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
The year 2020 looked different for 4-H programs across the state and was no different for Laurens County 4-H. In order to provide educational experiences for youth in Laurens County, 4-H staff went virtual with club meetings, competitions, and summer programs.
Before closure of the state due to the pandemic, five Laurens County Senior 4-H members competed at District Project Achievement. One was able to advance to State Congress and secured second place in her respective category. Closure of the state put a halt on all in-person activities including Cloverleaf DPA. Laurens County 4-H was working with 25 students in hopes to participate in the in-person competition; that was soon moved to a virtual format in which we had five students compete in. Summer rolled around and 4-H staff took to social media with our virtual six-week program AGventures, where students learned about Agriculture in Georgia. Then came time for schools to open back up. While the school systems were wary about allowing visitors into the school 4-H staff were able to hold 4-H club meetings virtually. Laurens County was also able to add Trinity Christian Schools fourth and fifth graders and Pathways Homeschool students to our list of 4-H members.
Family and Consumer Sciences
The Laurens County FACS Agent taught 49 Nutrition, Food Safety, and Food Preservation related classes to 599 participants, resulting in 984 educational contact hours.
The Agent taught 4 ServSafe® Manager classes to 39 managers in the food service industry, resulting in 448 educational contact hours. 80% of these participants passed the exam and received certification from the National Restaurant Association, which is good for five years.
The Agent developed Positive Parenting During COVID-19, an educational Facebook post for parents to learn positive and nurturing ways to interact with their children during quarantine and beyond. During FY 2020, 50 posts were created and reached 36,432 people in multiple states and 26 countries.
The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program uses federal, state, and local resources to provide research-based nutrition education to low-income families with children, teaching them how to purchase and prepare nutritious meals on a budget.
Participants learn to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy while decreasing sodium, improving food safety, and increasing exercise, which results in improved health and well-being, reduced healthcare costs, and less absenteeism from work.
In 2020, EFNEP directly reached 80 adults and 270 youth in the Laurens County region – 127 graduated and 93% of youth improved their diet quality by eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking less sugary beverages.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Training in the proper use of dicamba herbicides is essential for cotton and soybean growers to reduce off-target movement to non-dicamba tolerant crops. An in-person Using Pesticide Training class for growers who did not receive training in 2019 was cancelled due to COVID-19. The need to provide this training was a high priority. Without this training growers would not be allowed to apply dicamba herbicides to their crops. Training modules were developed that could be delivered in a Zoom webinar format. This format allowed participants to receive the training and social distance. On April 22, 2020, the Using Pesticides Wisely training was held on-line. According to the webinar sign-in records, thirty-three people attended the online training. Twenty-three Georgia counties were represented in the training.