2nd extension agent discussed by board
The Morgan County School Board approved the annual memorandum of agreement with the West Virginia University Extension Service at their March 5 meeting.
The school board approved a total appropriation of $20,000 for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2013, the same amount as last year. Of that total, $7,029 was for half of the 4-H program assistant salary, $5,350 for travel, $2,771-office supplies, $1,650- professional development, $1,500-utilities and $1,700 for maintenance and repair.
Morgan County Extension Service Agent Denis Scott said the West Virginia University Extension Service is funded through a partnership of federal, state and county monies.
The school board pays their electric bill and maintenance fees for their copier and copies that fall under maintenance and repair. Their travel costs are for mandatory trainings that are required for him and other staff in Charleston and Morgantown, Scott said. They also receive reimbursement for in-county travel to schools.
The Morgan County Commission funds their fulltime administrative assistant’s salary and benefits, half of the program assistant salary, their telephone, Internet and other utilities and pays their rent, he said.
Second extension agent?
At the February 19 school board meeting at Greenwood Elementary, Extension Service Committee president Bob Meadows expressed the future need for a second full-time extension service agent that covers 4-H/Youth Development programs. He felt they weren’t doing local youth justice with a part-time program assistant.
Of 22 counties with less population than Morgan County, most had two or three full-time extension agents along with a fulltime 4-H program coordinator and a full-time administrative assistant.
There are 120 kids in Morgan County’s 4-H program with 22 4-H leaders. 4-H program assistant Cindy Smalley works 20 hours a week.
Meadows said that Hardy County had a fulltime extension agent for 4-H and youth development and had 325 4-H members with 24 leaders. Meadows felt the difference in the number of members was because Hardy County’s fulltime 4-H extension agent was in the schools extensively and also did after-school programs.
Meadows said they appreciated the county and school system’s support. Their programs are growing. They’ve been using the school board office for their continuing education programs, for which there is a great demand. Morgan County’s population will continue to grow.
“We’ve had growth where others haven’t,” Morgan County Extension Agent Denis Scott said.
Scott said the process and funding for additional agents was under review at the Extension Service. Its finances were in a holding pattern right now with the budget crunch in Washington, D.C. and Charleston. No additional agents were being funded at this time.
West Virginia University generally paid the first extension agent’s salary and benefits. Since the request for a second agent was coming from the local Extension Service committee, the university might pay $15,000 toward their salary and benefits. The cost would have to be partially paid for from local funds, he said.
If the request for a second agent was coming from the county or school board, the position would be required to be fully funded with local monies, Scott noted.
Scott said the West Virginia University Extension Service has four main program components: Agricultural and Natural Resources; Families and Health; 4-H/Youth Development; and Community, Economic and Workforce Development.
A second extension agent usually has their duties split between a couple of program areas, based on need and support, Scott said. Extension Committee president Bob Meadows requested one for 4-H/Youth Development. Another area of their responsibilities could be Families and Health.
Data shows that from 1940 through 1988 Morgan County historically had two extension agents, one to conduct either Families and Health or 4-H/Youth Development, Scott said. The most recent second extension agent was Elaine Bowen, who was Families and Health agent from 1978 to 1988 while Charlie Williams was Agriculture agent.
Another possibility was making the 4-H program assistant position a fulltime position with benefits instead of having a second extension agent.
Scott told school board members that he’d like to develop youth workforce entrepreneurship and job skills. He’s done mock interviews and he and Smalley were presenters at the Youth Leadership Day conference. There is a real need for work preparedness, he noted.