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
Animal agriculture, specifically cattle production, is a male-dominated industry. According to statistics from the 2014 U.S. Bureau of Labor report, 76 percent of those who identified as farmers or ranchers were male. It is not from lack of skill that women are not more prevalent in the industry, but perhaps lack of confidence. To address this issue, the Agriculture and Natural Resources agents from Dade and Morgan counties collaborated with an Extension specialist to develop the Southern Women in Agriculture workshops to be held throughout the state. These trainings were designed to give women interested or involved in agriculture the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with basic agricultural techniques and skills in a stress-free, all-female environment. The increased confidence gained in these workshops is intended to result in an increased involvement in agriculture by the participants. Participants travelled from 31 counties around the state of Georgia, including Dade County, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee to attend the trainings. After attending a workshop, one participant shared, “My experience in the Women in Ag program gave me the confidence I needed ... The first time my husband was gone for the day, I jumped on the tractor, hooked up the hay fork, brought in and stacked all the round bales of hay out of the field. My husband still thinks I had someone else bring the rolls in!”
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Dade County 4-H serves 300 fourth- through 12th-grade youth in the community, offering an agriscience curriculum, judging teams, activity clubs, Project S.A.F.E. (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) shooting sports, summer camp and public speaking opportunities. While Dade County is rural, the majority of its citizens are several generations removed from agriculture. According to the Census of Agriculture, the number of farms in the county decreased from 266 in 2007 to 192 in 2012. This trend is also supported by 4-H enrollment data, as the number of 4-H’ers who report living on a farm has decreased from 25 in 2012 to 15 in 2017. In an effort to increase agricultural awareness, the Extension office hosted two events, Ag Day and the Dade County Family Agricultural Fair, and began offering a Gardening Club opportunity to 4-H’ers. Ag Day consistently reaches 300 pre-K, second- and fourth-grade students in the local elementary schools each May. The Dade County Family Agricultural Fair is held in the fall and encourages family participation. Approximately 120 community members visited the fair in 2016. Participants to both events visited community exhibits and learned about yarn, looming, honeybees and vegetable seeds. They also had a chance to pet goats and lambs, hold a baby possum and witness a chicken navigate an obstacle course. When asked her favorite part of the fair, one youth replied, “Seeing the chicken (obstacle) course, that was neat. I didn’t know chickens could do that!” The Gardening Club is one of the activity clubs that meet monthly. Its focus is on the seasonal planting and maintenance of the 4-H raised bed, which is part of the Farm-to-School program. These 4-H’ers have learned how to start and transplant seeds, weed the bed and harvest the vegetables. They have also taken charge of renovating the flower bed at the Extension office.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.