Renee Dotson loves helping people, which is why working for University of Georgia Extension has been the perfect fit for her.
Dotson has worked for UGA Extension since 1989 and is currently the county Extension coordinator for Gilmer and Pickens counties as well as the family and consumer sciences agent for Gilmer County. Dotson received a bachelor's degree in home economics from UGA and a master's degree in public administration from Kennesaw State University.
While Dotson was growing up, her father worked as an Extension agent in Whitfield County, but it wasn't until she graduated college that she seriously considered working in Extension. Her father recommended that she look into what it would be like to become an Extension agent and she liked what she found.
"From that point on I was Extension bound," she said. "I didn't even apply to other jobs. Initially I wanted to be a school teacher, [but I'm] so glad that idea didn't work out."
She's still in the education business, she said, but now the entire state is her classroom. Providing research-based information to the people in her community allows her make people's lives a little better on a daily basis.
The most rewarding part of her job is "seeing that light come on when someone 'gets' what I'm talking about, or someone thanking me after a class for the information they received or learned--basically helping others," she said.
Most Extension agents are encouraged to focus on two or three areas. Dotson works in all program areas, ranging from nutrition and housing, to food safety and working with community leaders.
This breadth of experience and her ability to work as a team player make her an "outstanding agent," said Denise Everson, FACS program development coordinator.
As the county Extension coordinator for two counties, Dotson manages each county's Extension staffs, money, works with boards of commissioners and two boards of education.
Even though her responsibilities are similar for both counties, Dotson said they each have their unique set of challenges. In Pickens County the Extension office will be moving to a new location in February. Dotson has spent the last year working with the commissioners to find a new site, she said the move "has been a challenge, but in the long run it will be worth it."
In addition to keeping the office doors open and the lights on, Dotson works to mentor the younger and new agents who may be unfamiliar with Extension or with her north Georgia counties.
Both Gilmer and Pickens have new 4-H agents, and Dotson tries to "give each of them as much support as they want or need."
"[I love] helping my co-workers accomplish something," she said.
In addition to her work in northeast Georgia, Dotson has won several national awards for her work. Her work on the UGA and Gilmer Affordable Housing Committee won the 2005 Innovator Award for Georgia from the Southern Growth Policies Board. These award winners are "recognized for their fresh approaches to problems and creating opportunity in the South's rural regions."
Outside of work, Dotson enjoys spending time with her family or "just being outside, provided it's not too cold."
Visit the UGA Extension Gilmer County website for more information about local programs.
Published February 6, 2015
V. Renee Dotson
Family and Consumer Sciences
"[The most rewarding part of my job is] seeing that light come on when someone 'gets' what I'm talking about, or someone thanking me after a class for the information they received or learned--basically helping others."
- Renee Dotson, Gilmer County FACS Agent