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.
Utilizing Distance Education to Extend Horticulture Outreach
In 2020, a novel virus shifted the way educational information could be provided to clientele. Coronavirus (Covid-19) caused offices to close their doors and limited face to face interactions among the public. The agent evaluated ways to continue to offer educational programming during this time and developed programs via zoom to educate clientele at a distance.
During April to June, programs were offered two or three days a week in which the candidate coordinated, facilitated, or was the speaker for 28 programs reaching 1,207 clientele in Fayette, Coweta, Henry, Terrell, Clayton, Gilmer, Cobb, Lumpkin, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Jackson, Houston, and Dougherty counties, even extending to Pawleys Island, South Carolina and Jacksonville Florida. Topics included deer tolerant landscaping, native trees and ornamentals, weed identification and management, landscaping topics to reduce environmental impacts (lawn care, ornamental selection), insects and diseases of trees, turf, and ornamentals, insects in and around your home, birds, hummingbirds, landscaping in the shade, gardening for butterflies, native plants for pollinators, gardening for pollinators and beneficial insects, pollinator a beneficial insect identification, beekeeping, trees for bees, raised bed gardening, common pests of vegetables, vegetable gardening, native fruits for Georgia, and fruit pests in Georgia. Additionally, the agent utilized social media platforms to enhance education and continue to contribute to Extensions mission of community outreach. To facilitate interaction among clientele and the Extension Office, while social distancing, she developed a group ‘Fayette Horticulture Corner’ and utilized the group and the main Fayette County Extension page to post 38 uniquely crafted works, between April and June 2020.
The agent conducted a Qualtrics survey to determine knowledge gained from zoom programs. Of the 85 people that responded to her survey, 100% indicated the zoom platform was highly effective or effective as a tool for educational outreach, 92% indicated online programs allowed for participation whereas they may not have been able to attend in person, 100% of program participants felt the material presented was concise and valuable, and 94% indicated they have used many of the recommendations and concepts shared at our programs in their gardens. In addition to the survey, the agent determined additional programming needs to continue to offer virtual programs. She has begun to develop more in-person style zoom programs instead of PowerPoint based activities. Social Media Posts were used to provide educational outreach on insects, weeds, native plants, shade ornamentals, and trees. Posts had a total of 362 direct likes, comments, or shares and 1976 indirect “seen” interactions.
“We are very pleased with the level of training our Fayette County Extension Center is providing in person and during this health crisis, by Zoom.”
“ I appreciate the wide range of presentations you all have provided!”
Due to COVID-19, all face to face 4-H and other Extension programming was brought to a halt. With the inability to work with our 4-H youth face to face, Extension staff members had to get creative to continue providing programming and information to their 4-H’ers during this time. Besides this, 4-H staff needed to continue to engage and build bonds with their current 4-H’ers all while attempting to reach new audiences and gain potential new members.
Fayette County 4-H Extension Agent, and her team decided to provide a fun, interactive virtual program called the Follow Along Friday series. This series of programs occurred consistently on Friday afternoons via Facebook and Instagram live providing youth an opportunity to see and interact with 4-H staff members and other 4-H’ers all while learning information on a variety of topics such as cooking, science, and natural resources. Material lists were shared via social media prior to the Follow Along Friday video to allow 4-H’ers to truly follow along at home with their families. Fayette County 4-H staff members received positive feedback from 4-H’ers and parents regarding the Follow Along Friday series. Since the first Follow Along Friday aired on 03/20/2020, Fayette County 4-H staff members have shared a total of twelve videos in the series. According to Facebook and Instagram insights, these twelve videos were viewed a total of 2,443 times and reached approximately 5,097 people. In a survey regarding the Follow Along Friday series, the majority of respondents stated that their 4-H’ers enjoyed the series, learned something new, used that new knowledge in their own lives, and that they have shared it with others.
Comments from survey participants:
“Love them all, can’t wait for the new upcoming ones.”
“My 4-H’er has tried new experiments, made new projects and cooked/made new items like covered oreos, ice cream, bread, biscuits.”