As we enter our fifth month of dealing with COVID-19, the future continues to be fuzzy. The future is always uncertain, but that’s especially true right now. At work, you and I share some fundamental questions about programs and budget.
- Will we be able to hold that event this fall?
- Will we have support for development of online/virtual programming?
- How long will we be engaged in PPE and medical supply distribution? Contact tracing? CARES Act engagement?
- Will we be forced to eliminate positions? If so, which ones? Outside of work, how will our families and friends fare through this pandemic?
- Will our children return to school? If so, will they be safe there?
- Will there be a sports season this fall? What about winter or spring? What will happen with youth activities?
- How do we stay safe going shopping or to restaurants?
Unfortunately, uncertainty is rampant. We can’t know the answers to these questions at this time. There are too many variables. We will probably have heightened uncertainty for a considerable amount of time. The key to our long-term success is in how we respond, how we navigate the uncertainty that surrounds us. I have been very proud of the way that we have navigated the past few months together. Agents and specialists have developed or modified programming directly in response to the pandemic. They have also explored new ways of offering programming. They have been resilient as guidelines for face-to-face interactions have evolved. They have stood in the gap for their communities, distributing PPE, medical equipment and tests. They have helped local community leaders understand the CARES Act and how to access resources tied to that. In total, agency personnel have done outstanding work for Texans! The administrative team (both Central Leadership Team and Extension Leadership Team) has shown patience and understanding as conditions changed, including the budget challenges that emerged over the past few months. They have communicated well with me and with each other to keep things moving effectively. Despite the prevailing uncertainty, I am very certain that the agency will emerge from the current challenges in a way that positions us well for long-term success. I can be confident in that because I have seen how we work together to lead and manage the agency with a goal to serve Texans. People in positions like mine often overuse terms like “passion” and “excellence” but I’m a big believer in both concepts. The passion that all in the agency show and the excellence that we strive for in doing business will be important ingredients as we create a future for Extension. Thanks for all that you do! I really appreciate the chance to be a part of this large, complex, amazing team of AgriLife Extension professionals!
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Connect on Twitter: @jeffhyde
COVID-19 DAR Response
The agency’s Disaster Assessment and Recovery team has worked tirelessly since the onset of COVID-19 in March. DAR has led the Texas COVID-19 Pony Express mission carrying out more than 2,000 support runs in response to the pandemic through delivery of medical supplies, support of mobile test collection sites, transport of test specimens and more. Over 190 Family and Community Health agents have also worked to assist with contact tracing efforts across the state. AgriLife Extension continues to demonstrate its commitment to serving Texans through these efforts.
(Left) Travis Franke, Extension agent – Guadalupe County; Dale Rankin, Extension agent – Atascosa County; Stephen Zoeller, Extension agent – Kendall County; Bryan Davis, Extension agent and Disaster Assessment Recovery team member, Guadalupe County; Todd Swift, regional program leader – Uvalde; and Troy Luepke, Extension agent – Comal County.
Renchie receives Fellow Designation from American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators
Congratulations to Don Renchie, Ph.D., Regents Fellow, Extension program leader for pesticide safety education, who has been honored as American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators Fellow. He was chosen for superior service to the organization and leadership. It is the highest recognition given by the association. Renchie will be formally recognized during the AAPSE Business Meeting in August.
Redmon named Crop Science Society of America Fellow
Larry Redmon, Ph.D., associate department head and AgriLife Extension program leader for the Department of Soil and Crop Science, has been selected as a Crop Science Society of America Fellow. This designation is the highest bestowed by CSSA. Members nominate colleagues based on their professional achievement and meritorious service. Redmon will be honored as part of the 2020 Awards Hall of Fame.
Extension Spotlight: Birding on the Border
In a new series promoting the great work by agents, specialists and teams statewide during COVID-19, Extension Spotlight takes a look at some of the successes by highlighting programs implemented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our first spotlight focuses on the Val Verde County Birding nature tourism program. Led by Emily Grant, Extension county agent, and Maureen Frank, Extension wildlife specialist, adjustments had to be made to the Birding on the Border Festival cancellation due to COVID-19.
Grant and Frank improvised to develop additional virtual birding programming through their Birding with Texas A&M AgriLife social media sites. Programs which have included the Birding with TAMU Virtual Seminar, Birding 101 Facebook Live Series, and the Cup Chat Series not only took the place of the “in-person” birding festival, but they grew the audience and reach of the Val Verde County Nature Tourism Programming. The original Birding the Border Festival is a huge undertaking and hosts about 70 participants. With the TAMU Virtual Birding Seminar alone, the duo grew their audience to over 200 participants. Virtual connection and an upcoming newsletter continue with participants to this day ensuring that the 2021 Birding on the Border program will be a huge success. On the Web: https://wildlife.tamu.edu/birding/
Sounding Board Committee
The internal Sounding Board maintains direct connections with staff and faculty members, gathering input and providing perspective to the Extension Leadership Team. The Sounding Board plays an important role with organizational engagement as we develop and implement our new strategic plan. Input from these individuals provides perspective on how ELT decisions impact all personnel and helps the ELT and the broader AgriLife administrative team make the best decisions. The internal Sounding Board recently had its second meeting.
If you have questions or items for discussion, you are encouraged to reach out to a Sounding Board member as we further position AgriLife Extension to serve every Texan.
Reach Out to a Sounding Board Member Here
AgriLife Extension Agency Personnel Updates
Check out the latest individuals to join the agency network statewide.