July 1st is officially when the counties merge and become units in Extension Reorganization. We were fortunate to learn in May that all our support staff will be retained. Some titles and job duties may change, but we will be able to continue to deliver quality Extension programs without much disruption.
There are still a number of transitions to be made…from separate county councils to a single unit council made up of volunteers from each of the counties; forming a unit program committee that will help identify local needs; and the implementation plan of four educators dedicated to programming in our three counties.
To introduce the educators and staff we will host a series of Open Houses all from 3-6 p.m. beginning Tuesday, July 12 at the Grundy County office, Wednesday, July 13 at the Kankakee County office and Thursday, July 14 at the Will County office. Come to any of the offices and welcome the new educators and learn about new programs and share ideas.
This Extension Link introduces you to the two new educators, Drusilla Banks, Nutrition & Wellness and John Davis, Youth Development in addition to our current ones, Chelsey Byers, Family Life and James Theuri, Local Foods Systems and Small Farms, which will begin serving the new unit July 1st.
As always, contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Greetings to the residents of Grundy, Kankakee, and Will Counties…
I am your newly appointed Nutrition and Wellness Educator for University of Illinois Extension, and I'm thrilled to be a part of the unit bringing you educational programs to help you improve your daily lives. Even though I have spent most of my Extension career in Cook County, I grew up on a farm in Southern Illinois. My father was a farmer in Brookport, Illinois as was his father before him. Most of the food that we consumed came from our farm. At a young age, I learned the value of gardening and eating locally produced food. We raised cattle, chickens, ducks, geese, and we had a huge garden. Our cellar and freezer were stocked with foods from our farm. My siblings and I had chores before and after school. I was in charge of the turkeys. By the way, I have a website called "Turkey for the Holidays" at www.urbanext.illinois/turkey.
I attended high school in Brookport and I was president of our FHA (Future Homemakers of America) in my senior year. I also attended college close to home at nearby Southern Illinois University in Carbondale where I earned a Bachelor's degree in Home Economics Education specializing in Foods and Nutrition. Later I earned a Masters degree in Nutrition from the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.
Teaching is my passion. I believe that learning is a lifelong experience, and it should be fun. I will be scheduling workshops and programs throughout the multi-county unit in the coming months. I will also provide information through one-on-one conversations, websites, press releases, radio, and TV. Among the offerings will be "Meals for a Healthy Heart", "I on Diabetes" and "Nutrition Across the Lifespan". Many of my workshops will include cooking demonstrations and taste testing.
I look forward to meeting many of you at each county Open House scheduled for July. My appointment officially begins July 1, 2011. I will be working closely with Beth LaPlante, Multi-County Unit Director and her staff and educators at the Unit office to bring you the best Extension programming in the state. I am looking forward to meeting you and starting my new job as your Nutrition and Wellness Educator.
Hello, Kankakee County!
My name is John Davis and I will be the Youth Development Educator for Grundy, Kankakee, and Will Counties. I have been the Youth Development Educator in Grundy County for the past 7 years.
As a Youth Development Educator, I have a passion for seeing youth grow, mature and become our future leaders. I will continue to strive to make families and supporters of University of Illinois Extension proud of our 4-H and youth programs. I plan on keeping the outstanding programs that Kankakee has offered in the past and adding some programs that I have had success with in other counties. The most valuable people to me will be the 4-H leaders and volunteers. You are the ones who make the successes happen.
Some goals I have for the Youth Development Program include:
1) Science, Engineering & Technology Camp
2) At least one youth apply for the State Youth Leadership Team
3) Youth register for the Illini Summer Academies
4) Youth attend Space Camp
5) Promote a Murder Mystery Day
I plan on being at the Kankakee County Fair and assisting wherever needed. I am excited to promote and improve the youth development program.
I look forward to talking with all of you and sharing plans and ideas.