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
Dade County, a rural county with a population of approximately 16,000, has an agricultural value of more than $25,000,000. Despite agriculture’s value in the county, many residents are generations removed from agriculture. Society’s increasing use of social media as an information source has led to misconceptions about agriculture. It is vital to food security that facts be shared to clear the confusion regarding our food supply. In an effort to increase agricultural literacy, the Dade County Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources program took to social media to share facts and held educational events throughout 2019. On Facebook we engaged in Georgia’s 2019 Agriculture Awareness Week. The week resulted in 9,951 people reached and 4,224 people directly engaged with 30 total posts, including 84 new followers for the Dade County UGA Extension page (24% increase). This newly engaged audience of followers regularly sees the truth of agriculture in posts such as Fast Ag Fact Fridays. Every Friday a fact is posted regarding agriculture and food production. In 2019, 37 Fast Ag Facts reached 5,730 people and directly engaged 276 people with the posts. The annual Ag Day and Family Ag Fair exposed children and their families to all aspects of agriculture through hands-on booths displayed by community members. The inaugural State of Dade Lamb and Goat Classic aimed to rekindle youth livestock showing in Dade County, which teaches youth about meat animal production. There were 110 lambs/goats shown by 57 youth exhibitors from 17 Georgia counties, and about 300 people attended. Eleven community partners sponsored the show and 12 volunteers assisted with the show, which set the stage for future youth livestock programs in Dade County.
4-H Youth Development
The Dade County 4-H Club serves more than 350 third through 12th graders, offering in-school club meetings, after-school clubs, summer camp, community service opportunities, and Project SAFE (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) teams in BB, .22, and shotgun. Forestry Judging concepts were incorporated into activities for an after-school Forestry Club, a middle school 4-H club and two after-school elementary school 4-H clubs, with the goal of having a Forestry Judging team next year. Dade County 4-H’ers participated in a Rivers Alive clean-up project and the American Farm Bureau Foundation Thank a Farmer or Rancher program. Summer programs included a trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and participation in the Global Rocket Launch in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon launch. A Pathways Career Fair for middle school students featured displays from all career pathways offered at the high school. Dade County 4-H also hosted an Employers Career Fair for middle school students, which featured booths by local businesses that included hands-on activities representing their products or industries. All 500 middle school students attended both fairs in the Dade County Ag Center. An after-school 4-H Club was established at one elementary school. Twenty-eight out of sixty-eight, or more than 40%, of fourth and fifth graders at the school participate in the club. Dade County 4-H collaborated with the Dade County Public Library to form a monthly Cloverbud Club for pre-K through third grade students. A summer Livestock 101 workshop was added to share beginning livestock judging and showing opportunities. In our rural county, there are many families who already have backyard flocks or who are willing to start one, so the Chicken Project continues to grow each year.