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:
Agriculture and Natural Resources
In 2015, agriculture continued to be a major economic force in Elbert County. Second only to the granite industry, the agriculture industry represents approximately $113 million in generated annual revenue for the county. Poultry accounts for approximately $91 million of that revenue. A total of 57 breeder houses and 216 broiler houses generate close to $220,000 in property tax revenue for the county’s budget, and this number is growing. Unfortunately, the U.S. poultry industry is vulnerable due to the emergence of avian influenza. Although avian influenza has not reached Georgia, we remain on high alert as the disease wreaked havoc on the poultry industry in Iowa and Minnesota in 2015. A great deal of University of Georgia Cooperative Extension programming in Elbert County has been focused on educating the community on preventing and managing avian influenza. To date, over 470 youth and 184 adults have been directly educated on the potential peril. Three newspaper articles and one newsletter article have been published, totaling a circulation of over 15,480.
4-H Youth Development
Elbert County 4-H is a partner in education and strives to remain relevant by educating our youth in the fifth to eighth grades on a monthly basis. When the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) initiative was released by the Georgia Department of Education, Elbert County 4-H saw a chance to get further involved. The 4-H agent collaborated with the Farm Bureau Women’s Committee, Cattlemen’s Association, board of commissioners, Northeast Georgia Bank and the Elbert County Board of Education to host an in-school career field day for all fifth-graders in the county. With CCRPI, fifth-graders are required to study four career clusters: government, finance, technology and marketing. In addition to these career clusters, four agricultural fields were discussed with students at the field day: cow-calf beef operations, dairy operations, beekeeping and vegetable/ fruit production. At the end of the program, 171 youth completed an evaluation; 97 percent said they gained knowledge from the experience, and 55 percent said they planned to pursue a career in agriculture.
Family and Consumer Sciences
The Elbert County Family and Consumer Sciences Extension agent focuses on food safety education. A total of 32 participants attended a ServSafe® Manager Certification training taught in part or completely by the county agent. Of those 32 participants, 31 successfully passed the ServSafe® Manager Certification exam. Additionally, 34 participants attended a ServSafe® Food Handler course. All 34 passed the post-test and received their certificate of completion, having had a 61 percent increase in knowledge. General audience food safety education is also a critical component of local programming, and 139 participants were reached in 2015. When asked what was most beneficial about the programs, participants commented that they “learned the importance of checking the temperature of thin meats, even if you have to go through the side of a boneless chicken breast to get an accurate temperature.” Participants also said they planned on purchasing separate cutting boards of different colors to help prevent cross-contamination.