Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Programs
Summary of Accomplishments 2005

Rapidly changing demographics create a unique profile for Alabama in the twenty-first century. Social, ethnic, and generational diversity characterize families, individuals, and the communities where they live. To meet changing needs and manage new environments, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System's (Extension) Urban Affairs and New Nontraditional Programs Unit (Urban Affairs Unit) is committed to providing expanded programs and services that promote innovative, integrated, and interdependent approaches to university outreach.


The Alabama Cooperative Extension System envisions a comprehensive statewide Urban Affairs Unit encompassing traditional, nontraditional, new and emerging programs, and delivery approaches in order to meet the needs of Alabama citizens wherever they live and work. The focus, however, is to meet the needs of urban and suburban communities and to improve their quality of life.


The mission of Extension's Urban Affairs Unit is to provide learning opportunities to meet the needs of all urban and nontraditional audiences with a specific focus on limited-resource families, underserved audiences, individuals, and small enterprises.

Strategic Directions for Urban Affairs Unit

  1. Assess needs and maintain profiles of Alabama's changing demographics to ensure that Extension outreach correlates with identified needs across population groups and content areas to include urban, new, and nontraditional audiences.
  2. Plan, adapt, and revise programs to continue to address diverse needs and to serve urban, new, and nontraditional audiences focusing on the underserved and under-represented that are not beneficiaries of Extension's outreach services.
  3. Maintain an efficient and effective framework at the local and state level for the delivery of urban, new, and nontraditional programs across the state of Alabama.
  4. Maintain accountability for resources targeted to enhance Extension outreach services to urban, new, and nontraditional audiences.
  5. Foster partnerships and build advocacy for urban and nontraditional programs to establish sound, state-of-the-art flagship programs that address the real needs of a diverse population.

Program priorities include but are not limited to the following:

Facts on Families Helps Extension Educators
Put Families & Communities First

Educators and community service providers are concerned about what is needed to be strong, secure, and functioning family units. Highly dysfunctional families are costly to communities, states, and the nation as a whole. They also pose threats to the welfare of children and youth who are our future. Extension provides a unique framework for identifying and serving diverse families to increase the capacity for success and sustainability. Indicators shape and define priorities that are addressed through multidisciplinary programming approaches to strengthen families across the life span.

The family still ranks as a top priority, and marriage and family living are still universal concepts. Subject matter experts have pinpointed issues that help define the economic, social, and physical well-being of familial units. The list includes, but is not limited to, family relations and child development, financial security, health and safety, intergenerational lifestyles, and diversity. Family circumstances centered on these issues help profile what we now identify as new and nontraditional households.

During the Fiscal Year 2005, the Urban Affairs Unit partnered with the Center for Urban and Rural Research (CURR) at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) to develop the first in a series of publications titled Facts on Families that provides a profile of families in Alabama's metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs). The CURR works with public and private agencies on needs assessments and research requirements. Facts on Families serves as a baseline resource of facts and figures to support program planning, implementation, and evaluation for positive outcomes for families. The data provides readily accessible profiles that shape services and program priorities, define program parity, and help researchers and educators to conserve time and effort that translate into conserved resources. An estimated 1,000 of these publications were circulated during 2005 to various agencies, organizations, and educators. Outreach forums will be conducted during 2006 to promote the use and benefits of this resource.

No doubt, strengthening families and communities in the twenty-first century offers new challenges for providing meaningful programs and services. Data analyses such as those contained in Facts on Families reflect specific findings geared toward specific groups and issues to help create relevant programs, services, and delivery approaches that address real needs and empower participants. When statistics and the broader networks are understood, community service providers are able to put families and communities first.

Quick Facts
Alabama has over 1,700,000 family households. An estimated 250,000 are headed by females. More than 380,000 households are headed by seniors 65 and older.

The median family income is estimated at $42,000, while more than 21 percent of Alabama's children live in poverty.

United States Census Bureau, 2000.

