County Extension Agents work to help the community
Panola County Extension Agents Lee Dudley and Sarah Colley Jones spend much of their time working with youth in the community. With 188 active members involved in eight different 4-H clubs, much of their time is spent overseeing and coordinating various projects and activities. They help young people develop skills that will be useful the rest of their lives such as how to set goals, how to plan and organize, and how to speak in front of a group. It's a great experience in which the entire family can participate.
The eight clubs within Panola County include Beckville, Carthage, Clayton, Gary, Riverside, Shooting Sports, Silver Spurs, and Panola Veterinary Science. Each club meets once a month. Various areas of training include photography, shooting sports, leadership, clothing and textiles, food and nutrition, public speaking, forestry, plus many more. Dudley, in charge of agriculture and natural resources, states, "We have a huge group of kids that do the shooting sports. We currently have 15 kids in archery, rifle, and shotgun, plus about 10 kids in pistol. They meet every week for shooting and archery practice. We usually get a $10,000 grant from the NRA to purchase equipment, so kids don't have to own a gun or bow. We encourage kids to see if they like it first before they go out and purchase their own."
The 4-H program is only part of the job that comes with being an Extension Agent. Sarah Colley Jones teaches lessons on "Do well, be well" for adults. "I teach food safety classes every other month for anyone that wants to obtain a Food Handler's Certificate. There is also a 'Money Matters' class that teaches financial leadership for women. Additionally, a 'Cooking Well with Diabetes' class is available in the fall to any interested adults. I strive to make health and wellness education a top priority for the citizens of Panola County. " Lee Dudley's area of expertise is agriculture and natural resources. "The majority of my work is beef and forage production to help producers improve livestock. Roughly $58 million of the total agricultural income from the county comes from beef cattle production. My job is to try help the livestock producer by providing updates on the latest developments in technology and information. "
The County Extension Office, located in room 104 at the courthouse, has an abundance of information available ranging from how to prepare a healthy meal to how to gather a soil sample for testing. For more information, contact one of the agents at 903.693.0380 or visit the Texas AgriLife Extension Service website.