Making A Difference in Our County
University of Georgia Extension Hall County 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
The UGA Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) program focuses on serving Hall County citizens through innovative programming and individual problem solving for farms, homes, and businesses by utilizing research-based information, specialists, and laboratory analysis.
The ANR program in Hall County reached 1,077 community members and agricultural producers through 58 gardening and agriculture programs in 2022. An additional 8,414 community members and farmers were reached through 81 educational events and 119 farm and home consultation visits.
Hall County operates one of the largest Master Gardener Programs in Georgia. In 2022, 17 new Master Gardener volunteers were certified through a 20-week in-person training series. They joined the ranks of the current 130 active master gardener volunteers in Hall County. In 2022 these volunteers contributed 7,985 hours of service with an estimated value of $239,550 for Hall County. Master Gardener volunteers made 4,106 in-person contacts through classes taught or individual consultations, and 719 consultations by telephone or email. They implemented Spring and Fall Garden Expos, a Fall Garden Symposium, and numerous other community projects including Wilshire Park butterfly garden, Elachee Nature Center pollinator garden, Linwood Nature Preserve redbud project, Deaton Creek community garden, Cresswinds nature trail and community garden, Jubilee community garden which grows food for the Food Bank, Cherokee Bluffs gardens, Longstreet 1875 Heritage landscape gardens, North Hall Community Center pollinator garden, Murrayville Park pollinator meadow, and created the first-ever seed library. Hall County Master Gardeners have a robust Facebook page. In 2022 there were 203 educational posts, which gained 2,253 likes, 682 shares, and 131 comments.
Given that Hall County is an urban county that covers a large geographic area, and has a diverse population of over 204,000 citizens, media outlets are an effective way to reach a large audience. In 2022, the Hall County ANR Agent pre-taped 69 educational recordings that aired on Glory 97.5 FM radio station, with a regional listening audience of 120,000. The Agent was a guest host 9 times on the live 2-hour, call-in, Saturday morning WDUN North Georgia "Home Grown" radio broadcast reaching a national listening audience of 1,500,000. Additionally, the Agent successfully published 17 articles in the Gainesville Times print and online editions, with a combined subscribed readership and online audience of 17,280.
Family and Consumer Sciences
The Hall County Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) Extension program works to improve the health of citizens in the community. Primary focus areas include chronic disease prevention, food safety, food preservation, and general nutrition topics, but often include budgeting information and tips for healthier homes. This research-based information is distributed through partnerships forged with local businesses, civic groups, schools, libraries, and non-profit agencies. Programs have been conducted live using both in-person and the Zoom platform to help engage participants in the content to meet personal time constraints. The agent has begun to host a virtual National Diabetes Prevention: Prevent T2 Program to help participants reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes without leaving their homes or offices. The FACS agent also partnered with several community canning facilities in North Georgia to host food preservation classes for home food preservers. Some facilities used the opportunity to help educate participants while their facility was unable to process and can foods. The FACS agent continues to offer training and resources to family and consumer sciences teachers across the state of Georgia through a partnership with the Georgia Department of Education by hosting a food preservation series at the annual Georgia Association of Teachers of Family and Consumer Sciences conference at Lake Lanier Resort. Additionally, the Virtual Income Tax Assistance Program has become a strong part of the Hall County FACS programming. Through this program, local residents are able to have their taxes prepared and filed at the local UGA Extension office. In 2022 this program reached over 56 taxpayers. This service saves the taxpayer an average of $400 in tax preparation service fees. The agent continues to leverage collaborations with other agents across Georgia to have a broad reach with programming efforts throughout the state.
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program
The Hall County Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) provided 993 sessions of the series-based FoodTalk curricula for adult and teen participants, as well as the Teen Cuisine curriculum for youth audiences. Seventy-seven adult and youth participants attended enough sessions of the FoodTalk and/or Teen Cuisine series to become program graduates. Community collaborators volunteered 32 hours of their time, valued at $958 of in-kind services. In 2022, UGA EFNEP in Hall County directly reached 153 adults, representing households of 478 individuals. 52% of adult EFNEP participants reported that they were income-eligible to receive federal assistance. 40% of adult participants were caregivers for children under that age of 19. Of the 47 youth enrolled through Food Talk Teen and Teen Cuisine curricula, 75% reported improvements in dietary quality. UGA Extension Hall County EFNEP continues to seek new partner agencies to implement programming.
4-H and Youth Development
In 2022, there were 1,125 youth enrolled in the Hall County 4-H program. Youth participated in 62 club meetings, primarily focused on agriculture awareness and STEM science lessons. There were 22 youth who participated in District Project Achievement, 3 who advanced to State 4-H Congress, and 54 attended summer camp at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. Thirty-seven volunteers were involved, and Hall County is home to one of the Northeast District Board of Directors officers.
Livestock programs have become an integral part of the Hall County 4-H program. When the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Agent first arrived in Hall County, there were only 4 youth who showed livestock in the county. The agent began building livestock show teams, and in 2022 there were 22 youth who exhibited 34 animals, including goats, dairy heifers, and beef heifers in multiple shows. Noteworthy achievements by these 4-Hers at the 2022 state-wide shows included Reserve Grand Champion dairy heifer out of 181 heifers, Supreme Champion Dairy Showman for the state, 1st place 7th-grade Showman in beef heifers, and 4th place 9th-grade Showman in beef heifers.
One 4-Her received the title of Supreme Grand Champion for the Flecvieh beef cattle breed at the North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville, KY. The ANR Agent coordinated with producers and the state show committee in 2022 to create the first-ever Flecvieh breed class at the state show.
Volunteer-led monthly livestock team meetings offered educational programs including pasture weed management, balancing beef cattle feed rations, fertilizer management of pastures, and veterinary skills.
Additionally, in 2022, the ANR Agent began coaching the first-ever Hall County Dairy Judging team. At the State Contest, the Junior team placed 1st in the state and the Senior team placed 2nd in the state. Two members of the Hall County dairy judging team, out of only 3 youth selected from Georgia, were invited to attend the National 4-H Dairy Youth Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.