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:
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
The Oconee County Extension agent and his development team members identified local issues that needed to be addressed through educational programming to promote the profitability and sustainability of production agriculture. The 2015 total farm gate value for Oconee County was more than $66 million and included commodities such as poultry, ornamental horticulture, forages and livestock. The beginning farmer (Ag Aware) and small ruminant area trainings were highlights of Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources programming in 2016. These programs were essential to providing necessary business expertise and production knowledge to beginning farmers with limited agricultural backgrounds. One local producer said, “This is the type of workshop I need to help me to be a better farmer and small business owner. Furthermore, beef cattle producers' needs were addressed with forage crops, grazing strategies and BMPs (best management practices) for beef cattle management. As a result of Extension courses, producers managed to cut some hay and feed animals through limited grazing, (and) reduce herd size (due to) the drought, which resulted in maintaining beef cattle farms’ profitability.”
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES
Morgan and Oconee counties’ Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agent provided community-based training on topics related to early childhood education in order to help child care professionals meet annual training requirements and to help them develop skills to provide quality learning experiences for young children. These certificates are reviewed annually by the child care licensing surveyor to ensure that all child care staff are receiving state-required training hours. A total of 375 instructional hours were provided in the county for a small materials fee of $5 to recover the cost of printing and supplies. Other programs cost an average of $25 an hour with trainings provided at six regional access locations across the state. This resulted in a savings of $3,560 ($25 an hour minus the $5 materials cost for 178 participants) to these child care professionals, who are some of the lowest-paid workers in the state.
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
The missions of Georgia 4-H and Oconee County 4-H are one and the same – to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. In 2016, more than 700 youth were impacted by Oconee County 4-H through hands-on learning focused on agricultural and environmental issues, agriculture awareness, leadership, communication skills, foods and nutrition, health and citizenship. Over the course of the year, nearly 6,000 contacts were made in 284 educational programs for youth. On the district and state levels, 126 youth competed in Project Achievement. The Oconee County 4-H Club participated in Project S.A.F.E. (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) BB and shotgun teams, judging events and quiz bowls. These activities were responsible for over 887 contacts. Oconee County 4-H’ers competed at a high level in all activities. The team of Oconee County 4-H’ers were recognized as the state champions for Dairy Quiz Bowl and advanced to the national competition in Louisville, Kentucky. Oconee County had the state's fourth-highest number of youth attend 4-H summer camp, with over 233 students participating. Seventeen local summer programs were held and 402 youth took part in those program. Overall, 4-H members carried out 345 hours of community service. 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.