Monday, May 24, 2010

District Trainings for County Judges and Commissioners Critical Component of Program Interpretation Initiative

One of the components of the 2010 County Programs Interpretation Initiative are District Judges and Commissioners Conferences that will be conducted in eleven of our twelve Extension Districts in 2010. The following is a list of these events;
  • District 1- September 9, 2010- Amarillo, Texas
  • District 3- November 4, 2010-Vernon, Texas
  • District 2- November 5, 2009- Lubbock, Texas
  • District 8- November 10, 2010- Waco, Texas
  • District 5- December 1, 2010- Nacogodoches, Texas
  • District 4- December 2, 2010- Mt. Pleasant, Texas
  • District 12-December 3, 2010- Kingsville, Texas
  • District 6 -December 7, 2010- Fort Stockton, Texas
  • District 10-December 8, 2010- Uvalde, Texas
  • District 7- December9, 2010- San Angelo
  • District 11-December 14, 2010- Edna
These conferences provide a tremendous benefit for both our County Commissioner Court members and Texas AgriLife Extension Service. The following are some of the reasons that this component of our interpretation plan is critical;

  • Enables District Extension Administrators to solidify partnerships with County Commissioners Court members in their District.
  • Demonstrates Texas AgriLife Extension Service's commitment to county government.
  • Provides an opportunity for Texas AgriLife Extension Service to showcase effective educational programs conducted in the District.
  • Provides customized professional development for County Commissioners within a District.
  • Provides a venue for quality interpretation.
All District Extension Administrators and County Extension Directors should be reminded that he 2010 County Programs Interpretation Initiative includes the following;
  • District Judges and Commissioners Conferences hosted by District Extension Administrators.
  • Utilization of the Extension Making a Difference Newsletters that communicates Texas AgriLife Extension's public value. This newsletter will be published on an annual basis.
  • Utilization of an Urban County Capacity Report for County Commissioners and key stakeholders.
  • All Counties conduct formal interpretation events with County Commissioners Courts annually that communicates Texas AgriLife Extension's public value.
  • All Counties involve elected officials in Extension "showcase" events.
  • All Districts will have a Marketing and Interpretation Committee.
In addition to interpretation efforts that District Extension Administrators and County Extension Directors provide leadership to, it is imperative that every county has an interpretation plan that is systematic and comprehensive in nature.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Steer Validation Video Excellent Resource for Agents

Texas 4-H Steer Validation Demonstration is available in live streaming media at

The Texas 4-H and Youth Development Program in cooperation with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Animal Science Extension Unit has worked together to offer online resources to support the Texas 4-H Youth Livestock Project. The Steer Validation video is designed to assist agents to become proficient in the procedures for validating show steer projects through the Texas Steer Validation Program. This video are no substitute for reading the validation guidelines, but they should add visual references to the techniques used in the validation process. These videos would also serve as a great resource for training County Steer Validation Committees.

Please ensure that County Extension Agents are aware of this resource.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

4-H Outdoor Education and Leadership Development Series in San Jacinto County

In support of the Administrative Priority to Target Outreach and Expansion the 4-H Outdoor Education and Leadership Development Series was planned and implemented in San Jacinto County.

Youth development and leadership development are focal points for AgriLife Extension in San Jacinto County. With this in mind, program area committees explored avenues to address this issue without introducing a financial requirement for families. The tool identified to accomplish this task was through outdoor education and awareness. Outdoor education is a great avenue to build leaders through hands-on educational opportunities.

In order to implement a quality program, key topics were identified and implemented. The program topics included hunter safety education, outdoor ethics, wildlife population dynamics, population modeling, outdoor safety, farm pond management, and marine fisheries. The Extension Office provided facilities, off-site locations, speakers, and necessary supplies to present a safe and effective learning environment. The educational activities were presented as field days, tours, camp trips, lectures, hands-on learning and newsletters. There were over 125 youth participating in this series of activities.

This series allowed youth to obtain and exhibit leadership qualities through outdoor opportunities. The youth experienced a tremendous gain in knowledge and skills as indicated in survey results. Also, outstanding strides were indicated in a better understanding of the out-of-doors environment. The greatest stride, however, observed within the participating youth was that of the impact human activity places on the environment and the opportunity to alter that impact.

