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.
ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS FOR FAYETTE CITIZENS
As county population size continues to increase, citizens are asking for training in a variety of topics related to natural resources including water conservation, invasive plant species, urban wildlife management and more.
Fayette County Cooperative Extension partnered with the Coweta County Cooperative Extension office to co-host an eight-week Master Naturalist Program held in spring 2019. The program had 25 participants representing six counties — Coweta, Fayette, Dekalb, Carroll, Meriwether, and Henry. Professional speakers covered 13 topics including ants and termites, ornamental plant production, tree identification, geology, urban wildlife management, songbirds and birdwatching, water conservation and water quality, invasive species, medicinal herbs and native pollinators. Hands-on activities were included as part of the program to include identification apps, field trips and preserved specimens.
In the months following the program, newly trained Master Naturalists had located invasive species and followed Extension recommended procedures for removing them from an area. Several of the participants were also Master Gardeners and were able to use the training to assist the county offices in answering client questions about water conservation, invasive species identification, tree identification and pollinator protection. One participant stated, “This program provided a new set of lenses to see and appreciate the environment around me.” In addition to the educational value of this program, we have gotten some of our best MGEVs from these classes who not only want to learn, but give back to others.
Through social media, recycling and promoting alternatives for single-use plastics has become widespread and a thoroughly discussed and debated topic. While positive changes are moving us in the right direction, the issues surrounding recycling are so much more than just saving the turtles by replacing single-use plastic straws with reusable ones. Recycling and striving to leave our world better than we found it is a much more complex issue that needs more awareness and discussion, especially with our youth.
In response, the 4-H agent focused on integrating environmental awareness at monthly Club Green meetings to focus youth on positively impacting their world through conservation efforts. Through hands on activities, youth in fourth through eighth grades learned to determine what items are truly trash and what items can be recycled, repurposed or reused in some way. Additionally, youth learned the timeframe it takes for different items to breakdown in a landfill.
Out of the 15 participants that were in attendance, 80% were able to correctly identify the recycling symbol and name the three components — reduce, reuse, and recycle— that correspond to the three arrows in the recylcling symbol. However, when participants were asked if they practiced recycling habits at home, 46% said that they did not. At the end of the meeting, 100% of the participants said that they learned something new and were surprised by something that they learned, and 73% were able to name at least one way they, with the help of their families, could positively impact the environment and produce less trash.