Every time I present a program, I ask for a show of hands when I ask the question, “How many of you have heard of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension?” Most people, by now, have at least heard of the agency, but there are still those who have not. I then ask the question, “How many of you have heard of 4-H?” Every hand goes up. Actually, 4-H is just one of the branches of the Extension Service.
I’m always happy to explain what we are and what we do. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is a member of the Texas A&M University System. Every county in the state is represented by an Extension Office. Our mission is to work daily to make Texas better by providing innovative solutions at the intersection of agriculture, natural resources, youth and health, thereby improving the well-being of individuals, families, businesses and communities through education and service. That’s a mouth full, but in a nutshell, we strive to improve lives through the education we provide.
There are four areas under the umbrella of Extension:
- Family & Community Health is my area. I provide programs and workshops on nutrition, food safety, budgeting for food, diabetes, physical activity, marriage education, parenting, and sewing workshops – in other words, everything pertaining to health, relationships, and the home. Some of my banner programs are Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes, Better Living for Texans, Walk Across Texas, Twogether in Texas marriage education, and Be Well, Live Well. The Master Wellness Volunteer initiative trains individuals in the areas of health and wellness, who in turn, give back to the community by assisting with workshops, health fairs, and other events.
- Ag and Natural Resources are covered by my co-worker, Mario Villarino. He assists people with questions regarding livestock, forage, insect management, and more. I teasingly call him our “dirt, bug, and animal” expert. He also provide pesticide applicator’s workshops and home septic system trainings. Mario also heads up the Master Gardner program.
- 4-H Youth Development – we both work with the 4-H program in Hopkins County. I provide workshops for the foods and clothing projects, record books, and scholarships. Mario assists youth with livestock projects. We also have 4-H leaders who assist youth with archery. Currently, Hopkins County has four active clubs in the county: Cumby, Infinity, Miller Grove, and Vet Science. We have an active archery group that meets weekly to practice and prepare for competition. Our County 4-H Council is made up of youth from each club. They provide ideas and leadership in their respective clubs. We are looking forward to our 4-H Project Tour Day, scheduled for June, and Multi-county 4-H Camp scheduled for July.
- Community Economic Resource Development involves tourism and events that support local growth. The Hopkins County Fall Festival is a prime example. As coordinator for the Arts & Crafts Show, vendors are able to earn extra income from the items they create. The Creative Arts Contest allows individuals to enter items to be judged, followed by public viewing. Both of these events bring tourism to Hopkins County. Our staff also supports other major events through assisting with public awareness and participation.
What does a typical day look like? There is no typical day! Some days, we are presenting programs away from the office. Some days, we are planning events with our team of volunteers. Some days we are working on reports. Other days, we are networking with agencies and volunteers. We receive several phone inquiries about specific issues and provide publications on topics of prevalence. Ours is not an 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. job. There are many days we arrive early and work late, including Saturdays, but it is all for the betterment of our constituents.
So, in a nutshell, that’s who we are and what we do. If you haven’t been to our office, I invite you to drop by!
Two Hopkins County 4-H Member Score Big!
Congratulations to Jorja Bessonett and Savannah Allen for their recent notification of earning a $20,000 Scholarship through the Texas 4-H Foundation. Both of these young ladies will be receiving recognition in College Station in June as recipients of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. They will also each receive a $500 Janie Crump Memorial 4-H Scholarship on the county level. We are so proud of these two young ladies and wish them the very best in the coming school year as they enter into college.