Some employees of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service have been notified that as Oct. 31, their positions will be eliminated.
According to an agency press release, the personnel cutback affects 94 jobs - 31 vacant positions that will not be filled and 63 occupied positions that will be eliminated agencywide. The downsizing results from a 5 percent state budget reduction, according to Dr. Ed Smith, AgriLife Extension director.
Leaders of the state agency, which has offices in 250 Texas counties, said their decisions were based on maintaining core programs statewide.
Among the 63 positions being cut is that of Megan Logan, the 4-H extension agent for Erath County.
According to Donna White, Erath County's family and consumer sciences agent, Logan signed on to lead the local 4-H program in July 2008 following a spring internship through Tarleton State University.
White said over the last two years and under Logan's management, the 4-H program in Erath grew from 272 members to 366.
"She has done an outstanding job in increasing membership and involvement and also help grow the program," White said.
White also said during her time as an agent, Logan showed her greatest strength - building strong relationships with 4-H families.
"She works very well with parents and youth," White said, adding that attending livestock shows has only been a small part of Logan's responsibilities with the club. "The kids participate in other projects, competitions and events and Megan helped fill that gap."
As far as the local program is concerned, White said she and Todd Vineyard, who will be the only two agents in the county, will have to formulate a new plan for addressing the needs of locals who rely on the extension office.
"We will have to fill those shoes as best as we possibly can," White said.
White said Logan will serve as the 4-H agent until Oct. 31 and the state will offer her the opportunity to transfer to another county to continue her employment within the agency.
Still, White said for the local program, a best case scenario would be that Logan gets to stay in Erath County.
In the press release, White said the agency searched for many options before having to call for the cutbacks.
"We delayed restructuring as long as we could, because we hoped that economic conditions would improve," Smith said. "But that has not happened and we regret that we have to take these steps."
One-fourth of the staffing cut is at the agency's College Station headquarters. The rest is throughout Texas.
“To keep positions strategically distributed, we will refill some vacancies,” said Kyle Smith, AgriLife Extension executive associate director. “So displaced personnel may find other internal job opportunities.”
Since Erath is currently home to three agents, it was among the top of the programs to be cut according, to the press release.
"Counties currently being served by a single extension agent or through a shared position will not be impacted by the new staffing plan," said Darrell Dromgoole, AgriLife Extension associate director for county programs. "We looked most closely at counties where we had three or more positions, especially if more than one employee supported the same subject matter."
Dromgoole said all county Extension personnel contribute to 4-H, AgriLife Extension’s youth program, and will share full responsibility for that program where needed.
"Youth programming remains a strong emphasis of our agency," he said.