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
Through in-school, after-school and extracurricular programs, Forsyth County Cooperative Extension 4-H staff helped local youth develop life skills such as public speaking, team building, decision making and critical thinking. During monthly club meetings in nine elementary and six middle schools, 2,431 students learned about career readiness, agriculture and the environment. Youth also had the opportunity to participate in after-school judging teams, where they explored careers and learned industry standards in poultry, forestry, agriculture, wildlife and consumer products. Their knowledge was applied during regional, state, and national contests. Four judging teams and several individual 4-H’ers secured top-three awards at the district level. The Senior Wildlife Judging Team placed first at the statewide contest and advanced to the national competition in Kansas. Through County Project Achievement, youth improved their public speaking skills, with 36 Cloverleaf 4-H’ers (fourth through sixth grade) advancing to District Project Achievement and 88% placing in the top-three of their respective categories. Two high school 4-H’ers advanced to the state Project Achievement competition. Through these and other 4-H programs, the youth of Forsyth County use their heads, hearts, hands and health to better themselves and the community.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
After storms, emergency responders and other county employees are called out to help clean up storm-damaged sites. Many of these personnel are untrained in the safe use of a chainsaw or the increased environmental hazards storms may create. As part of a statewide UGA Extension Chainsaw Safety Team, the Forsyth County Agriculture and Natural Resources agent provided four Storm-damaged Tree Clean-up and Chainsaw Safety Training classes in 2019, reaching 79 sheriff’s department, roads and bridges and park maintenance personnel and landscape professionals with information to raise awareness about equipment and environmental risks, teach safe practices, and promote the proper use of Personal Protection Equipment. Eighty percent of course attendees stated they learned something new from the training, including how to safely start and carry a chainsaw, how to evaluate PPE for safety ratings, and the electrical hazards associated with storm damage. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents stated they would improve safety practices as a result of the training. To help promote a healthy Georgia, the agent also developed lawn and garden safety programs and materials for homeowners..
Family and Consumer Sciences
The Forsyth County Family and Consumer Sciences agent worked to promote a healthier community through educational programs designed to mitigate chronic disease and foodborne illness. Obesity and being overweight contribute to the development of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and osteoarthritis. In Forsyth County, 29% of residents are obese and 11% of adults age 20 and over have been diagnosed with diabetes. Eight senior clients participated in Walk-a-Weigh, a landmark UGA program combining nutrition, healthy food choices, exercise and weight management education. Collectively, program participants shed more than 36 pounds during the 15-week course.
Improper handling or preparation of food leads to illness, as evidenced by 3,818 cases of foodborne illness reported to the CDC since 2018. Of those affected, 31% were hospitalized and 1% died. The agent developed Instant Success!, a program that educates consumers about food safety risks associated with electronic programable pressure cookers. Across north Georgia, 183 learned the benefits, features, risks and safe uses for this modern kitchen appliance.