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:
Many Gilmer County citizens are suffering from tough economic times, and to help overcome these challenges, the Extension office offers a budgeting and identity theft class. Participants learn to protect themselves from identity theft, stretch their food dollars, save money, track spending, set up a spending plan and pay their bills on time. After completing the class, participants are asked to secretly write down what they learned. The following is a response from the class. “I learned what to do if I am a victim of identity theft, not to keep my social security card with me, how to save money, track spending, cut spending, freeze my child’s credit to protect them from identity theft, a better way to look at what I spend, and ways to improve my financial well-being.” Responses to follow-up questions a month after the class revealed that all respondents were tracking their spending habits and trying to pay bills on time. One participant commented, “I am tracking my spending and look at what we really need versus what we want; I pay my bills on time, it saves late fees and high interest and I pay a few days in advance.”
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THE WORKFORCE
Career readiness is the focus of in-school clubs. Students in fifth through 12th grades explored career fields through hands-on learning experiences. Fifth-grade students learned lessons in finance, information technology, marketing, government and public administration. The middle and high school students explored manners and etiquette, personality styles and how to interview for a prospective job. The kindergarten through third-grade Cloverbuds explored careers in agriculture. Gilmer County 4-H members gave oral presentations related to their areas of interest and gained valuable public speaking skills. Members showing livestock gained experience and knowledge in animal science and the management of livestock. Summer and after-school programs explored the arts, science, engineering and technology with an emphasis on careers related to these areas. The 4-H program continues to grow with the addition of Darcie Pritchett, the new 4-H AmeriCorps State member. Sixteen new 4-H clubs have been added for the 2016-2017 school year, enabling 4-H to positively influence more Gilmer County youth.
DIVERSITY IN AGRICULTURE
Agriculture in Gilmer County is very diverse. Poultry is the No. 1 agricultural enterprise, consisting of broilers, meat production, hens, baby chick production and a processing facility. Information about ventilation has been shared with producers to help improve production. Apples, wine grapes and agritourism are thriving. Gilmer Extension assists producers in using integrated pest management (IPM) to control insects and diseases using the minimum amount of pesticides to make the area more appealing to a large public presence. Bees are very important to agriculture. Gilmer County is also home to several beef cattle operations. The office helped producers understand how to decrease the use of antibiotics through the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). The office works with a local beekeeping group to help increase awareness of honeybees and increase the number of beehives in the county. As more people move into the county, homeowner needs have increased. A very active Gilmer County Master Gardener Extension Volunteer program carries out several projects throughout the year, including the farmers market.University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples of our impact in the county over the past year.