Springfield – Fourteen county officials have achieved Certified County Officials (CCO) status in a University of Illinois Extension-directed educational program for local officials. The officials were recognized during the annual spring meeting of the Illinois Association of County Officials (IACO) in Springfield on April 27.
Each of the county officials completed at least 24 hours of credit in the program, part of the Certified County Officials program, a joint effort of U of I Extension and the Illinois Association of County Board Members and Commissioners.
Tony Franklin, Knox County Extension Director presented Robin E. Davis, Knox County Treasurer with her CCO award at the IACO conference. Davis was elected as the Knox County Treasurer in November of 2002. Prior to serving as Treasurer, she worked in the Treasurer's office for 10 years.
"The desire to improve the efficiency and operations of our local county government inspired me to run for Treasurer. With my prior governmental and banking experience along with my educational degree in business finance, I felt that I could provide the financial leadership Knox County needed," said Davis.
"By working with county officials in implementing zero-based budgeting we have streamlined the budget process and wrote realistic balanced budgets. This replaced the traditional percentage increases or decreases in departmental budgets. This has definitely helped to improve the County's financial position," Davis said of her proudest accomplishment while in office.
In addition to being Knox County Treasurer, Davis has also been married to her husband for 14 years and is raising three daughters.
"The Certified County Officials program is an excellent opportunity for county officials to educate themselves to better serve their constituents. One of the things that I learned through the program was laws governing budget control. The speaker was able to come to our County and speak to the County Board. Knox County has benefited tremendously from the implementation of this information. I think this is a wonderful program and I am honored to become a Certified County Official," commented Davis.
In October of 2008 the Family Nutrition Program recruited a new volunteer. Tim Lincoln has assisted with over twenty programs and has put in over 28 volunteer hours. Tim is an asset to the Family Nutrition Program, which provides nutrition education to individuals and organizations in Knox County. Tim understands the importance of delivering a quality nutrition program by showing audiences how to make healthy recipes. Tim has also helped create activities, like name your favorite food, and taste testing milk that promote learning at Head Start, Bright Futures, and Nielson School. Other places that Tim enjoys volunteering are KCCDD, Gordon Behrents Senior Center, and the Salvation Army. We look forward to continued volunteer work with Tim as he helps promote healthy living in Knox County.
University of Illinois Extension Knox County Horticulture Educator, Kari Houle, in conjunction with Bill Shoemaker, Senior Research Specialist at the St. Charles Research Center, presented a three hour workshop on vegetable production planning on April 15th. The program was attended by Knox and Stephenson County producers along with 50 participants attending via telenet from Winnebago, Calhoun-Jersey, DeKalb, and McDonough counties. The program was offered in support of the Local Food System initiative and those in attendance showed great interest in future programming on local food production and planning from Knox County Extension staff. A series of additional programs are planned over the next year as continued support of the Local Food Systems: Cultivating Food and Community program.
Fourteen individuals from a variety of counties were accepted into the Master Gardener training program that began in January 2009. The program provides 60 hours worth of horticultural training in areas such as landscaping, ornamental grasses, entomology, pathology, woody ornamentals, pesticide safety, integrated pest management, soils, fruits and vegetables, turf, herbaceous ornamentals, and botany. All fourteen individuals completed the training and are now working towards providing 60 hours of volunteer service to their community in return. Of the fourteen trainees, six were from Knox County. The six individuals from Knox County that completed the training were: Mary, Benejam, Cherie Burkhart, Gail Coffman, Frank Mallee, Jill Phillips, and Jamie Yemm. They have already begun to give back to the community in activities such as Week of the Young Child Fun Fair helping youth to plant marigold seeds, working with 2nd graders at Silas-Willard, and helping at the Knox County Nursing Home.
Staff from University of Illinois Extension taught two sessions at Galesburg High School's child development classes this spring. Objectives of the program are to help students understand common eating habits of toddlers and preschoolers, why children may become 'choosy' eaters, whether to worry about a child's 'choosy' eating, what we should and should not do, and explore ways to help parents and child care providers to make the most of mealtimes with young children. Evaluation indicated students learned portion sizes for young children, what not to do with children like bribing, not to fight with children at mealtime, and not to be a picky eater yourself.
Six community 4-H clubs showcased their acting talents as well as ten groups performing talent at the annual 4-H Share-the-Fun and Showcase of Performing Arts Program in April. The theme for the event was All I Ever Really needed to Know I Learned in 4-H. Over 200 people attended the event held at the Costa Catholic Academy auditorium. Youth learn about presentation skills, public speaking and organizational skills from the many acts presented.
