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 CERTIFIED TEEN LEADERTRAINING PROGRAM
Over the past six years, Union County 4-H has provided the Certified Teen Leader training program curriculum, developed by UGA Extension’s Northwest District 4-H Program Development Coordinator Lori Purcell Bledsoe to train seventh- through 12th-grade students, at the beginning of each 4-H year. Trainings generally take three to four hours, based on the number of participants. Key lessons taught during the sessions include: “Characteristics of a Teen Leader,” “Working with Others,” “Ages and Stages of Young Youth,” “How to Handle Conflict” and “Do You Pass the Test?” Camp Teen Leader training was later offered in a small group session for the four to six teens who applied and were selected to serve as Teen Leaders at summer camp for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students. All trainings offered 4-H’ers hands-on learning activities to become engaged, reflect and apply what they learned. Students could demonstrate what they learned during leadership opportunities like 4-H dances, Cloverleaf Project Achievement (CPA), Project Achievement, community service projects, summer activities and 4-H camp. One hundred and nine students completed the Georgia 4-H Teen Leadership training program. Evaluations following the training showed that all of the students improved their knowledge about the role of a Teen Leader and the ages and stages of 9- to 11-year-olds, and they all felt confident handling difficult situations. Seventy percent of those students who completed the training remained active in 4-H throughout high school. Most served as Teen Leaders at 4-H dances, and 55 Senior 4-H’ers served as judges at CPA and Project Achievement. Ninety led games, directed groups and presided at assemblies during Project Achievement in Blairsville, Georgia. Twelve students served as Teen Leaders at camp, seven of whom went on to become 4-H camp counselors. Three served as District and State 4-H of f icer s .
AGRICULTURE IN THE MOUNTAINS
Master Gardener Extension Volunteers (MGEVs), with their horticultural expertise and passion for assisting the public, serve as valuable resources for the agent local organizations. This year, in cooperation with Fannin and Towns counties, Union County welcomed a new class of 18 Master Gardener trainees to serve as educators in their community. In 2016, MGEVs and trainees maintained seven demonstration gardens in both Union and Towns counties and manned “Ask a Master Gardener” booths at eight local fairs and farmers markets weekly throughout the growing season. They also planned four educational programs for youth and adults dealing with pollinator health and native plants. Master Gardener help desks and site visits were started to promote Master Gardeners’ presence in the community. Both the trainees and established MGEVs have contributed 4,948 hours in 2016, a value of over $114,180. The Union County Extension office maintains strong connections with local community partners such as the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center, local U.S. Department of Agriculture offices, the U.S. Forest Service and the Georgia Forestry Commission. These partnerships help us to provide valuable programming such as SepTIMBER Forestry Field Day, which had over 70 people in attendance, and two hemlock treatment workshops in which property owners were instructed on how to properly treat their infected hemlock trees. These programs helped further Union County Extension’s forest health initiatives by promoting scouting for hemlock woolly adelgid and treatment of native hemlocks. Union County maintained its standard corn and vegetable production meetings and held an informative session on high tunnel acquisition and maintenance. Soil testing was promoted to maintain proper soil health, and the county saw a 33 percent increase in soil tests from 2015. The use of best management practices in vegetable crop operations and proper high tunnel maintenance can extend the growing season by as much as two months, greatly increasing production and enhancing the livelihoods of producers.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.