I’ve spent much of the past few weeks talking, writing, and thinking about the need for change in our agency. To start this month’s message, I’d like to focus on some things that haven’t changed and won’t change.
One thing has emerged as a constant as I’ve talked with people who have a longer history with AgriLife Extension, including many who have been retired for several years. When I tell them about things like declining budgets and personnel numbers, challenges with internal communications, and struggles to utilize technologies most effectively, they aren’t surprised. As one retiree told me on a visit to Amarillo in December, “Sounds like nothing’s changed.” Furthermore, I recently reviewed some documents from the early 2000s that outlined some of the agency’s challenges at the time. Much of that could’ve been written today and been just as accurate.
I hope you understand that internal change is continuously needed because change continuously happens around us. It’s very important, though, to understand that our mission is unwavering. We will continue to provide research-based programming to positively impact individuals, families, businesses, and communities across Texas. Without exception, our people tell me that they’re passionate about that work. It’s the reason most of us don’t mind getting up for work each morning. At a breakfast meeting with about 35 Extension retirees during AgriLife Conference, every one of them spoke in glowing terms about their time with the agency and the work that they did. Our goal is to preserve our agency’s ability to make those impacts and to maintain a workforce of people who are passionate about the mission.
To wrap up AgriLife Conference, we celebrated many of our colleagues and partners at our annual Superior Service Award ceremony. I had an absolute blast meeting so many people and hearing about the work that they did to earn the awards. It was truly a celebration of excellent programming. Again, that is what we are working to preserve as we think about the agency’s future business model.
So, there are lots of things that we don’t want to change. We absolutely want to maintain our mission and our passion. We also must recognize that the need for change in constant in order for us to maintain those things and expand our capacity to impact every Texan.
In this note, I’ve referred a few times to some of the opportunities I’ve had to get out and meet people internally and externally. That’s one of my priorities for my first year in this role. As I do, I hope that you will take time to share with me about the work that you do. I very much appreciate learning about AgriLife Extension’s work in communities across the state. The input helps to provide a complete understanding of the agency.
Another thing I am doing to help me understand the agency is to establish a new group which for now I am calling the “Internal Sounding Board.” This will serve as an advisory body to me and the Extension Leadership Team. If you recall, I discussed the need for this type of group last spring during my interview presentation. It is important to me that we have a way to listen directly to those of you who engage in programming day in and day out. It is also important that the group be representative of all agents, specialists, and program specialists. Some members of the group will be chosen by their peers and others will be appointed by me to represent the diversity of disciplines, geography, length of service, and other factors. You will hear more about this very soon. I am looking forward to engaging this group throughout the process of developing and implementing our strategic plan.
It’s an exciting time in Texas and with AgriLife Extension. Have a great February!
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Connect on Twitter: @jeffhyde
February 5, 2020
Prevention Practices During Flu Season
With the onset of livestock show season and increased travel across Texas, Extension personnel are reminded of the importance of personal hygiene and sanitation practices to prevent the spread of the flu virus. While current media attention is focused on the Novel Coronavirus, the flu continues to spread across the state to the extent that multiple school districts are closing. As you are working with 4-H youth and clientele, please reinforce the need for preventative practices such as handwashing, covering your cough or sneeze and disinfecting surfaces (including tools and show equipment). This is a good educational opportunity for us as we work with families that these preventative practices apply to all viruses, including the flu and the Corona Virus. Prevention practices safeguard us and are effective regardless of the type of virus you are exposed to. Visit https://texashelp.tamu.edu for more information or click the button below.
Blackland Income Growth Conference
I had the privilege of giving the keynote at the 58th Blackland Income Growth Conference held in Waco recently, which attracted more than 330 attendees. The From the Ground Up session also provided educational programming on how food is produced and consumer trends. The session was attended by dieticians, food experts and others. Scholarships were also given to 12 high school seniors from throughout the Blacklands region who will graduate in May, attending Texas colleges. Please join me in congratulating the BIG Program committee led by Brent Batchelor, regional program leader, Stephenville.
AgriLife Extension Director Jeff Hyde visiting with scholarship recipients, parents at Blackland Income Growth Conference in Waco.
Mark Welch, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service grain marketing economist; Shane McLellan, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension agent, McLennan County; Lyle Zoeller, AgriLife Extension agent, Bell County; and Fred Schrank, state agronomist, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Temple, at the Blackland Income Growth Conference in Waco.
Texas Pecan Short Course
The 56th Texas Pecan Short Course in College Station attracted more than 80 attendees throughout Texas, the nation and as far away as Australia. Participants learned more about variety selection, results from recent production trials, as well as market trends. Curriculum includes both classroom and orchard teaching. The four-day short course is hosted by AgriLife Extension and the Texas A&M Department of Horticulture.
Larry Stein, Dan Lineberger and Monte Nesbitt showing off pecan varieties found throughout Texas.
Human Trafficking Assistance
An AgriLife Extension agent has co-developed a system to help identify and assist victims of human trafficking. Nancy Treviño, Ph.D., is partnering to develop protocol for first responder organizations to implement in their communities that will connect victims, once identified, with the local resources they need to leave and improve their situation. Trevino is also developing a curriculum to help trafficking victims return to more normal lives. A community symposium is being planned for Lubbock in April.
Master Wellness Volunteer State Training
I had the privilege of speaking to 2020 Master Wellness Volunteer State Training participants during a video conference segment. Volunteers are the heart of carrying out our agency mission and this training event was a big success. The first day of the in-person training had 118 trainees in 37 counties learning about AgriLife Extension and its programs. Thanks to Andy Crocker, AgriLife Extension statewide program specialist for gerontology and health, and others for coordinating this training.
Agency Business Cards, Print Items
Agency stationery items and other print needs are now being produced through the Texas Engineering Extension Service. For order information, please see https://communications.agrilife.org/copy-print-request/
AgriLife Extension Effort Will Expand Impact for Texans with Disabilities
A new partnership between Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, TCDD, is creating a statewide presence to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities, caregivers, partners and providers in communities throughout Texas.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19% of people in the U.S. and more than 5 million Texans have a disability, said Andy Crocker, AgriLife Extension statewide program specialist for gerontology and health, Amarillo.
“With Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s mission to help Texans better their lives, this partnership with TCDD will allow us to serve new audiences with our research-based, practical, applicable education,” Crocker said.
Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership members tour East Texas
Members of the 16th Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership program visited East Texas recently to add to their statewide perspective on agriculture in the Lone Star State.
TALL, administered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, is a two-year program that brings participants together eight times at locations around Texas. They attend seminars and meet with government and business leaders to discuss local, state, national and international topics.
The mission of TALL is to create a cadre of Texas leaders to help ensure effective understanding and encourage positive action on key issues, theories, policy and economics that will advance the agriculture industry.
Superior Service Awards
Again, we are proud of all the agency Superior Service Award and Partnership Award recipients! Click the button below to read a recap of award winners and see a photo slideshow.
We had a large group of retirees share great stories about their legacy with Extension during a special retiree breakfast held the week of AgriLife Conference. Our retiree network is strong and plays an important role in sharing the Extension vision and mission. It was a special treat to have 97-year-old Doyle Moore attend the event, who spent 36 years with the agency as an agent and retired in August of 1984.