Looking Forward to 2015 - A Note from District Director Janice Stoudnour

Posted: December 23, 2014

Although our program year runs from October 1 through September 30, the beginning of a new calendar year is an opportunity to reflect on 2014 and what we accomplished in the district.

With this in mind, I asked the staff to tell us what they felt were their greatest accomplishments during 2014. What followed was an interesting and rewarding discussion on what programs met and exceeded their expectations and goals.

Some examples from our staff's programs in 2014:

  • Renee Pettenati (Nutrition Links) obtained a Walmart grant to purchase electric skillets as an incentive for participants to complete the EFNEP program series, which enabled her to increase her participant completion rate.
  • Karen Serball (Nutrition Links) worked with a new community partner to offer a grocery store educational discovery tour, which enabled her to reach out to new clientele.
  • Melanie Barkley (Livestock) worked with the state livestock team to develop (in addition to the already successful Beef, Sheep, Meat Goat and Swine courses) two new online home study courses: "Pond" and "Livestock Grazing." Over 1,700 participants across the United States and several other countries have completed at least one of these courses to date.
  • Dwayne Hay, Shelly Craft, and Joanne Stoltzfus (4-H and Youth Development) were able to get over 300 4-H leaders to complete required child abuse mandated reporter training and background checks.
  • Miguel Saviroff (Farm Management) provided valuable outreach education opportunities to Hispanic management, workers and producers in various segments of the agriculture industry state-wide.
  • Tom Ford (Commercial Horticulture) worked with commercial producers to identify and manage pests, diseases and production issues in vegetable, fruit, greenhouse, turf and landscape plantings across the district and state. Most notable was a water quality issue in PA’s largest commercial blackberry farm that was adversely impacting the crop health, vigor and plant yield. Recommendations by the educator in concurrence with Bryan Swistock, Penn State Extensions’ Water Resources Coordinator, have resulted in the farm’s redesign of their current irrigation system and the planned utilization of a different water source for the 2015 growing season.

I was not surprised that our staff was able to reflect on so many things that they had accomplished during 2014. As director, I was sincerely impressed by the passion and commitment they have displayed over the past year. This truly reflects the type of work they do in the district.

Looking forward, I’m very excited that we will have a new Nutrition Education Advisor working in the Johnstown area, a Certified Food and Wellness Volunteer in Cambria County (see article about this topic in this newsletter) and a newly hired dairy educator housed in Indiana County, who, along with the state dairy team, has been providing educational programs and farm visits to enable dairy producers to increase profitability. Being able to provide additional education outreach opportunities in Cambria County was one of my goals this year.

In all three counties, I know 2015 will be an exciting year for Penn State Extension!