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
Since 2012, Spalding County Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources staff has collaborated with community leaders and organizations to promote and maintain the Healthy Life Community Garden (HLCG) at Heritage Park. The HLCG provides an opportunity for residents of the Fairmont community to learn about the benefits of gardening. The garden currently features 24 raised garden beds and 6,000 square feet of tilled row-planting space. A variety of fruits and vegetables are available throughout the seasons to be picked and shared among the community. The garden not only grows food, but also encourages exercise and healthy eating habits, and has renewed relationships and trust among the residents it was designed to serve.
For 2019, the Junior Master Gardener curriculum, Learn, Grow, Eat, Go, was combined with guest speakers and hands-on activities to engage community youth throughout the summer season. More than 660 youth and adults from the surrounding community participated, with an increase in volunteerism at each event compared to previous years. Future additions to the HLCG include a new sensory garden, redesigned children’s area, expanded irrigation and increased seating capacity.
4-H Youth Development
The mission of the Spalding County 4-H Club is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. Beginning in the fifthh grade, 4-H members are taught public speaking skills, working in partnership with teachers and counselors to reach more than 850 students. Spalding County 4-H took more than 100 4-H’ers to District Project Achievement.4-H offers a variety of opportunities covering a range of interests. In leadership roles on district and state-wide boards, 4-H’ers grow in their confidence to speak publicly, in their experience with planning and in their ability to lead by example. In 2019, Spalding County 4-H’ers earned first place or Master 4-H’er status in the Computer Information Technology project area for project achievement and in Turkey Barbeque and Chicken Barbecue, advancing them to the National contest in November 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging team advanced to the national contest in January 2021 in Denver, Colorado. 4-H is a well-rounded program that calls all youth to “Make the Best Better.”
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES
Family and Consumer Sciences staff worked with community partners to provide community-based health and wellness programs in an effort to address health issues facing our community. Spalding County’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) works to improve community health by providing low-income individuals with the knowledge, skills and resources to improve nutrition practices and increase physical activity. This year 81 adults with households of 386 individuals and 72 youth attended EFNEP program sessions. EFNEP community partners donated $1,951 through in-kind service hours. General nutrition programs, reaching more than 100 individuals, focused on food choices and nutrition practices that will help reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses. The Cooking for a Lifetime Cancer Prevention Cooking School (C4L) taught participants about screening guidelines for breast, cervica, and colorectal cancer, as well as nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. The C4L program motivated women in Spalding County to consider getting cancer screening. Earlier detection through screening can increase survival from cancer, and C4L helps connect women who are uninsured with low- or no-cost screening services.