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.
Baker County 4-H offers club meetings in our local school system in fifth through 12th grades. Through participating in 4-H in Baker County, kids get to experience success and become more confident by participating in out-of-school activities such as summer camp, Project Achievement and summer learning workshops. Fundraisers are held each year to help the students participate in these activities. Baker County 4-H has been selling citrus fruit, apples, onions and strawberries to help students participate at little to no cost.
One of the major activities in Baker County is Project Achievement. 4-H’ers have learned important life skills such as public speaking, organization, time management, sportsmanship and self-confidence. 4-H’ers develop both oral and written communications skills while becoming knowledgeable in their topic of interest. Beginning in fifth grade club meetings, Baker County 4-H’ers are encouraged to participate in Project Achievement through their senior year of high school. Some researchers say the biggest problem students must overcome is a lack of motivation and self-confidence. Being involved in 4-H and participating in Project Achievement was a big accomplishment for many of these 4-H’ers and will take them a long way in life situations.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Blueberry production has become a new crop in Baker County. Farmers considered planting blueberries through using UGA cost-comparison budgets, which indicated that blueberry production appeared to have the greatest chance of making a profit. Baker County began planting blueberries in 2013 and transported all the blueberries to Alma, Georgia, 150 miles away. As the acreage of blueberries grew, the farmers in Baker County turned again to UGA. Farmers worked with the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development to do a feasibility study of building a local blueberry processing facility. Today Baker County produces 150 acres of blueberries and, using the feasibility study from UGA, built a local processing facility to take delivery of all the blueberry production in Baker County and Southwest Georgia. Baker County has new farmers planting blueberries every year and is seen as a leader in blueberry production. UGA Extension is seen as a vital part in developing blueberry production as a new and growing crop to increase agricultural profitability in Baker County and improving net farm income for all Georgia farm families.
Family and Consumer Sciences
Obesity, poor nutrition, lack of food safety education and limited physical activity are significant concerns for the residents in Mitchell County. The Family and Consumer Science program offered educational programs for youth and adults focusing mainly on nutrition, exercise and food safety. Pre-K students in Mitchell County schools participated in nutrition lessons, which helped them learn about proper nutrition and eating healthy snacks, along with proper hand washing. This taught them how to prevent the spread of germs and prevent getting sick. Senior citizens in Mitchell County were also engaged in lessons focused on health and wellness. They enjoyed participating in nutrition and exercise bingo along with aerobic activity. Seniors as old as 94 participated and stated that they were less stressed and were more flexible after each session.