Under the new system, every county will have access to a 4-H program. Most counties will have a county Extension office where residents can go for help. Support varies by tier.

Tier 1 counties include Chattahoochee and Taliaferro. These counties will have no local Extension office but will have a basic 4-H program offered in the school system through an employee supervised by an agent in another county.

Tier 2 counties include Brantley, Charlton, Clay, Crawford, Dade, Hancock, Heard, Long, Pickens, Quitman, Talbot, Towns, Twiggs and Wilkinson. These counties will have a core 4-H program and a county Extension office with an office manager to help residents access diagnostic services (soil, water and forage samples) and Extension resources. A county extension coordinator from another county will serve as administrator. Agents will be assigned as resources but will not generally offer programs or make client visits.

Tier 3 counties include Atkinson, Clinch, Dawson, Fannin, Franklin, Glascock, Jones, Lincoln, Pike, Marion, Meriwether, Rabun, Schley, Stewart, Taylor, Webster and White. These counties will have a core 4-H program, a county office staffed with an office manager and a shared agent from a surrounding county who spends time in the office.

Tier 4 counties include Baker, Baldwin, Barrow, Ben Hill, Brooks, Bryan, Butts, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cook, Dooly, Echols, Emanuel, Greene, Haralson, Harris, Irwin, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Lamar, Lee, Liberty, McIntosh, Macon, Miller, Montgomery, Murray, Newton, Peach, Polk, Terrell, Treutlen, Troup, Upson, Warren, Wilcox and Worth. These counties will have a 4-H program, a county office with a secretary, one county-based agent who may be agriculture, family and consumer science, 4-H or split between these program areas.

Tier 5 counties include Bacon, Banks, Bartow, Berrien, Bleckley, Calhoun, Camden, Candler, Carroll, Cherokee, Clarke, Columbia, Coweta, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Douglas, Early, Effingham, Evans, Fayette, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Grady, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Jasper, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Lumpkin, McDuffie, Madison, Mitchell, Monroe, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Paulding, Pierce, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Screven, Seminole, Spalding, Stephens, Tattnall, Telfair, Thomas, Toombs, Turner, Union, Walker, Walton, Ware, Wayne, Wheeler, Whitfield and Wilkes. These counties will have a 4-H program, a county office staffed with at least one support position and two or more agents — one a county coordinator — to provide educational programs.

Tier 6 counties include Appling, Bibb, Bulloch, Burke, Chatham, Clayton, Cobb, Coffee, Colquitt, DeKalb, Dougherty, Elbert, Forsyth, Fulton, Glynn, Gwinnett, Henry, Houston, Laurens, Muscogee, Richmond, Rockdale, Tift, Sumter and Washington. These counties will have a full-time coordinator with multiple agents.

The tier rankings were determined by district Extension leadership teams, Sparks said. Under the new tier system, 126 Georgia counties are classified in Tiers 4-6, which means they will have county offices, agents and 4-H programs.

“I think our stakeholders understand the very difficult situation we’re dealing with, with the state budget, and I think they understand that we have very limited resources,” Sparks said. “Now if you’re in one of those Tier 1, 2 or 3 counties you may not be as pleased with us as if you’re in a Tier 4, 5 or 6 county. But, again, I think this plan is flexible and allows us, as resources return, to build back and bring those 1, 2 and 3 tiers up to a higher tier.”