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 ADDRESSES TEEN PREGNANCY
Among teens aged 15 to 19, Georgia has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. According to 2014 statistics from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT data, 21.3 per 1,000 girls in Georgia aged 15 to 19 became pregnant. In Washington County, the birth rate for girls aged 15 to 19 was 64 per 1,000. This is much higher than the state average. Thirty-seven births were to teen mothers in 2014. Beginning in 2013, Washington County 4-H focused on helping youth become more knowledgeable about making positive relationship choices, understanding the consequences of having sex before marriage, developing good communication skills and determining values to help prepare for future goals by offering a program called “Relationship Smarts.” Since then, over 370 students have been reached by the program. The majority of students who have participated in this program have gained confidence in establishing healthy relationships, reported they were very likely to use the skills learned and found the program overall either helpful or very helpful. One student recently commented: “I feel like it will help me make better choices when it comes to relationships and social media.”
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES
The Washington County Family and Consumer Sciences agent, Georgeanne Cook, provides programming that improves the health, wellness and financial capability of individuals and families served. All kindergarten, first- and second-grade children in Washington County participate in a hand-washing lesson. Good hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of the flu virus and foodborne illnesses. Diabetes awareness classes and diabetes education classes are provided to all residents of the area at no cost. Lessons cover nutrition labels, portion control and meal planning. Two people die of diabetes-related causes and 16 adults are newly diagnosed every five minutes in Georgia. A food safety program provides restaurant managers the opportunity to complete the national ServSafe® Manager Certification. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that each year, roughly one in six Americans gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Collaborating with the community and providing resources to help residents live a healthier lifestyle is a top priority for Cook.
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Production agriculture on the farm level is an evolving process. From the changing of crops grown, to changing technology, to changing efficacy of pesticides, farmers are often left with unwanted, outdated and unusable pesticides that are difficult and expensive to dispose of. The Washington County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension agent was able to help secure an area Clean Day, sponsored by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and hosted in Laurens County, where these pesticides were safely collected and properly disposed of. Through participating in this event, Washington County producers were able to safely dispose of over 10,000 pounds of pesticides, saving over $12,000 in cost to the producers. The area event in total collected 37,571 pounds of pesticides, and these products were removed from potentially harming the environment.