UGA Extension Office

Our Impact

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 

In 2019, the Echols County 4-H staff decided to create an initiative to increase participation in the 4-H program through project achievement, specifically focusing on grades 4-6. Over 300 students in 4th -6th grade received instruction from 4-H staff in 2019 using the Georgia 4-H Friends “Finding Your Way To Project Achievement” curriculum as a resource. Using PowerPoints and graphic organizers, students were taught the fundamental steps of project achievement, such as choosing a topic, researching, writing a speech and creating a presentation using visual aids. The instruction was done over the course of three months through in-school club meetings. Students who were interested in participating in Project Achievement at the District Level attended workshops at the 4-H office after-school weekly to receive additional one-on-one assistance. Junior and Senior 4-H’ers (7th-12th graders) received their project achievement exposure through participation in portfolio workshops, speech and presentation work sessions and mock presentation practices.Sixteen Cloverleaf 4-H’ers decided to take their work to the next level by participating in after-school workshops. Of the sixteen students, thirteen of them competed at the Southwest District Project Achievement in Tifton in November. Seven of the Echols County Cloverleaf 4-H’ers received Top 3 honors in their respective project areas. With twelve participants in 2017 and zero participants in 2018, Cloverleaf Project Achievement participation went up by approximately 33% in 2019 from 2017. A 5th grade teacher who hosted the club meetings stated, “Project achievement helped reinforce the writing skills we were learning in the classroom and apply them in a real-life situation.”Six Junior and Senior 4-H’ers competed at Southwest District Project Achievement at Rock Eagle in February. Three out of the six students placed in the top 3 in their respective project areas, with one of them moving on to compete at State Congress in July. The student went on to be named the 3rd place winner in their project area in the state and stated, “DPA has taught me many skills such as time management, responsibility and even how to speak in front of big crowds and feel comfortable.”

Agriculture and Natural Resources

In the 1930’s and 1940’s farmers all across the country were referred to as “next year people” because when asked how things were going on there farms they would always respond by saying, “It will be better next year.” The next year mind set is still true today. It is no secret that the past few years have not been kind to the agricultural industry when it comes to commodity prices, trade wars and weather events, so one is left to wonder when the next good year is going to come around. The next year has not come for a growing number of producers across the country as the rates of depression and farmer suicides is on the rise. For a long time, the elephant in the room was the mental and physical stress on our farmers and the fact that we, as an industry, or the producers themselves did not want to address it. The growing number of farm foreclosures, bankruptcies and farm accidents have to be considered along with market prices and weather events as reasons for the increase in mental and physical stress of farmers as well as the higher number of suicides. As an extension member of the Rural Stress Task Force, I am not a medical professional but rather an individual with a close relationship with the producers in my county and a personal concern for their health and wellbeing. In the Winter of 2020 during my county’s vegetable production meeting, partnering with Colquitt Regional Medical Center and the Georgia Dept of Behavioral Health, I was able to offer a voluntary free health screening. These screenings consisted of checking blood pressures and the ability to speak with a medical professional in private prior to the production meeting. Also, I was able to have Jennifer Dunn, who is the Region 4 Director for Georgia Behavioral Health, speak to producers about the mental health services offered from the state. The total attendance for the production was 71 producers and industry reps. The total number of attendees who went through the health screening was 64, which was 90%. I stated during one of our committee meetings that I would consider it to be a success if 10% of the attendees got screened so 90% was an outstanding response. After the meeting I received an email letting me know that two of my producers call the Behavioral Health hotline seeking more information and help. One producer said to me during the meeting, “It has been 5 years since I’ve been to the doctor and I didn’t realize how bad by blood pressure had gotten.” Producers have also asked that this be something we try to do for at least one meeting a year..

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