Fall 1988 // Volume 26 // Number 3 // Ideas at Work // 3IAW1

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Extension/Local Government Partnership


Lenette N. Foster
Gwinnett County
Extension Agent
Lawrenceville, Georgia

Extension agents in counties that comprise metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, are directing their efforts toward making local county governments "look good." The idea, spearheaded by Joye Spates, district home economist, was started two years ago and has resulted in some unique approaches.

The idea is to show county governments that Extension is a viable educational agency in their local organization, and that we can help them in specific ways. When Extension becomes a partner with local government in problem solving, many good things follow.

A sampling of the metropolitan area provided a number of ideas.

One county planned a field trip for department managers to the University of Georgia. The idea was for them to experience the link Extension has with all the resources there. Officials were amazed that so much was available to them through the Extension door.

An Extension-sponsored home builder's seminar proved extremely useful to one county planning and development office. Afterward, the number of problems associated with building permits and zoning was greatly reduced. "We ought to pay you for putting on this series," said a member of the Planning and Development Commission.

Another county changed the frequency of its payroll from bi-monthly to monthly checks. Firemen in particular were having problems. They couldn't stretch their money over the extended time. Extension home economists spotted the problem and proposed a series of classes on financial management. The commissioners were pleased with the results. When a recent ordinance was passed prohibiting smoking in county buildings, commissioners came to Extension for help!

Taking a cue from the business world, another county has prepared a professional-looking annual report. This concise one-page printed report has generated positive feedback from the commissioners who appreciate its easy readability and timeliness.

Several agents spoke of the need to be assertive in presenting Extension program ideas to county officials. Look for potential problems in areas where Extension has experience and good subject-matter backup. Involve yourself in the issues that currently concern government officials. If steroids are a hot issue, join the task force and be the one to provide factual, unbiased information.

Don't forget other governmental units such as cities and towns that may be in your geographic area. Friends made one place will remember you in another.