Program Leadership Committee
Report to Directors and Administrators
December 1999


Character Education Initiative

The Southern PLC approved a proposal from the Middle Management and 4-H Youth Development Committees recognize that the political environment is ready for Extension to take the leadership role in Youth Development. Considering this, the Committees have proposed a multi-state program on "Character Education" for youth be developed and adopted by the 13 Southern states. Louisiana and Tennessee are positioned to lead the Southern region in training and program and curriculum development. (Appendix A.)

Master Naturalist Volunteer Program Committee

The Southern PLC reviewed a joint proposal from ANR and 4-H Youth Development Committees to form a regional initiative to further the potential efforts of a regional Master Naturalist Volunteer Program. (Appendix B.) This proposal was approved by Southern PLC at their December meeting.

Agricultural and Natural Resources

Agricultural Engineering and Southern Region Plan Exchange (existing committee)
Change from triennial meeting to biennial meeting. SAAS does not offer the opportunity for the ag engineering discipline to meet. The need for multi-state programming and cooperation will continue to increase. Rapid technological change will continue (much of which involves the engineering discipline). The opportunity to see on-site programming in the host state is valuable. Previous workshops have been well planned, well conducted, and well attended. More frequent meetings are needed to enhance interactions and sharing.

Forestry Workshop (existing committee)
Remove Bill Harris (TX) as advisor - add Charles McPeake (GA) as advisor.

Regional Water Quality Conference (existing committee)
Remove Bill Lambert (GA) and Mike French (AR) as advisors - add Bill Harris (TX) as advisor.

Establish a Master Gardener and Home Horticulture Committee set up for 3 years then reevaluate. Ross Love (OK) as advisor. (Appendix C.)

Middle Management Committee

Southern Extension Leadership Development Program

The Southern PLC approved a proposal (Appendix D) brought by the Middle Management Committee and request approval by the directors and administrators. It was noted that if directors and administrators approve the proposal that a committee would be formed which would include representatives from Middle Management, Program and Staff Development, and Communications and Information Technology.



Character Education Initiative: A Proposal for the Advancement of Programming Efforts in the Southern Extension Region


In 1992 a nonprofit teaching organization called the Josephson Institute of Ethics released a report based on a survey of almost 9,000 people, most of whom were in high school and college. The findings were appalling: cheating, lying, stealing, and drunken driving were commonplace. That same year the Institute convened in Aspen, Colorado, a conference of educators, ethicists and nonprofit leaders. Their task: to share ideas about character development and to investigate ways of working together. Chief among these ways was developing consensus on the ethical values that could be taught at home, in the classroom and at the office without offending political, racial, religious, gender, or socioeconomic sensibilities. This is what they cam up with in the Aspen Declaration on Character Education: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, justice & fairness, caring and civic virtue &citizenship. In a simplified form these came to be known as the Six Pillars of Character.

Since that time Extension has assumed a partnering role with the Josephson Institute and others to form local community partnerships to empower communities to enhance character education. In most locations, the Six Pillars of Character are used as the hallmark of the character movement.


With a continued need to address growing concerns that can be traced to declining character traits, a need sexists for the Cooperative Extension Service to serve as a leader in character education. In states such as Louisiana and Tennessee in the SR, Extension educators are seen as key delivery systems for communities and schools regarding character education. Because of the obvious need for character education and the apparent successes of those states conducting character education, the Middle Management and 4-H Youth Development Committees agree that character education needs to be a program priority for the Extension System at this time.

Objectives and Expected Outcomes:

The objective is to reduce risk factors that have a negative impact on families and communities by improving the level of character among the citizens we serve. The Cooperative Extension service will be seen as a primary delivery mechanism for communities in addressing character education needs in the Southern Extension Region.

