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
UGA Extension in Walton County offers numerous services such as soil testing, water testing, plant identification and on-site consultations to local clientele. The Extension office processed more than 500 diagnostic samples in 2018, and Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Agent Joel Burnsed conducted more than 70 personal on-site consultations to farms and homes in Walton County. The agent also collaborated with several different organizations to provide educational resources to clientele. Examples included a pond-management field day that educated farmers and landowners on proper pond-management practices. Another example was a Feral Swine Workshop that educated farmers on proper techniques for trapping feral swine, which are responsible for significant agriculture damage each year. UGA Extension also played a pivotal role in the creation of the Walton Local Food Alliance, which is made up of numerous local organizations collaborating to provide awareness and educational opportunities related to local food and to advocate for increased access to local food through restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets and school cafeterias, all supporting Walton County’s farms.
The Walton County Master Gardener Extension Volunteer (MGEV) program contributed 2,000 hours of service to the community through free gardening classes at local libraries, the “Ask A Master Gardener” booth at the farmers market and several other community-oriented projects. The Master Gardeners also planted a garden, donated fresh produce to more than 400 low-income families and built raised beds at the Monroe Senior Center. These raised beds will allow MGEVs to teach senior citizens about growing their own produce and the health benefits of gardening.
4-H Youth Development
Walton County 4-H programs are offered for youth to learn and excel in leadership, citizenship, public speaking and critical-thinking skills. Walton County school systems focus on career readiness, and the Walton County 4-H Club offered a wide range of in-school and extracurricular activities to more than 1,400 students in 2018. The Walton County 4-H Air Rifle Senior Team and Horse Judging Senior Team both placed first at state contests and achieved Master status. Walton County BB Team placed second at the Georgia 4-H State BB Match and finished fourth in the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match in Rogers, Arkansas. Kayla Stone, Walton County 4-H member, took first place in Focus on 4-H, third place in Focus on 4-H Service, and fourth place in Focus on Agriculture in the Georgia 4-H Photography Contest. Hailey Bittles, Walton County 4-H alumna, received a $750 Kitzinger Scholarship.
Family and Consumer Sciences
Project F.R.E.E. (Fostering Relationship and Economic Enrichment) programs are helping parents develop skills to strengthen the quality of their couple and co-parenting relationships. Parenting responsibilities add demands on all couples. Our Elevate program provides couples strategies and skills to manage stress and conflict while strengthening their relationships. In 2018, 33 couples enrolled in five Elevate programs.
For parents who are apart, parenting can be challenging. Our Together We Can program helps single parents develop strategies and skills to manage stress and conflict, promote positive co-parenting relationships and help develop future healthy relationships. In 2018, 40 individuals enrolled in three Together We Can programs. A total of 51 individuals registered for three Together We Can programs offered during the year.