Extension's Urban Family Network Hosts
2005 Annual Family Conference & Reception

The Urban Family Network represents a network of Extension and community professionals whose purpose is to enhance coping and survival skills to strengthen the resiliency of individuals, youth, and families. Established in 1999 through collaborative efforts of Extension family life specialists, the network provides training and educational resources related to family issues, conducts workshops, makes presentations, and works cooperatively with public schools, universities, colleges, churches, and other local community agencies. A primary output of the Urban Family Network is the Annual Family Conference that is conducted each October.

The Annual Family Conference is designed to enhance the awareness of families on issues and trends and better prepare them to respond to resulting situations that may impact their well-being. The 2005 Annual Family Conference focused on the theme, GenerationsFacing New Challenges in the Twenty-First Century. The content provided a life-stages approach to educating participants on resources, information, and potential partnerships to strengthen family-centered communities.

Conference speakers included The Honorable Judge Glenda Hatchett from the nationally syndicated television show "Judge Hatchett;" Dr. Gladys Vaughn, outreach director, Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); Dr. Joseph Swafford, associate professor, Department of Cardiology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; Mr. Phill Wilson, founder and executive director, Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles; and Ms. Laura Bauer, project director, Johnson & Johnson/Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. Aside from the obvious educational benefits and visibility for Extension, professionals can advance their credentials in family service as pointed out by Attorney Kevin Crenshaw, legal consultant and coordinator of Extension's LegalEase Program. Mr. Crenshaw chaired the 2005 Annual Family Conference along with Ms. Wendi Williams, assistant to 1890 administrator for program analysis, reporting, and technical editing.

A pre-conference networking reception held at the president's home (Hillcrest) on the campus of Alabama A&M University, provided networking opportunities for collaborative and integrated outreach to Alabama families. A new partnership was established with the formal signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with The Links, Incorporated during the pre-conference function. The Links Incorporated provides an international program of service with a focus on education, civic and cultural relations, and service to youth that enrich experiences for those who are educationally disadvantaged and/or culturally deprived. Dr. Gladys Vaughn, 2005 Family Conference presenter and The Links Incorporated international president, was present for the signing of the MOU.

"The reception provided opportunities to explore future partnerships and get stakeholder input into programming objectives," according to Dr. Jannie Carter, Extension assistant director and reception chair.

Family Life Center, Grand RAPP & Successful Aging:
Partnerships in Progress

The Family Life Center (FLC) represents a unique collaboration between Extension's Urban Affairs Unit, AAMU's Department of Family & Consumer Science, and the Huntsville Housing Authority (HHA). The FLC provides an accessible community-based facility and a network of resources designed to meet the needs of the nearly 4,000 HHA residents. The mission of the FLC is to provide educational opportunities to empower residents.

The Grandparents and Relatives as Parents Program (Grand RAPP), one of Extension's statewide projects coordinated by Dr. Wilma Ruffin, family and consumer sciences co-coordinator, was offered through the FLC in 2005. Collaborating agencies were enlisted to help organize support groups to equip 135 participating grandparents to better function in their caregiver roles. Clients have commented,

"I never knew that there was financial assistance for grandparents trying to raise their grandchildren."

"This program has helped me to become more informed on things I should do."

FLC staff was also involved in the Urban Affairs Unit's 2005 Successful Aging Initiative (SAI), to assist approximately 300 seniors. The purpose of the SAI is to provide information to clients that will help them to be proactive to financial, health, and legal matters facing older Americans. The mission of the FLC is to provide educational opportunities to empower residents.

"I plan to use the model in 2006 to offer a SAI in close proximity to the targeted public housing clients serviced by the FLC," says Donna Gullatte, urban regional Extension agent (UREA) and FLC manager.

The Teen Moms Program was offered through a partnership with the Huntsville Center for Technology that coordinates classes for all five Huntsville City High Schools to provide teens with the basic knowledge of caring for themselves and their newborns. To date the program has provided services to 55 teens with only three repeat births and two teens that gave birth to a third child. A grant proposal developed in partnership with specialists at Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities funded through the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama will support future parenting related outreach on couple relationships for unmarried couples with children. Partnerships for this grant include the Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Child Support Court and Judges.

