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
Livestock production thrives in Walker County. A county beef herd of more than 17,000 head need 34,000 acres of grazing. Recognizing that forage stands are struggling from many challenges Walker County Cooperative Extension went to work to grow more grass. The Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent started with the basics and reminded growers of the benefits of fertility and weed management, soil and forage testing and interpreting the results. Soil sample submissions increased 85% and forage sample submissions increased 55% over the previous year. Walker Extension staff collaborated with UGA scientists on programming specific to forage testing and winter feeding strategies. Livestock and forage growers may hold a private pesticide applicator license, which requires CEUs to maintain. Walker Extension planned and coordinated multiple opportunities for producers to earn CEUs.
Bees are livestock and LaFayette is the Queen City of the Highlands, plus, people like to eat and pollination is required for most of our food. The ANR agent collaborated with the Northwest Georgia Beekeepers (NWGAB) throughout the year. Seven Bee Talks were offered during LaFayette’s signature Honey Bee Festival. Beekeepers engaged during Ag Day to reach 1,200 elementary students on bee importance. Extension staff collaborated with NWGAB to restore leadership and effective programming, ensuring that monthly meetings are appropriately planned, announced, meeting space is secured and effective programs are scheduled, as well as recruiting officers and directors into leadership positions, hosting a new beekeeper workshop and finding direction and energy that appeared lost. Establishing trust and building relationships is critical to achieving impactful programming.
4-H Youth Development
Walker County test scores show a lack of composition and communication skills in fifth through eighth grades. Students in these grades show test averages in English Language Arts lagging behind the state average by 3% to 4%. Each year, Walker County 4-H staff members work with fourth through sixth grade students to give instruction on how to write a researched speech and how to present an illustrated demonstration in front of a classroom. A total of 804 Walker County students in fourth through sixth grades chose to present a project during the county Project Achievement competition in front of their classes. Self-evaluations of 714 of the county speeches concluded growth in many areas of public speaking. Some results included 73% of students indicating that they agreed or strongly agreed that Project Achievement helped them become better at preparing a presentation and 93% of students could correctly identify at least three of the six things elements of a great presentation (make eye contact, practice your speech, use a loud and clear voice, research your topic, say thank you, dress appropriately).
Family and Consumer Sciences
Walker County gained FACS presence after being selected to receive grant funds to hire an Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) program assistant. EFNEP is a national U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded community outreach program whose mission is to improve the health behaviors of families with limited resources. EFNEP is operated cooperatively through the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University. EFNEP has demonstrated tremendous impact in the State of Georgia since 1969. EFNEP uses an all-inclusive nutrition education approach. Participation results in improvements in core areas of diet quality, physical activity, food resource management, and food safety and security. The program is free of charge and Walker Extension provides all teaching materials and recipe demonstration ingredients.