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
With the ever-expanding human population and the increasing migration of residents to rural areas, the occurrence of human-wildlife interaction is on the rise. Over the past year, the Wilkes County Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent has received many calls concerning a variety of backyard nuisance wildlife issues, from armadillos to squirrels. Using county funds, the Wilkes County ANR agent purchased several traps to be loaned to residents and used for educational demonstrations. For homeowners who chose to utilize these traps, the ANR agent visited their property and assisted them in properly setting the traps. The cost of nuisance wildlife removal in Georgia ranges between $150 and $800 — depending on the nuisance wildlife control technician, the species being removed and the landscape of the area where the animal was being removed — with the average cost being around $350. Based on these figures, for the short period of time that the traps have been loaned out, the Wilkes County ANR agent saved homeowners an estimated $2,400 per year in removal costs collectively.
4-H Youth Development
Commercial goat livestock projects provide an experiential learning approach to animal-production agriculture. It has been proven that showing livestock generally develops students’ communication, teamwork, leadership and decision-making skills. Local farmers, the 4-H Extension Program Development Team and community stakeholders requested that UGA Extension in Wilkes County better educate youth on animal production agriculture. Wilkes County Extension addressed this need by offering a statewide opportunity for youth to attend the Small Town Show Down Commercial Doe Show. This show enables exhibitors to gain hands-on experience. In 2018, 45 Georgia 4-H and FFA members exhibited 80 animal projects. The committee hopes to increase participation to 50 exhibitors due to popularity and location. Committee members raised $12,000 locally to be paid back to the participants. Students refer back to their experiences for skills that help in everyday life. 4-H’er Jake Tucker stated, “Stock showing teaches you responsibility and hard work to be proud of for a lifetime. There is no better experience than learning by doing hands-on.”
Family and Consumer Sciences
As the prevalence of poor nutrition, physical inactivity, tobacco use and access to fast-food restaurants continues to increase, so have the rates of obesity among adults and children. In Wilkes County, 33 percent of adults are obese, with chronic diseases contributing to a significant portion of the county death rate. Obesity contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases. UGA’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is working to alleviate health disparities imposed by socioeconomic status by providing low-income Georgians with the knowledge, skills and resources to improve nutrition practices and increase physical activity.
The program is delivered through sessions outlined in the Food Talk curriculum to address barriers to healthful lifestyles that are encountered by families with limited resources. Participants observe food demonstrations and taste the recipes prepared free of charge. In 2018, Wilkes County Extension directly reached 12 youth and 53 adults with direct education sessions, representing households of 193 individuals. Community collaborators volunteered 44 hours of their time, valued at $1,047 of in-kind services.