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
Foliage-feeding insects can cause severe damage to the leaves and stems of a peanut plant, which is the lifeline of the plant. Correct identification of insects is vital in making the correct insecticide choice in controlling the pests. Without proper identification of the pests, some insecticides could be ineffective on the pests being targeted. This seemed to be an unusual year in Dodge County, with multiple species attacking the plants in high populations all at the same time. There are approximately 5,000 acres of peanuts produced in Dodge County each year, with an economic value of $5 to 5.5 million. The Agriculture and Natural Resources agent estimates are that 80% of the peanut acres in the county had to be treated for foliage-feeding insects this growing season, compared to 30% percent in recent years. Proper identification of insect species is crucial in the choice of insecticide used. In all situations scouted this year, proper identification was made and damage was limited to a minimal amount.
In an effort to educate teens about the importance of healthy relationships, Dodge County Extension/4-H, in collaboration with Dodge County Board of Education, Dodge County Middle School and 21st Century After-School Program, piloted a series of lessons entitled Relationship Smarts. Relationship Smarts is an evidence-based relationship skills curriculum for young teens. This curriculum embodies an innovative approach that addresses positive youth development, life skills, healthy relationships, dating violence, and pregnancy prevention. These goals, typically addressed in separate programs, are integrated and embedded into one comprehensive healthy relationship skills program. Both Entry and Exit surveys were administered.
Subsequent to meeting with identified youth over a series of 10 classes, a brief survey was administered to assess changes in participants beliefs related to topics covered and their confidence in their ability to utilize the skills obtained. Of the 31 youth enrolled in the program, 24 (77%) completed the overall program evaluation survey. Of those, 17 (71%) reported that they have been in a dating relationship. Other information obtained determined how participants felt about themselves after the program, to which 87% of respondents responded positively. One example was a youth's comment that the program "helped me express my feelings and emotions". On average, program participants reported gaining a greater awareness and understanding of what it means to have a healthy relationship and feeling more confident that they can use these skills and behaviors in their everyday lives. One of the most valuable pieces of information acquired was notably the survey section regarding participant's plans to reach their goals as well as continue their education after high school. All involved in the implementation of the program found these responses to be of most value.
-In the ENTRY survey, 67% said they make plans to reach their goals. In the EXIT survey, 86% felt more likely to reach their goals.
-In the ENTRY survey, 67% said they had plans to continue their education after high school. In the EXIT survey, 90% state they were more likely to continue their education beyond high school.
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES
Although Dodge County does not have a Family and Consumer Sciences agent based in the county Extension office, we strive to assist local residents with their questions. Common questions cover food safety, food preservation, mitigating mold and mildew, healthy meal planning, nutrition, family budgeting and much more. These issues and others are answered through a wide variety of free UGA Extension publications available at the county office and phone conferences with Family and Consumer Science agents from surrounding counties. Neighboring FACS agents often conduct programming that our county residents are welcome to attend.