Bringing the university to you Julianne Shoup addresses Kiwanis

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 12.51.26 PM Lynette Norris
ECB Publishing, Inc.

Ever wonder why it’s called an “extension” office?
Because the UF/IFAS Extension Office extends the university to the people.
It’s part of a nationwide system of federal/state/county partnerships dedicated to developing knowledge to sustain human life and bringing that knowledge directly to the people who need it through their local county agents.
Julianne Shoup, the newest county agent (Family and Consumer Services) at the Jefferson County UF/IFAS Extension Office three miles west of town, spoke to Kiwanis recently about the role the county extension office plays in Jefferson County:
• Identifying local issues/needs and prioritizing them
• Using research-based education to help people address them
• Bringing the university to you
The extension office works primarily through three areas – Youth and 4-H, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Agriculture.
Perhaps the most well-known is the 4-H program.  John Lilly is the 4-H director, and the Jefferson County program has 677 members as of last year, enrolled through four local community clubs (Working Soldiers, Mighty Warriors, Explorers and Hickory Hill) as well as school-based clubs for third, fourth and fifth graders.
The school-based clubs teach skills with school gardens, chick chain projects and other activities, and all clubs participate in the “illustrated talks” and Tropicana Speech Contests, learning confidence, public speaking and presentation skills, practicing every week at the extension office as they compete to move up to district, state and higher levels.
4-H conducts two Elite Sewing Classes each year, taught by Ms. Gladys Neely, and concluding with a fashion/ talent show.  Participants earn ribbons for their sewing skills and blue ribbon winners move up to the district level of competition.
4-H also encompasses community service through its Adopt-a-Road program and opportunities for 4-H teens to learn to be summer camp counselors for their younger 4-H compatriots.  Area and State events include 4-H University, where children visit a university, 4-H Day at the Capital where they can participate in mock legislative sessions, and 4-H events at the North Florida Fair.
As the new Family and Consumer Services Agent, Shoup helps with projects such as the one currently at the public library offering free assistance in preparing simple tax returns for low-income people.  Last year, they helped people with 77 tax returns, helping them get a total of $63 thousand in tax refunds and saving them nearly $12 thousand in preparation fees.
Shoup also teaches monthly health/nutrition lessons at the Senior Center and one of the local food banks, and financial/money handling lessons at 4-H after-school clubs.
Two major health concerns in Jefferson are diabetes and hypertension, the latter being present at higher rates here than normal; two important teaching efforts, diabetes self-management and “Keeping the Pressure Down” seeks to educate people about the importance of proper diet and the hidden dangers of hypertension – high blood pressure.  Education and awareness are particularly important with hypertension because it typically presents with no symptoms and many patients may not even be aware they have it.
County agent Jed Dillard is the agricultural specialist, assisting local farmers and gardeners with anything from soil tests to identifying plants and insects…anything to do with crops, livestock, forestry or anything that is agricultural.
With its team of experts and access to the latest research, “If we don’t know the answer to your questions, then we know someone who does,” said Shoup.