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
Fannin County is one of the leading counties in the state for agritourism. Apples are the main agritourism enterprise, but there are also blueberries, strawberries, brambles, wine grapes and cherries. Fannin County has more than 200 acres of apples. Some of these acres are devoted to pick-your-own operations, while others are traditional retail. The growers host schools and other groups to tour their orchards. Some offer hay rides in the orchard. Because of new regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the UGA Extension in Fannin County conducts workshops to educate growers. The Extension office also offers classes on topics such as insect, disease and weed control, and orchard management. In addition to activities in the orchard, they offer other value-added products such as jams, jellies, donuts, fried pies and cider. One wine grape producer has developed a tasting room that attracts visitors to his vineyard.
Fannin County is home to numerous second homes. Many of these homeowners have never lived in an area that utilizes private domestic wells. Because of this, the Fannin County Extension office has been able to educate them on water quality. Fannin County Extension sends more microbacterial water samples to the Feed and Environmental Lab than any other county in the state. Mineral tests are also provided. In addition to water testing, education about well water and test results are provided to the clientele so that they better understand how wells and the water supply work. A format has been developed for the clientele to understand wells regardless of whether they are homeowners, foster parents, realtors, restaurants or other public businesses that depend on domestic wells for their water supply. This education tool has allowed a smooth transition for homeowners moving into a rural setting.
Master Gardener Extension Volunteers are trained volunteers that assist the Fannin County Extension office and the Fannin County 4-H Club. This past year, they developed a nature trail that is supported by the city of Blue Ridge. Master Gardeners developed a key to showcase the native plants on the trail. They also labeled names of various plants throughout the walk. In addition to keeping the trail clean, they took extra strides to remove any invasive plant species from the area. Master Gardeners conduct community projects, including a seed library, plant sale and memory garden, as well as projects to provide scholarships to local students. They provide office assistance during times when UGA Extension agents are making site visits.
4-H Youth Development
Fannin County 4-H has an enrollment of 272 young people. 4-H provides various opportunities to these youths. In the past year, the young people worked on a community project that helps local veterinarians to inoculate pets to help control the spread of rabies. This low-cost activity helps educate young people and the public on the dangers of rabies. In addition to helping with this event, 4-H members brought joy to nursing home residents with visits and gifts. Leadership is another aspect of 4-H in Fannin County. Older members are developing leadership skills as they assist younger members in their project and community work. Besides county activities, members have participated in various competitions that teach life skills. Other opportunities that 4-H provides include the chance to see other parts of the state. Because of community participation, many 4-H’ers have earned scholarships to take part in