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, and online virtual outreach, Forsyth County Cooperative Extension 4-H staff helped local youth develop life skills such as public speaking, team building, decision making and critical thinking. 4-H staff began 2020 serving approximately 2,620 youth through monthly club meetings in elementary and middle schools covering topics related to 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, some of which were held virtually. Through the annual county and district public speaking contests, Project Achievement, youth improved their public speaking skills. While programming looked different in 2020, the Forsyth County 4-H staff provided over 343,415 hours of direct classroom and virtual education to 6,431 youth. 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
Although the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way Extension serves clients, Forsyth County Extension continued to provide education and services without interruption. Through pre-shutdown face-to-face classroom courses and online distance education courses during COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, ANR staff provided over 107,000 hours of education to county and state clients. ANR staff also produced numerous on-demand videos available through a variety of channels that clients accessed independently for an additional 55,731 hours of self-directed, research-based education. Courses were directed to different audiences, including commercial agricultural producers, landscape professionals, and residential clients. Topics of education included forest stewardship, beef cattle production, home garden food production, pest management, landscape and pesticide safety, Master Gardener training, natural resource conservation, and COVID-19 safety. With an increase in client interest in home landscape care and home gardening, ANR staff saw a 30% increase in plant and insect specimen diagnostics and samples for soil and water testing.
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 Prevent T2, a UGA program combining nutrition, healthy food choices, exercise and weight management education to prevent and mitigate type 2 diabetes.
Forsyth County Extension Volunteers
Master Gardener and Master Naturalist Extension Volunteers assisted county clients with landscape, lawn, and pest questions through a Virtual Help Desk, maintained demonstration gardens in public spaces throughout the county, and produced 525 pounds of food in food demonstration gardens. The fresh produce was donated to local emergency assistance agencies. Master Naturalists continued to participate in citizen science projects that promote appreciation and protection of natural resources in the county. 4-H Extension Volunteers assisted with academic and skills building programs for youth, contributing 519 volunteer hours to youth education.