"In our public meetings, we heard loud and clear from our clientele how much they value Extension programming and our local presence," said Robert Hoeft, interim director of U of I Extension. "This plan will maintain a local presence in very county." He says the restructuring addresses financial constraints, but also provides for a continuation of what Extension is known for – research-based, high-impact programs meeting changing societal and personal needs. According to Dr. Hoeft, the programs are going to stay intact, 4-H in particular.
County units across the state have submitted their proposal to administration for review. The process to determine potential counties to merge with Knox included feedback from the Extension Council, Knox County Extension staff, a focus group, stakeholders, volunteers, partnering agencies, and local city and county government officials. In addition, a survey question was posted on the Knox County website to solicit input.
After reviewing and compiling all the feedback, the top three merger scenarios were submitted:
Programming history, demographics, existing community partnerships, existing assets, opportunities, challenges, commuting patterns and financial stability were among the factors taken into consideration. This has proven to be an extremely difficult process as first choice options for surrounding counties vary, i.e. Warren/Henderson - McDonough/Hancock; Henry/Stark - Knox; Rock Island - Mercer/Henry.
While local preferences will be a high priority, the Extension administrative team must include all counties in the state, therefore no county can be left out. Regardless of the final decision, Extension will continue to be a strong and viable organization.
Thanks for your understanding, input, patience and support as Extension navigates through the restructuring process.
Phase 1 - Restructuring Plan at a Glance
· Ability to generate a minimum of $350,000 through local funding sources
· To administer local county programming from 30 units of at least three but not more than five counties
· Reduce the number of county director positions by 46
· Cook County will remain as a single-county program
· Minimum staffing for proposed units will consist of a County Director, a unit Secretary, three Educators and a position to manage volunteers
· 4 core program areas: agriculture and natural resources; community and economic development, family and consumer sciences and 4-H youth development
· Main office or hub office will house the Educators, Secretary and County Director with satellite offices based on available resources
NOTE: It is important to note that the aforementioned are minimums based on local funds, thus does not include monies from state matching funds. Additional funds will result in enhanced staffing and programming to meet local needs.
May 10: County Directors will identify to Regional Director the proposed Unit configuration
May 19: Notification to County Directors of acceptance/change of proposal
June 10: Notification to Educators from Center closings as to new office location
Released on April 9, 2010
Illinois youth displayed impressive technological abilities by putting their robots in motion at the 2nd Annual Illinois 4-H Robotics Challenge held on April 24, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Youth teams engineered their robots to transport a small plastic ball from one end of a 96-inch table to the other while using sensors to avoid obstacles along the way. Upon finishing the course, the robots were designed to perform a victory dance to music. Fifteen teams representing all regions of the state participated in the event.
"Most of these teams have been working since February to prepare for this challenge," said Lisa Bouillion Diaz, U of I Extension 4-H specialist. "We were really impressed with the high level of preparation and creativity."
In addition to being judged on the performance of their robot, teams were asked to discuss the computer program their robot used for the challenge and to complete an unrelated teamwork activity to show their ability to work as a team.
The top-scoring junior teams (ages 9 to 14) was the Knox Automatons. Members include Carli Brucker, Matt Brucker, and Nathan Puthenveetil and coached by Amy Brucker. The teams were awarded scholarships from the Illinois 4-H Foundation to participate in the 2010 FIRST LEGO League competition to be held this fall and at regional competitions across Illinois.
The Illinois 4-H robotics challenge was sponsored by Illinois 4-H in partnership with the U of I College of Engineering, and the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES).
State law requires any farmer in Illinois applying restricted-use pesticides in the course of crop production be licensed. Persons applying restricted-use pesticides on their farm or one under their control must have a private applicator license. University of Illinois Extension provides in- person training and study materials for people needing licensing. Over eighty farm operators attended training at the Agri-Center in February to fulfill these requirements.
The Entrepreneurial Support Network (ESN) of West Central Illinois held a press conference on February 16, 2010 to unveil plans for Entrepreneurship Week 2010. The group, a partnership of University of Illinois Extension Knox, Warren and Mercer Counties, the City of Galesburg, Workforce Investment Board, Small Business Development Center, GREDA, WIEDP, Mercer County EDP, Galesburg Business and Technology Center, and HCEDP, announced the participation of 35 jurisdictions throughout the four county region that had proclaimed the Week of February 21 through 27, 2010 as Entrepreneurship Week. This is an amazing increase from the nine jurisdictions that participated in 2009.
