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
The Oconee County Extension agent and the program development team members identified issues that needed to be addressed to help local farmers with their profitability and sustainability for production agriculture. Currently, the farm-gate value for Oconee County has an economic output of $60 million for commodities such as poultry, ornamental horticulture, forages and livestock. A highlight for agricultural programming for local farmers was beef cattle education with an emphasis on managing forages — summer and winter annuals, baleage harvesting, and rotational grazing strategies and the beginning farmer program with an emphasis on business management and small ruminant education. Furthermore, agricultural awareness education (e.g., third-grade Agriculture Day, livestock shows) is a priority to help the local community to understand that local farmers provide quality food and fiber to our area, state and nation.
Family and Consumer Sciences
A change in policy in October 2015, called the Standard Medical Deduction or SMED, means that there are more food stamps available to seniors (60 years and older) and people who get Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. UGA Extension in Oconee County educates seniors about the new policy and assists with the application process. The American Community Survey provides the characteristics of participants from Georgia’s Congressional District 10, which includes Morgan and Oconee counties, who qualified for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits between 2011 and 2013. The survey indicates that 25.6 percent of households with one or more people 60 years and over received SNAP benefits while 31.5 percent did not. Seventy-two seniors in Morgan and Oconee counties were educated about the new SMED program through UGA Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) programs. To date, 10 seniors have been assisted with completing the Senior SNAP application. Eight of the 10 seniors began receiving or increased their benefits. Actual benefits increased by $6,888. Moody’s Analytics estimates that in a weak economy, $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity. Therefore, these benefits could equate to $11,709.60 returning to local economies.
4-H Youth Development
The mission of Georgia 4-H and the Oconee County 4-H Club is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills, and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. In 2018, more than 900 youth were impacted by Oconee County 4-H through hands-on learning focused on agricultural and environmental issues, agriculture awareness, leadership, communication skills, foods and nutrition, health, and citizenship. Over the course of the year, nearly 6,000 contacts were made in 284 educational programs for youth. On the district and state levels, 401 youth competed in Project Achievement. Oconee County 4-H Club participated in Project SAFE (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) BB and shotgun clubs, judging events and quiz bowls, and these activities were responsible for over 72 contacts and state team winners. Oconee County was recognized by the Northeast District for the largest State Congress delegation and for the largest number of winners at State Congress. Two hundred eighty-five youth attended 4-H summer camp. Volunteers donated 2546 hours of service to a variety of Oconee County 4-H activities and events. When considering the value of volunteerism from www.independentsector.org (indicating $23.26/hour), the value of these volunteers was $59,219.96 to our community this past year. Over 8,000 hours of community service were carried out through the community by Oconee County 4-H members.