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:
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Murray County 4-H offers the Health Rocks! curriculum to educate youth on how to avoid risky behaviors involving tobacco, alcohol and drugs through lessons that encourage critical thinking, decision-making, communication, emotion management, stress management and goal setting. The program reached 540 students with 10 hours of curriculum, taught in part by youth action leaders at our weeklong summer day camp at Fort Mountain State Park. Qualitative results show that the program influenced students’ outlook on smoking, and verbal responses indicated that students would like their parents and relatives to stop smoking. Two months after our camp, knowledge, attitude and behavior were evaluated: 100 percent of the 4-H’ers said that they learned something that they did not know before; 100 percent noted a change in their feelings regarding tobacco, alcohol and drug use; and 100 percent of 4-H’ers said that they do not plan to use tobacco, alcohol or drugs in the future. School administrators report positive impacts in their students’ behavior and see the program as meeting a vital need in the school system.
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
The Georgia farm gate value for goat production is over $20 million, with more than 125,000 goats statewide. These numbers are increasing due to greater demand, the fact that goats require fewer inputs than other livestock and less pastureland is required for production. To meet these needs, a Master Goat Producer workshop was presented as a four-week series of classes to attendees from across the state as well as Tennessee and South Carolina. The curriculum covered topics such as raising healthy goats, grazing practices, business planning, parasite control, nutrition, reproduction, selection and hoof trimming. Dr. Niki Whitley, Fort Valley State University Extension animal science specialist, provided parasite control (FAMACHA) certification. Sixty-seven registrants completed the four-week course and aalthough almost half were inexperienced and did not yet have goats, after attending the class, they were considering getting some. Of those who already had goats, 35 percent raised meat goats and 14 percent raised dairy goats. Fifty-two percent of those with goats had them for less than five years. On a scale of very dissatisfied (1) to very satisfied (5), 85 percent were satisfied or very satisfied w it h FA M ACHA training, followed by 82 percent for health and diseases, 78 percent for reproduction and kidding, and 67 percent for nutrition. Attendee comments included: "Loved the speakers ... just getting started ... very helpful.” “It was a fantastic learning experience ... can be confident in raising a herd of goats.” “Just starting with goats and I really enjoyed learning more about them. All the speakers were very informative, thank you.” “I like how it covered all areas that a person needs to start a goat program from scratch; gives me a lot to think about.”
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES
The correlation between hunger and obesity has become a major concern in recent years. The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) provides nutrition education to low-income families to improve their diets and nutrition practices, help stretch their food dollars and teach them to handle food safely. In fiscal year 2016, Murray County EFNEP reached 48 residents directly and 183 family members indirectly, through 207 educational sessions. After completing the EFNEP program, 40 percent of participants reported using the Nutrition Facts label more often when shopping; 40 percent were less likely to thaw frozen foods at room temperature; and 55 percent compared food prices when making their grocery purchases.