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.
4-H Youth Development
The consistent, enduring presence of a caring adult in a young person’s life can be the difference between staying in school or dropping out; making healthy decisions or engaging in risky behaviors; realizing one’s potential or failing to achieve one’s dreams. Mentors can make a profound difference in the lives of their mentees and, in turn, strengthen our communities. Bryan County 4-H began a mentoring program to pair successful Bryan County 4-H Teen Leaders and at-risk youth. The goal of the Bryan County 4-H Mentor/Mentee Program is to expose at-risk youth to 4-H and mentoring, thereby increasing social competence in at-risk youth and helping reduce the likelihood that they will enter the juvenile justice system. Negative economic factors, such as high rates of poverty and unemployment, may potentially impact students enrolled in the program. Additionally, in Bryan County in particular, the program is reaching out to youth from military families with targeted support for these youth and families.
As a result of the program, 68 percent of mentees had a marked improvement in social skills and 55 percent of mentees said that their communication with their parents had improved.
Agricultural and Natural Resources
The Bryan County Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) program offers soil, water, tissue and forage tests that can be handled through the local Extension office. The ANR agent has consulted with many clients on the results of these tests to improve the quality of life and growing conditions throughout Bryan County. Bryan County ANR also provides residents with a wide variety of free publications related to an array of residential and agriculture-related topics. In 2018, Bryan County Extension processed 470 soil, 13 water, 11 forage, five plant tissue, one nematode and six microbiology samples.
In an effort to improve the quality of landscapes in Bryan County, the ANR program has also continued weekly consultations with landscape professionals and homeowners targeting poor practices currently in place.
Agriculture is still alive in Bryan County, however the quality of forages and hay fields have steadily declined over the last 10 to 15 years. In particular, hay producers struggle with controlling weeds due to the use of outdated practices, and cattle producers balance the health of their herds in relation to the quality of forage produced. In response, Bryan County ANR and the UGA Extension GrassMasters program are tasked with providing valuable information for growers in Bryan County. The Bryan County ANR program utilized this concept to implement a seven-week class to increase the educational foundation of all producers. The program saw 12 members graduate. Producers will be able to offer a more valuable product as a result of this training.
Family and Consumer Sciences
Although Bryan County does not have a Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) agent based in the county Extension office, we strive to assist local residents with their questions. Common questions cover food safety, food preservation, dealing with mold and mildew, healthy meal planning, nutrition, family budgeting, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) resources, and more. These issues and others are answered through a wide variety of free UGA Extension publications available at the county office and phone conferences with FACS agents from surrounding counties. Neighboring FACS agents often conduct programming that our county residents are welcome to attend. Our office provides information about programming in surrounding counties.