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 2019 Oconee County Agriculture has a farm gate value of $53 million dollars for commodities such as poultry, ornamental horticulture, forages and livestock. Local agriculture production continues to be in the forefront for being profitable and sustainable. Currently, agricultural programing highlights from Oconee County Cooperative Extension program development team members include continuing to assist local farmers with beef cattle education with emphasis on managing forages including summer and winter annuals, genetic herd improvement and the beginning farmer program. In addition, Oconee County well-water quality and testing is a significant issue in the county and many residents have benefited from testing through the UGA Soil and Water Lab, with corrections being implemented to meet Environmental Protection Agency standards. Furthermore, agricultural awareness education through Third Grade Ag Day, the Oconee County Business Expo, livestock shows and more has done an excellent job in helping our local community understand that the county’s agricultural economy provides quality food and fiber to meet consumer needs on the local, state and national levels.
Family and Consumer Sciences
More than 250 foodborne diseases present a significant public health challenge. In the U.S., per year, there are 48 million cases of gastrointestinal foodborne illness, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths (2010). Estimates for Georgia are 2.5 million cases per year at a cost of $4.7 billion (2010). Transfer of viral and bacterial infections through foodservice operations is of high concern. In Morgan and Oconee counties, there are 166 inspected food establishments, four personal care facilities and 25 child care facilities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Code requires that the person in charge of a foodservice operation become a Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM). A CFPM must show that he or she has the required knowledge by passing a test from an accredited program. The Morgan/Oconee Family and Consumer Sciences agent offered 14 ServSafe® training opportunities to 137 participants, with 78% of attendees earning Manager Certification and 100% earning the Food Handler certificate. Program participants can put into practice the new knowledge and keep food safe for Georgia.
4-H Youth Development
More than 900 youth were impacted by the Oconee County 4-H youth development programs and Oconee County 4-H ranked third in the Northeast District for the having the most active volunteer group. Oconee 4-H was recognized by the State 4-H Leader as the No. 1 county in camping and Project Achievement participation for the state of Georgia. Oconee 4-H Ranked No. 1 in the Northeast District for participation in District Project Achievement, 4-H State Council and 4-H State Congress, as well as the most Master 4-H’ers at State Congress.
Oconee 4-H alumni served in the 4-H camping program at three of the state’s 4-H centers. Three collegiate 4-H’ers were selected to serve in leadership positions at Rock Eagle and Burton 4-H Centers, while two other Oconee alumni served in counselor positions at Wahsega and Rock Eagle 4-H Centers. Two Oconee high school students were selected to serve as STEM and Healthy Living Ambassadors for Georgia 4-H.
Oconee County 4-H received national recognition with the Senior 4-H Life Smarts Team earning fifth place. Oconee county 4-H’ers earned state recognition for the Junior Dairy Quiz Bowl team, Junior Life Smarts team and Forestry Judging High Individual and were state runners-up for Forestry Judging, Land Judging, Life Smarts and Dairy Quiz Bowl. More than 133 Oconee County 4-H’ers participated in 4-H Officer Training. Two high school 4-H’ers served on the Northeast District Senior Board of Directors and three middle school students were elected to serve on the Northeast District Junior Board of Directors.