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
When Covid-19 hit Georgia, there were many challenges for both farmers and consumers concerning the food supply and availability on grocery store shelves. Individuals, who now worked from home, had more time on their hands and a desire to be more involved in food production. In order to address the educational needs of those contacting the Extension office, the Morgan County Agent worked with the Ameri-Corps Intern to create four fact sheets. These fact sheets, subtitled the “Extension 101 series,” gave concise answers to common questions from producers and consumers. The fact sheets were entitled: So…You Want to Buy Your Meat Directly from a Farmer?, So... You Want to Raise Your Own Eggs?, Want to Grow Your Own Garden? and What’s Up with Spilled Milk? Because approximately 80% of Morgan County citizens do not have reliable internet access, these four fact sheets were distributed via hard copies at area feed and hardware stores as well as at the Madison Wal-Mart. These fact sheets were also made available online via the Morgan County Extension website and social media venues. The reach that this information made via social media was extraordinary. The “Want to Grow Your Own Garden” publication reached over 2,405 people with 353 engagements and 57 combined reactions. The “So…You Want to Raise Your Own Eggs?” publication reached 1,659 people with 186 engagements, and 30 reactions. The “So…You Want to Buy Your Meat Directly from a Farmer?” publication reached 632 people, and had 72 engagements as well as being published by “The Bleat,” a small ruminant newsletter with a circulation of 1,200 individuals. “What’s Up with Spilled Milk?” reached 2,745 with 229 engagements and 25 reactions and several out of state readers. This publication was also shared in the Georgia Milk Producer’s email newsletter with a circulation of 800.
4-H Youth Development
Morgan County 4-H created a virtual camp experience when in-person summer 4-H camps were cancelled. 4-H teen leaders accepted leadership roles. Morgan County 4-H created a virtual camp experience when in-person summer 4-H camps were cancelled. 4-H Teen Leaders accepted leadership roles to help plan and conduct the camp for youth grades 4-6. The “Camp in the Box” included 20 different activities that youth could complete in the safety of their own home. Activities were designed to highlight the areas of S.T.E.M., with a focus on agriculture, nutrition, and critical thinking. It was also important to provide fun experiences that youth would normally complete during a regular week of camp. Additionally, students had the opportunity to join a 1 hour live zoom session daily led by 4-H staff and teen leaders. Morgan County youth and families who participated in the virtual camp through the 2020 “Camp in the Box” program expressed their appreciation to the extension staff and 4-H members who work diligently and creatively to provide the educational experience.
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.