University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is a results-driven organization, looking to continually improve lives, businesses, and communities. Below are a few highlights of ways we have helped make an impact around the state.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Direct savings to farmers and agribusinesses
- Variety testing: Crop trials provide the data farmers use to make educated, location-specific variety selections. Farmers’ improved yields save consumers money. Increased yield values are nearly $250 million annually, thanks to trials of top Georgia crops.
- Peanut harvest timing: If peanut harvest is too early or too late, yields and profits are lost. The peanut pod blasting method, developed by UGA, equips growers to test the crop’s maturity. UGA faculty evaluated more than 75 percent of Georgia’s peanut acreage and helped growers harvest an extra 173 million pounds of peanuts worth $35 million.
- Battling devastating weeds: Considered Georgia’s most problematic weed, glyphosate-resistant palmer amaranth (pigweed) reproduces at high rates, causing damage to field crops, especially cotton. Management efforts, developed by UGA, help farmers reduce input costs, saving them about $24 million annually.
Master Gardeners work more than $4 million worth in volunteer hours
The Georgia Master Gardener program, continuously active for 37 years under the direction of UGA Extension in more than 60 counties across the state, continues to train volunteers to assist agents in Extension educational program delivery. In 2015, 17 counties recruited and trained 257 new volunteers. More than 3,000 MGEVs returned 178,414 volunteer hours at a value of $4,115,354 to the University of Georgia and their communities. This is roughly equivalent to 89 full-time staff. They educated over 365,000 Georgians at fairs and plant clinics and through civic club presentations and home garden visits. As a result of educational activities offered by MGEVs, Georgians are able to make environmentally sound gardening decisions. Because MGEVs work with Georgians to answer questions and solve problems, insects and diseases can be treated with appropriate controls, plant choices can be made to enhance landscapes and property values, individuals can grow their own fruits and vegetables, and youth gain exposure to the joy and wonder of gardening. As a result of MGEV efforts, agents are able to devote time to developing targeted educational programs that address local issues and needs.
Protecting Georgia's Pollinators
Many gardeners do not realize how insecticide works in the garden and how essential pollinating insects are to the success of the food garden. UGA Extension's Pollinator Spaces Project was created in response to this issue. The community and school garden coordinator has conducted 22 workshops for 621 attendees. Pollinator-focused booths were also created for use at conferences and exhibits, along with 4,000 pollinator seed packs have been given away. Social media information, blog posts, and news articles have been published and shared across the state. Agents have also given similar workshops as a focus in their work with a total of 9,044 face-to-face contacts on the topic. The project was a focus at the national eXtension i-Three Corps program. Being involved in this program created national interest in the pollinator spaces project. Colleagues from Alaska, Florida, and Montana have collaborated with the community and school garden coordinator on pollinator garden issues.
Thousands of Diagnostic Test Results Delivered
Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratories provides objective analytical services to agricultural producers, homeowners and agribusinesses using the latest technology and methods. These services, combined with unbiased interpretations and recommendations, contribute to improved agricultural and environmental sectors. In FY 2017, the labs administered the following tests:
- Soils – 66,017
- Manures – 1,449
- Waters – 9,836
- Plants – 4,748
- Feed and Forages – 8,578
- Microbiology – 3,134
- Other – 2,065
Bolstering Georgia's $74 billion agricultural industries
Our agents help large- and small-scale farmers at every step of the way. They also compile an annual report of total production (farm gate value) from producers. Total market value reached nearly $14 billion in 2015 with a total economic contribution to the state that totals $74 billion. Visit our topic pages to see the top producing counties by commodity.
|Top Counties in Agricultural Production|
Displaying farm gate values for 2016. Values are tallied in October for the previous year.
Family and Consumer Sciences
Teaching Healthy Lifestyles and Stretching Food Dollars
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) help Georgians stretch their food dollars in order to make healthier food selections and teaches preparation and food safety techniques. SNAP-Ed offers Food Talk classes, consisting of six learner-centered sessions to enhance healthy eating behaviors, including food resource management, food safety, food preparation, and physical activity.
EFNEP enrolled 5,330 Georgia residents in FY16 resulting in 2,676 program graduates. UGA EFNEP is working to alleviate health disparities imposed by socioeconomic status by providing low-income Georgians with the knowledge, skills, and resources to improve nutrition practices and increase physical activity. EFNEP graduates reported measurable improvements in diet quality, physical activity, food safety, food resource management, and food security.
Reducing foodborne illness in food preservation
People continue to put themselves at significant risk by using unsafe home canning methods. Our first goal is to ensure that people have access to safe methods for processing and preserving food at home and to use distribution routes and educational programs to encourage adoption of UGA recommendations. In addition, recommendations are made to minimize economic loss through food spoilage and retain high quality and satisfaction with home-preserved foods.
