UGA Extension Office

Our Impact

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.


Many farmers have a back shelf in their barn or shed that holds old pesticides and have no plan for use or disposal. The availability of proper disposal sites within a reasonable driving distance is low to non-existent. To assist with this difficulty the Georgia Department of Agriculture hosts a pesticide disposal program to allow individuals and organizations commercially involved in agriculture an opportunity to properly dispose of pesticides free of charge. Oftentimes, this program is located in Middle or South Georgia. Union County Extension hosted a program that collected pesticides for disposal, and then drove the collected pesticides to Perry, GA for disposal at the Georgia Department of Agriculture Georgia Clean Day. The pesticides disposed of totaled over 1,100 pounds. The savings created by this program to producers was over $3,700.

Union County Extension conducted a trial on sweet sorghum for syrup varieties. The 2022 trial was conducted at the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center. Four varieties of sweet sorghum, M81E, Top 76-6, Sugar Drip, and Dale, were planted in May. Yield was measured as the amount of sorghum juice produced. The highest yielding variety was M81E at 3,582.03 gallons per acre. The variety with the highest brix was Top 76-6 at 14.73. Lodging was an issue for all varieties, but Top 76-6 had significantly less lodging than other varieties. Top 76-6 was the best performer and was originally bred in Blairsville.

The Master Naturalist program is designed to educate adults on the natural world around them. In Union county this training covers: soil health and management, history of natural resources, tree identification, watershed management, ecology, nuisance animal management, hemlock woolly adelgid management and research native plants, ornithology, mushrooms, pollinator gardening, mushrooms, fisheries, mountain bogs, aquatic invertebrates, salamanders, and invasive species. Speakers come from UGA, University of North Georgia, US Forest Service, Young Harris College, US Fish and Wildlife Services, Mountain True, and more. Trainees had the opportunity to go on field trips and get first-hand experience with rare and endangered species.


According to, only 26% of Georgia residents volunteer.  However, 64% of teenagers who volunteer do so primarily through religious organizations, a school-based group, or youth leadership organizations such as 4-H or Scouts.   Based on Union County 4-H middle and high school 4-H survey, 63% of students felt the need to increase their involvement in the local community.

Georgia 4-H vision is a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive changed. By participating in community service activities, youth can connect to communities and learn to give back to others. Youth need to feel their lives have meaning and purpose. With some initiatives and direction, junior and senior 4-H’ers will feel empowered to develop social responsibilities.

During junior and senior 4-H meetings in 2021, opportunities for local community service projects were promoted. Speakers form local nonprofit organizations that work with community projects created awareness within the 4-H group of the need for youth to be engaged in community initiatives and services. 4-H’ers were also trained on leadership skills in planning, conducting, implementing, and evaluating community service projects using the Leadership in Action Handbook. Students were also introduced to a list of local needs to be addressed.  In turn, 4-H’ers were encouraged to choose an individual service project to lead, but also include participation from group members.

An average of 35 junior and senior 4-H members participated in five youth-lead community service projects, volunteering over 300 hours over the last 24 months. Examples of service projects included:

·         A senior 4-H’er planned, publicized, and recruited 15 volunteers for a one-day canned food drive that collected $1400 of food for the Union County Food Pantry.

·         Another 12th grade high school student lead “Adopt-a-Valentine” for students with special needs in at the local high school and middle school

·         During the Holiday Season a senior 4-H’er contacted Operation Christmas Child and promoted the program with in the junior and senior clubs. 22 packages were collected and delivered to the Operation Christmas Child Project.

·         A senior 4-H organized the Adopt-an-Angel project for the middle and high school 4-Hprogram. Two angels were selected a boy and a girl. 32 gifts were collected for both angels.

·         Another graduating senior lead a group of 4-H’ers in a project named, “Warm Wishes for Lonely Residents” donating cards, tie blankets and over 40 care packages to nursing home residents.