Outdoor education and youth leadership development activities will continue in San Jacinto County during 2010.

for this article was provided by Dale A. Fritz, Ph.D., District Extension Administrator-Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Monday, May 17, 2010

Library LITE and WAT in Montgomery County

In support of the Administrative Priority to Target Outreach and Expansion the Library LITE & Walk Across Texas Program was planned and implemented in Montgomery County.

Chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, place a significant burden on the entire state of Texas. Many of these diseases could be prevented by regular physical activities, such as walking, along with an improved daily diet and routine health screening.
As a result of this growing concern, the Montgomery County Library System Outreach Director Devery Johnson and Marketing Director Melissa Baker created the concept of a Library LITE wellness program which emphasized a theme to help participants Lose weight, Increase confidence, Tone your body, and Exercise & energize.

The Linda Mock, CEA-FCS, along with Lilly Dorney, BLT Program Assistant, were asked to be major partners in the educational focus of Library LITE. Mock and Dorney planned thirty-two educational presentations using eleven different curricula offered by Texas AgriLife Extension specialists. In addition, Marilyn Kasmiersky, FCS Committee members, was recruited to teach several “Financial Fitness” classes.

Each of the branch library coordinators selected their own educational presentations from a curriculum list. The Extension presentations served as single one-shot programs by Mock and Dorney from January to March and were an avenue to market the importance of participating in WAT as well. Topics of the presentations included:
  • Dinner Time Dilemma
  • Portion Distortion
  • Myths & Realities About Maintaining Healthy Weight
  • Getting the Skinny on Fad Diets
  • Watching the Waistline When Eating Out
  • BLT Better Health with Better Choices
  • Cooking with Herbs and Spices
  • Heart Smart Series (Heart Health, Bone Health, Cancer Health, and Food Safety)
  • Coloring Our Children’s Plates With Fruits and Vegetables
  • Eating Behaviors of the Young Child
  • Growing Healthy, Happy Babies: Infant and Toddler Nutrition
  • Let’s Get Moving!
  • Promoting Healthy Weight In Young Children: Best Practices for Encouraging Physical Activity
  • Get Moving: One Step at a Time
A total of about 225 adults and children participated in one or more of the presentations held at the various branches and reported positive comments on their written evaluations. There were a total of 425 registered participants for the Walk Across Texas programs but only 296 (253 females and 43 males) of those actually reported their weekly mileage to their specific branches. Compiling all of the data from each branch, the Montgomery County Memorial Library System logged in 27,246 miles from 40 different registered teams.

The potential economic impact of Library LITE/Walk Across Texas in Montgomery County during 2009 was most significant. According to the post survey, 84% (248 of 296) of the participants reported that along with their families, Library LITE/Walk Across Texas had helped them to form several new positive health habits. 24% (64 of 296) of the participants reported being able to avoid or delay developing diabetes. All in all, the total potential impact for Montgomery County Memorial Library System employees and their patrons was $4,461,809.

Health education, wellness education, and promoting physical activity will continue to be strong programs with outreach audiences in Montgomery County.

Content for this article was provided by Dale A. Fritz, Ph.D., District Extension Administrator-Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Friday, May 14, 2010

4-H Livestock Ambassador Program in Madison County

In support of the Administrative Priority to Increase Capacity to Allocate Resources to Maximize County Program Effectiveness the 4-H Livestock Ambassador Program was implemented in Madison and surrounding counties. The program is designed to teach senior age 4-H youth advanced animal science while expanding their leadership capabilities to assist other 4-H members with the management of their livestock projects.

The program includes a 3-day 4-H Livestock Ambassador Short Course to teach livestock production and management principles and a commitment by the participant to return at least 20 hours of service in helping 4-H members with their livestock projects and teaching animal science at 4-H Club Meetings. The Short Course provides the participants with the necessary tools to educate new 4-H members on the fundamentals of livestock project management and showing.

