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.
Paulding County 4-H increases student participation while continuing to provide opportunities for students that build communication skills through the 4-H Project Achievement program.
In partnership with the Paulding County School District, Paulding County 4-H has become a staple inside the 5th-grade classroom over the past two decades. 4-H club meetings focus on a wide variety of topics including; leadership, citizenship, and healthy living, all while reinforcing science standards and promoting confidence in public speaking. In Paulding, the Project Achievement Public Speaking program begins in the classroom. Each year, 4-H leaders in Paulding see approximately 1,200 student presentations inside the classroom, about 60% of our total 5th-grade club participation. Students that complete their classroom presentation are invited to compete at the district level. From 2018-2020, Paulding 4-H had an average of 45 students compete. In 2021Paulding County 4-H held its first-ever county-level competition. Due to its success, this county competition was repeated again in 2022. The average participation for the 2021 and 2022 competitions increased by 42% increase from the 2018-2020 average.
Of the 63 youths completing a demonstration at the county level in 2022, 36 youths completed evaluations about the project achievement process. According to the results, 75% of the respondents said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they are more confident speaking in front of people because of Project Achievement, 83% said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that because of Project Achievement, they are better at preparing a presentation. 78% of respondents also stated that they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they are better at giving a presentation because of Project Achievement. Finally, 81% said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that because of Project Achievement, they learned more about their topic area.
When asked what is the most important thing they learned during the Project Achievement process, one youth commented, the most important thing they learned is “to not be afraid to speak in front of a large crowd,” while another youth commented that the most important thing they learned “is how to be more accountable and finish a goal”. 5th-grade educators were also asked to reflect on the Project Achievement program. Ms. Matthews, from Poole Elementary, noted that “Students need to learn public speaking and presenting! This program is very engaging and aligns with our standards.” Mrs. Hatzileris from Poole Elementary also commented that “the presentations teach students how to be responsible. I also love the connection to real-world knowledge of jobs”.
AGRICULTURAL AND NATURAL RESOURCES-Engaging Youth in Agricultural and Environmental Literacy Through Gardening
In an effort to increase agricultural and environmental literacy, Agriculture and Natural Resources staff in Paulding worked with volunteers, community leaders, and educators to reach youth with hands-on gardening education. Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Interns constructed the garden and in July 2022 it officially opened as the first public children’s garden in Paulding County. Volunteers donated more than 475 hours of their time to construction and programming in the Sensory Garden, valued at $13,512.30 to Paulding County. The garden has support from community partners including Paulding County Farm Bureau, The Dallas Rotary Club, and a local home improvement/gardening retailer. It received a Grow More Good Grant along with funds from a Rotary District Grant to help with construction and planting. Funding for these sources has been granted in the amount of $4500.
Extension Staff and Master Gardeners have used the sensory garden to conduct Junior Master Gardener programs, a Youth Science Day in conjunction with the Great Georgia Pollinator Census, and a Garden Storytime program for preschool youth. Passive Garden visits are common with self-guided tour information provided for visitors to make the most of their visit. The five senses can be experienced by visitors in different ways around the garden. Feedback from parents with special needs children who have made passive visits has been wholly positive. One parent of an autistic child noted, “This is just what he needs. Being able to touch and feel things in the garden helps nurture his curiosity and build his confidence.” Youth gardening programming falls across our ANR and 4-H programming has directly reached 143 Youth and Adult participants since the Ribbon Cutting on the Sensory Garden in July with education that spans several of Extension’s critical reporting issues including Sustainability, Conservation & the Environment; Urban Agriculture; Youth & Family Development.