Making A Difference in Our County
We're working hard for the citizens we serve. Here are some examples of successful projects from the past year:
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Agriculture pays approximately a quarter of the total Ben Hill County tax base, making it a significant contributor to all services produced for Ben Hill’s citizenry. Ben Hill County is proud of its agricultural strength, diversity and history of excellent producers. UGA Extension offers lifelong learning through unbiased, research-based education, helping producers maximize profits and production while being good stewards of land and the environment. Production meetings are a major source of information to agricultural producers in Ben Hill County. Through commodity-specific production meetings, producers learn about new technologies and recommendations for the coming year. Extension works with area farmers on crop disease control and prevention. Ben Hill Extension agents can identify agricultural problems at an early stage, which can make a difference between profit and loss. In 2016, bacterial boll rot was identified in many farmers’ cotton fields. Before 2015, farmers had little to no experience dealing with bacterial boll rot in Ben Hill County. There is no chemical control for the disease. Prevention methods such as burying infected residue and planting a resistant variety help growers protect their crop. In 2016, Ben Hill County’s Holly Anderson, UGA Extension agent, performed an evaluation to help growers see the progression of the disease from infestation to harvest on bolls. At harvest, 50 percent of the bolls affected by bacterial boll rot had partial hard lock. On the bolls that experienced partial hard lock, up to 25 percent of lint was lost. More research will be done to find more ways to help control and manage cotton problems.
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
The Ben Hill County 4-H program, led by 4-H Extension agent Jeri Lynn Gilleland, provides an active and ongoing framework of activities, service projects, trips, guidance and encouragement that allows 4-H members to have experiences they would not otherwise have in rural south Georgia. The goal of 4-H is to develop the youth’s citizenship, leadership and life skills largely through experiential learning. Active Ben Hill County 4-H members are involved in extensive leadership and citizenship activities that give them a good foundation of strong leadership and citizenship skills that will help them become productive, civic-minded adults in their communities. These skills are ingrained in students through numerous opportunities to lead. In the past year, five Ben Hill County youths served as either state or district 4-H officers, including the state president, and over 90 additional students experienced leadership positions by holding office in their classroom 4-H club or at county council meetings. Leadership skills are valued and respected on college and scholarship applications as well as in the workplace. Most major employers list “leadership” in their top 10 skills critical to success, yet they see this skill as lacking even in college graduates. Leadership involves a set of skills that can be learned through practice and training. Ben Hill County 4-H is providing leading opportunities that few youth have the opportunity to sufficiently practice.University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples of our impact in the county over the past year.