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.
Family and Consumer Sciences
Childcare providers in Houston County requested trainings to advance their understanding of early childcare development, with an emphasis on school readiness. One hundred eighteen childcare providers attended several trainings in reading, math, science, art and family involvement to meet the requested advanced training.
The UGA’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is working to alleviate health disparities influenced by socioeconomic status by providing low-income Georgians with the knowledge, skills and resources to improve nutrition practices and increase physical activity. Participants in southwest Georgia improved their diet quality, physical activity, food safety practices and food-resource management skills. Peer educators in Dougherty, Houston, Colquitt and Sumter counties were led by the Houston County Family and Consumer Sciences agent to impact households representing 2,665 individuals.
The ServSafe® Food Handler Program is a complete solution that delivers consistent food safety training to food-service employees. Twenty-four participants received certification, with a pretest score average of 71.5 percent to a post-test score average of 96.8 percent after attending the training.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
After outstanding responses at forage production meetings, the success of the Master Cattlemen’s Program and the establishment of the Central Georgia Cattlemen Association, Houston County hosted UGA Extension’s GrassMasters Program for forage producers. Thirty-two forage producers completed the program, receiving education on forage species in Georgia, fertilization, pest management, hay production, understanding forage quality, grazing management, soil health and programs through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Houston County has the largest Master Gardener Extension Volunteer (MGEV) program in the Southwest District. In 2018, Houston County had 67 active MGEVs and five trainees. Reported hours for 2018 show that Master Gardeners have contributed 2,717 volunteer hours to Houston County with an in-kind value of $62,707. Through these hours, Master Gardeners made contact with 22,345 people.
4-H Youth Development
In 2018, the Houston County 4-H Club enrolled 592 youths from fourth through 12th grade to be active members in our clubs. Members are exposed to monthly educational meetings, monthly specialty club meetings, and multiple leadership conferences and community service activities. Though 4-H, 24 youths exhibited livestock, 72 youths attended 4-H summer camp and 45 youths participated in Project Achievement.
All programmatic efforts would not be possible or successful without the Houston County Extension staff or the stewards of the program, Houston County 4-H volunteers. In the 2018 programmatic year, volunteers served more than 1,050 hours, leading youth in areas of agriculture, leadership and communications.
We have already kicked off our 2019 program year with a successful start. Our enrollment numbers have increased as well as the number of programs we offer. Since August 2018, eight youths have competed at the area Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging Competition, the senior team advanced to the state contest and then again to the national contest in 2020. Houston County 4-H has started a Horse Club with 38 members who have the opportunity to learn about the basics of caring for a horse, the tack used, safety around horses and being able to handle a horse one-on-one.