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.
4-H Youth Development
The Ware County 4-H Club provides a positive environment that enables community youth to develop life skills through the essential elements of independence, generosity, belonging and mastery. There are nearly 1,000 students (fourth through 12th grades) enrolled in the Ware County 4-H program. This year, Ware County 4-H has delivered more than 600 activity kits each month to students in 4th and 5th grades. These kits are a portion of our virtual lessons that are also delivered each month. In addition to in-school programming, Ware County 4-H hosts monthly Junior/Senior club meetings, a specialty Precision Air-rifle Team, Book Club, Garden Club, and Arts and Drama Club. Ware County 4-H is also represented well at many different competitive events throughout the district and state levels. Some of those events include Poultry Judging, Forestry Judging, Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging and livestock shows. Our students are also very active in leadership and community service throughout the community and state. Many of our students apply and are chosen as Georgia 4-H Ambassadors each year in various tracks such as Pollinators, STEM, Ready 4 Life and Healthy Living.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
As the largest county in land area in Georgia, Ware County has a diverse agricultural community within its borders. Superior research and education are the driving forces of agricultural innovation, and no one knows this better than UGA Extension. Ware County’s Agricultural and Natural Resources agent has been working on multiple on-farm research trials with area pecan and blueberry agents to provide needed data and information to growers. The ANR Agent has been working hard to meet producer needs and to maintain a high level of programming that will deliver unbiased education. Before COVID-19, the Agent hosted a Master Cattleman Program attended by over 30 people in surrounding counties and production meetings were consolidated with two other counties and their agents. During COVID-19, the Agent co-hosted an Agribusiness Basics Workshop over Zoom and made every effort to continue to relay pertinent information to clients via web services. The Agricultural and Natural Resources agent will continue to help clients with issues relating to commodity budgets, pecan, blueberry, cotton, peanut, corn, timber, pasture, livestock and wildlife management. Agriculture in Ware County has a farm gate value of $60 million annually.
Family and Consumer Sciences
Family and Consumer Sciences promotes safer food, greater physical activity and nutrition, better relationships and stronger personal finances. The FACS Agent encourages these lifestyle changes through educational events and community outreach. This remained true in 2020. While face-to-face programming was halted due to COVID-19, the need for health and wellness education remained. In response, the agent recreated traditional programming to present via virtual formats, partnering with other local and regional agencies to expand program reach. Programming included a monthly Yoga for Kids series; Healthy Georgia Wellness series; Once Upon a Rainbow - an Okefenokee Regional Library Summer Reading Program nutrition series; Eat Healthy, Be Active – a childcare provider nutrition training series; Movement Monday series – with and for Ware 4-H, and a Walk-a-Weigh series. These free series addressed nutrition, physical activity, hydration, smarter food shopping, and other health and wellness topics that teach skills to adults and youth to adopt life-long good health habits. Lessons were taught through different formats: live streams were available through Zoom and Facebook Live, pre-recorded videos were shared on the county extension Facebook page, YouTube, and through an email listserv. These virtual programs generated a combined reach of 10,395 individuals. This is a 91% increase from the number of participants from traditional health and wellness programming in the previous year.