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
Farm-to-school activities enhance classroom education through hands-on learning related to food, health, agriculture and nutrition. However, these activities are time-consuming and challenging to an already-stressed school system. The Muscogee County School District serves more than 32,000 urban students in 53 schools, providing a huge potential for impact but a major barrier to providing these opportunities. In partnership with the Muscogee County School District and Georgia Organics, UGA Extension in Muscogee County worked to increase opportunities across all age groups and earned a statewide Golden Radish Award recognizing farm-to-school accomplishments. In 2018, six new school gardens were established and four gardens increased in size. In-school farm-to-school activities reached 2,050 students in seven schools. UGA Extension provided support for the construction of two gardens in the Fort Benning Community Schools district and supported their application for the Golden Radish Award. This year, Fort Benning Schools became the first Department of Defense school district in the state to be recognized with a Golden Radish Award. Several media outlets covered these accomplishments, and Mayor Teresa Tomlinson declared October Farm-to-School Month in Muscogee County.
4-H Youth Development
Through the Summer 4-H Day Camp, offered by Columbus-Muscogee and Chattahoochee 4-H, teen leaders learned how to research and create programs to deliver to younger youth. In total, teen leaders created and delivered eight lessons on healthy lifestyles, arts, crafts, drama, performing arts, communication and sports. Participants used many skills in preparation of the lessons, including organization, research and using technology. In teaching their prepared lessons, the teens learned firsthand how to present to a group, how to keep their audience engaged and how to think on your feet. One member stated, “I learned that if you want something to work out, you have to put a lot of effort into planning and organizing and being enthusiastic about the project you are presenting.” Through the series, 16 elementary youth were reached in a span of four days, learning important lessons about healthy snacks, physical activity, healthy communication, performing arts and theater, and they even toured a local television station and the Columbus Citizen Center.
Family and Consumer Sciences
In 2018, UGA’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) directly reached 549 adults in Muscogee and Talbot counties, representing households of 1,895 individuals. EFNEP assistants provided 2,163 sessions of the series-based Food Talk and Hablemos de Comida curricula for adult participants. Community collaborators volunteered 715 hours of their time, valued at $17,017 of in-kind services. In all, 186 adult participants attended sessions of the Food Talk or Hablemos de Comida series to become program graduates. These EFNEP graduates reported improvements in behaviors related to the core areas of EFNEP, including diet quality, physical activity, food safety and food-resource management.
Parents as Teachers and Healthy Families Columbus home-visiting program reached 221 families, made 431 referrals to community services and completed 2,467 home visits. First Steps screened 568 families and made 1,340 referrals to community services.