In May, this annual event took place at Lake Storey Park in Galesburg. Six first-grade classes participated in six different environmental awareness sessions including: Fish and Aquatics, Local Food, Soil Quality, Streams and Streamsides, Water Conservation, and Native Prairies.
A big thank-you goes out to all those that assisted with the program; IDNR, Knox County SWCD, Knox County Farm Bureau, Stuart Allison-Knox College and everyone from Extension.
4-H youth development's national mission mandate is Science, Engineering and Technology. Through a grant from the Illinois 4-H Foundation and support from Caterpillar, two robotics teams this year were developed in Knox County.
Youth, ages 9-14, with five to ten on a team, participated in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Lego League robotics educational program. The team builds a robot, using Lego bricks and other elements such as sensors, motors and gears. The team gains hands-on experience in engineering and computer programming principles as they construct and program their unique robot inventions.
Youth met weekly to prepare with their coach and technical advisors for the three phases of competition: team work, challenge missions (getting their robot to do specific things) and a research project on a topic. Last year, teams were asked to complete an energy audit of a building for the research portion of the project and this year the focus was climate change. Teams meet from the beginning of September through mid-December.
Evaluation results indicated the youth tried something new, had fun and built their confidence in using technology. Youth reported that as a result of the participation in this program they developed general skills regarding understanding the robot and specifically programming for a mission.
One team each year from Knox County has been selected at the regional competition to attend the state contest in Chicago in January.
Certified crop advisors from across the area participated in the first ever annual event that focused on the topic of integrated pest management and crop scouting techniques in late February. Extension Educators from Knox, Adams/Brown counties, the Rockford and Champaign Center provided instruction. The intent of this program is to provide the latest hands-on training in the use of pest management tools ranging from computer technologies to proper pesticide use including a working knowledge of herbicide sites and modes of action.
On Monday, April 20, 2009, four graduate students from University of Illinois's Department of Urban and Regional Planning presented their final report on Galesburg's East Main Street Corridor to City Council. As part of University of Illinois Extension's Community Matters Program, Meghna Dutta, Zach Kennedy, Senait Brown, and Pallavi Nadimpalli signed on to the project as a result of a visit to campus by Galesburg City Manager, Dane Bragg, and Director of Community Development, Roy Parkin (both U of I DURP Graduates) explaining the project concept.
The students, with the assistance of University of Illinois Extension, hosted a Community Charrette September 9, 2008, where residents and business owners along and near East Main Street were asked their perceptions of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) along the corridor. A design preference survey was also conducted with the group, and at a open house at the East Main Street HyVee.
The results of the Charrette and survey, together with zoning research, condition assessment, and community case studies were all incorporated into the final report presented to the city. A report summary is also available to the public.
The East Main Street Corridor Project illustrates University of Illinois Extension's ability to bring the resources of the Campus Community to partner with local groups. These partnerships can have long lasting impact in the communities across Illinois, while providing students access to real life situations to utilize the skill they are learning in their education.
Students from Knox College hosted the first Science Saturday on May 2 at the Umbeck Science and Mathematical Center with thirteen junior high age youth attending. Four experiential sessions were held. Youth learned more about chromatography and extracted casein from milk, how we hear and see, the constant acceleration of gravity and parts of the brain and nerves. Ninety-two (92) percent indicated they had learned a great deal about science during the Science Saturday program.
With the Knox County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition Underage Alcohol Prevention Task Force, several local businesses participated in the state-wide Project Sticker Shock project held in April. The local businesses participating were Casey's General Store, Wataga; Ma and Pa's Liquor, Abingdon; and Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits, Galesburg. Youth groups participating were the Initiative for Girls, Galesburg; Abingdon High School and the FCCLA from ROWVA High School. The objective of the event is to remind adults that it is illegal to provide alcohol to minors and for a minor to use a fake ID. Alcohol has been identified as the number one drug of choice among Illinois and Knox County youth, and according to local youth, one of the easiest substances to obtain. The Sticker Shock campaign hopes to cause adults to think twice before making it any easier for youth to access alcohol.
15 Active Master Gardeners High Individual Volunteer Hours for 2008—91.15
3 Master Gardener Interns High Individual Continuing Ed Hours for 2008—46.5
3 Master Gardener Alumni (Reported Hours for 2008)
Total Volunteer Hours Reported for 2008—983.5 Weekly Average— 18.91
Total Continuing Education Hours Reported for 2008—294.5 Weekly Average—5.66
Value of volunteer service for the residents of Knox County in 2008—$19,916