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.
Agricultural and Natural Resources
Many Americans turned to gardening during the coronavirus pandemic to deal with varying concerns that the virus generated. To supply local citizens with basic gardening information in a safe manner, UGA Extension – Muscogee County relied heavily on virtual programming. Muscogee County found that both experienced and new gardeners became more confident in their gardening abilities after attending the various webinars. When asked to “please detail one aspect of today’s program that you enjoyed and plan to apply in your daily life” after the vegetable session of the Container Gardening Webinar Series, one third of the participants stated that they learned of the importance of reading potting media labels and using the correct material in their containers. For the Citrus for Home Production webinar, less than 10% of participants felt confident about selecting and growing citrus before attending the webinar. At the end of the virtual session, respondents were feeling more confident in their abilities, with 81 % or higher feeling either confident or very confident in selecting and growing citrus at home. After The Basics webinar series, at least two thirds of the respondents felt confident or very confident planning, selecting materials, implementing, and maintaining these garden projects. Afterwards, roughly 90 % of the respondents were either establishing or considering establishing a fall garden, compost bin and/or fall planting. With this basic knowledge, homeowners were more inclined to be successful in their various gardening endeavors thereby offsetting potential food demands caused by the pandemic and improving not only their physical but mental health during such an uncertain time.
4-H Youth Development
Muscogee and Chattahoochee County 4-H delivered hands-on virtual lessons on agriculture, 4-H history, healthy lifestyles and food preparation to youth during 2020 summer programming for Covid-19. Due to the risk of infection of Covid-19, previous planned face-to-face summer activities were postponed and new, virtual programming and outreach was planned and implemented.
Programs and curriculum for virtual activities were planned with the option of a “camp kit” that would be made available to the public. Each craft and activity went along with an educational lesson plan delivered through Zoom by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H staff from Muscogee and Chattahoochee County. Two series of virtual summer day camps were held with 20 youth and their families participating in each series. In total, 40 youth were reached with six days of lessons in Georgia Poultry, Living Fossils, Plankton, 4-H History, Kitchen Safety, Basic Baking, Cooking with 4-H, MyPlate, Choosing Vegetables and Fruits.
Hands-on curriculum taught students the importance of agriculture and poultry in Georgia. Participants were taught how to identify different poultry breeds, the difference between layers and broilers and candled their own eggs in their home. For 90% of participants, this was their first time candling eggs. On food and nutrition days, they learned how to fill their plate with nutritious foods while cutting out sugars using MyPlate. 100% of participants shared their ramen noodle challenge recipes verbally or with pictures. 90% of participants modified their ramen noodle challenge and added ingredients using MyPlate. 100% of participants said they enjoyed the virtual food challenges and planned to cook more and use techniques they learned in the future.
Family and Consumer Sciences
In 2020, UGA’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) directly reached 107 adults in Muscogee County, representing households of 472 individuals. EFNEP assistants provided 159 educational session to 39 youth. Community collaborators volunteered their time valued at $1380 of in-kind services. In all, 40 adult and six youth participants attended sessions of the Food Talk series to become program graduates. These EFNEP graduates reported significant improvements in behaviors related to the core areas of EFNEP, including diet quality, physical activity, food safety and food budget.
Home Visitation Program
Screening and enrolling new families have been somewhat challenging during COVID-19; however, existing families have remained in connection with the program. Parents as Teachers enrolled 12 new families during the during COVID-19 restrictions. The Home visiting team successfully completed 1654 visits since the start of teleworking in March and completed 499 developmental screenings and made 1087 referrals to community services using a virtual platform.