For Release December 31, 2002

Whatís In Store For Next Year?

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

I donít know about anybody else, but 2002 was a very interesting year. What with the weather, the world affairs and travel, the year flew by. So rather than spend the last day of 2002 talking about resolutions that may never happen, I thought itíd be fun to wander over the fine line of common sense and make a few predictions of what 2003 might bring us! So clip this column, put it on your refrigerator and in 365 days you can call me up and point out how very very wrong I was!

Weather - For all practical purposes we are still in a drought, as we have been the past three years. A wet October was nice, but November and December have been terribly dry, again. Well, El Nino is active and some of that moisture should be coming our way. There is good evidence that at least on a region wide basis, the first three months of 2003 should be wetter than normal. After that, it looks like even odds all the way around for precipitation and temperature. Even odds simply means that there are equal chances for normal, above normal and below normal conditions.

Chuckís Laws of Weather #1 states that for every extreme occurrence of weather we will have a balancing extreme to retain the long term average climate conditions. We are due for some very wet weather. Chuckís Laws of Weather #2 states that averages cover a very large area and while the state may have average precipitation, any single location, be it city or county or smaller, can easily see either extreme. So, in a nutshell, expect normal and prepare for both extremes!

The Geary County Extension Office - Now hereís a subject that may be a little more predictable. The Extension Office is supported primarily by county tax funds and to a much lesser amount from state tax funds via Kansas State University. We have been hit like most tax supported entities. Our doors are still open 8 to 5 Monday through Friday and all staff members are still employed and active. But we are having to conserve resources so you will not be seeing quite as many public educational meetings.

In the agriculture areas, our support staff at the state and area level have been hit very hard. Operating funds have been reduced to near nothing in some departments. Early retirement opportunities are being offered to quite a few staff members and once those specialists decide to take advantage of these offers, their former positions will not be filled for quite some time, if ever. Long time programs may fade away and their will be a definite void in experience and wisdom in some departments.

The Geary County Extension Office, along with other county extension offices, is starting to look at new and different ways to deliver programs. And while there are discussions occurring with neighboring counties about possibly combining efforts and staffs, these are just discussions. Changes arenít happening yet. Thereís a lot more to be discussed before that will be considered.

But I am an optimist. I told a coworker the other day that this was not a time to sharpen axes, but rather a time to start planting trees. We have a wonderful opportunity to examine how we offer information to you, our customers. And now may be a good time to find new and better ways to get you the information that you need and want. Stay tuned, it will get really interesting and really exciting in the coming months!


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