Making A Difference in Our County
We're working hard for the citizens we serve. Here are some examples of successful projects from the past year:
Teaching Youth to Get Excited About Science
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education is extremely important for students to succeed in the real world and to learn more effectively. STEM is an interdisciplinary and applied approach that is coupled with hands-on, problem-based learning. The U.S. Department of Labor expects that there will be over 1 million jobs available in STEM-related fields by 2018, but not enough qualified workers to fill them. Also, in many counties and states, students are not graduating from public schools that are equipped and prepared for STEM majors or career fields. In Bleckley County, sixth- to eighth-grade 4-H club meetings are held within the science classroom. The sixth grade curriculum consisted of lessons on water, watersheds, windmills and wind power. Seventh-graders focused on ecosystem services, beekeeping and environmental carrying capacities. Eighth-graders experienced “Junk Drawer” robotics, and they also participated in the 4-H National Youth Science Day experiment. As a result, more than 550 students experienced STEM lessons throughout the 2014-2015 school year. Teachers reported a greater understanding of lessons currently taught in science through these hands-on experiences.
Delivering Agricultural Education
With agriculture being one of Bleckley County’s largest industries, emphasis was put on agricultural education this past year. An agriculture field day was held, cohosted by Bleckley County’s University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office and Bleckley County Elementary School, in collaboration with farmers and agribusinesses in our area. The students learned about local commodities, farm safety, animals, dairies, careers in agriculture and participated in hands-on demonstrations. Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Extension and 4-H agents also presented demonstrations on ecology to primary school students at Gully Branch, where participants learned the importance of wildlife and habitat management. Another program that was held to expand agricultural education was growing giant pumpkins. This program gave Senior 4-H members the opportunity to grow giant pumpkins at a local agritourism farm. They received hands-on education and were taught about soil fertility and pH, irrigation, pesticide use and safety, weeds, and land preparation and management. Other programs conducted this past year consisted of a cotton variety and water trial and the establishment of an ANR Resources Program Development Team. This team will assist in program planning and the reporting of county needs in the agricultural, industry and homeowner sectors.
Providing Family and Consumer Resources
Although Bleckley County Extension does not have a Family and Consumer Sciences agent based in its office, we still strive to assist local residents with their questions. Common questions asked are in regards to food safety, food preservation, dealing with mold and mildew, healthy meal planning, family budgeting and SNAP-Ed materials. These topics and more are answered through a wide variety of free UGA Extension publications available at the county office or by phone conferences with Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agents in surrounding counties. Often, neighboring agents are conducting programming that our county residents are welcome to attend, and we can provide information on registration.