Making A Difference in Our County
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples of Extension’s impact in the county over the past year.
SOUTHEAST GEORGIA PECAN FIELD DAY
Southwest Georgia plays host to many pecan field days, but more than 33,000 acres of pecans are grown in southeast Georgia. Growers in the southeast region needed local pecan training and field days that weren’t four hours away. Appling County Extension has hosted the Southeast Georgia Pecan Field Day for the past eight years. Topics addressed include fertilization, diseases, the pecan market, thinning, hedging, transplanting, using soil moisture sensors, and herbicide selection. Each year new topics that interest growers are discussed. Nearly 300 growers from 31 counties attended the field day each year. One grower commented on the importance of having a field day in east Georgia: “It gives them (growers) a place to go that’s close to their farm; it’s basically the same insects, and the same seasons we all have to fight down here together. I think we can learn to better produce pecans when everybody comes together and talks about it in our section of the state.”
GLEANING PROVIDES FRESH PRODUCE TO LIMITED INCOME FAMILIES
The overall health of Appling County citizens ranks below the state average. In Georgia, 65.7% of adults are overweight. In Appling County, 35% of adults are obese, compared to 30% in Georgia. Obesity and being overweight contribute to the development of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and osteoarthritis. CVD is the number one killer in Georgia. In efforts to improve the health of citizens, the Appling County FACS agent collaborated with the Coalition for a Healthy Appling County to implement a gleaning program. Gleaning provides fresh produce to limited-income individuals and families, promotes physical activity in those who glean, and fosters community among the volunteers and a sense of belonging to a group. Sixty-eight volunteers have gleaned 42 times and donated 41,960 pounds of fresh produce to limited-income citizens of Appling and surrounding counties. Produce is donated to the food bank, the senior center, and other charity groups. Produce gleaned so far includes sweet potatoes, cabbage, Vidalia onions, strawberries, red potatoes, blueberries, corn, field peas, cantaloupe, honeydew, zucchini, and greens, tangerines, pears, muscadines, and pecans. This project is impacting Appling County citizens in many ways, whether through receiving the produce or through volunteering their time to give back to their community.
MAKING OUR YOUTH RELATIONSHIP SMART
The mission of Georgia 4-H is 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. Appling County 4-H works to accomplish this goal by teaching Relationship Smarts+ Curriculum to all ninth-grade students. Teens involved in healthy relationships experience greater overall emotional well-being. The Relationship Smarts Plus (RS+) curriculum includes 13 lessons that focus on personal development related to goals and values, distinguishing between healthy versus unhealthy relationship behaviors and safe choices in forming relationships, developing communication skills, and preparation for adult roles and responsibilities related to parenting and marriage. From October 2019 to March 2020 a total of 197 youth participated in the Relationship Smarts program offered through Appling County Cooperative Extension. Survey results suggest that, on average, program participants reported gaining awareness and understanding of what it means to have a healthy relationship and feeling more confident that they can use these skills and behaviors in their everyday lives. Also, participants felt that the program was helpful to them and felt better about themselves after participating. One participant noted, “To me personally, I feel like it’s one of the most important things that you need to know in life because some people don't know about this and I feel like this is a big change in my life to know what is healthy for you and what is not when it comes to the point where it happens.”