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
Master Gardener Extension Volunteers (MGEVs) and UGA Extension staff in Chattooga County offered local schools an opportunity for supplemental classroom instruction. Chattooga County schools accepted this invitation with appreciation and support, and now Chattooga County MGEVs serve third- through fifth-graders at four elementary schools on a monthly and as-needed basis. This past year, Trion City Schools partnered with Chattooga County Extension and Chattooga County MGEVs to begin what’s called the “Green Team Project.” This program is for selected high-school students interested in expanded studies in the fields of horticulture and agriculture and related topics to help maintain an outdoor classroom at the school. In addition to providing hands-on instruction in a variety of gardening-related subjects and introducing related career opportunities, the project also involves co-curricular academic enrichment tied not only to students’ core studies in subject areas including science, math, social studies, economics, health and nutrition, but also to concepts of environmental stewardship and other community service programs at school. On-site work experiences and educational field trips are offered. Students complete 135 hours of time each year, with a minimum of three years of program participation. Goals for the project include giving program participants unique educational opportunities and hands-on experiences using horticultural and agricultural topics as the facilitator; providing farm-to-table opportunities for Trion City Schools students under Department of Agricultural guidelines; and creating and maintaining an established outdoor classroom, consisting of a greenhouse, raised-bed planters, herb garden, food garden, pollinator garden and pond area, as well as technology-centered gardens that all students and the community will be able to use, enjoy and continue to develop for years to come. In September 2018, the Green Team received a Gold-level Golden Radish Award for extraordinary work in farm-to-school initiatives, coordinated and presented by the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Department of Public Health, UGA Extension and Georgia Organics.
4-H Youth Development
Over the past 12 years, 4-H has provided the Certified Teen Leader training program curriculum to train seventh- through 12th-grade students at the beginning of each school year. Training generally takes three to four hours based on the number of participants. All training offers 4-H’ers hands-on learning activities to become engaged, reflect and apply what they learned. Students demonstrate what they have learned during leadership opportunities like 4-H dances, Project Achievement, community service projects, summer activities and 4-H camp.
One hundred-twelve students completed the Georgia 4-H Teen Leadership training program. Evaluations following the training showed that all of the students improved their knowledge about the role of a Teen Leader and the ages and stages of 9- to 11-year-olds, and they all felt confident handling difficult situations. Eighty-six percent of students who completed the training remained active in 4-H throughout high school. Most served as Teen Leaders at 4-H dances, and 70 senior 4-H’ers served as judges at Cloverleaf Project Achievement (CPA) and Project Achievement. All have facilitated group meetings, directed groups and led educational workshops. Thirty-one have been elected to district leadership positions, serving as district or state officers and presiding at assemblies.