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UGA Extension Office

Our Impact

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 2020 Oconee County Agriculture has a farm gate value of 75 million dollars for commodities such as poultry, ornamental horticulture, forages and livestock etc. Local agriculture production continues to be in the forefront for being profitable and sustainable. Currently, agricultural programing highlights from extension program development team members continue to assist local farmers with beef cattle education with emphasis on managing forages – summer and winter annuals, genetic herd improvement and the beginning farmer program.  In addition, Oconee Co. well water quality and testing is a significant issue in the county and many residents have benefited from testing (UGA Soil & Water Lab) with corrections being implemented to meet EPA standards.   Furthermore, agricultural awareness education (Third grade Ag Day, Oconee Co. Business Expo, Livestock shows etc.) has done an excellent job in helping our local community in transition to understand that agricultural economy provides quality food and fiber to meet consumer needs, on the local, state and national levels.  

Family and Consumer Sciences

Good nutrition is a key factor for older adults to maintain well-being and an independent, healthy lifestyle, and in recovering from an illness or an injury. Reasonably priced, wholesome foods are not always accessible to older adults because of the lack of transportation, health problems and disabilities, and the lack of food stores within close proximity for shopping. Food insecurity is influenced by multiple factors and impacts a person’s health, wellbeing, and quality of life. A 2016 report places Georgia ninth in the nation for the prevalence of food insecurity among people ages 60 and older. The number of older adults in Georgia who currently face the threat of hunger is more than 300,000. The Oconee County Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Senior Sense program provided approximately 1,500 pounds of fresh produce to twenty-one (21) low-income seniors.

Approximately 13 of the 21 households participated on a weekly basis by coming to the Bishop Community Center to receive a pre-packed bag of produce that was placed in their trunks or back seats. In addition to the weekly produce distribution, local churches and civic clubs provide boxes of non-perishable items, laundry baskets with cleaning supplies, and/or bags of personal items for each senior. All 21 households participate in the monthly distribution. Since May 2020 when the drive thru distribution began, approximately 1,500 pounds of produce valued at $4,875 has been provided from the Plant-A-Row garden. Produce includes tomatoes, green onions, bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapeño peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, Irish potatoes, cucumbers, crowder peas, eggplant, sugar snap peas, green beans, sweet potatoes and herbs. A total of $3,150 has been received through the monthly donations. Based on USDA Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program data, it is estimated that program participants save approximately $20 each month by receiving fresh produce through the Senior Sense program. Master FACS volunteers logged 103 hours between May and October 2020 through 17 produce distributions. According to Independent Sector, the current estimated national value of each volunteer hour is $27.20. Therefore, these volunteers’ work is valued at approximately $2,800.

4-H Youth Development

Oconee County 4-H facilitated 66 youth led project clubs over the courses of the past four years. A project club is a special interest club in 4-H that is planned and led by a high school 4-H member.  Through this experience 4-H members wrote lesson plans, made a budget, utilized classroom management strategies, demonstrated professionalism, and applied soft skills.  In addition to high school 4-H members gaining invaluable leadership skills, over 550 elementary and middle school students participated in these classes having a positive interaction with older 4-H members and establishing good role models.

Oconee County 4-H provided authentic leadership development experiences through the use of youth led project clubs.  The objectives of students leading these clubs was to build confidence in their leadership aptitude, improve their ability to effectively communicate thoughts and ideas, and improve problem-solving skills. Since 2017, the leadership development program has directly impacted 40 high school 4-H members.  Each high school student, was mentored by the 4-H agent on how to plan and implement their project club.  Youth project club leaders indicated that they were able to apply the leadership skills they had gained through leading a project club to other areas of their life. 4-H members shared powerful statements describing how they benefited from the project club program.

Leading a project club put me in a better position to be able to be a leader in the classroom. As a special education major, that is extremely important. Leading a project club improved my people skills and communication skills.

Because I was online schooled, project clubs were one of the only ways I could really grow as a leader. It also allowed me to explore my interests.

Leading a project club was a unique opportunity that enhanced my leadership, communication, and reasoning skills. It helped me learn to think on my feet and adapt when things may not go 100% as planned. I also enjoyed the opportunity of getting to articulate to others information on a topic I am passionate about and gained confidence through the experience!

 

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