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
In 2016, UGA Extension continued its work with the Food Hub of Northeast Georgia, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, AgSouth Farm Credit and UGA’s Small Business Development Center to provide educational opportunities and technical assistance to small and beginning farmers. The vehicle for most of these educational opportunities was the Journeyman Farmer Certificate Program, which was developed as a result of UGA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant award by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Several of our Rabun County small or beginning farmers have progressed through this three-part comprehensive training program and are beginning to contribute to our local-food community efforts. Rabun County Extension also focused on working with those local production farms growing fresh fruits and vegetables to develop Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) to address the new Food Safety Modernization Guidelines (FSMA) instituted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These guidelines were instituted to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in a manner that minimizes the risk of microbial food safety hazards. Produce farmers producing more than $25,000 in annual revenue are encouraged to develop Farm Food Safety Plans specific to their operations and to participate in annual field audit programs to ensure the safe production, storage and transport of their product. While the FDA program involves guidelines, not regulations, local growers are being required by their buyers – multinational discount and grocery store chains – to comply with these guidelines in order to sell their products. Rabun County Extension has offered training and technical support to ensure that our local growers have what they need to comply. As is the hallmark of all UGA Extension offices statewide, we are here to provide unbiased, research-based information to all of the citizens and institutions of Rabun Count y.
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Project Achievement was held last February, and 251 fifth- and sixth-grade 4-H’ers prepared speeches and posters and presented them to judges. The winners advanced to District Project Achievement (DPA) in Blairsville, Georgia. Rabun County had 12 ninth- through 12th-grade 4-H students attend DPA at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in March. All of Rabun County 4-H’ers placed third or higher. Huck Smith placed first in the “Science of Engineering and Mechanics” category. He advanced to Georgia 4-H State Congress competition in Atlanta last July. Huck placed first and became a Master 4-H’er. He also advanced to national competition. Last March, five Senior 4-H’ers traveled to Jekyll Island for a two-day environmental education study. This was the first of a two-part study comparing the Georgia barrier islands to the North Carolina barrier islands. In June we stayed three weeks on a North Carolina barrier island. While there, we studied the tides, wildlife, dunes and marshes. We also did volunteer work on the USS North Carolina battleship. The 4-H agent conducted 22 in-school meetings each month, as well as five after-school meetings in March and 12 county council meetings. At our awards banquet in May, we awarded over 75 trophies and plaques to deserving 4-H’ers. Rabun County 4-H’ers were featured in Georgia FACES, the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences national-reaching newswire, for helping the firefighters during the wildfires in Rabun County.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.