Money Smart, a resource management program conducted on a monthly basis through HHA's mandated referrals, serviced 50 residents during 2005. Only 15 of the participants repeated the mandatory class indicating a 70 percent success rate. Youth audiences also received money management training through the REALity Check Program, an interactive career education and earning potential program.

The Family Life Center partnership was presented during the National Urban Symposium in Dallas, Texas, December 2005 as a program delivery model. All About Me, a self-esteem program, and Bucks for Books, a reading incentive program, were also presented during concurrent sessions and exhibits. The Symposium was attended by nearly 200 Extension professionals from across the nation.

URIC Conference Welcomes National Agroforestry Center Director

Demographic and environmental changes have prompted smart growth think tanks to offer solutions for managing the quality and quantity of growth in our metro areas. Each year, millions of acres of farmland are transformed for industrial and commercial use creating significant changes in our natural environment. Research indicates that population growth in central cities, including urban sprawl, are affecting communities, the general ecosystem, and our natural processes in ways that are potentially hazardous if interventions are not defined where urban and rural communities interface. Floods and other water management issues, pest and wildlife management issues, and impacts on global climate processes are just a few of the likely consequences.

The Urban Affairs Unit realizes the implications of urban and rural interface issues, and for the past 11 years, has offered the Urban Rural Interface Conference (URIC) in conjunction with AAMU's Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Week. The URIC enhances awareness and creates opportunities for partnerships to foster positive solutions to urban and rural interface concerns. The 2005 conference program was developed around the theme When the Environment Bites Back. Dr. Greg Ruark, program manager for the National Agroforestry Center, USDA delivered the keynote address on Green Infrastructure Solutions for Wildlife. Panelists from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Huntsville Urban Planning Division, and the Builder's Association discussed Developing Environmentally Friendly Housing. Other sessions addressed Keeping Your Home Safe-Understanding and Dealing with Tree Hazards and Pest Management.

2005 URIC participants indicated improved knowledge about maintaining and managing habitat for wildlife, and expressed an interest in applying that knowledge to future building and remodeling projects.

Quick Fact
Each year, more than two million acres are converted from forest, grassland, or farms into industrial parks, shopping centers, or subdivisions.

Source: Dr. Greg Ruark, director of the National Agroforestry Center, Alabama A&M University

Responding to Katrina

Meeting Clothing and Pet Needs
In August 2005, bad weather threatened the coastal regions of the United States, while citizens went on with life as usual. Even residents living along the Gulf cities of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas did not express unusual alarm. But as the forecasts worsened, coastal residents realized that a "life as usual" response would not suffice with the onslaught of advancing heavy winds and rain. Even the most vivid imagination could not fully encompass the devastation of Hurricane Katrina when she hit full force and left these coastal cities in total ruin. The rest is now history.

The resulting loss of homes and businesses, devastation to communities, and destruction of tourist sites will have a lasting and significant impact on families, communities, and the overall tax base of affected areas. The tragedy will for some time yield unexpected costs and consequences. For certain, the lives of those affected have been forever changed.

To help families and individuals recover from this natural disaster, staff from the Urban Affairs Unit and AAMU's School of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences opened Katrina's Clothes Closet to provide clothing for hurricane victims. Gift cards, clothes, and accessories valued at an estimated $3,000 were donated. Contributions were collected, sorted, cleaned, and displayed for selection in the James I. Dawson (Extension) Building. Male, female, youth, and adult clothing were available for affected families. Two families serviced by the closet were transfer students from universities in affected hurricane areas. Two additional families that eventually relocated to Texas were also assisted. A portion of the donated gift cards were used to purchase small Christmas gifts for youth in the Mobile, Bayou La Batre, and Jefferson County metro areas. An estimated 80 volunteer hours were provided in collecting, organizing, and manning the closet. Items that were not claimed were passed on to the local mission for distribution, providing indirect outreach to other homeless and limited-resource families.

