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.
4-H Youth Development
Through the Columbus-Muscogee and Chattahoochee 4-H program, eight middle school and high school students participated in Project Achievement at the District and State levels in 2019. Through this program, the teens learned the importance of record keeping, public speaking, civic engagement, volunteering and learning more about their interests. Members began their journey in the competition by choosing an area that interested them and then created a three- to five-page resume or portfolio that showed all of their activities from the previous school year. Activities recorded included their project work in their specific area, helping and sharing, civic engagement, community service, teen leadership and school involvement. In summer 2019, participants learned how to research and create community service and learning programs and how to deliver those programs to younger 4-H’ers. Community service and learning programs included 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 addition to each teen’s portfolio, students also prepare a performance or eight- to 12-minute speech on their topic of choice to present to district judges. This year, seven youth placed top five at district and one high schooler traveled to compete for state honors at 4-H State Congress in July 2019.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Superior research and education is the driving force of agricultural innovation, and no one knows this better than UGA Extension. Columbus- Muscogee County has a new agricultural and natural resources agent who has been working hard to meet clientele and is eager to maintain a high level of programming that will deliver unbiased education. Master Gardeners have been working with local school and community gardens, which increased the reach of Extension programming to help students and local citizen know where their food comes from. The new Agricultural and Natural Resources agent will address these issues and work with local institutions on finding more sustainable food sources and helping in food deserts in the local area.
Family and Consumer Sciences
In 2019, UGA Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) directly reached 315 adults in Muscogee County, representing households of 1,214 individuals. EFNEP community collaborators volunteered 272 hours of their time ,valued at $6,392 of in-kind services. In all, 170 adult participants attended sessions of the Food Talk series to become program graduates. These EFNEP graduates reported significant improvement in behaviors related to the core areas of EFNEP, including diet quality, physical activity, food safety and food-resource management.
Five cancer prevention cooking school programs were delivered in Muscogee County, reaching 77 people. The Cooking for a Lifetime program is motivating individuals in Columbus-Muscogee County to eat healthier and be more physically active to prevent cancer and promote health. Overall, participants found the program helpful in thinking about healthy behavior changes. Twenty-eight mammograms were scheduled as a result of this program.
The Parents as Teachers and Healthy Families Columbus home-visiting programs reached 182 families, made 279 referrals to community services and completed 2,076 home visits. First Steps screened 576 families and made 1,389 referrals to community services.