I am sure you have heard that the legislatures have asked that the Board of Regents cut $300 million dollars from their budget. Monday, UGA was "ordered" to cut $58-60 million from their particular budget in a very short period of time. Actually, in just a few hours.
The University is not happy with their position, but the proposal includes an $11.6 million cut from Extension. Although Extension is only 7.6 percent of UGA, this program is targeted to take 20 percent of the total UGA cut. This will result in the closing half of the County Extension Offices in Georgia, terminating the entire 4-H program, along with all 4-H Camps, including Rock Eagle. If this stands, Extension is taking the brunt of the cut for the whole university.
Statewide county funding of Extension (what counties contribute for their local Extension office) is $25 million. Closing half of the offices would be a loss of $12.5 million. This is more in losses than the state would be saving by ordering these closures. In addition, many of the programs are funded by grants. For every $1 of state money spent, $9 is leveraged from other funding.
This would be a devastating cut for the State and the people of Georgia. Not only has 4-H impacted most everyone who has attended school in Georgia, the Georgia 4-H Program is considered "the best in the world." The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences supports and promotes research for Georgia’s farmers, youth development and offers programming in all area of Family and Consumer Sciences. The impact of this college is immeasurable. Although honest efforts are made to record the numbers of people we serve, we are sure that we reach more than we will ever know.
I am pleading with you to help save our program. We need advocates to share these points with our elected officials. Southeast Georgia will be hard hit: two 4-H camps, Bamboo Farm & Coastal Gardens, Skidaway and Marine Extension programs, Vidalia Onion & Vegetable Research Center, and Archway in Glynn County. You are aware of what Extension and 4-H means to the people of Bryan County. Imagine the youth that will not be offered the opportunities 4-H has offered many of you.
I would like to share a website that will offer more detailed information: www.usg.edu/fiscal_affairs/documents.summary_of_reductions.pdf . This plan will have devasting implications for our Extension programs. Realize this is the beginning of a process. We must act quickly. If you know someone that could support us in Atlanta (senators, legislators, representatives, lobbyists), please let them know how this would affect the county. Again, UGA is not happy with this position. They only did what was ordered of them. We simply need to let those that make decisions for the state aware of the wants and needs of the people who elected them. We will keep you informed on our website, as well (www.bryanextension.org). If you want to share information, suggestions, comments, or have questions,
Please continue to support the Bryan County Extension Office and 4-H. As always, we are here to serve as needed.
Davis is Bryan County Extension agent and head of 4-H programs.