University of Georgia Extension agent Suzanne Williams is an advocate for personal health, growth and improvement in Dougherty County, and she values her ability to make an impact.
In her role as a Family and Consumer Sciences agent, Williams teaches diabetes and cancer prevention classes, ServSafe Manager courses, childcare trainings, financial management classes, and she conducts cooking demonstrations.
"It's kind of nice to see the light go off in their (students') heads when you give them information that they can take home and put into practice to live healthier lives," she said.
The top three causes of death in Dougherty County are heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, according to Williams, and these health issues lead to more than 60 percent of deaths in Dougherty County. Of the county's 894 deaths in 2011, 319 were cardiovascular-related, 175 were caused by cancer and 54 were linked to diabetes.
Further, the fight against diabetes hits close to home for Williams, who has family members living with the disease. Seeing the disease's impact first-hand permits Williams to be better able to relay her concerns to others in Dougherty County.
Relaying life-changing health information is an important part of Williams' Extension responsibilities.
"Chronic disease is such a prevalent problem here," she said. "Just to be able to help somebody and prolong his or her life is very gratifying."
Williams has served her fellow citizens for seven years. Her days as an Extension agent are seldom the same, which is just fine with Williams.
"Every day is a little different," Williams said. "You can be working with pre-K kids one minute and senior citizens the next. The difference is what keeps it all exciting. It keeps you coming back every day and happy to come to work."
Williams is also adept in the kitchen. During her regular nutrition and cooking classes, Williams will usually instruct 12 to 15 students. If it's an informational class in which Williams presents demonstrations, the class can have up to 70 or 80 students.
Williams' hard work has not gone unnoticed by her peers and directors. She holds multiple awards for her work in Dougherty County. Williams is a two-time recipient of the Tony Roberts Innovation Award, which is named after the former district Extension director, who wanted to recognize agents who have done innovative, out-of-the-box kinds of activities or classes.
The Georgia Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences has also recognized Williams for her "Matter of FACS" newsletters. She has also received state and national recognition for her newspaper articles and group projects of which she has been a part.
"The toughest part of the job is pacing myself," she said. "I have so much fun doing what I do that it's sometimes hard to say no."
When Williams is not serving the citizens of Dougherty County, she enjoys cooking, reading, making jewelry and creating pottery.
Visit the UGA Extension Dougherty County website for more information about local programs.
Published October 8, 2014
Suzanne R Williams
Family and Consumer Sciences
"Every day is a little different. You can be working with pre-K kids one minute and senior citizens the next. The difference is what keeps it all exciting. It keeps you coming back every day and happy to come to work."
- Suzanne Williams, Dougherty County FACS Agent