Proposed Products:

Major Products or Projects:

  • A regional training to be hosted by the Tennessee Cooperative Extension Service, February 23-25 (with a pre-conference for CC Certification Training on Feb. 21-23), 2000. The conference will be designed to empower staff to address character education, with an emphasis on the following areas:
    • Curriculum available
    • Strategies that have worked in the region
    • Developing interdisciplinary and interstate partnerships to address the critical issue
  • A regional task force with representation from 4-H, FCS, Middle Management and others who may wish to be represented for the purpose of continued program development and expansion.


  • Fall 1999-PLC endorsement of proposal
  • Fall 1999-Director and Administrator approval
  • October-Each state asked to identify a state contact for character education efforts
  • November-Widespread promotion of regional meeting
  • February 2000-Tennessee hosted training and meeting of all state contacts who are present at the meeting.
  • March 2000-task force develops appropriate goals for future work for CES
  • April 2000-SR 4-H Program leaders meeting during National 4-H Program Leaders meeting in DC to discuss task force report.

Suggested Membership:

The proposed task force should consist of on state contact from each state. Representation can be determined by the individual states based upon their program priorities. Members of the task force would assist in promoting, conducting and evaluation the regional training efforts. The group would also work to form a framework for impact evaluation in cooperation with other states and collaborating organizations.

Evaluation of Planned Activities:

The training will be evaluated based upon the ability of participating states to implement programs in their respective states. The long-term goals of the task force's program sharing will be apparent through evaluation tools that they develop to demonstrate the impact of Extension's efforts in the area of character education.

Respectfully Submitted by:
The 4-H Youth Development Committee with joint support from the Middle Management Committee, 1999.


Proposal to Establish a Southern Region Extension ANR/4-H Youth Development Committee

Title: Master Naturalist Volunteer Program


The Southern Region Agriculture and Natural Resources (SR-ANR) and Southern Region 4H Youth Development (SR-4HYD) Committees recognize a need to develop a coordinated regional framework for a Master Volunteer training program that will train adult volunteers in the basics of natural history and the environment. Modeled after the highly successful Master Gardener program, the Master Naturalist program will establish a pool of knowledgeable individuals that magnify the abilities of the Extension Service and others to deliver quality environmental education programs. The effort to develop this framework will draw upon existing Master Naturalist programs in Mississippi and Texas, as well as other states' programs with similar goals and objectives, such as Florida's Master Conservationist and Alabama's Master Environmental programs. The development of a regional framework for such a program will benefit the Southern Region by incorporating the strengths and expertise of Extension programs from a broad geographical area as well as allow for closer collaboration and networking among southern states.

Objectives and Outcomes:

The overall objective of a regional Master Naturalist Task Force would be the development of a framework for a regional Master Naturalist program, sharing of experience and curricula and training materials, including the overall program structure, curriculum concept and topics, and mechanisms for coordination of programs across states within the region. In addition to a framework for the overall program structure, a key product of this task force will be a packet of generic curriculum materials that will form the core of the program across the region. The balance of the curriculum materials (about 25%) will consist of region-specific information for each course topic that will be developed by each state.

Major expected outcomes include:

  • an overall framework for the Master Naturalist program, including the structure of the training program, curriculum concept, course topics, course requirements, and other details regarding the establishment and maintenance of the program,
  • core curriculum materials for each major course topic (i.e., generic information for each topic), and
  • a framework for a standing regional task force / committee to oversee the program's continuing development and expansion,
  • continuing program oversight/reporting of accomplishments to SR ANR and SR 4HYD; sharing of experiences, ideas and materials; and regional program coordination.


The objectives and products outlined above could be completed within an initial one year period using the following timeline:

September-October 1999
Initial review/modification of existing Master Naturalist program structure and curriculum concept. (Finalized during a meeting of the regional task force - October 1999).

November-December 1999
Review/modification/development of generic curriculum materials and outline of overall program structural components. (Finalized during a meeting of the regional task force-January 2000).

January-March 2000
Initial development of region-specific curriculum materials. Completion of generic curriculum materials and overall program structural components.

April-May 2000
Review of region-specific curriculum materials. (Finalized during a meeting of the regional task force - May 2000).

