Hayes dedicated to ag education

Published 5:07 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2016

By Kyle Dawson

Special to The Post-Searchlight

Lindsey Hayes’ two passions are agriculture and teaching children.

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As the Decatur County Extension Coordinator and the county’s 4-H agent for University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, she has the opportunity to pursue, and interweave, her passions.

“I really enjoy giving students opportunities they might not have had outside of 4-H,” Hayes said. “We have a big livestock program in which 4-H’ers exhibit cattle, sheep, goats and swine. We also have forestry, wildlife and livestock judging teams.”

Hayes also works one on one with fifth- through sixth-grade students in their science classrooms and with seventh- through 12th-grade students after school. 

One of the 4-H programs she works on with students is Project S.A.F.E, or Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education. Project S.A.F.E. was designed to increase character and personal growth in young people through involvement in shooting practices. The program aligns with Decatur County’s shotgun and archery teams.

One large event that Hayes organizes every year is an agriculture science field day at the end of each school year. Between 400 and 500 students attend the field day each spring.

“The field day is a culminating event for all of our fifth-graders where we promote agriculture in Decatur County,” Hayes said.

As county Extension coordinator, Hayes helps to organize Decatur County’s involvement in Georgia Ag Forecast, a series of seminars held every January that helps growers and industry workers prepare for the upcoming year.

Hayes, who is from Bainbridge, Georgia, attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College before transferring to Georgia Southern University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in political science.

After a stint working at Georgia Farm Bureau in Macon, Georgia, Hayes decided she really wanted to impact children’s lives.

“The two most important things to me are educating youth and agriculture,” Hayes said. “I want to make sure that youth, as well as adults, know the importance of food and fiber and where our food and fiber originate.”

Hayes, who has been an agent in Decatur County for nine years, says children look up to 4-H agents.

“My favorite part about being an agent is seeing the smile on a child’s face when they reach their goal or achieve something they didn’t think was possible,” Hayes said. “Agents can play a life-changing role in their students’ lives.”

Decatur County is ranked fourth in the state for total grower value, according to the 2014 Georgia Farm Gate Value Report. With over 1,000 4-H’ers in the county, Hayes hopes to keep young people informed and excited about agriculture to help Decatur County maintain this lofty ranking.

“Decatur County is one of the top agriculture-producing counties in the state of Georgia,” Hayes said. “We base the majority of our programming efforts on agricultural literacy to help them realize the necessity of agriculture not only for Decatur County, but globally.”

Kyle Dawson is an intern at the UGA Tifton Campus.