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
In 2021, Candler County 4-H reached 475 students in grades 4-12. These students participated in Project Achievement, Project S.A.F.E. Shooting Sports programs, Cotton Boll & Consumer Judging, summer camps and program, local educational activities and exhibited livestock.
Candler County 4-H is active in the Candler County School System participating in events such as Ag Day, Heritage Days, Trunk or Treat and more. Other partnerships with the Metter-Candler Chamber of Commerce included Witches Night Out and the annual Farm Tour.
Cloverleaf 4-H’ers in grades 4-6 learned about agriculture, soils, presentation skills and elected 4-H club officers. Junior and Senior 4-H’ers in grades 7-12 learned about communication and leadership. All ages of 4-H youth participate in community service projects for the good of Metter and Candler County.
State-level highlights include several 4-H’ers earning Georgia 4-H Master 4-H’er Status:
- Gracie Grimes, Dean’s Award for Leadership and Georgia 4-H Foundation Scholarship
- Ellen Hendrix, Georgia 4-H Foundation Scholarship
- Zoie Daughtry, National 4-H Conference Delegate
AGRICULTURE & NATURAL RESOURCES
Superior research and education are the driving forces of agricultural innovation, and no one knows this better than UGA Extension. Candler County has a diverse agriculture industry which yielded a Farm Gate Value of $39,164,784 in 2020. Production agriculture fuels the economy of Candler County to the tune of $47,220,553 per year. Annually, Candler County producers grow approximately 25,000 acres of row crops including cotton, corn, peanuts and soybeans.
Candler 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. With everchanging technologies, crop varieties, weather conditions and more, there are many concerns and decisions producers must face each year. With this in mind, the Candler County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent focuses on these issues along with pasture management, cotton, peanuts, corn, organics, onions, pecans, livestock and more. Through the work of UGA Cooperative Extension, the Candler County agent is able to provide research-based information to the producers of the county in order to help them make the best, most-informed decisions, allowing them to become more sustainable and produce higher-quality and higher-yielding crops.
FOOD SAFETY EDUCATION: FILLING THE GAP IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
Approximately 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.