Committee Documentation
As I review your committee and program building structure in your county I often ask to see your documentation on your committees. Most of our agents have a procedure that they follow to document their meetings. A good protocol is first a letter must go out to the committee, secondly a sign in sheet must be provided and kept, and a designated recorder must take minuets , some times this is the agent. After the meeting the minutes are then sent out to the committee especially those that were not in attendance.

I know that documentation is also supported through the Texas system, however it is nice to see the protocol that is followed by our agents. I want to highlight a few counties and agents in this process. Brian Yanta in Goliad County scans every document associated with committee work he then saves the information each year and provides me with what I need electronically. He has every year in his career, documented on his computer . Another excellent effort is out of San Patricio County, Kathy Farrrow, county coordinator keeps all of this documentation and provides a matrix and or snapshot of the county committee structure. They includes, LAB, Youth board, Program Area committees and tasks forces that meet each year. This is a great way to see the entire county program building structure in a county.

Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassadors in District 11

The Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassador Program equips youth with the knowledge and skills to become an ambassador for Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the Texas 4-H Program and animal sciences as it relates to livestock projects.  After attending the Ambassador training, students are required to log at least 20 hours of service annually, helping novice 4-H’ers with their livestock projects and educating fellow 4-H’ers.  Hats off to the following youth from District 11 that have attended the Livestock Ambassador training:

·         Ty Batchelor, Matagorda County
·         Emily Kelley, DeWitt County
·         Rachel Kaplan, Nueces County
·         Cuatro Schauer, Bee County
·         McKenna Schulte, Washington County
·         Chelsey Rudasill, Washington County

We encourage counties to invite these young people to serve in leadership and teaching roles at livestock clinics and workshops, quality counts trainings, local projects visits, or other areas where you see fit.  Several of these members assisted with the Coastal Bend Classic to work toward their annual 20 hours of service.  Please give them other opportunities to assist and log service hours.  

Personnel News in District 11
District 11 agents help me welcome Mr. Charles Seely to District 11. Charles is now the new Calhoun County 4-H Agent. He is completing his first step training in Matagorda County prior to assuming his duties in Calhoun County on February 1st. Charles comes highly recommended from Tarleton State University.  I know the Calhoun County 4-H members and leaders have plenty for him to do as he starts his Extension career.