Numerous reports of animals being killed and abandoned due to lack of facilities and supplies in Alabama, Mississippi, and New Orleans came shortly after the hurricane. In response, Extension Horticulturist Dr. Cathy Sabota and other volunteers solicited supplies worth more than $2,000. In addition, 2,000 pounds of dog food, 500 pounds of cat and kitty food, and 250 pounds of litter were transported to Louisiana in a rented U-Haul truck. In addition, veterinary supplies, leashes, shampoo, paper towels, water and other needed items were also obtained from friends, pet networks, and local veterinarians. Upon arriving in Louisiana, additional volunteer services were provided to the animal shelter assisting with walking, watering, and feeding dogs. Dr. Sabota and other volunteers continue to network with pet saving groups and have rescued more than 30 dogs and cats from kill shelters to new homes.

Extension provided other statewide efforts to assist Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Urban Centers Give Katrina Victims a Hand Up
Much of the outpouring of support that followed Hurricane Katrina as the months have passed cannot be measured. Hundreds of individuals and charitable organizations mobilized to reach those in need.

Staff in the Mobile metropolitan area was among the first to respond, offering assistance to residents in the Bayou La Batre and Coden coastal areas.

"First response was important as many communities were without communication", said Tami Wells, UREA. Our strong relationship with a vast array of agencies provided the information needed to make a significant impact on recovery and response efforts."

Agents provided man hours of relief at shelter sites and assisted with clean-up, collecting, and distributing donations, providing expertise on how to salvage forest and landscape and offering emotional support to children and families. They initiated the Katrina Kids wall-of-art renderings at one facility to help children communicate and deal with what they were going through during the tragedy. The wall was visited by local, state, and federal officials, including Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice.

Family group sessions were conducted at the shelters allowing families to speak openly about concerns, and children were given journals to express themselves in writing.

"The shelter families expressed that no one had asked them how they felt about their losses and indicated they felt a sense of hope from the caring showed by Extension staff," said Amanda Outlaw, urban youth development agent.

Agents in the Houston County area partnered with the Alfred Saliba Family Services Center and the Dothan Houston County Emergency Management to organize an Information Fair to inform evacuees on services available in Houston County. Forty five agencies were present for the two-day event. Services represented at the fair included housing, employment assistance, Veterans Administration, insurance, social services, mental health, legal services, counseling, local schools, and financial assistance. Publications and information were available on employment, youth programs, save-a-pet, handling mold and mildew in the home, coping with floods, children as victims of disasters, and cleaning and disinfecting. Educational information was provided to more than 110 hurricane evacuees and 20 families were assisted in securing employment.

Hurricane Katrina and other manmade and natural disasters that plagued the world in 2005 have alerted us to the importance of disaster preparedness. Extension personnel continue to explore new ways to respond to future emergencies.

Quick Fact
FEMA estimates that up to 600,000 families will need transitional housing; some 400,000 lost jobs and over 375,000 school-age children were victims of the storm.

Sard, Barbara and Rice, Douglas. (October 13, 2005). Changes needed in Katrina transitional housing plan to meet families' needs. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

United States Department of Education. (September 16, 2005). New support for families and areas affected by hurricane Katrina.

Urban Nutrition Education Program Update 2005

Research shows disparities among age, sex, and ethnicity when it comes to physical health. Genetic variations, environment, and behavior are factors that contribute to the disparities. But generally speaking, many Americans have poor nutrition and health habits. More than 50 percent of American adults are not physically active. Less than 25 percent of both adults and youths eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. Lack of exercise and unhealthy food intake can cause or aggravate chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.

Extension is on a mission to improve the general health of Alabamians in underserved urban areas. Operating under the Metropolitan Health, Nutrition and Wellness priority program umbrella led by Health and Nutrition Specialist Dr. Donnie Cook, the Urban Nutrition Education Program (UNEP) has played an active role in the federal Nutrition Education Program (NEP) outreach since 2002. This project is funded through the Food and Nutrition Service of USDA and offers educational assistance to improve the health and well-being of Food Stamp participants and other eligible applicants. The objective of NEP is to expand nutrition education outreach to new, inner-city audiences and underserved populations. The UNEP specifically targets citizens who dwell in public housing communities and senior citizens in Alabama's MSAs.

