UGA Extension Office

Our Impact

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.

MIDDLE SCHOOL 4-H RETENTION

Banks County 4-H has a large fourth through sixth grade (Cloverleaf) 4-H program. However, once students reach seventh and eighth grades, many students stop participating in 4-H activities. Lack of participation by older youth can be attributed to busier schedules and involvement with other organizations. This is unfortunate, because 4-H has excellent programs for middle school youth. To increase retention in middle school-aged 4-H members, Banks County 4-H staff held focus groups with 4-H volunteers as well as current middle school 4-H members to analyze ways to increase retention among middle school youth.

Banks County 4-H staff held three focus group meetings throughout the year to identify strategies to increase middle school 4-H retention. Two common themes from the focus groups were identified:

1)Provide leadership opportunities for middle school youth

2)Provide social activities for middle school youth

Banks County 4-H staff used the focus group themes to plan out seventh and eighth grade 4-H meetings for the 2018-2019 school year. Banks County 4-H staff held officer elections at the first meeting and provided teen-leader training to help middle school students lead younger 4-H members in activities. To address the desire for social activities, Banks County 4-H staff incorporated different 4-H trips each month for middle school students. Trips included going ice-skating and bowling.

Banks County 4-H staff used the focus group themes to plan out seventh and eighth grade 4-H meetings for the 2018-2019 school year. Banks County 4-H staff held officer elections at the first meeting and provided teen-leader training to help middle school students lead younger 4-H members in activities. To address the desire for social activities, Banks County 4-H staff incorporated different 4-H trips each month for middle school students. Trips included going ice-skating and bowling.

Agricultural and Natural Resources

Superior research and education are the driving forces of agricultural innovation, and no one knows this better than UGA Extension. Banks County has a new agricultural and natural resources agent who has been working hard to meet producers and is eager to maintain a high level of programming that will deliver unbiased education. Farmers have been dealing with decreases in commodity prices, which has increased the importance of extension programming to keep farming profitable and sustainable. The new Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent will work with the producers in Banks County to find more efficient, profitable methods of management and production. Banks County’s largest agriculture commodities are poultry (more than $250 million farm gate value) and beef cattle, hay, and forage ($6.5 million farm gate value). Poultry production in the county includes all aspects of the industry from broiler production to a commercial table egg producer that maintains 1.7 million laying hens.

Banks County Elementary School has started a pilot “Farm-to-School” program in partnership with Banks County Farm Bureau, establishing a garden, small orchard and greenhouse. The incoming ANR agent is looking forward to continuing and expanding this program to increase the knowledge of agriculture in the schools to reach some of the non-agrarian populations.

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