(Michele Melton is the extension’s family and consumer sciences agent.)
Farewell, loyal readers
After six wonderful years of working with UGA-Forsyth County Extension, the time has come for me to move on to another opportunity.
It was not an easy decision to leave my post as your family and consumer sciences agent, but in the end I think we all know that it’s often the hard decisions that turn out to be the most important.
When I started with Extension, I was tasked with assessing the needs of our county and responding to those concerns with research-based educational programs. Though that may not sound very exciting or glamorous, I sure have had fun doing it.
I started out not knowing a single thing about canning; I used to be absolutely terrified when the phone would ring at my office because I just knew it was going to be someone with a green bean or vegetable soup crisis.
I took training after training from our state specialists and studied all I could get my hands on regarding food preservation. Now I can teach it in my sleep. In fact, I’m embarrassed to admit, oftentimes it does find its way into my dreams during the busy summer season.
I learned along the way that in this internet-savvy world saturated with information overload, there was a lot of interest in our community for evidence-based recommendations about healthy eating and weight loss.
With that request came my Walk-a-Weigh classes, at which I had the pleasure of walking alongside over 150 participants as they journeyed down the road to better eating and healthier weights.
Hundreds of pounds were shed, blood pressures improved and, most importantly, healthier lifestyles were adopted that will hopefully contribute to longer, more fulfilling lives.
Inevitably I run into one of these participants on the rare night my family chooses to visit a not-so-healthy food establishment.
But we always greet each other with a smile and justify our visits with stories of exercise from the day before and the mantra of all things in moderation.
One of the parts of this job that I loved the most was that no two days were the same.
I might be talking to preschoolers about hand washing one day, a civic club about nutrition the next, and manning a booth for seniors about home safety by the end of the week.
The variety kept me energized and encouraged. And it didn’t hurt that on a pretty regular basis I got to channel my inner game show host as many of the presentations I created were based on TV programs such as “The Price is Right,” “Jeopardy” and “Family Feud.”
I want to say a special thank you to those of you who came to a presentation thinking you were going to sit and listen only to be drawn out of the hat to be a “contestant.”
You humored me — and the rest of the audience — as I tried to keep education entertaining. Again, thank you.
In reflecting back on my time with Extension, I am most thankful for all that you have taught me in my attempts to teach you.
No matter how much I think I know, there’s always more to learn on a topic.
And just when I thought I couldn’t handle doing one more presentation, someone would send me a note on how his or her attendance at a class truly changed their life for the better.
The mission of UGA Extension is to extend lifelong learning to Georgia residents through research-based education.
I believe in this mission, and will be eternally grateful for the opportunity I had to help make it a reality in Forsyth County.
As the search for my replacement begins, my one request is that you will be as patient, welcoming and encouraging to whomever steps into this role as you were with me.
Again, thank you for all the support you’ve given me and Family and Consumer Sciences Extension in the past six years. This job will always hold a special place in my heart.
Note: I’ve got one week to go, so if you have any lingering questions or still need that dial pressure gauge checked, you’ve got until Friday.