The UNEP was piloted in four metro areas, including Madison, Decatur, Anniston, and Florence, Alabama. In 2003, four additional metropolitan areas were added, including Montgomery and Jefferson Counties, two of Alabama's most populous areas, and Mobile and Houston Counties representing southern Alabama. Tuscaloosa, the last Urban Center added in 2004, positioned UREAs and Extension agent assistants in all of the state's primary metropolitan regions to support implementation of the program.

Contacts have increased significantly each year with more than 1600 participants receiving in-depth training in 2005 through the ten lesson Wise Eating Approaches for a Lifetime of Health curriculum developed by Dr. Cook. Behavioral changes based on pre- and post-measures of participants indicate about a 33 percent adoption of recommended practices for good nutrition, food safety, and wise food purchasing behaviors. Approximately 35 percent reported they are more closely practicing the USDA Dietary Guidelines and using a food spending plan.

Quick Fact:
If ten percent of adults began a regular walking program, $5.6 billion in heart disease cost could be saved.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (July 2005). Preventing obesity and chronic diseases through good nutrition and physical activity.

Marie Fanelli Kuczmarski, et al. (July 23, 2002). Nutrition across the spectrum of aging. American Dietetic Association.

Underserved Community Technology Enhancement Project

Computer and Internet technology are the norm for a large percentage of households in the US. But, while data reflects a high percentage of accessibility to communication technology, the distribution is unevenly spread across all population groups. Studies of computer ownership show households in metropolitan areas outside of central cities having the highest computer and Internet access percentages. White children and Asians are more likely than black and Hispanic children to have computers in the home. School and community facilities have helped substantially to narrow the gap in computer usage rates for children from high and low-income families. But, older adults continue to have the lowest rates of computer and Internet access.

To offer solutions to bridge the digital divide, the Urban Affairs Unit has partnered with AAMU to implement the Underserved Community Technology Enhancement Project. The project was funded by the EPA through a grant written by AAMU Associate Professor Dr. Teferi Tsegaye and Mr. Girma Kebede, Extension network support manager, to develop community-based computer laboratory facilities and training opportunities. Specifically, refurbished computers are used to enhance technology access to low-income and underserved urban communities.

In 2005, partnerships were developed and laboratories were established with Innovative Approaches in Birmingham, and the Alfred Saliba Family Service Center in Dothan. Innovative Approaches provides court rehabilitation for youth offenders.

"The Alfred Saliba Family Services Center offers comprehensive programs to help families set goals and work through their problems to self sufficiency," says David Duke, community affairs coordinator for the Center.

Overall, on-site services were provided for more than 900 participants during the year, including childcare and parenting, General Equivalency Diploma collaborations, adult health and family well-being, and youth empowerment training. The Saliba Center has a community career development component with core services to provide job search and job readiness training.

Cynthia Peurifoy, EPA manager, was "quite pleased with what was being done with the computers in Houston County" during her visit for the partnership press conference in December. UREAs Rosalind James and Cynthia Whittaker provide leadership to workforce education through these partnerships. Mrs. Rosalie Lane, community resource development co-coordinator is the liaison, while Mr. Kebede provides technical support.

Quick Fact:
About 50 percent of the households in the nation have at least one computer, while four out of five of these households have Internet access.

Source: United States Department of Commerce. (February 2002). A nation online: How Americans are expanding their use of the Internet.

What's a Ruminant?

The news on ruminants is no rumor. In recent years, small farmers, animal scientists, and producers in the United States have pursued alternative sources of competitively priced protein as an option to beef and pork. Most of us are very familiar with meat, milk, fiber, and skin products of the more common animal protein breeds. But as the nation becomes more diverse in cultural habits and the availability of farmland decreases, we are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits and potential of small ruminants, such as goats and sheep. Internationally, small ruminants represent an important economic niche in the agricultural system. Goat meat is one of the most highly consumed meats in the world and the consumption of goats' milk exceeds that of cows' milk from a worldwide perspective. Their grazing habits also help with the management of natural resources, and small herds are managed in urban and suburban environments where acreage may be limited.