Also announced at the press conference were the upcoming "Eagle" Small Business Awards. ESN made nomination forms available for nominations in seven categories including "Entrepreneur of the Year". The group will present the awards at the Small Business Day Luncheon on May 25, 2010. Nominations were accepted from Knox, Warren, Henderson, and Mercer Counties, representing the coverage area of the Entrepreneurial Support Network.
On Saturday April 24 the Galesburg Public Library, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners hosted a gardening exploration program for youth in grades 4th through 6th. During the two hours, youth were introduced to five topic areas including Trees and Arbor Day, Monarch Butterflies and Milkweed, Vermicomposting, Honey Bees, and Terrariums. Nine youth attended the program and were able to see a working worm composting bin and build their own terrariums. A special thank you goes out to the following people for helping to make this program a success:
Rhonda Brady, Knox County Master Gardener
Kathy Breeden, Knox County Master Gardener
Frank Mallee, Knox County Master Gardener
Karen Marple, Head of the Children's Department at the Galesburg Public Library
Jean Nyman, Knox County Master Gardener
Jill Phillips, Knox County Master Gardener
Pam VanKirk, Director of the Galesburg Public Library
The Knox County 4-H Senior Horse Bowl team placed first at the regional Horse Bowl contest held April 10. Members of the team included Makaela Mason, Maquon; Alison Riesing; Abingdon; Randi Cecil, Galesburg; and Zoe Underwood, Galesburg. Makaela Mason placed first, Alison Riesing placed fouth and Zoe Underwood was fifth as individuals. They will compete at the state horse bowl competition on April 24. Horse Bowl is similar to a scholastic bowl competition.
Members of the 4-H Junior Horse Bowl team placed second and also gained a trip to the state competition with team members of Breanne Norton, Elena Jimenez, Nyla Maere, and Emma Jimenez, all of Galesburg. This team is also eligible to compete at the state competition on April 24. Breanne Norton received first place and Nyla Maere received eighth in individual competition.
Another successful Crop Scout School was held at the Knox Agri-Center in February. In conjunction with various Extension Educators and one State Specialist, crop consultants from around the state , as well as Wisconsin, took part in instruction on topics dealing with one of the core principles in pest management: crop scouting. Crop scouting defined as routine inspections of agricultural fields, focuses on the early identification of nutritional problems, disease and insect problems. Once conducted manually, crop scouting now also includes the use of sensor technology and remote imaging devices. The goal of the program was to provide participants with knowledge and skills to employ strategies that utilizes all appropriate pest and production methods in field crop production.
The future of Soil and Water Management in agronomic settings was the focus of a Soil and Water Management Workshop sponsored by University of Illinois Extension on February 10. Presentations from Extension Educators were delivered via live speakers, PowerPoint and teleconference. Those attending learned about cap and trade issues, water and water quality issues, cover crops, and practical information on soil and water management. Kyle Cecil, Extension Educator Knox County lead instruction on the use of electronic soil survey data.
Knox County Educators in Agriculture, Horticulture, and Community and Economic Development continue to work with local growers, economic development officials, and Farm Service Agency staff to support and foster the development of local food producers and markets. During the spring of 2010, Kyle Cecil, Ag and Natural Resources Educator, and Carrie McKillip, Community and Economic Development Educator, were appointed by the Knox County Board to the newly formed Local Foods Development Council. This group will work to both educate the community and promote the development of the local food industry.
Once again, the University of Illinois Extension Knox County is sponsoring a community garden across from Cooke Elementary School. This year nine families have signed up to have a plot at the garden. The second grade class at Cooke have also started tomato seeds to plant in the garden. Extension staff will be working with twelve families of Iowa Court Housing to assist them in their own community garden. The garden at Iowa Court is a new project and families have started their own tomato and pepper seeds for planting in the garden. Both garden sites will offer programs on healthy eating, nutrition, and basic gardening skills.
Kari Houle, Horticulture Educator, presented a statewide telenet as part of the 4 Seasons Gardening Telenet Series on shade gardening, titled Don't Fear the Shade Gardening on April 27 and April 29. The program provided information to attendees on a wide variety of shade plants that could be used in their own gardens and to encourage them the shade gardening is an exciting opportunity. The telenet programs typically reach 300 people for each topic presented over the two day period.