Making A Difference in Our County
We're working hard for the citizens we serve. Here are some examples of successful projects from the past year:
CULTIVATING COLUMBIA COUNTY
Columbia County ranks in the top 40 counties in Georgia farm gate value for ornamental horticulture, or the production of flowers and landscape plants. Last year, the Columbia County UGA Extension office had more than 10,600 contacts and 750 site visits dealing with homeowner horticulture. Of special interest, the Columbia County Cultivators meetings foster an educational partnership with industry professionals and homeowners. The monthly meetings host UGA specialists and industry professionals who cover a range of topics from beekeeping to organic gardening. For those who desire intensive training, Master Gardener courses are held biannually. The Master Gardener Extension Volunteer program is an 11-week class that covers a broad range of horticulture topics. The goal of the Master Gardener program is to educate horticultural enthusiasts so that they are equipped to volunteer and disseminate horticultural information to the public. From 2013 to 2015, Master Gardeners donated 12,500 hours for a total value of $261,250 to the community and the Extension office. The Extension office also provides continuing education for landscape companies and pesticide applicators required by the Georgia Department of Agriculture for certification. This past year, eight training sessions were held and 120 professionals benefited from the classes.
Columbia County 4-H prides itself on building active citizens for our future. Some projects accomplished in 2015 include raising over $7,000 for 4-H scholarships through Vidalia onion sales, donating over 1,500 pounds in soda can tabs in support of Ronald McDonald House Charities, ringing the Salvation Army bell for 64 hours, collecting $2,847 for the Salvation Army and collecting more than 1,000 towels for pets and Columbia County Animal Control through the Towels for Tiggers program.
A STRONG COUNTY PARTNERSHIP
There are more than 2,800 4-H’ers in Columbia County programs concentrating on leadership, citizenship, community service and public speaking. Partnering with Columbia County Schools, 4-H provides approximately 100 programs and meetings each month. Columbia County 4-H structures programming to provide experiential learning that complements the school curriculum and increases student writing test scores. The 4-H staff worked in conjunction with the water and sewage department to implement a best management education plan for youth stormwater education. With 4-H assistance, programs now comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Division mandates. In 2016, 4-H provided 76 programs for a total of more than 2,300 students.
FARM, FRESH AND FAST
Although Columbia County Extension does not have a Family and Consumer Sciences agent based in its office, we still strive to provide information to our clientele. Due to the resurgence of consumer interest in locally grown produce, like that from the farmers market in Columbia County, UGA Family and Consumer Sciences agents have developed a series of “Farm, Fresh and Fast” publications that are now available. The easy-to-read publications help residents make wiser food choices and save money when purchasing fresh products in season. The publications also inform consumers on how to select, prepare and store fresh fruits and vegetables. Renovations to the new wing of the Columbia County Extension office will allow us to teach classes on food preservation, food safety, and health and nutrition.