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.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
The expertise of green industry professionals can set them apart from their competitors. Under the law, landscape professionals must acquire a commercial pesticide applicator’s license to apply pesticides. Once certified, applicators must complete continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain their licenses. Macon-Bibb and Houston County Extension collaborated to present Green-Up 2018 last March. This program provided cutting-edge tips from Extension specialists and industry professionals and offered commercial pesticide CEUs. Thirty-two participants from 10 counties attended; 21 green industry professionals received a total of 84 hours of recertification credit. Researchers estimate a value of $566 per hour of pesticide recertification credit hour earned. This equates to an increase in profit/cost reduction of $47,544 for the professionals in attendance.
4-H Youth Development
After-school hours, considered to be from 3 to 6 p.m., are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. To combat the trend, Macon-Bibb County 4-H offered after-school, weekend and summer activities focusing on career exploration, public-speaking development and community service. One hundred forty-two youths participated in the 111 activities Macon-Bibb County 4-H offered. These activities allowed 4-H members to become more independent and motivated. One 4-H’er stated, “I really enjoyed attending 4-H State Council. I had the opportunity to teach and lead a community-service workshop for other high school 4-H members. It was fun to interact with the other senior 4-H’ers in my community service class. I love to teach others how important it is to serve those in need from their communities.” Another 4-H member said, “If it weren’t for all the 4-H activities I would just be at home by myself after school. 4-H is fun and the office is a fun place to come hang out!”
Family and Consumer Sciences
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases (such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension) are “the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems” in the country. The county health ranking for Macon-Bibb County is 146 out of 159. Many chronic diseases are caused by modifiable behaviors, commonly referred to as “risk behaviors.” Cancer, diabetes and related issues top the disease list in our community. More than 300 adults participated in nutrition-education programs intended to change behavior and encourage healthy lifestyles. Fifty-six of the program participants reported that they would decrease their intake of the “Salty Six” and replace them with healthier options. On average, 67 percent of cancer cooking school attendees said they would seek an appropriate cancer screening following the program.
Free nutrition education is offered weekly to Macon-Bibb County parents with limited resources. The University of Georgia Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) provided nutrition education using the Food Talk curriculum to 277 EFNEP participants, indirectly reaching 1,007 family members. Staff taught parents how to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses, improve diet quality and prepare nutritious recipes on a budget. Clients who completed the Food Talk educational series reported measurable improvements. This included 91 percent who reported eating more fruits and vegetables, 77 percent who reported increasing their understanding of food safety, and 66 percent who reported comparing food prices while grocery shopping as a result of this program.