Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is an educational state agency that is supported by the local county. Every county in Texas has an Extension presence, with the agents being in the community and working with the local county government.
Here in Denton County, we are very fortunate to have an extremely supportive county judge and commissioners court. And we have a large and very active volunteer corps that helps us extend our reach throughout the county.
We have an annual appreciation breakfast and interpretive event to highlight our volunteers and programs to the commissioners court. The breakfast this year was held Dec. 5. We invited all elected officials and department heads throughout the county to come enjoy this breakfast with us.
Mary Bridges, who has been a 4-H volunteer for 40 years, coordinates the food and decorations for the breakfast. The food is made by our own 4-H youth and is always delicious and plentiful. Assisting Bridges is Liz Ertle, who not only helps set up the breakfast but stays behind to clean it up while everyone else goes to the court in session. We have many behind-the-scenes volunteers like this who keep AgriLife Extension in Denton County looking good and moving forward.
We have volunteers who serve on our Leadership Advisory Board who guide our overall programming. Volunteers lead our 4-H clubs and teach the youth about topics from sewing to shooting sports to swine and everything in between.
Master Naturalists lead tours and conduct educational programs across the county in parks such as Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area, Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center, Ray Roberts Lake State Park and Trophy Club Trails. Master Wellness volunteers developed and taught classes on healthy recipes targeting Spanish-speaking audiences.
All of our program areas have committees who put in time year-round to drive our educational offerings. These include the Agriculture Committee which puts on an annual class that draws dozens of people to learn about pesticide safety. Also, the newly formed Equine Committee played host to the Red River Equine Summit, a multi-county event.
Master Gardeners support community garden efforts in Flower Mound and the Dye Garden at the University of North Texas. They have put in a demonstration fruit and nut orchard in Carrollton. They also put on large annual events such as the "Veggie Show," Garden Tour and Fall Garden Fest, all of which are educationally driven. Master Money volunteers are partnering with UNT students to teach financial management and much more.
As part of our interpretive presentation, we have a slideshow of our programs and volunteers in action which was put together by one of our volunteers, Jan Deatherage. Another tradition of this annual program is a presentation of poinsettias by the 4-H youth to the county judge and county commissioners. The poinsettias are locally grown and donated by Mike McCreary of Cooper Creek Growers.
And we end the event with the president of our Leadership Advisory Board, Tommy Calvert, announcing the number of volunteer service hours that were contributed to Denton County in 2017, which came to 32,601. This number is then converted into a dollar figure based on the value of volunteer time as determined by the Independent Sector, which is currently $24.14 per hour. Calvert then presents a symbolic check to Judge Mary Horn representing this amount which was $786,980.66.
This is a dramatic illustration of how much AgriLife Extension depends on the work of our amazing volunteers. So in the spirit of the season of giving, we want to acknowledge and thank all our volunteers who give of themselves, their skills and talents and their precious time towards helping their community on behalf of AgriLife Extension. We could not do it without them.
If you would like to volunteer with AgriLife, please contact us to see what opportunities we have available.
JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEATURED PHOTO: Tommy Calvert, left, president of presents Denton County Judge Mary Horn with a check for $786,980.66 during a commissioners court meeting Dec. 5. The check comes from the Leadership Advisory Board, of which Calvert is president, for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office in Denton County. It symbolizes the monetary contribution of service hours put in by AgriLife Extension volunteers. Courtesy photo