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
Due to the pandemic, the Rabun County Extension office was forced to limit walk-in access during most of 2020. The office however remained open and continued to provide critical services to our citizens.
Rabun County Agriculture and Natural Resources provided 2,299 in-person, phone, and written consultations in 2020 and was active in 29 programs providing 342 hours of educational opportunity. 157 diagnostic soil and water samples were performed. Our Master Gardener volunteers continued to provide at-distance opportunities that resulted in 207 volunteer hours.
In July of 2020, the Rabun County Agriculture and Natural Resource agent collaborated with NC State Extension to provide a COVID-19 Awareness Training for Spanish speaking H-2A visa workers utilized by our local commercial vegetable producers. Over a two-day period, 12 one-hour sessions were delivered to small groups of workers. A total of 181 workers were trained on safety protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic allowing planting and harvest activities to continue without interruption due to worker illness.
4-H Youth Development
Rabun County had 2 senior 4-H’ers compete at District Project Achievement at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center. One placed 3rd in the district and the other won first place and the opportunity to travel to State Congress in Atlanta to compete at the state level. Unfortunately, like other counties in the state, Rabun County was then affected by COVID-19. The pandemic suddenly brought in-person programming to a standstill in Rabun County around mid-March 2020. At this time, all schools in Rabun County closed and switched to a virtual format for the remainder of the school year.
Competition at State Congress was held in a virtual format for the first time in its history. Rabun County had one senior which persevered though the changes to virtual and still placed 4th in the state. We also had one 4-H’er compete at the National Livestock Show. He placed 6th in Showmanship and 8th in his weight class.
Rabun County 4-H saw a need to maintain engagement with the 4-Her's in the community to continue promoting education, a positive state of mind, and basic hygiene during the crisis. Development of a new Facebook page on social media was completed as the pandemic hit. It was used to promote fun and engaging virtual programs, including virtual scavenger hunts, interactive virtual escape rooms, virtual field trips, and Google forms promoting Georgia 4-H Friends magazine lessons.
In addition to providing 5th-grade programming and fun activities remotely, 4-H staff promoted a “Teen Leadership” curriculum for middle and high school students. The leadership curriculum had seven modules, including understanding leadership, conflict management, goal setting, communication, appreciating differences, decision making, and community mapping, which were developed in partnership with the J. W. Fanning Institute for Leadership at UGA. This program provided middle and high school students the opportunity to develop leadership skills and continued engagement throughout the summer.
4-H staff also used this vital time to evaluate the Georgia Standards of Education and create programs more aligned to their objectives. These face to face programs are currently being converted into a digital format to be used in the upcoming Google Classroom that was provided by the Rabun County Board of Education.