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.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Madison County’s population deals with below-average income levels and more than 50 percent of the student population eligible for free and reduced-lunch programs. Many citizens utilize the local food bank for support. Since 2016, County Extension Coordinator Adam Speir has led the Madison County Local Harvest Banquet to raise money for the Madison County Food Bank during times of peak demand — the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons — and increase agricultural awareness in the citizens of Madison County. Food has been provided by six different farms within Madison County and several more farms across Georgia producing pork, chicken, pecans, honey, sweet potatoes and wheat flour. The money raised has been used to purchase additional fresh fruit and vegetables that are handed out during the holiday season. In 2017 alone, these funds helped support 109 different households, including 338 children, with fresh produce. These fresh foods would not have been available without the funds raised from the Local Harvest Banquets. In 2019, the Madison County Local Harvest Banquet brought fundraising totals to more than $10,000 for the food bank, with nearly 300 people attending the event.
4-H Youth Development
This past year, the Madison County 4-H Club partnered with local veterinarians for 15 area rabies clinics, providing 168 volunteer hours and helping 300 animals. Teaming up with the local health department, Family Connections, Board of Education and UGA Health Sciences, 4-H’ers helped offer the “Kick Butts” program, Back to School Drive, Science Fun and Relationship Smarts reward trip with 52 teen volunteers contributing 345 volunteer hours. Students donated 100 pounds of pop-tabs (the third-highest from our district per capita) for the Ronald McDonald House, collected school supplies for Hurricane Michael victims, made 110 Halloween Safety Head Start candy bags, collected trash as part of roadside and river cleanup, and collected items for recycling such as plastic bottles, batteries and shredded paper. 4-H teen volunteers supported drug awareness and peer trainings on healthy lifestyles with more than 910 total volunteer hours. Thirty-five of these teen volunteers were surveyed and 50 percent stated that they had positive feelings, increased awareness of the less fortunate and heightened appreciation for helping; 63 percent learned new skills; and 48 percent felt they achieved successful goal results through teamwork. These 4-H’ers are becoming more respectful of the community due to these life lessons and opportunities in 4-H.
Family and Consumer Sciences
Taking off Pounds Sensibly is a weight-loss and healthy-eating program based out of Ila, Georgia. Fifteen women meet weekly as a support group to develop and increase healthy-eating practices. As a special presenter, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent Brad Averill discussed with the group what information they would find appropriate in achieving weight-loss goals and higher quality of life. Over several meetings, there were discussions on the MyPlate program and how a balance of foods can assist in sensible weight loss over the long term, the different kinds of physical activity that are necessary for weight loss, and a large group exercise class with chair yoga, stretching and deep-breathing exercises.