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Wheeler: Whatever your needs, Extension Office is here to help

POSTED: April 27, 2012 1:00 a.m.

What do local farming, youth development, nutrition education and radon have in common? The answer is Hall County Cooperative Extension.

We are an informal, educational network that combines the expertise and resources of federal, state and local governments to improve people’s lives.

We extend the reach of the University of Georgia to connect you with knowledge, research and resources in the areas of youth, family and agricultural needs.

In the office, Wanda Cannon supports the needs of homeowners with gardening questions and the Hall County master gardener extension volunteer program. I support the agricultural and natural resources issues in the county by helping local farmers, homeowners and green-industry professionals with soil and water quality questions, plant and animal production and environmental issues.

Just today, we had someone bring in seven soil samples for testing, a pear tree with a disease called fire blight, four calls about ground bees and an email question about grasshopper control for a vegetable garden.

Down the hall, you will find the 4-H staff that includes Judy Tilford, 4-H agent, Roxanne Hulsey and Ruth Alligood, 4-H program assistants. They keep the 4-H program going and impact the lives of young people every day by teaching leadership, citizenship and life skills to more than 1,600 youth in Hall County. This week they have been busy with club meetings at different schools, a horse club meeting in the evening and BB gun practice.

Sandra Stringer, our Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program assistant, meets with low-income audiences and teenage moms to instill good eating habits. Today, she showed a group a new recipe to cook for their children that takes less than 15 minutes to prepare and cook.

Ginger Bennett, our radon educator, is putting the final touches of a program to a property owners’ association. Radon is an odorless, invisible gas that comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in the soil. If radon is found in excess amounts in the home, it can lead to lung cancer. Ginger works to provide information on how to test for radon in the home and what to do if found.

We provide answers to the public with the research from the University of Georgia to back us up. In this day and time of “information overload” and the easy access to the Internet, you should always remember to check sources.

As UGA Extension professionals, we are required to base our solutions to client issues on research, not home remedies and hearsay. Whether recommending the safest method possible to control fire ants or showing a homeowner how to test for radon, you can trust that our information is research-based.

Got a question? Give us a call at 770-535-8293 or stop by the office at 734 E. Crescent Drive, Gainesville. We are here to give you the help you need.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293, His column appears weekly and on


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