During 2009, 26 4-H members completed the 4-H Livestock Ambassador Short Course in College Station and have begun to return their 20 hours of service. The participants were from Madison, Grimes, Liberty, Brazoria, Harris, and Walker Counties. The students completed 45 hours of instruction in livestock nutrition, reproduction, management, anatomy and physiology, health, selection, fitting and showing. Additionally, the students completed a training concerning youth leadership and identifying critical livestock issues.

The participants were asked questions about the effectiveness of the short course, his/her perceptions of the 4-H livestock experience and what he/she hoped to accomplish as a Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassador. From the data, it was determined that five separate themes emerged. The themes in the highest frequency order to lowest were: a) newfound ability or qualification, b) importance of teen/peer leaders, c) better understanding of career aspirations, d) teaching providing leadership e) and understanding of higher education.

This program has been very successful in Southeast Texas. In 2010, the program will again be offered at College Station and will be expanded to Lubbock.

for this article was provided by Dale A. Fritz, Ph.D., District Extension Administrator-Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Volunteer Management Resources Announced

On behalf of the Extension Volunteer Steering Committee, Courtney Dodd, Extension Program Specialist announced some new volunteer management resources that are available to agents. These resources are as follows;

  • Economic Impact Brief for Volunteerism in the Texas AgriLife Extension Service-This one-page document provides an overview of volunteerism in Extension, highlighting the economic value of our volunteers' contributions in 2009. The 104,000+ volunteers contributed more than four million hours throughout 2009, which is valued at $84 million (using the current rate of $20.85/hour). The direct link to this and other economic impact briefs is located at: County volunteer reports for 2009 are still accessible at
  • New Volunteer Resource Website- With the transition of Extension's web sites, the volunteer resources site has also been updated and changed! We are still working on it, but invite you to take a look! The address is: Click on the Volunteerism link on the right-hand side of the page for resources that have been developed and are specific to the role of the volunteer manager. Additional resources, such as those for National Volunteer Week and the "Making a Difference Through Volunteers" interpretation piece are available on this site as well. As new resources become available, they will be posted on this site!
  • "Empowering Volunteers" Publication Released- A new publication, Volunteer Administration in the 21st Century: Empowering Volunteers, has been developed and is now available as a resource to you. This resource is attached, available online via the AgriLife Bookstore and will be posted on the Volunteer Resource web site (referenced above) very soon. While there is no clear cut formula for empowering volunteers, as all volunteers have their own unique traits and personalities (as we do), we hope that the publication will provide you with tools and ideas to help with empowerment.
District Extension Administrators and County Extension Director should ensure that all agents are aware and are utilizing these resources.

Content for this article was provided by Courtney F. Dodd, Extension Program Specialist-Texas AgriLife Extension Service.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Health is Rock'n in Grimes County

In support of the Administrative Priority to Target Outreach and Expansion the Health Rocks! curriculum was implemented in Grimes County. Health Rocks! brought youth, families and communities throughout Grimes County together with the aim to reduce tobacco, alcohol and drug use by youth. Health Rocks! facilitated youth’s development of life skills in the area of critical thinking, decision-making, communication, managing feelings, stress management, and goal setting to encourage resistance of risky behaviors through interactive games and activities.

The 81 participants from Navasota Jr. High and Stoneham Elementary were provided with accurate health information regarding statistics and consequences of youth tobacco, alcohol, and drug usage. The Day Camp format’s success was attributed to being taught by the Grimes County Youth Board members who were the participants’ peers. Texas AgriLife Extension provided the training of the instructors, partnered with Twin City Mission who provided school supplies and workshop materials, Navasota ISD allowed facility usage, and Lee Tabernacle United Methodist Church supplied meals and snacks.

The participants demonstrated knowledge of the difference between legal and illegal drugs, the effects of tobacco and smoking on the body, the need for considering options before making decisions and evaluating decisions, and noted the advantages of setting goals. Each participant completed a retrospective evaluation. Personal testimonies included “I will never smoke in my life.” , “I’ve learned which drugs are legal and illegal and how much they harm our bodies.” , “The experience changed my life in so many ways.” , and “I have learned that stress is good and bad depending on the situation.”

Health education and youth development will continue to be strong programs with outreach audiences in Grimes County.

Content for this article was provided by Dale A. Fritz, Ph.D., District Extension Administrator-Texas AgriLife Extension Service.