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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Distance Educational Tools

As Extension begins to develop educational program delivery strategies that include distance education, one of the most challenging aspects is to establish a culture among County Extension Agents to integrate this educational program delivery strategy into their ongoing programming.

As Extension faces challenges, distance education becomes of up most importance to the effectiveness and the accessibility to Extension programs.

As we launch the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Distance Education Initiative individuals want to talk about what needs to be developed, when in reality agents already have a number of strategies/tools  available that are not being adequately utilized now.  During the course of the next couple of weeks we will be featuring some excellent examples of Distance Educational strategies that agents can utilize now in the delivery of programs to clientele.

Some examples are:  Family and Consumer Science agents have embraced distance learning by providing the leadership in developing Distance Educational Tools to add value to their traditional program delivery.  The Dinner Tonight program provides clientele with a tasty, healthy, and cost effective recipes that can be quickly prepared.

The web site to see one of the East Region’s County Extension Agents demonstrate a recipe click on the following link:
http://healthyliving.tamu.edu
Also, a blog will be utilized to provide clientele with information regarding preparing nutritious meals. The blog can be reviewed by clicking on the following link:
http://nutritionalrecipes.blogspot.com/

Another one of the strategies that is easy to accomplish is for County Extension Agents to utilize web sites that can be effectively utilized to add value to traditional program delivery methods.  One of these innovative examples is a websites designed to address issues facing the beef cattle industry entitled  Cow Sense U.  The following is a link to view this site: http://www.cowsenseu.org/.

Yet another, of these innovative examples is a websites designed to address issues facing the beef cattle industry entitled  Ranch TV.  The following is a link to view this site: http://ranchtv.org/.

An innovative example of utilizing technology in District 11 as part of  this District’s Distance Education Initiative includes the following presentation by Victoria County Agent Sam Womble .
http://coastalbend.tamu.edu/Edvideos/Victoria.htm

Another is the Texas 4-H Livestock website.. Through your promotion and support, it has the potential to be one of the most utilized online resources Texas AgriLife Extension Service has to offer.   The following is a link to view this site:
http://agrilife.tamu.edu/livestock101/

Numerous agents and specialists have utilized weblogs or blogs to interact with clientele. Listed below are just a few examples of how Extension educators with Texas AgriLife Extension Service is utilizing weblogs or blogs;
http://wild-wonderings.blogspot.com/2011/02/feral-hog-questions-and-answers.html
http://cbagbriefs.blogspot.com/2010/11/cotton-variety-test-results-posted.html
http://agrilife.org/etg/2011/02/18/mid-february-marks-rose-pruning-season/
http://cbagbriefs.blogspot.com/

Soon we will migrate to new county web pages that can be better utilized by you in providing distance education. 

Distance Education Survey:Your participation in this survey is crucial in implementing our Distance educational initiative. This is your reminder that it is an expectation that every District 11  agent complete this survey before Monday, February 28, 2011.
You  may complete  this survey by clicking on the link below;
http://tamuag.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_6eSUKOo9Mv29sJ6

Partial Cost Recovery:

By the end of the week District 11 will have had, three trainings and most of our agents will have been provided information on implementing our new initiative on March 1st.  I appreciate the attitudes that you all have had in being as positive toward embracing our new way of doing business.  Please remember to go to our web site: http://ExtensionCostRecovery.tamu.edu for all the necessary materials and guild lines. The website has recently been updated with more power points in assisting to inform your committees and support staff on cash management procedures. Those agents that have not made the trainings due to conflicts will have an opportunity to participate in a teleconference soon, more details to come. 

4-H News:
All district Roundup contest information has been posted on the District 11 4-H website.
http://d114-h.tamu.edu/events-and-contests/roundup/

Our highly successful Coastal Bend Classic needs to be evaluated by our agents, a meeting on Monday February 28th, starting at 1:00 pm in the Jackson County Demonstration kitchen has been scheduled.  For those of you that can not make the face to face meeting, you can call into a  conference call. I will send out the phone number and code Monday Morning. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Changing how we do business!

During the course of the last couple of weeks, two initiatives were announced related to Distance Education and Partial Cost Recovery.  These new initiatives will change the way we do business, for all Texas AgriLife Extension Service faculty and staff.   As county Extension agents, it is imperative to provide a positive attitude for the change which will enable these important initiatives to be successful.

If you really think about it, is it that much different from what we have been doing for years any way. Extension agents for a very long time ,  have used innovative ways to allocate material resources in order to support their program. Program area committees have been used as the support base for fund-raising and effective programing. For example, when a agent needs a new sprayer for demonstration work,  or a refrigerator to store ingredients for nutrition programs, they have allocated funds associated with their committees to acquire these necessary materials that the county or state Extension does not provide.  Now your committees will be even  more important than ever, by supporting our state Extension network, not only on the local level.

I don't know about you all, but when I go to church I put money in the basket hoping that the funds get used at my local church, but I know some of that money goes to administration to assist in funding the infrastructure and employees providing the mission of our church. Once a year I also get an opportunity to pledge funds that help other areas of our churches mission.  I am not implying that we are becoming a church, but such a concept works and if embraced  the mission of an organization such as ours can be stronger and be supported by all who benefit. I am very pleased that our state administration is not just sitting back and waiting to see what happens with our state budget, our new initiatives are effective ways to recover the cost and provide new  ways to deliver our programs. We need you to help to load the wagon! and continue to help pull it along, just like we have many times before, now we must all pull harder than we ever have.  