The Urban Affairs Unit recognizes the rapid growth of this industry in the north Alabama area, and has offered programs to disseminate the latest information that would lead to production efficiency.

"The meat goat industry is one of the fastest growing enterprises of the Alabama agricultural economy," says Dr. Julio Correa, AAMU associate professor and Extension animal sciences and forages co-coordinator.

Alabama is the eighth leading state in goat production with an estimated 40,000 goats on over 1600 farms.

During 2005, UREAs conducted regional workshops and focused on producer issues, such as breeding, feeding and nutrition, artificial insemination, and embryo transfer.

"The workshops have been embraced by small farmers and larger organizations including the Alabama Meat Goat and Sheep Producers, a Division of Alabama Farmers Federation" says Eddie Wheeler an UREA in Marshall County who provided leadership in planning and implementing the workshops along with the late Mack Pugh, county Extension coordinator in Limestone County.

Cooperatives and producer associations have also been involved as sponsors and participants. Future farmers were targeted at goat management demonstrations conducted at the Uniontown Agricultural and Youth Farm. The demonstrations were attended by more than 100 vocational agricultural students who observed practical applications for herd management. The Youth Farm provides learning opportunities for school-age children who have an interest in agricultural enterprises.

"Extension has been a real resource to the program. When we have questions about our goat herds, we consult Mr. Tommy Teacher (UREA)," says Mr. Jacob Waddy, who manages the Uniontown Agricultural and Youth Farm with his wife.

Source: Pennsylvania State University. (2000). Agricultural alternatives: Meat goat production.

Can't Find that Job? WECAN4U!

The Workforce Education Career Assistance Network (WECAN4U), an online job search and resource management tool, has a new look to appeal to urban, new, and nontraditional audiences. The multi-state networking agreement initiated three years ago with the Land-Grant Programs at West Virginia State University, gave birth to this uniquely comprehensive website that became a tri-state program in 2005 when Mississippi's Alcorn University came on board. The one-stop job shop can be accessed at the Alabama Cooperative Extension System's Urban Living link on its home page (www.aces.edu). WECAN4U links to state and national resources including America's Job Bank. Resources for each of the states are categorized under six headings:

"As we continue to advance technologically, it's just a natural fit as a program delivery option," says Mrs. Rosalie Lane, urban community development specialist and community resource development co-coordinator, points out. "Of course we realize that not everyone has access. Many local citizens without home computers are being taught how to access WECAN4U through local community centers and libraries. And, we are hoping that our Extension community based computer labs will help to fill the voids as well. This is one of the outreach programs we provide through partnership agreements in those metro centers where labs are being established," she said.

WECAN4U supports Extension outreach in two major national initiatives that focus on conquering the digital divide and creating a competent workforce. Other programs such as Youth Career Summits and the Welcome to the Real World program provide access to professional mentors and real-life simulations for lifelong career planning. The goal is to educate youth and adults on how to develop skills in chosen occupations that translate into competitive resumes and portfolios for career exploration.

Saving Towns Thru Asset Revitalization (STAR)

Saving Towns Thru Asset Revitalization (STAR) is a statewide asset-based community development initiative designed to provide urban greenspace activities, projects, and experiences that impact human potential, family development and community capacity-building. STAR seeks to create greenspace corridors for intergenerational human interaction by cultivating a greater appreciation of the spiritual, psychological, cultural, socio-ecological, environmental, and economic values of the urban forest on human development and well-being.

STAR's major outreach initiatives take a nontraditional approach to capacity building in Alabama's resource-limited communities and townships by focusing on human dimensions of urban forestry and greenspace development.

