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
Douglas County 4-H offers members frequent opportunities to learn and develop skills in food and nutrition. 4-H professionals led a daylong 4-H class three times during the year. The 65 4-H’ers who attended learned how to plan healthy meals, portion control, food safety and basic cooking skills and created their own salsa recipe from mystery ingredients. After attending the class, a majority of the participating 4-H’ers said that they will recreate the recipe at home and plan to eat more fruits and vegetables. The goal of the 4-H Cooking Club is for each member to become certified by Georgia 4-H in Youth Foods and Nutrition. Participants receive 15 hours of training to become certified. Club members were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Huddle House corporate kitchen and received their own set of knives and utensils to practice their skills at home. 4-H Cooking Club graduates now give food demonstrations in the community.
Family and Consumer Sciences
To educate youth on the importance of developing positive and healthy relationships, Douglas County Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Susan Culpepper taught Relationship Smarts to 50 students in Douglas County. Students participated in six lessons from the Relationship Smarts 3.0 curriculum. During the classes, the teens learned about self-esteem, maturity and healthy relationship behaviors. Participants completed a survey at the end of the Relationship Smarts series which assessed changes in participants’ beliefs and their confidence in their ability to use the skills learned. Eighty-seven percent felt that they were more confident than before the program in establishing a healthy relationship. One participant said, “This program will help me find the right person, stay out of danger and help my friends with their relationships. This program really helps me to handle conflict in a healthy way.”
To expand the program to reach more youth, Culpepper recruited six youth educators to attend a grant-funded Relationship Smarts training. She is developing a local coalition dedicated to educating youth and preventing teen pregnancy, dating violence and substance abuse.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
UGA Extension in Douglas County is receiving an increasing number of requests for help in food production, storage and use. Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent Kevin Livingston established the Garden Mentors program to bring Douglas County Extension staff and volunteers together to address food-related needs in the local community. The program includes training, networking and matching volunteers with schools, churches and community organizations. Ten garden mentors have assisted in the establishment of five garden programs in the community. One such program is Midway Community Resource Center’s garden plots. The center offered 30 garden plots to the local neighborhood for a small annual fee. In the first season, 15 of 30 plots were in production. Another new garden is Sanctuary Farm, a rehabilitation garden provided by Douglas County Felony Drug Court. Tim Pruett, the farm coordinator, said “Working with a Garden Mentor has made it possible for us to move forward in establishing an educational garden for people transitioning away from drug addiction. The garden is a win-win for all parties involved.” Twenty-one members of the drug rehab program worked the garden. In addition, the garden produced 1,332 pounds of vegetables, which were donated to a local food pantry.