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:
Changes in agriculture production have led to the development of new pesticides and cancellation of older pesticides. In many cases, canceled pesticides can no longer be legally used and disposal costs can be very expensive. Agribusinesses, farmers and homeowners are forced to store them until a better disposal solution is made available. Improper disposal and storage of these pesticides can lead to environmental and health problems. Working with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, a Clean Day for pesticide recycling was held in Laurens County. The Clean Day was a big success: 37,571 pounds of pesticides were collected from 35 participants from 15 Georgia counties. The pesticide disposal company from a Georgia-based agribusiness collected another 38,000 pounds of pesticides off-site. The event saved homeowners, farmers and agribusinesses over $150,000 in disposal costs. It also helped to prevent these pesticides from causing environmental and health problems due to improper storage and disposal.
4-H’ERS EXPLORE CAREERS
“Georgia House Bill 713 mandates a minimum course of study in career education in grades K-12,” according to the Georgia Department of Education, requiring students in Georgia to receive grade-specific lessons on career awareness that align to Georgia’s 17 career clusters. To address this issue, Laurens County 4-H provided college- and career-preparation classes for 151 sixth-graders. The Laurens County 4-H agent used the middle school College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) career exploration curriculum developed by UGA 4-H staff and specialists. Evaluations from the career exploration lessons indicated that 72 percent of students identified with vocational personalities and 81 percent identified careers that would interest them.
CHILD CARE QUALITY
Research shows that the first five years of a child’s life are critical for success due to developments that occur in their language, social skills and cognitive abilities. Most Laurens County children spend these years in child care. Child care providers are required to complete 10 training hours annually. In 2016, the Laurens County Family and Consumer Sciences agent taught 16 classes to 225 providers on topics ranging from child abuse to nutrition to ensure that children in child care have quality, nurturing, educational childhood experiences. This year, 100 percent of participants reported that they learned new ideas that they could use in their classrooms. Upon completion of the There’s No Excuse for Child Abuse program, one participant said that she “would watch for signs of child abuse more closely” because of the class.
MEAL PLANNING FOR LOW-INCOME FAMILIES
The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) uses federal, state and local resources to provide research-based nutrition education to low-income families with children, teaching them how to purchase and prepare nutritious meals on a budget. Participants learn to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy while decreasing sodium, improving food safety and increasing exercise. This results in improved health and well-being, reduced healthcare costs and less absenteeism from work. EFNEP reached 417 participants in the Laurens County region: 159 graduated and 61% percent said they now use the Nutrition Facts label more often to make healthier food choices. One participant stated, “Because of EFNEP, my doctor has taken me off of all my blood pressure medicines.”