Texas Cooperative Extension Service: A year in review

JOHANNA HICKS
Hopkins County Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Science

January 2, 2004 -- What is Texas Cooperative Extension? That's a question many people can answer, but many don't have a clue. Allow me to explain our mission and scope, then I'll give specific ways your Hopkins County Extension staff has reached out to local communities.

MISSION:

To provide quality, relevant outreach and continuing education programs and services to the people of Texas.

SCOPE:

Texas Cooperative Extension is a member of the Texas A&M University System. With approximately 825 professional educators located at Texas A&M and 250 county offices, Extension operates in a partnership with federal, state, and county governments to address the needs in every community. Extension provides education in family & consumer sciences, environment & natural resources, 4-H and youth development, food & fiber systems, and community development.

So what does all this mean for Hopkins County? As your County Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, I have addressed the following areas:

1) DIABETES/NUTRITION EDUCATION

"Cooking for a Healthy Lifestyle with 'The Diabetic' Chef'" reached 250 individuals from 6 counties. Exhibits, health fair, refreshments, door prizes, and goody bags rounded out the event, and complimentary copies of Diabetes Forecast Magazine were given to each participant.

"Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes" reached 47 individuals. Two sessions of the 6 lesson-12 topic series were held, targeting people with type 2 diabetes. Nutrition and self-care components were taught, utilizing professionals in health care and nutrition.

Exhibits were displayed at the Sulphur Springs Public Library and Fall Festival to promote diabetes awareness. Programs were also presented to Foster Parents Association, Extension Education Clubs, Head Start parent group, and PRISM (faith-based weight loss program), as part of a diabetes awareness campaign.

Newspaper columns addressed diabetes and nutrition topics through 43 weekly columns and/or announcements in the local paper, plus a few special announcements in surrounding counties.

Diabetes newsletters were distributed to interested individuals on topics concerning cold/flu season and managing diabetes during the holidays.

A total of 2,522 families were reached with diabetes and nutrition education information, plus a potential of 6,000 households who receive the daily newspaper. I'm happy to announce that Hopkins County has been selected as a pilot county for the Diabetic Cooking School Curriculum. I'll be attending a training in February, so I'll keep you posted!

2) BETTER LIVING FOR TEXANS (BLT)

BLT is a partnership between Texas Cooperative Extension and Texas Department of Health involving nutrition education. Lessons have been taught for Head Start, Even Start, and WIC participants. Topics include: "Healthy Eating", "Food Safety & You", "Shopping Strategies", "Color Your Way to 5-a-Day", "Bone Up on Calcium", and "Menu Planning".

Over 500 individuals were reached through programs and the quarterly BLT newsletter. Another BLT "branch" is the Thanksgiving Food Box delivery. In 2003, 47 boxes were delivered by volunteers.

3) PARENTING

Sessions on Communication/Discipline, Child Growth/Brain Development, Health & Safety, and Childhood Nutrition reached 179 individuals. An additional 88 were reached through the "Connections" newsletter. Ten newspaper columns addressed issues pertaining to parenting in 2003. FRED (Fathers Reading Every Day) will be implemented in the spring.

4) 4-H & OTHER YOUTH

In 2003, 1,415 youth were involved in various projects, including "South of the Border Fiesta", food show, fashion show, Creative Fun Day, field trips, community service projects, Achievement Banquet, Kids Safe Saturday, and camps. I also presented programs for Girl Scout and Boy Scout groups.

5) TEEA (TEXAS EXTENSION EDUCATION ASSOCIATION)

Five groups currently meet across Hopkins County. Eighty seven individuals take part in monthly meetings. These groups are very active in community service projects, assisting with Fall Festival, and volunteering for 4-H events. A quarterly newsletter, "Johanna's Jots," is prepared and mailed.

6) OTHER ISSUES

Household safety, sewing classes for adults and youth, character development, and financial management are other areas that have been covered in 2003. Consumer Education events reached 575 individuals.

My co-workers, Larry Spradlin and Sotero Ramirez, also cover a vast array of events, programs, and educational opportunities. We are involved on various district Extension committees and remain active in our respective professional organizations. We have been recognized on state and national levels for outstanding program accomplishments, and hope to continue quality education that has been a long-standing Hopkins County tradition.

So that's a year in review. Have a great holiday season and remember to pray for out troops daily. Happy New Year!

 

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