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.
FOOD SAFETY EDUCATION: FILLING THE GAP IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
FApproximately 48 million Americans experience foodborne illness, half being under the age of 15, resulting in 3,000 deaths annually (CDC). State law requires all food service managers to obtain national ServSafe® certification from an accredited instructor, while all school nutrition staff are required to complete continuing education units (CEUs). Typically in rural counties there are few, if any, national food safety instructors, resulting in limited training. Stellar collaborative relationships and the professional reputation of Candler/Emanuel Extension Family and Consumer Sciences resulted in a significant increase in food safety programming, particularly in participants from neighboring counties. Since 2018, Candler/Emanuel Extension Family and Consumer Sciences has provided food safety education to various groups from 12 rural counties to meet state requirements. Nearly 450 food service managers and food handlers, including school nutrition personnel who serve almost 80,000 meals daily, received more than 200 hours of food safety education, resulting in 100 ServSafe® certifications, and nearly 10,000 hours of CEUs. Furthermore, without providing ServSafe®, participants could travel more than 100 miles to receive non-extension training, paying a little over $100 more in registration and fuel costs. Thus, Extension-sponsored training potentially saved participants collectively more than $10,000.
SUSTAINABLE INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES TO ENHANCE COMPETITIVENESS OF VIDALIA ONIONS IN GEORGIA
Candler County was a part of a collaborative effort that used funding from the Specialty Crop Block Grant to evaluate the impact of weed, thrips and foliar P. ananatis control on the management of center rot. A field trial to evaluate different herbicide programs was conducted at the Blackshank Farm on the UGA Tifton campus. Results from the trial suggest that an integrated disease-management package can be devised for our onion growers that would limit pre- and post-harvest losses. The improved management strategy can potentially reduce economic losses due to center rot by 65% (data obtained from field trials), which can account for $250 per acre in savings. If the improved management strategy is utilized over the entire onion acreage in Georgia (10,000 acres), a total savings of $25 million can potentially be achieved.
TEACHING YOUTH ESSENTIAL WRITING AND PRESENTATION SKILLS
Candler County 4-H collaborated with the local elementary school to meet a need for essential writing and presentation skills for fourth and fifth graders. Through 4-H programming, 350 fourth and fifth grade students gained knowledge on preparing oral presentations and 151 students presented in their 4-H club meetings. Because of this activity, teachers reported that students learned to organize presentations and make visuals, as well as gaining self-confidence and were more comfortable speaking in front of groups. Teachers also reported that they felt that their fifth grade students were better prepared for their grade-level writing test. Results of the annual teacher survey showed that 100% of the fourth and fifth grade teachers said that the 4-H presentations needed to be continued for the upcoming year. As a result of this program 4-H’er comments included, “I benefitted the most from public speaking. It really helped me build my confidence.” Another student stated, “I learned the most through DP It made me want to do more (public speaking).”