Current Initiatives

Walking School Bus Pilot Project
The state of Texas, according to recent statistics, doubles the national average of overweight and obese children (Nation: 1 in 6; Texas: 1 in 3). Various studies have shown that physical activity in both children and adults has dramatically decreased due to many factors including busy lifestyles, demanding work schedules, and decreased walkable communities. It has been shown that overweight and obese children are more likely to be so in their adult years. In an effort to address this growing problem, the UD department here at Texas AgriLife Extension Service – Tarrant County is coordinating a fun and exciting pilot project called a Walking School Bus in the Arlington Heights Community of Fort Worth. It will be a great way to encourage children and families to prevent becoming part of these statistics by increasing their inclusion of a regular regimen of physical activity in their day. A community-wide effort has taken form to plan and implement a six week mini-project with WOW days (Walking on Wednesdays). Students, parents, teachers, staff, and community members are invited to participate in this awesome effort to make including physical activity in our daily lifestyle choices fun and accepted as a norm. If you’re interested in volunteering, supporting, or simply joining in the walking fun, please contact our office.

Networking Communites
Each community has a unique set of individuals, families, groups, and organizations. However, they all have something in common: there are assets that abound within their boundaries that exist with the sole purpose of serving the residents within it! Because of this, we actively seek to meet, greet, and have “meaningful conversations” with each of these important community assets with the intention of becoming a “connecting force” that brings them together in a spirit of cooperation in providing exceptional service to its citizens through strategic partnership and collaboration. We are actively participating in this grand effort within select communities in Tarrant County and are seeking to expand our outreach. If your community is seeking to create a network of partners for the benefit of your residents and would like us to join in this effort and aid its success, please contact our office.

Partnerships for Stronger Communities
The Partnership for Stronger Communities is a collaborative effort of individuals and organizations in Tarrant County with the mission “to increase the number of financially stable people in Tarrant County by changing systems through education and advocacy.” We are currently involved in this effort through participation in their subcommittees focusing on education and neighborhood relations. Through your Urban Development department, we have become uniquely involved in an effort to educate others on the asset-based approach to community development and service provision, while also supporting the efforts of continuing the professional and personal development of all those involved.

Perspectives/Perspectivas Newsletter
The Urban Development Department of the Tarrant County office of Texas AgriLife Extension Service is happy to provide you with a bilingual bimonthly newsletter that highlights updates about the department’s programing, current efforts, successes in the community, and educational articles and series to benefit the various audiences of the county.  You can view past editions of the newsletter by clicking on the “Perspectives Newsletter” page.  You can also receive this newsletter directly in either PDF version by e-mail or in hard copy.  If you are interested in being a recipient of the newsletter, please e-mail Sonia Benavides at smbenavides@ag.tamu.edu with “Perspectives Add On” in the subject line and your e-mail and/or mailing address in the message indicating your preferred method of receipt (PDF or hard copy).

Urban Development Program Area Committee
The Urban Development Program Area Committee, comprised of approximately 12 members, is diligently working to give direction and focus to the educational programming efforts of the department for the 2010 year.  The members represent various facets of the community and work collaboratively to enhance the programming efforts already in place and to develop efforts that will serve the county in the future.  Meetings are being held to determine target audiences, priority educational programming efforts, and extending the outreach of the department throughout the county. 

Urban Network
As a department, we manage a network contact list to which we provide regular updates on area job fairs, local community events, posted job positions, and resource information pertinent to community needs.  If you or your agency is interested in becoming a part of that network, please feel free to send a request to your County Extension Agent for Urban Development, Sonia Benavides, at smbenavides@ag.tamu.edu  with “Urban Network Request” in the subject line, your name, e-mail, agency information and/or zip code of residence, with a short message as to your reason for the interest.

For more information contact our office:
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
Tarrant County Office
200 Taylor Street, Suite 500
Fort Worth, TX 76196-0123
Tel: 817-817-884-1946
Fax:817-884-1941

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