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
For the past seven years Oglethorpe County 4-H has carried out a monthly 4-H project club called 'Cooking to Share' implemented by the 4-H and Family & Consumer Science Agents. This project club educates youth on many topics such as: foodborne illness, kitchen safety, knife safety, nutrition and healthy living, all while preparing meals for local families in need. Since the first 'Cooking to Share' was held in February 2013 approximately 1,600 youth have participated, $3,650 have been donated to purchase supplies and ingredients. The cooking to Share program has impacted the lives of 55 Oglethorpe families in their time of need. With the outbreak of COVID-19 and the University of Georgia's recommendation that 4-H and other groups are not to distribute prepared food made it impossible for the Oglethorpe county 4-H Cooking to Share Program to continue as structured. In early August 2020, the 4-H Agent had a groundbreakingepiphany, 'We don't have to serve people!' A few months prior the Oglethorpe County 4-H club visited a local 'farm' animal rescue with all sorts on animals, some sick, some have physical ailments, some animals just needed adopting. This animal rescue would be the perfect recipient of healthy, nutritious, animal-safe treats made by 4-H'ers in the Cooking to Share Project Club. Since August 2020, the Oglethorpe County 4-H Cooking to Share Project Club has met monthly, working with smaller groups, following social distancing practices and wearing appropriate PPE. During Cooking to Share meetings youth have been educated in topics such as: foodborne illness, kitchen safety, knife safety, nutrition and healthy living. But instead of preparing nutritious meals for local families in need, 4-H'ers have made 360 peanut butter cookies, 15 pounds of sweet potato fries, 300 pumpkin bars, 150 apple cinnamon cupcakes and 300 granola bars for hungry rescued animals.
Family and Consumer Sciences
In Oglethorpe County 30% of adults are obese. Obesity and overweight contribute to the development of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and some cancers. In response to this issue, the Oglethorpe County Family and Consumer Sciences agent offered programs on cancer prevention, nutrition and physical activity education, weekly newspaper articles, and social media content focusing on nutrition and physical activity education. Cooking for Cancer Prevention, Walk-a-Weigh, Cooking to Share and Senior Center programming were offered to citizens in Oglethorpe County. A total of 150 educational contact hours were provided to 25 early childhood education professionals through the UGA Extension Family and Consumer Sciences classes. These 25 professionals oversee the nurturing and development of 225 children in Oglethorpe County. Out of those 25 participants, 19 early childhood education professionals completed 114 educational contact hours from the three-part series, Basic Core Skills for Child Care Series: Injury Prevention, There’s No Excuse for Child Abuse, and Infectious Diseases. The other six child care professionals attended an Eat Healthy, Be Active training to improve nutritional and physical activity practices within early learning centers in Oglethorpe County.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Oglethorpe County commodities have a farm gate value of more than $220 million, including landscape services. Agriculture, landscape services and directly related businesses comprise 45.7% of the county’s total economic output and 29.2% of county employment. UGA Cooperative Extension in Oglethorpe County provides access to up-to-date research-based information from UGA experts. The Agricultural and Natural Resources program supports farmers, landscapers, home gardeners and other citizens throughout the county. Local relevant issues, such as livestock production, soil fertility and water quality, are addressed through applied research, technical assistance, on-farm consultations, classes and media. Distance programming efforts such as virtual meetings and online newsletters have been added to continue helping our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.