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Friday, March 2, 2012

Spring Red Flag Fire Warnings in Texas


With Red Flag Alerts in parts of Texas this spring it is imperative that all County Extension Agents be reminded regarding their responsibilities in emergency management. The following outlines the roles and responsibilities of a County Extension Agent during the response and recovery phases of an emergency;

1. Immediately contact me District Extension Administrator and provide a detailed report on the incident. If the DEA is not available contact a Regional Program Director. If the DEA and RPDs are not available, contact the office of the Associate Director for County Programs.



2. Contact the County Judge and Emergency Management Coordinator. CEAs should offer assistance and determine if other parts of the County Emergency Management Plan have been activated. CEAs should carry out the following emergency response and recovery activities at the request of the County Judge and/or Emergency Management Coordinator:



· CEAs ANR on the County Emergency Board of USDA FSA will assess agricultural damages and establish criteria by which the county judge initiates an agricultural disaster declaration.

· Where appropriate, help the county officials write the formal request for external resources. Agents should do this by completing the Incident Command System Form 213 (requires signature of county judge or EMC). The DEA and RPD(s) can help as needed.

· Act as Public Information Officer and lead the county’s electronic and mass media efforts. AgriLife Communications will support agents in this role.

· Help the Animal Issues Committee (AIC), County Judge/EMC set up a shelter and livestock supply point to feed and care for displaced animals.

3. CEAs ANR will work with the EMC and AIC to determine if the County Animal Issues Plan should be activated. The Texas Animal Health Commission is the lead agency during livestock or animal related emergencies.

4. Activate the AgriLife Extension County Office Disaster Plan.

5. Notify the DEA or RPD(s) if the incident requires Extension resources/actions that are not available locally.



6. District Extension Administrators will lead daily teleconference call with impacted counties. County Coordinators should be prepared to give daily situation reports on this call. Situation reports will include information on resources the agency has used for emergency management preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.

7. In the event of a Presidential Disaster Declaration, CEAs may be asked to report activates weekly for inclusion on the Emergency Time and Effort Form. This report is due to the DEA before 5:00 o.m. each Friday during response and recovery.

8. CEAs ANR are responsible for helping USDA FSA County Emergency Boards complete ad USDA Loss Assessment Report (LAR).



9. As first responders bring the emergency incident under control, CEAs coordinate with county departments and state or federal agencies to plan a public meeting to communicate;

· the organizations and agencies that are working on recovery,

· the programs that are available to assist with current needs, and

· other topics relevant to the situation in the county.

10. CEA strike team members will responded as needed /requested to help in disaster situations.



Barriers to the Adoption of Distance Technology in Program Delivery



How do Extension professionals take advantage of new technology trends? In a study conducted by Elizabeth Wells at Michigan State University Extension reported the following (Segars, 2011);



•97% of participants had never edited a wiki.

•89% had never exchanged an instant message with a colleague or client.

•73% had never posted an article to a website or blog.



To promote the use of both new and traditional methods, a blend of delivery methods should be used when transferred to a program setting at the county and state levels (Segars,2011). Offering high tech and high touch programming to satisfy the needs of traditional, contemporary, and future clientele is best.(Segars, 2011). Such a method would require providing training in the implementation of blended learning opportunities for programs by mixing technology with traditional on-site educational delivery (Segars, 2011). Programming that would stem from such training (keep in mind this would include the adjusted definition of Extension programming) would include face-to-face sessions or events, online newsletters, routine informational “tweets” via Twitter, and frequent use of various social media outlets in conjunction with routine blogging (Segars, 2011).



An example of one of these programs will be held Tuesday March 6th, via the web through LYNC for a the Drought Management Symposium for Range and Pasture hosted at the District 11 Center by Nueces County. The symposium will be broadcastered to 8 county locations mostly in District 12. The program is a full day of programs by our District specialist with assistance from some researchers. This is a great opportunity for clientele to come to a county location and view live presentations for presenters from a central location saving all involved much travel dollars. For more information on Tuesdays program contact Megan Dominquez or Pete Flores.



References:

Segars, J., (2011). The New Digital [St]age: Barriers to the Adoption and Adaptation of New Technologies to Deliver Extension Programming and How to Address Them. Journal of Extension [On-line], 49 (1) Article 1FEA1. Available athttp://www.joe.org/joe/2011february/a1.php

Wells, E. (2009). MSUE Educators’ perceptions of the use of technology in their work. Michigan; Author.



District 11 4-H Management



Well, I made my first week without Jodi McManus, as you all know Jodi changed jobs and we wish Kyle, Molly, and Jodi the best. We are certainly going to miss Jodi's direction and leadership as our District 11 Specialist. Dr. Chris Boleman has started the process in filling the position. I know that he will do his best to find an individual to keep our program strong for many years to come. I am counting on your increased involvement and leadership in making sure that our District 11 4-H program opportunities available during the absence of our district specialist.

I will assume most of the management with assistance from our District support staff Mrs. Sharon Thompson. We will keep you informed and help to provide you with your answers to many of your questions.



However, we need to pay extra attention to detail especially moving into the spring contests and events. I am confident with your leadership we will continue to provide the same great opportunities for our members and leaders in this interim period. I am trying to recruit all best possible candidates for the position. If you think of someone in our agency that would have interest please let me know. DM



Personnel News:

Last month was a very hard month for most of us, we lost a valuable coworker in Duane Campion, San Patricio County Extension Agent.  Duane passed away suddenly and shocked many of us that would see him regularly. Thank you to all that came to the services to comfort Duane's family. It is with great sadness I feel in losing a member of our Extension family. Duane's passing certainly made many of us step back and value the many good things in our lives.



Please welcome Ryan Damborsky our new Calhoun County Ag/NR agent staring this week in his new appointment. Ryan completed his first step program in Matagroda County. We are look for great things from Ryan in Calhoun County.

Monday I will meet the court to finalize our new appointment for the vacant Victoria County 4-H agent. I will announce the individual after it is official on Monday. This individual will participate in the first step program in Bexar County and start in Victoria on April 1st.



I was fortunate to attend a great retirement reception for Mr. Joseph Janak, Victoria County Ag/NR agent. Joe retired after 35 years of service to our agency this month. I certainly admire Joe Janak as a friend, mentor and of course a great Ag agent for many years in District 14 and 11. Joe's work ethic and expertise in various areas of agriculture can never be replaced; he has truly made a difference in the many lives of individuals in St. Augustine, and Victoria Counties. The reception was excellent with over 200 people attending, Many specialists form here in Corpus Christi and College Station were in attendance. Dr. Darrell Dromgoole our Associate Director for County programs was present to help honor Joe. Many of you know that Dr. Dromgoole, trained in Victoria county under Joe Janak, Dr. Droogoole provided some excellent words at the reception in tribute to Joe Janak's outstanding career. Congratulations to Joe and his wife Carol and the entire Janak family.

John O'Connell, Matagorda County Marine Resource Agent , will be transferring to Brazoria County starting April 1st.  I wish John well in his new appointment, and thank him for his many years of service to District 11. John has provided great leadership and outstanding programs for his clientele as agent in Calhoun and Matagorda County. Good Luck John!!

Elaine Fries and I are in the process of identifying candidates and interview dates are set for Washington County FCS, Calhoun County FCS and Jackson County FCS positions as they have recently been released externally. Other positions are internal and I am seeking applicants from within our agency.