Comprehensive recommendations and recipes are available in the for-sale book, So Easy to Preserve, which is nationally known and distributed to thousands annually. Also available are free factsheet publications covering these topics. Extension agents may offer local hands-on workshops or demonstrations in addition to answering individual questions, displaying exhibits, local mass media work, testing of canner dial gauges, and distribution of publications. In 2015-2016, 93 presentations or workshops were presented by county agents to 1,731 Georgians.
Reducing cancer-causing agents in well drinking water
Radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas formed from the decay of uranium and radium found in geologic deposits. When released from underground rocks like granites or shales, radon may easily move toward the surface in air or water. Uranium and radon were detected in drinking water wells in some areas of Georgia. The public health goal for both uranium and radon is zero as there is no safe level of these contaminants in drinking water.
UGA Extension developed and delivered a program of testing, public education, and mitigation of uranium and radon in drinking water for the well owners in the affected areas. By November, 2016, 1,218 water samples were tested. Of these, 142 had detectable level of uranium. A total of 60 samples were tested for radon with 58 having detectable levels. Information about the existence of uranium and radon in Georgia well waters, their health consequences, and the effective treatment systems to remove these contaminants from drinking water incorporated into a new Radon In Your Water publication.
4-H Youth Development
More than 1.1 million served through environmental education
The Georgia 4-H Environmental Education Program provides a network of learning experiences across Georgia that allows youth to learn science and other content in the context of the real world environment. Teachers are seeking out meaningful and educational field studies to enhance and complement the learning that occurs in the formal school classroom. The environmental education program offers day and residential field studies at sites from the mountains to the sea at our 4-H Centers.
Since its inception in 1979, the total program has served over 1,112,200 participants. The programs use the outdoors as a classroom without walls, are aligned with the current state education standards, keep students active and engaged in classes for up to eight hours a day, are taught by well-trained and college-educated instructors, use hands-on approaches to put learning in the context of the real world environment, and help to create and sustain bonds between teachers and students. During the 2015-16 school year, the 4-H Environmental Education Program reached 37,601 participants.
Shooting Sports Teaches Personal Development, Goals
Georgia 4-H worked with 12,705 youth in shooting sports clubs, camps and special events during 2016 primarily through the 1,098 Certified Volunteer Coaches that led this outreach. Certified volunteer coaches lead Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education (SAFE) programs in the 113 counties offering at least one of the shooting sports disciplines which include shotgun, rifle, archery and air pistol. SAFE Instructors are very accessible and mentor coaches to insure they have the skills needed to effectively teach boys and girls sound shooting sports techniques. SAFE Instructors continuously stress that positive youth development is the priority in Project SAFE. Like other 4-H projects, SAFE has a subject matter base which links to natural resources, wildlife, outdoor recreation, and safety. The content is drawn from sports medicine, psychology, education, biological and physical sciences, engineering, mathematics and technology, as well as American traditions, folklore and history.
4-H'ers benefit from Useful life and consumer skills
Teenagers have a tremendous amount of influence on family purchases such as food, clothing, electronics, and services but they typically do not engage in comparison shopping. Georgia 4-H conducts an annual competition based on decision-making skills called Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging. Using hypothetical (but common) everyday situations, the program teaches 4-H'ers how to evaluate goods, services, and clothing items to meet the needs and wants of different consumers. Contest participants judge four different classes of items with each class containing four brands or styles of the same good, service, or clothing item. They give oral reasons on one class telling why they ranked the items the way they did. Participants also present a ninety second advertisement on any aspect of cotton or a thirty second cotton commercial according to their age group. The top three Junior and Senior teams at each area contest receive cotton prizes such as backpacks, attaches, or duffle bags. Cotton Boll and Consumer Jamboree continues to have the highest participation of any 4-H educational judging event with 807 actual contestants in 2016. Over 195 volunteers, County agents, and 4-H program assistants have completed the Certified Coaches Training which is required to form teams.
The newest consumer education competition, Life Smarts, recently entered its fourth year. Sponsored by the National Consumer League, competitors answer questions in a quiz bowl format in five categories (environment, health and safety, consumer rights, technology, and personal finance). Georgia 4-H'ers practice and compete online in advance of the national contest. In the past five years, Georgia has finished first, second, third, and fourth, and 22 Georgia 4-H'ers have earned top five high individual awards at the National Consumer Decisions Contest in Denver. In the past year in LifeSmarts, Georgia 4-H participation grew from 55 to 85 Varsity (Senior) county teams and 16 Junior Varsity (Junior) teams.