Financial Creativity
Some examples that should be implemented regarding the development of creative funding strategies are as follows;
  • Partial Cost Recovery that is utilized to increase the capacity of the agency.
  • Partnerships with municipalities.
  • Grants to fund specialized programs.
  • Partnerships with school districts to deliver specialized youth programming.
  • Partnerships with community colleges to deliver specialized program in communities.
The bottom-line is that it is imperative that county Extension agents implement new and non-traditional funding models.  If our county Extension agent's do not embrace concepts that will generate non-traditional funding sources,  Extension has limited strategies to utilize to address any additional budget cuts beyond  the reduction in faculty and staff positions.  

What are your programs worth to those that could pay for the information?

Innovative Program Delivery
County Extension Agents-must establish goals in adopting innovative program delivery that adds value to our traditional program delivery.  Some of these  might include;
  • Engagement and utilization of eXtension
  • Podcasts
  •  Production alerts to growers, or consultants through smart phones
  • Blogs
  • On-line learning modules
These type of efforts take deliberate planning and action and talking does not get it done.  Its time for D11 agents to step up and be the leaders that you are in technology delivered program delivery.

Some Extension professionals are concerned that these type of strategies are abandoning our traditional educational methods and clientele.  These approaches should actually strengthen our relationship with our traditional clientele while providing avenues to reach new clientele and enhancing our program delivery efficiency.

Extension represents the heartbeat of the land-grant university system. Texas AgriLife Extension will only continue to be as relevant in the future as it is today if we continually evolve from the "ground up" through our local committees, and county support.

The basic concept of Extension using objective, research-based information to help the public is of greater importance now than ever!  I encourage you to “control what you can control” , which is the quality of your programs and how you can interpret the value of your programs to your stakeholders.

District 11 Partial Cost Recovery Trainings Scheduled

In order to facilitate many of your questions in relation to the new guidelines, new priorities, and expectations, I am holding three agent trainings/workshops in the District in February. These trainings will allow me to provide you direction and guidance in developing our game plan to implement these guidelines on March 1st, 2011.  We hope that our Regional Program Directors can participate if they are available however due to the short time frame Dr. Dozier and/or Dr. Fries may not be personally available.
  • February 18th, Fayette County Extension Office in LaGrange, 1 pm to 3 pm
  • February 23rd, District Office, Corpus Christi, 1 pm to 3 pm
  • February 25th, Jackson County Services Bldg. in Edna , 9 am to 11am
You are welcome to visit with me prior to the training, however it is extremely important that each agent make one of these short but important trainings.  I know this is a busy time of year and it may be impossible to be at one of these trainings. If you have a conflict please let me know so other arrangements can be made to provide you with the tools you need to be successful in implementing the partial cost recovery guidelines. More information will follow, I just wanted to get on your calendars as quickly as possible. 


Major Livestock Shows a busy time of the year
We are in the middle of the San Antonio Stock show and will be moving very quickly into the heart of the major livestock show season in Texas. We have a great opportunity each year to support our young people as they represent our local county programs in the big city. 

Our livestock feeders come in two types in my opinion,those that participate and those that compete! There is absolutely nothing wrong with either type of individual.  Those that participate will travel to the city to learn more about their feeding experience, animal agriculture and build life long relationships. Those that go to compete are usually those that have more experience and expect to place.  As advisers to 4-H members and leaders you must provide support to both of these type of individuals. Some feeders need more help then others, but be mindful about how you can best support all of your exhibitors in making their major livestock show experience the best possible. Remember to continually check in with your feeders when appropriate, during there time at the shows.

You must also remember that you are on official business and need to be professional in your capacity to lead your junior livestock show programs.  In most cases you are an adjunct faculty member of your members school district. Remember that your appearance "even if you slept in a truck all night" must be appropriate for a Extension educator.  Look for and take advantage of teachable moments with your young people and leaders. The relationships that your build with feeders and their parents will last a lifetime from your work at major livestock. DM

4-H Day at the Capitol

Thank you to the large delegation of 52 youth and adults from District 11 that braved the weather to attend the 4-H Day at the Capitol.  Texas 4-H was recognized by legislators in both the Senate and House Chambers.  Our very own Kelley Ullrich of Fayette County was selected to represent Texas 4-H on the Senate floor during the recognition.  Kelley serves as the District 11 4-H Council Chairman and is a member of the Texas 4-H Council.  After the morning recognitions, attendees enjoyed lunch and guest speaker Senator Glenn Hegar.  In the afternoon, participants visited the offices of their local senators and representatives.  There has already been positive feedback from legislators about how impressive it was to see the gallery filled with "4-H green".

4-H REMINDERS:

Texas 4-H Opportunity Scholarships and SALE Rural Youth Award Applications are due to the District Office on Friday, February 11, 2011.  If you have applications that you have not mailed yet, please notify Sharon Thompson ASAP so she knows to be watching the mail for them. If you have NO APPLICATIONS from your county, please email Sharon to let her know so she can complete her county checklist.