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
In 2020, Columbia County Extension continued our mission of delivering lifelong learning across the state through science-based programs and education in agriculture and the environment, family well-being, and 4-H youth. Due to the pandemic, our county office closed to the public on March 16, 2020 and did not reopen until July 6, 2020. While our mission remained the same, our approach to meeting it shifted dramatically in this time. Actions were taken to deliver our services to our clientele even though COVID-19 public safety protocols were significant and ever changing. The Extension office submitted 504 samples for testing: 4 feed/forage, 9 microbiology, 462 soil and 29 water. Test results were accompanied by publications and specific recommendations for each unique situation. The Columbia County Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent, Tripp Williams, was able to conduct 53 adult educational programs reaching 1,178 participants and made over 17,000 office contacts (phone/written/office visits). He was responsible for the diagnosis of over 6,000 samples, and provided 447 site visits relating to homeowner horticulture. The Columbia County Master Gardener program was able to abide by ever-changing regulations regarding COVID-19 protocols while continuing to serve their mission in the county. In 2020, Master Gardeners donated over 2,700 service hours to the community and the Extension office, worth a total value of $66,458.
4-H Youth Development
Columbia County 4-H prides itself on building active citizens for our future through focus on leadership, citizenship, agriculture and the environment, and public speaking. Community service projects for 4-H’ers included collecting more than 400 pounds of soda pop tabs in support of Ronald McDonald House Charities, donating $875 for Salvation Army, donating more than 200 food items to the Columbia County Cares food pantry, and donating over $700 to purchase smoke detectors for needy families. In addition to community service, Columbia County 4-H’s fundraising efforts included raising more than $4,500 through Vidalia Onion Sales as well as $5,200 in Pecan sales. Columbia County 4-H could not have been as successful as it was in 2020 without the support of our volunteers, who donated over 2,050 hours of their time, valued at over $55,760. Partnerships with the Columbia County Board of Education allow our 4-H programs to provide experiential learning programs that compliment school curriculum, STEAM initiatives, and helps to increase student writing-test scores. 4-H has a presence in every school in the Columbia County School District and enrollment in 2020 was 2,800 students. Despite the pandemic, Columbia County 4-H was able to provide both in-school and virtual programming. In 2020 a total of 95 monthly virtual club meetings were provided to 5th graders and an additional 6 virtual meetings per month were provided for grades K-12. Additional virtual programming totaled over 890 programs reaching more than 3,500 participants during the pandemic.
Family and Consumer Sciences
A wide variety of free UGA Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) publications are available at the county office. Questions relating to FACS topics can be outsourced to neighboring counties with FACS agents as needed.