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The Extension Newsletter is published bi-monthly. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please email Lee Ann Clark, County Extension Coordinator, or call our the St. Clair County Extension Office at (205) 338-9416.

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Outreach Support for St. Clair County Veteran Community

St. Clair County Extension Veterans Outreach Agent Assistant
St. Clair County Extension Veterans Outreach Agent Assistant, Wayne Johnson

Outreach Support for St. Clair County Veteran Community

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s St. Clair County office has received continued funding to support a grassroots outreach program for the county’s veterans.

Lee Ann Clark, St. Clair County Extension coordinator, says the funding, which was secured through the St. Clair County Commission, has enabled her office to continue providing outreach support to the veteran community.

“For more than a century, Cooperative Extension has been about providing effective, face-to-face outreach to people where they live and work,” Clark says. “And for this reason, we think we are especially well-suited to serve our county’s veterans, especially those in critical need of assistance.”

Clark’s sentiments are shared by St. Clair County Commission Chairman Paul Manning, a strong supporter of the program.

The effort has also earned the full support of Alabama Extension Director Gary Lemme.

“The partnership between St. Clair County, the state of Alabama, and Alabama Extension, which is directed to assisting active military, National Guard and veteran families, reflects our combined commitment to those who provided our nation’s defense,” Lemme said. “Helping the families of these heroes access Veterans Affairs benefits that they have earned and providing resources to help them cope with the unique stresses of deployment and returning to home life will benefit not only those directly involved but also the entire community.

Veterans Outreach for St. Clair County will be the duties of Wayne Johnson, newly hired to lead these efforts.

“There is a critical need to connect veterans within communities, especially in small communities, to resources that can improve their financial well-being and their employment prospects. In many cases, it can be as simple as putting money in their pockets to tie them over as they make their transition back to civilian life,” Johnson said.

The challenges of transitioning to civilian life often prove even more daunting, if not insurmountable, for those veterans suffering from serious combat-related conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Among those veterans, timely effective outreach can mean the difference between successful transition to civilian life and one plagued by chronic unemployment, debt and, in many cases, substance abuse.

One of the main goals of the St. Clair Extension outreach effort is to reach these veterans with critical assistance before these patterns of behavior become self-destructive.

“My vision is to get out into the community and find veterans and widows of veterans that we don’t know about. I want to make them aware of the benefits that are available to them and hopes to make all veterans more aware of the numerous services and benefits available to them,” Johnson said.

“I plan to visit all the nursing homes,” he said. “Also, I not only want to talk to the elderly and middle-age veterans, but I also want to reach out to younger veterans.”

Considering the number of veterans in St. Clair County alone — some 7300 — an outreach program that presents veterans with viable treatment options potentially could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

This unclaimed assistance not only would benefit the returning veterans but also the local economies where they live and work.

Any questions concerning this program or if you are a Veteran in need of assistance, please contact Wayne Johnson, Veterans Outreach Agent Assistant. He can be reached at the St. Clair County Extension Office by calling (205) 338-9416 or email wjj0006@auburn.edu.

Newsletter November, December 2014

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With Christmas right around the corner, it is the perfect time to begin thinking about that perfect tree. Come learn more about them, from their trunk to the tinsel at a workshop being conducted by Regional Extension Agents, Bethany O’Rear and Sallie Lee at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. (see page 9) And, if developing an estate plan has been on your to-do list for quite some time, we can help. Ruth Brock, Regional Extension Agent, has planned a workshop to help you do just that…continue reading?

Newsletter September, October 2014

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I am thrilled to share that the Nutrition Education Program (NEP) has returned to St. Clair County and is now very high tech! Many of you may remember that I served as the NEP Agent here in St. Clair County for 5 years. I thoroughly enjoyed working with and teaching lots of students during that time about good nutrition using puppets, games and other activities. Well, the program now utilizes technology to teach nutrition. Aisha    Martin, our new NEP Agent Assistant, will conduct these classes with 3rd grade students across the county utilizing a mobile iPad laboratory. How cool is that? Be sure to check out the article about this new program on page 4…continue reading?

Newsletter May, June 2014

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May 8th is a special day for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System! One hundred years ago, on that day, President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation that extended the land-grant university concept beyond university campuses to reach into communities across the United States. That legislation created the Cooperative Extension System (CES) as a partnership between the federal, state and county governments. The Smith-Lever Act created a nation-wide Extension system and directed the nation’s land grant universities to oversee its work. This resulted in an Extension office in virtually every county in the United States. I am so honored to be a part of an organization that is 100 years old now and still going strong!…continue reading?