County extension volunteers, youth and adult leaders have taken great strides in adapting to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Val Verde County’s two extension agents told members of county commissioners court on Tuesday.
Raquel Rodriguez, county extension agent for family, community and health and 4-H; and Emily Grant, county extension agent for agriculture, natural resource and 4-H; made their presentation to the court during its first November regular term meeting on Tuesday.
The court met Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday morning because of the Veterans Day holiday on Wednesday.
“We have not stopped because of COVID; in fact, I think we got busier,” Rodriguez told the court.
Rodriguez said since many of the programs could no longer be conducted face-to-face, the extension service had to evolve in the ways it presented information to the community.
“Educating and providing educational workshops through Facebook and social media was a huge component for us,” Rodriguez said.
Grant agreed with her colleague that much has changed in the ways the extension office now operates.
“We were actually at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo when they shut it down, and a lot has changed since then,” she said.
As 4-H kicked off its new year in September, its members have continued to stay active, she said.
“Our volunteers and our kids and our project leaders have overcome the challenges that came with COVID,” Grant said.
In September, the 4-H groups began meeting again.
“For the first time since March, our 4-H youth conducted their general monthly meeting. Youth and volunteers have worked diligently to adapt and overcome to be able to safely host 4-H activities this year,” she said.
“We started back with our general meetings, we started back with our project meetings. Shooting sports is going on, and in all of those, we are taking different precautions depending upon the actual activities,” Grant added.
In September, some of the area’s young people had the opportunity to exhibit market lambs at the State Fair of Texas.
“All exhibitors placed with their animals,” Grant said.
Show stocks, generally are moving ahead with previous schedules, and Grant said so far only the Ft. Worth Livestock Show has cancelled its event.
“Everyone else has adapted or modified their schedules so we can participate,” she said.
Grant said the county extension office here also hosted a public meeting on chronic wasting disease in September.
“Our CWD here in Val Verde County is still a very concerning issue, as we continue to have a very high-density deer population, especially in those subdivisions out by the lake, and we need to keep vigilant minds in reminding our hunters to stop in at the CWD check point that will be set up by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,” Grant said.
For 4-H Week, county 4-Hers set up a drive-in movie at the county fairgrounds.
“We had more than 100 cars come out for the event, and I don’t think we ever realized the turnout that would be there. We thought 20 cars or so, and we had to turn people away,” she said.
County Commissioner Pct. 3 Beau Nettleton asked about expected participation in the annual Val Verde County 4-H livestock show, which has tentatively been set for December.
“Our numbers are slightly lower than last year, which I think we can expect,” she replied.
She said she is currently expecting about 64 exhibitors for the December event, compared to the 86 exhibitors that participated last year.
“Last year we were up from the year before,” Grant said.
She said many of the concerns she has heard voiced deal with the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a county livestock show.
“I think at this point, I can say, with the support of the court, we’re going to have a stock show on Dec. 19 and 20, but still anything could happen,” she added.
“But we’re going to keep it safe, aren’t we?” County Commissioner Pct. 4 Gustavo “Gas” Flores asked, noting the county extension office would have to be able to control the number of people in the facility used for the event.
Grant said there will be no public sale as in years past.
“So there is no need for the public to be there,” she said.
Each exhibitor will be allowed a certain number of wrist bands to distribute to a few family members who would be allowed to attend the youngster’s exhibition.