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Master Gardener Extension Volunteers: Our Associate Dean for Extension shared an encouraging update with Extension faculty and staff today. I asked her if I could share excerpts with you, and she readily agreed! I hope this will encourage you, too! 

Extension Family – it looks like we are finally starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Today, we began Phase 1 of the reopening of the University. Things have not been normal since mid-to-late March – that is a long time. I am certainly ready to get back to some traditional face-to-face Extension work.

Guidance and instructions from the University and University System of Georgia come out every day. The situation is very fluid and we get more information all the time, sometimes several times a day! We are working to get our County Extension Offices back open and staffed and are looking at the types of programming we can do within the CDC, PH, UGA and USG guidelines.

For June and July, we are discouraging group programs, county meetings, and that type of thing. If it can be done virtually, then that is what you should do. I am encouraging people to put off making decisions about programs, tours, and events in late July, August, and September for now until we see how the rest of June and early July goes.

I know all of this waiting and uncertainty is not fun at all and I share your frustration. However, this is one of those times that hasty decisions are not the best course of action.

I like to look for the silver lining and we surely have some of those examples to share during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have stretched ourselves WAY out of our comfort zones and traditional ways of doing things to create new and in some cases, more effective ways to fulfill our mission. The lessons we have learned will make us a stronger and more efficient organization for years to come. You have surprised, amazed, entertained and delighted me with your creativity and innovation. We have held virtual 4-H camps and judging contests, trained farmers to be able to maintain their pesticide licenses, taught homebound people to garden, connected farmers and consumers, created food safety and hygiene fact sheets, started an Extension newsletter and webinar series and so much more. You can be proud of the work you have done over the last 12 weeks – I know I am.

As far as the budget goes, we are still in a “wait and see” situation. The legislature came back into session today, and there are 11 of 40 official legislative days left. As of today, June 15, there are 12 weekdays left before the new budget year starts, so things will go fast. Georgia law requires we have a balanced budget by June 30, so we can start a new budget year on July 1. For now, the most definitive thing I can tell you is that we will know what the budget is by June 30 and probably not much sooner. As always, I promise to let you know as soon as I have information to share!