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Extension office report shows greater impact

County commissioners reviewed a report of activities from the UT Extension during their Dec. 16 meeting.
“It’s quite amazing what they do,” said Commissioner Ben Bowman, a member of the Agriculture Extension Committee.
The year-end report was prepared by Administrative Specialist Joe McCray who said the total economic impact to Washington County was higher during 2013.
“We normally run around $500,000-600,000, but the impact this year was $800,000,” McCray said. “We were really pleased to see that.”
Among many of the increases was the participation in the 4-H program, which enrolled almost 4,000 students. The focus chosen for the year was mathematics, science and developmental learning.
Public speaking and essay writing workshops and contests were held in all Washington County schools, and McCray said participation was up in all three activities. During the last 12 months, 4-H members presented 1,205 environmental essays; 1,114 speeches; and 456 posters and demonstrations.
A pilot program on social skills and manners was held with sixth-grade students at Sulphur Springs Elementary School. Sessions covered various dining styles, table conversations, table setting, meal practice, writing invitations and thank you notes, as well as business greetings and handshakes. This program is designed to prepare youth for the workforce.
“On My Own” Youth Financial Management Education classes are another means to equip students for the future. Held at both county high schools, the classes and simulations involved more than 400 students who learned how to manage a checkbook and prepare a budget.
The 4-H Honor Club chose Operation Christmas Child as the main service project for the year, and members assembled 198 shoeboxes that will benefit needy children around the world.
The Adult and Youth Agriculture programs also were well attended. “We had an increase in our grower workshops,” McCray said, referring to the 215 growers who participated in fruit and vegetable production workshops.
In addition, more than 40 people took part in the six workshops offered through the spring gardening series.
The Expanded Food Nutrition Education program reached 500 adult participants with classes teaching nutrition, resource management skills and food safety practices.
Almost 1,500 students were involved in the youth component of the program, which teaches behavior change for primarily third-grade audiences in 11 schools.
Fourth-grade audiences receive additional science, math and social studies information that build on their TCAP knowledge base. Almost 100 students participate in this program at the high school level.
According to McCray, members of the nine Family and Community Education clubs volunteered almost 12,000 hours, and through their service, reached 23,000 citizens. The value of their time, if paid, would be approximately $263,000.