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
Georgia has one of the highest pregnancy rates in the nation among teens age 15 to 19. According to 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics, 23.6 in 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 became pregnant in Georgia. In Washington County, the birth rate for girls aged 15 to 19 was 32.6 in 1,000, higher than the state average.
There were 19 births to teen mothers in Washington County in 2016. Beginning in 2013, Washington County 4-H offered a program called Relationship Smarts that was focused on helping youth become more knowledgeable about making positive relationship choices, understanding consequences of having sex before marriage, developing good communication skills, and determining values to help prepare for future goals. Since then, over 2000 students have been reached. The majority of students who have participated in this program have gained confidence in establishing healthy relationships, reported they were very likely to use the skills learned, and overall found the program either helpful or very helpful. One student recently commented, “I like how the program taught us how to listen and how to deal with heated and hard situations in relationships”
Family and Consumer Sciences
The Washington County Family and Consumer Sciences agent Georgeanne Cook provides programming that improves the health, wellness and financial capability of individuals and families served. Two people die of diabetes-related causes and 16 adults are newly diagnosed every five minutes in Georgia. Diabetes awareness and education classes are provided to all residents at no cost to the citizens. The travel cost savings of $70.20 for 109 clients if they had to drive 60 miles or more for similar classes add up to $7,651 in savings to our clients.
Foodborne illness continues to be a significant public health challenge that is preventable. In Washington County in 2019, 88 food service employees participated in a ServSafe® Food Protection Manager Certification course, with an average of 880 contact hours of instruction. The lower cost of $110 to 88 individuals adds up to $9,680 in savings impact to our participants. The FACS agent is working to remove barriers and create a community where healthy choices are easy and available to all through Well Connected Communities, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Superior research and education is the driving force of innovation, and no one knows this better than UGA Extension. Washington County currently has a vacancy in agricultural programming. Filling this vacancy is a must, as Agricultural and Natural Resources is an ever-changing field. In order for producers to maintain a high level of progression, delivering unbiased education is essential. In addition, decreases in commodity prices have only helped to increase the importance of extension programming, which is critical to aiding farmers with day-to-day decisions. The new Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent will address these issues, as well as pasture management, cotton, peanuts, corn, pecans and livestock. A major focus will also be placed on row crop disease and weed identification and control.