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
Pasture health and management is an essential component of any livestock operation. Morgan County is ranked third in Georgia in equine boarding and training operations and fifth in equine breeding operations for a total farm gate value of $10,960,000. Not only do pasture systems provide necessary nutritional elements to horses, they also provide an area for exercise. To address educational needs of horse owners, the Morgan County Extension agent partnered with the Jefferson County Extension agent to produce a Horse Pasture Field Day, held in Morgan County, in 2018 and 2019. The topics covered include general horse-grazing behavior, pasture layout and design, forage and soil testing, manure management, and hands-on pasture evaluation and weed identification. After the event, 87.5% percent of attendees indicated that they were very likely to implement methods learned at the training.; 75% indicated that they would be more likely to conduct forage testing, and 62.5% indicated that they were more likely to soil test as a result of this course. Some comments from attendees include “loved the hands-on portion of the course” and “like having instructors with practical knowledge.”
4-H Youth Development
The 4-H robotics program is part of the STEM initiative in Morgan County, which aims to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. Robotics is a concrete and tangible way to build and strengthen cognitive development, as well as other academic areas such as mathematics, engineering, communication skills and strategic thinking. Morgan County’s 4-H robotics program had 256 student participants who engaged in learning through STEM objectives and were introduced to many career pathways and a world of opportunity. The 4-H robotics club has grown each year. In 2019, The team offered junk drawer robotics, Sphero robots and aqua bots before they were able to purchase 12 VEX robotics kits for the students to learn robotic design and programming. Due to the club’s success, The Ritz Carlton at Lake made a donation that allowed the club to the next level to purchase competition fields that allowed students to participate in an in-house competition at the end of the school year.
Family and Consumer Sciences
There are more than 250 foodborne diseases, which present a significant public health challenge. Each year in the U.S., foodborne disease results in an estimated 48 million cases of gastrointestinal foodborne illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths (2010). Estimates for Georgia are 2.5 million cases per year at a cost of $4.7 billion (2010). Transfer of viral and bacterial infections through foodservice operations is of high concern. In Morgan and Oconee counties, there are 166 inspected food establishments, four personal care facilities, and 25 childcare facilities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code requires that the person in charge of a foodservice operation become a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM). That person must be on site at all times during operating hours. A CFPM must show that he or she has the required knowledge by passing a test from an accredited program. Morgan/Oconee Family and Consumer Sciences Agent offered 14 ServSafe® training opportunities to 137 participants attended the trainings. Of those attending, 78% earned manager certification and 100% earned the Food Handler certificate. Program participants can put the new knowledge into practice and keep food safe for Georgia.