Making A Difference in Our County
We're working hard for the citizens we serve. Here are some examples of successful projects from the past year:
THE INAUGURAL ROCKDALE FOOD AND SCIENCE FEST
One of the greatest challenges facing Georgia’s youth is a decline in agricultural literacy. Compounding this are two troubling statistics. In Rockdale County, 39% of adult residents are considered obese and 13% of low-income residents live in food deficient (food desert) communities. To address this, the Rockdale County Cooperative Extension office put on the inagurual Rockdale Food and Science Fest, an educational festival-style event meant to showcase the science behind food production and consumption and the power of healthy habits. The event included 18 educational booths covering relevant topics from Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Sciences, and 4-H. We were able to distribute more than 500 pounds of produce to 174 atendees. The event was supported by $500 in donations from the community and 54 volunteers.
#ROCKDALEEATSARAINBOW MAKES HEALTHY EATING FUN AND DOABLE FOR FAMILIES
Rockdale County Cooperative Extension has a reputation for creating innovative programs that are both fun and educational. One key program is the Fun with Fresh Food (FFF) rainbow nutrition program, which has reached more than 1,750 citizens since 2017 with an average weekly attendance of 130 people. Through six weeks of short interactive rainbow-themed food commercials, FFF has been effective in getting families to eat everything from cucumbers to eggplant More than $3,500 in donations and grants made it possible to distribute 150 recipe samples and nearly 50 bags of produce to families each week. FFF also received first place for Family Health and Wellness by the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in 2019. Rockdale Extension also offers a variety of educational programs to help adults in Rockdale stay healthy. These programs offer education on healthy weight management, physical activity and nutrition. These include Walk-a-Weigh, Food Talk: Better U, Food e-Talk, Cooking for a Lifetime, and Rite Bite Diabetes Cooking School. These programs focus on small, doable changes that empower participants to make significant yet attainable behavioral changes for their health.
According to the Rockdale County Health Department’s Health Assessment, suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in Rockdale County. Rockdale Extension, in collaboration with the Board of Commissioners, were awarded a $20,000 grant from Morehouse School of Medicine to fund the Building Education Around Mental Services for Youth (BEAMS) program. All of the aspects of this grant were developed to address the emotional and mental health need for youth in Rockdale. The BEAMS program was a huge success and allowed Rockdale Extension to help train 12 adults to complete the Youth Mental Health First Aid Course. They also hosted two community events that reached 171 participants. Participants attended two workshops with topics about the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, creating support systems and learning coping skills, the adolescent brain and what changes are going on, teambuilding and yoga relaxation.
BUILDING EDUCATION AROUND MENTAL SERVICES FOR YOUTH IN ROCKDALE COUNTY
Rockdale Master Gardener Extension Volunteers (MGEVs) have continued their mission of service and education in 2019. In total they produced more than 3,000 pounds of fresh produce for a local food bank. In addition to providing produce, the garden space also served as an outdoor classroom for educational demonstrations on gardening and pollinator-friendly practices. Other projects include maintaining the Memorial Arboretum, beautifying the Nancy Guinn Memorial Library and providing educational classes for the community. All told, MGEVs volunteered 2,586 hours in 2019.