June-July 2000
Compilation and preparation of complete program package .

August-September 2000
Printing and distribution of completed package.

Continuing program oversight, coordination and sharing.

Suggested Membership:

The proposed task force should include interested representatives from both the Youth Development and Agriculture & Natural Resources programs in all Southern Region states. Members of this task force would ideally be subject-matter specialists involved with environmental and natural resource education.

Evaluation of Planned Activities:

Apart from the evaluation and review activities by members of the task force, as outlined above for the program's development, the products could also be evaluated by graduates of existing Master Naturalist programs. These trained volunteers will be invaluable judges of both the quality and quantity of the overall program as well as the program materials. Programmatic evaluations will be: 1) the numbers of volunteers trained, 2) number of hours of service donated by volunteers, 3) knowledge learned by volunteers, and 4) skills applied.

The committee will be continually evaluated by advisors from both SR ANR and SR 4HYD committees. The committee will also prepare an annual written summary of activities and accomplishments for review and distribution.


Proposal to Establish a Southern Region Extension ANR Committee

Title: Master Gardener and Home Horticulture Committee


It is estimated that approximately 70% of the people in the United States are involved in some sort of home horticulture activity. To satisfy this need, the Master Gardener Program was created 27 years ago and is currently in all 50 states. Requests for training in this area continue to increase.

In awareness of the need to accommodate stakeholder requests and input, an increasing number of programs and training materials must be developed. Coordination of effort among states will facilitate a program that delivers a higher standard of training and enhanced program effectiveness.

The return on this investment to Extension will be great. Each trained Master Gardener volunteer returns at least 40 hours of service to the community and/or to Extension. In most cases, the number of hours returned per volunteer far exceeds this minimum. Estimated annual equivalent return per volunteer is over $1,000.

No coordinated mechanism exists for identifying and sharing educational tools currently available in all Southern Region states for training Master Gardener volunteers. It is evident that a need exists to share materials and develop a mechanism for information exchange. A pilot program is proposed to develop collaboration and a consortium of information among the Southern States.

Objectives and Outcomes:

The overall objective of this activity is to share common problems and provide solutions for improving state Master Gardener and Home Horticulture programs by:

1) Identifying and evaluating educational materials currently available in the Southern Region for training Master Gardener volunteers.

2) Coordinating development of new Master Gardener training materials and Home Horticulture projects.

3) Establishing a regional web site and/or linking of websites that will make Master Gardener and Home Horticulture core training materials easily accessible to all Master Gardener coordinators.

4) Developing tools to increase effectiveness of managing and reporting volunteer contributions.

5) Studying ways to increase involvement of stakeholders through usage/interest surveys, horticulture therapy surveys, etc.

6) Outcomes include new and enhanced, shared curricula; possible meetings and conferences; training materials, publications, video and Internet sharing; and regional Internet linkages.


October, 1999 - August, 2002 initial appointment, with review for renewals from that time.

Suggested Membership:

1 to 2 members per state at their option to include the following disciplines: horticulture, soil science, plant pathology, entomology, landscape design, Extension education, sociology, and others as appropriate.

Evaluation of Planned Activities:

Ongoing review by ANR PLs in each state and by the assigned SR ANR advisor, annual oversight by SR ANR PLs based on committee developed, written summary of activities and accomplishments for review and distribution.


Southern Extension Leadership Development Program

In those Southern region states where SELD has been implemented, it has been considered a highly effective and useful program that offers Extension professionals an opportunity to develop their leadership skills. The program has been an attractive alternative to the NELD program for those professionals who could not afford to participate, either due to time or travel restrictions, in the national leadership program. However, during the past two years, the availability of SELD opportunities has diminished. Being a two-part program, many Extension professionals who had enrolled in SELD have not had a chance to complete the training. The Middle Management Committee recommends that the Southern Directors and 1890 Administrators support the revival of SELD or another similar, credible leadership development program for the Southern region, and see that it is conducted on a regular basis with a regular schedule established.