"Given the weight of human needs and social problems in Alabama's hardscrabble communities, innovative and nontraditional programming is essential to enhance the quality of life for families through resource development," says Ms. Marilyn Johnson, (Urban) Forestry Wildlife and Natural Resources program co-coordinator and project leader for STAR.

STAR promotes recasting to build new community images using a number of asset-based community development campaigns such as enhancing greenspace revitalization through passive parks, using horticulture therapy gardens to facilitate people-plant interactions, and encouraging outdoor recreation such as bird watching and street games to reduce sedentary behavior and promote greater appreciation for the great outdoors and our natural resources. Several communities have been targeted and received direct assistance through UREAs and the STAR program with obtaining or moving towards Tree City USA status including Moulton, Gordon, Prichard, and Triana. With assistance from UREAs in the Mobile metro area, the City of Prichard was instrumental in receiving a USDA Forest Service grant under the Urban and Community Forestry Hurricane Ivan Assistance Program to undertake the a tree replacement program.

The STAR initiative explores nontraditional programs such as the ecumenical gardens concept initiated in Lawrence County by Urban Regional Extension Agent Jerry Chenault. This grant funded project explores the use of biblical plants and biblical garden models to support capacity building in faith-based communities. The first Alabama Cooperative Extension System Biblical Garden publication was developed in a resource manual format in 2005 to respond to increased interest.

In Montgomery County, UREAs took an interactive approach to environmental stewardship with youth in grades 4 and 5. An environmental conservation project was undertaken in 2005 to ensure specialized nesting cavities for the declining bluebird population due to habitat destruction. Through lectures and workshops, participating youth were able to assemble their own nest boxes while increasing their knowledge and interest in bird watching as a hobby and business.


To help even gender statistics for employment in technical fields, Extension staff partnered with state technical colleges and universities to conduct Youth Career Summits in Madison and Houston Counties. Technologically savvy role models encouraged more than 1500 high school females to defy stereotypes of male-dominated careers and shared solutions to obstacles that young women might face as they pursue more technical and high-wage careers. Scholarships were awarded to four students in Houston County to attend the state technical school of their choice.

Urban regional Extension agents partnered with the University of North Alabama's School of Nursing, Shoals Hospital, and the Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in the Florence MSA to pilot a Walking and Eating for Your Health Sake program. Participants in a ten-week time frame walked a total of 1530 miles and showed significant improvements in body weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure measurements. Enrollment for program follow through in 2006 is at over 100.

A videoconference in-service training with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension System on the Seniors Can curriculum supported 2005 Successful Aging Initiative outreach. Now in its third year, the initiative has provided some 2000 seniors across the state with health, financial, and legal information. The 2005 Annual Senior Expo, conducted in partnership with the faith-based community, educated 400 participants on issues related to new Medicare prescription drug requirements, senior lifestyles, elder law, and financial security. Free health screenings were provided and 25 participants received free Advance Directives.

Urban regional Extension agents and volunteers in Calhoun County were instrumental in changing the grounds of the Anniston Museum of National History to an official Alabama Botanical Garden. Aside from the 2005 beautification award recognition, the transformation has resulted increased economic impact for the tourist site.

Regional Extension agents collaborated with hospitals, the County Health Department and other service agencies to implement the third annual Cinco de Mayo Festival and Health Fair in Marshall County. The program targets Hispanic communities where a large percentage of the citizens do not have regular health care. The more than 400 participants received free health screenings and other health and nutrition related information.

Students Promoting Action: Community Education, better known as the SPACE program, is a statewide volunteer program that targets students in secondary and post-secondary schools. In 2005, it was implemented at four universities, one high school, and one community college. A total of 1,070 volunteers collaborated with 122 community-based service agencies to generate 34,236 volunteer hours and 15,079 customer contacts.

Welcome to the Real World, a career and financial management simulation program, reached approximately 4600 youth across the state in 2005. Nearly one-half of the participants were Hispanics. Subsequent to interactive training on various career options, associated salaries, living expenses and taxations, participants indicated they were more knowledgeable about real world finances. However, after participating in this program, 90 percent of the participants said they would probably pursue a different career from what they initially thought to be their preference.

