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
In 2018, legislation went into effect that required all commercial haulers to install electronic logging devices and limited the drive time of these haulers to 11 consecutive hours with a mandatory 14-hour break immediately following. Animal agriculture is dependent on transportation across the country. Regulations limit the number of hours that livestock can be in a trailer, and this new legislation prolongs the time that it takes to reach a destination, increasing the stress and incidence of sickness in livestock. Infrastructure for unloading and reloading loads of livestock at the number of locations that the drive-time limit would require does not currently exist. The Morgan County Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent, Georgia State Patrol and Department of Public Safety provided an informational program on the new regulations, including a question-and-answer session with individuals from the departments enforcing the laws. Forty-seven representatives of the livestock and row-crop industries from five counties attended. Attendees learned about new regulations and their potential effects on different segments of agriculture. In August, Congress voted to extend the electronic logging device and hours of service exemption for livestock haulers to September 30, 2019. One-hundred percent of attendees learned new information about these regulations.
Family and Consumer Sciences
A change in policy in October 2015 called the Standard Medical Deduction, or SMED, means there will be more availability of food stamps for seniors aged 60 years and older and for people who get Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. UGA Extension in Morgan County educates seniors about the policy and assists with the application process. The American Community Survey provides the characteristics of participants from Georgia’s Congressional District 10, which includes Morgan and Oconee counties, who qualified for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits during 2011 to 2013. Of households with one or more people 60 years and over, 25.6 percent received SNAP benefits, while 31.5 percent did not. Seventy-two seniors in Morgan and Oconee counties were educated about the SMED program through UGA Family and Consumer Sciences Extension programs. To date, 10 seniors have been assisted with completing the Senior SNAP application. Eight of the 10 seniors began receiving benefits or increased their benefits. Actual benefits increased by $6,888. Moody’s Analytics estimates that, in a weak economy, $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity. Therefore, these benefits could equate to $11,709.60 returning to the local economies.
4-H Youth Development
Teenagers face potentially life-altering decisions daily and some decisions result in devastating consequences. UGA Extension agents and staff led a team of 4-H youth and adult volunteers to form a coalition of stakeholders to study possible solutions and educational endeavors that would combat these issues. Through investigation and research, the team discovered an effective educational tool called a Teen Maze to address the issues highlighted in their findings. The Teen Maze is a live interactive maze that demonstrates to teens the consequences of their actions. Students, through scenarios, see the potential consequences of poor choices. This team served as a catalyst to offer a Teen Maze and ultimately educate local students on how their decisions could impact their future. The goal of the maze is to help students make smart choices. Due to the success of this program, the high school requested the Teen Maze be offered annually for high-school freshmen.