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
Almost 30 % of our nation's youth did not meet state average for Assessment of Educational Progress Proficient level. This test also showed that only one third of 8th Graders are proficient in Science and 65% can only perform at a basic level. A Madison County 4-H club meetings poll showed that fewer than one in five of all students expressed an interest in a career in scientific or technological fields. Madison County students struggle with the criterion-referenced competency science standards. According to the most recent Madison County CRCT, students struggled with passing the exam in the areas of science, engineering, technology and math. Command of science, engineering and technology by youth is essential for their contribution to the economic leadership of communities. Presently, we face a significant challenge in that many of our young people are not prepared with good workforce skills. Madison County 4-H combatted this issue by increasing science activities in both in-school and after-school meetings.
Madison County 4-H staff conducted monthly educational in-school instruction for over 400 students. Madison County 4-H'ers were encouraged to take part in hands-on science activities and experiments and be involved in the wonderful science learning experiences. In addition to these efforts, increasing science awareness through 4-H summer programming has been a very important way to capture the 3rd–12th graders in the learning activities. The 2020 summer program activities focused on water filtering, making rovers for the moon, mindfulness, pets and mental health, and even planting terrariums. The 4-H Club also offered many competitive teams that have a science focus, including Livestock Judging, Poultry Judging, Food Product Development, Food Challenge, Hippology, Horse Quiz Bowl, Trivia Contests, and Horse Equestrian Drill Team. Afterschool virtual and in-person practices and remote tournaments for science and engineering workshops for Robotics were conducted regularly for 9th–12th grade students. Madison County 4-H'ers were also encouraged to apply for STEM leadership roles such as the Georgia Science and Technology Ambassador program earning curriculum that was taught as part of the Ambassador program.
- 5 new Master 4-Hers – Performing Arts General, Food Challenge
- State contest winners for Junior Wildlife and Junior Livestock Judging
- 3 state and national grants for Robotics, STEM and Healthy Living
- Adapted to offer virtual and in-person programs, practices, meetings and contests following current health guidelines
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Provides research-based information in the area of agriculture and natural resources to all residents. Educational programming is developed and designed to assist individuals in making sound economical environmental decisions that affects everyday life.
Local food production and consumption provides far-reaching benefits beyond the producer and the consumer. Local agriculture product sales put money back into local businesses and the community in addition to allowing producers to capture full profit potential without increasing the cost for the consumer. It is not always easy to find those producers that are marketing locally grown ag products. Because of disruptions to the agricultural industry and supply chains triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, many farmers in Georgia were experiencing difficulties getting their products out to those who could use them. A county needs assessment conducted by Extension identified that Madison County consumers were interested in supporting and purchasing ag/food products from local producers.
Madison County Extension, in partnership with the Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Young Farmers Association, Cattlemen’s Association and Farm Bureau, worked to connect agricultural producers with consumers looking for fresh, Madison County-grown products. In April of 2020 in response to concerns surrounding food availability during COVID-19, UGA Extension, in collaboration with Georgia Grown (a program of the Georgia Department of Agriculture) and other industry partners, created a network to connect agricultural producers with consumers. This has provided a great opportunity for the Madison County Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Promotions Committee to work on launching the #MadiCoMade brand for the Chamber under the Georgia Grown program.
Despite the pandemic the Madison County Agriculture and Natural Resources agent was able to conduct 124 site visits assisting farmers and homeowners with troubleshooting problems. The office sent off 475 diagnostic samples, including water, soil, plant tissue and forages to the Ag Services Labs for testing. On-farm research projects were conducted in the county in the areas of: Bermudagrass Stem Maggot Monitoring/Sampling, Poultry Litter Soil Amendment Testing, and Livestock Drinking Water Analysis.
Family and Consumer Sciences
One in three American adults (88 million) has prediabetes and more than 8 in 10 adults with prediabetes don’t know they have it. Prevent T2 Diabetes Lifestyle Change Program is a CDC-recognized program that was offered in Madison County. Ten participants met weekly to discuss how they might change certain aspects of their lifestyles, like eating healthier, reducing stress, and getting more physical activity. All of these things will help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and of having a heart attack or stroke. Participants in this program met in-person for the first 8 weeks, until COVID-19 shut down in-person programming. The agent switched the format of the class to virtual classes starting in week 9.
COVID-19 presented the agent with the challenge of decreasing morbidity from chronic diseases through improved nutrition practices and physical activity, while being under quarantine and unable to carry out traditional in-person programming. The agent used social media to provide research and evidence-based information in a virtual setting. The agent created 94 unique posts which were shared through the Madison and Oglethorpe County Facebook page, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Of those 94 posts, there were 69,571 views and more importantly 4,124 unique engagements. These engagements include likes, shares, and comments. Engagements show a deeper connection to the post, compared to scrolling past it without action. Topics included physical activity duration and intensity guidelines, protecting your skin outdoors, using gardening to stay fit, mental wellness, snacking tips, and more.
- 27 programs conducted, with 44 unique participants that took part in 600 educational contact hours
- Conducted Weight Loss Lunch and Learn for county employees
- 17 students completed the Relationship Smarts curriculum