Cooking and educational awareness classes were offered in a four-week series in Colbert and Lauderdale Counties, and a Diabetic Wellness workshop was conducted in Houston County. More than 700 participants were trained on best practices for meal planning, exercise, and foot care. Follow-up surveys on participants in the four-week training indicated 90 percent were in an exercise program compared to 75 percent prior to the training. One hundred percent of the participants had adopted some of the recommendations for eating healthier.

Youth in Bullock and Macon Counties participated in the LifeSmarts consumer education program developed by the National Consumer League. The computer-based program educates youth on consumer rights and responsibilities. Under the leadership of local coaches, youth compete in state and national competitions to test their knowledge against other teams across the nation. Bullock and Macon County teams ranked ninth and sixth respectively as intermediate teams at the national level during 2005 competitions.

Regional Extension agents and volunteers in Tuscaloosa County provided supporting evidence for clinical trials that shown interaction with animals can alleviate symptoms of depression. Therapy dogs brought to the Red Cross shelter at the University of Alabama's Recreation Center provided emotional healing to Hurricane Katrina evacuees by offering some normalcy and simplicity during chaos.

Horticulture therapy programs for special needs classes in Marshall, Morgan, and Tuscaloosa Counties assisted youth with problem-solving, social interaction, and communication skills. Moreover, participants are receiving hands on experiences that will translate into meaningful vocational skills. Profits from the projects' annual plants sales in 2005 totaled $5,705.

Morgan County UREAs partnered with the Better Business Bureau to present a June Scam Jam where an estimated 105 consumers learned how to avoid scams and scam artists. Panelists included representation from the Alabama Attorney General's office, Federal Trade Commission, United States Postal Inspection Service, Food and Drug Administration, Social Security, and local law enforcement agencies.

Houston County educators put a spin on traditional job search programs and offered a Teen Job Fair for youth. Approximately 1,000 attendees brought resumes and portfolios to sell themselves to the 50 businesses that were recruited for the fair. An estimated 30 percent of the youth were employed as part-time summer hires or placed in permanent positions.

A Jefferson County partnership initiated in 2004 with the Salvation Army, was continued in 2005 to empower underserved families to become more financially self sufficient and curtail repeated services for benevolent outreach. The program helped 800 families enhance their money management skills. Participants adopted recommended practices of developing a spending plan, resisting impulse buying, and purchasing based on needs versus wants.

Through a cooperative agreement with Meals on Wheels, WYAM TV and Girl Scouts of the USA, urban regional Extension agents in Morgan County have supplied over 2,760 servings of tomatoes high in the antioxidant lycopene. The Grape Tomato Project makes fresh vegetables available for meals of participants in the Meals on Wheels program that services approximately 460 seniors daily.

Dr. Terry Meisenbach, Communications and Marketing Leader with eXtension, updated urban regional Extension agents on the eXtension network during the Annual Urban Update training held on the campus of Alabama A&M University in November, 2005. eXtension is a national Internet-based network providing audiences with access to objective, science-based information and educational resources developed by Land Grant universities and their partners.

For more information about programs implemented through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System's Urban Affairs Unit, contact (256) 372-5710 or visit us online at www.aces.edu/urban.

Prepred by
Jannie Carter
, Ph.D., Extension Assistant Director, Urban Affairs & New Nontraditional Programs, Alabama A&M University

Specialists/Project Leaders:
Edna Coleman, Donnie Cook, Julio Correa, Dony Gapasin, Mary Hurt, Jacqueline Johnson, Marilyn Johnson, Rosalie Lane, Wilma Ruffin, Cathy Sabota, Bernice Wilson, Kevin Crenshaw, Wendi Williams, Jean Hall Dwyer, and Urban Regional Extension Agents

© 2006 Alabama Cooperative Extension System. All rights reserved.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work in agriculture and home economics, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, and other related acts, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn University) offers educational programs, materials, and equal opportunity employment to all people without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability.

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14 March 2006