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:
UGA Extension has an exciting new campus-community partnership: Project F.R.E.E. (Fostering Relationship and Economic Enrichment). Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Project F.R.E.E. offers free relationship classes, financial capability classes and tax preparation. The project spans a 12-county area. Project F.R.E.E. promotes stable homes for children by teaching healthy relationship and co-parenting skills to new and expectant parents, foster caregivers and parents who have recently reunified with their children after foster care. Class participants learn and practice skills such as managing stress and conflict, increasing positive interactions with family members and building family strengths. By the end of the five-year project, Project F.R.E.E. hopes to reach 1,600 families. Project F.R.E.E. held its first Newton County classes in February and March 2017. For more information and to express interest in classes, visit the website www.ugaprojectfree.com.
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Newton County is ideal for growing fresh produce for the greater Atlanta area. The Newton County Extension office is the leading promoter of local agriculture through educational programs, tours and internships. Newton County produce farmers have been reinforcing the importance of locally grown produce by opening their farms up to UGA Extension educational programs. In the summer of 2016, Crystal Organic Farm hosted 25 county agents from across the state for a walking tour showcasing the daily workings and practices on the farm. Day-to-day operations used to grow a quality product were the main topic. After the tour, UGA produce specialists taught agents and the farmer new and innovative ways of controlling pests on organic farms. The local Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program, conducted by UGA Extension, needed a farm to show participants how to run farm machinery for growing vegetables. Mitcham Farm in Newton County provided the 35 participants with this guided farm tour. The Newton County agent coordinated two on-farm internships with local farmers for prospective farmers who needed hands-on training.
SERVICE LEARNING THROUGH STEAM
Service-learning projects happen when youth take the initiative to identify a need, find a solution and lead others in attempting to address the need. Members of 4-H were encouraged to take ownership of current projects and to create new ones. Two youth began a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) project club to serve younger 4-H’ers, and the response showed the need for more STEAM programming. The agent solicited ideas from youth, and 4-H members took off! Eight middle and high school 4-H’ers and one volunteer planned five days of curriculum used in a day camp and at a summer program, where one youth led a 3-D printing service project that allowed 4-H’ers to make prosthetic hands for kids, and two youth completed STEM ambassador certification. Two youth were selected for the Georgia 4-H Communications and Technology Team. One 4-H’er earned a $500 grant to expand the prosthetic project with the purchase of a 3-D printer for 4-H! Everyone at STEAM camp reported being more excited about science afterward; 100 percent of Teen Leaders reported learning lessons on leadership and teaching. Six of the eight youth have continued work on STEA M-related service projects for other youth in the community since the camp, and two new 4-H’ers have applied to the team.