UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County is a partnership between Sarasota County and the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Part of the national Extension system founded in 1914, our mission is to translate research into community initiatives, classes, and volunteer opportunities related to core areas:
- Community Development;
- Gardening and Landscaping;
- Natural Resources;
- Nutrition and Healthy Living; and
- Youth Development.
Notes from UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota CountyLearn more about the latest happenings, and how we're growing to serve you better.
• Evolving for You (Summer 2017)
Our office has seen substantial change over the past few years as we have worked to address the changing demographics and needs in our county. These efforts leave us poised to meet your needs moving forward, with an integrated suite of programs that deliver responsive and high-quality information.
Through innovative program design, staff development, and strategic partnerships, our office has more capacity than ever to deliver information that is relevant and important to you. We have added highly qualified staff and developed new programs on topics including energy efficiency, natural resources, coastal environment, drinking water, chemical use, and more. Together, we can develop our local food systems, promote stewardship of our natural resources, and heighten engagement among our communities and youth.
We have dramatically increased our production of educational publications and offer more classes than ever before, reaching more than 20,000 people in the past year. We are leveraging technology and newer methods to communicate with you. We now publish a printed event catalog every three months, our Facebook "likes" have more than doubled, and our Twitter audience has grown by 25 percent — join our community!
We have contained costs through efficiences, taking care to use taxpayer dollars responsibly through our procedures, inventories, and energy use. At the same time, an independent survey last year showed a 94 percent overall customer satisfaction with our office. We strive to improve that while continuing to evolve, and we thank you for your support.
• Customer Service (Spring 2017)
Another way is to evaluate the effectiveness of program delivery. The University of Florida's Program Development & Evaluation Center conducts an Extension customer service survey every year, covering a fifth of Florida’s county offices each year. Counties surveyed in 2016 included: Bay, Charlotte, Citrus, Hardee, Hillsborough, Jackson, Lafayette, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Nassau, Sarasota and Union.
Sarasota County’s results revealed that 94.1 percent of respondents indicated they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the services provided by our office, and 4.1 did not respond. While this satisfaction rate compared favorably to the 13-county average, we will continue working to improve.
We are developing programs and outreach methods to address the needs of the growing population and evolving demographics in Sarasota County, to respond to our community's needs and reach new customers. The customer service survey suggests many of our customers are new to County Extension services, with 61.3 percent indicating they had used Extension services for two years or less. This compares to the 13-county average of 46.5 percent.
As we grow through this process, we maintain our commitment to you. We continue to offer you great classes and events. As always, we hope you will participate, learn, and grow with us, and we are grateful for your continued support. Please freel free to reach out to us at 941-861-9900 or email@example.com with any questions or feedback you might have.
• Meeting Changing Needs (Fall 2016)
Our classes and events each year reach thousands of people, including professionals and residents. We offer training on topics as varied as backyard chickens and energy reduction, and provide certifications and CEUs. People of all ages can learn through lessons and hands-on activities in classrooms, libraries, community gardens, school gardens, and myriad locations around the county.
As we strive to meet the needs of our community, our office is evolving and we are increasing our reach. We have used efficiencies, partnerships, and new funding to develop programs related to water resources, waste reduction and composting, chemicals in the environment, natural resources, and fishing and coastal ecology. These complement our existing programs in agriculture, horticulture, and family and consumer sciences.
This year, we also have changed our physical landscape, inside and out. We have reconfigured the layout in our LEED-certified building to make better use of space and accomodate our new staff. Outside, our demonstration landscape continues to take shape, with a recently installed rain garden taking root.
One thing that has not changed is our commitment to you. Check out the great classes and events we are offering around the county (visit: UFSarasotaExt.Eventbrite.com). We hope you will participate, learn and grow with us, and we are grateful for your continued support. Please freel free to reach out to us at 941-861-9900 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or feedback you might have.
• Employee Satisfaction
Sarasota County Government strives to create a work environment that delivers stellar customer service while also fostering personal growth, creative outlets, teamwork, and more for employees. In 2014, the county surveyed employees in its 15 departments, including UF/IFAS Extension, to better understand efforts to cultivate this type of innovative organization. On a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), employees scored a series of 25 questions across broad categories: career satisfaction, teamwork, work culture, supervision, and service/mission delivery.
The results showed that Sarasota County employees are dedicated to serving the public with passion and excellence, and proud of the work they do. Overall, the county workplace earned a 3.7 score (on the 1-5 scale) from across the departments. Employees showed the greatest satisfaction with their ability to carry out their work and help deliver on the county's vision and mission, with an average score of 4 for questions related to those areas. Extension employees felt even more positively about their workplace and ability to deliver services. They scored their overall work environment as 4.1, and the ability to carry out their mission as 4.3.