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
In 2020, Walton County Extension continued our mission of delivering lifelong learning across the state through science-based programs and education in agriculture and the environment, family well-being, and 4-H youth. Due to the pandemic, our county office closed to the public on March 16, 2020 and did not reopen until May 2020. While our mission remained the same, our approach to meeting it shifted dramatically in this time. Actions were taken to deliver our services to our clientele even though COVID-19 public safety protocols were significant and ever changing. The Extension office submitted 549 samples for testing: 10 feed/forage, 62 microbiology, 387 soil and 89 water. Test results were accompanied by publications and specific recommendations for each unique situation. The Walton County Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent, Joel Burnsed, was able to reach over 8,000 office contacts (phone/written/office visits). He was responsible for the diagnosis of over 100 samples, and provided 157 site visits relating to homeowner horticulture. The Walton County Master Gardener program was able to abide by ever-changing regulations regarding COVID-19 protocols while continuing to serve their mission in the county. In 2020, Master Gardeners donated over 2,000 service hours to the community and the Extension office, worth a total value of $55,000.
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 4-H could not have been as successful as it was in 2020 without the support of our volunteers, who donated over 1,500 hours of their time, valued at over $40,000. Partnerships with the Walton County School District and Social Circle City Schools allow our 4-H programs to provide experiential learning programs that compliment school curriculum, STEAM initiatives, and helps to increase student writing-test scores. 4-H has a presence in every school in both School Districts and enrollment in 2020 was 1200 students. Despite the pandemic, Walton County 4-H was able to provide both in-school and virtual programming. Walton County 4-H staff created almost 40 virtual programs which reached more than 1,000 participants.
Family and Consumer Sciences
A wide variety of free UGA Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) publications are available at the county office. Questions relating to FACS topics can be outsourced to neighboring counties with FACS agents as needed.