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
In August, Polk and Haralson counties’ forage producers faced an “Armageddon-type outbreak” of armyworms, as described by UGA entomologist David Buntin. Ricky Ensley, Polk County Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent, initiated a public information campaign using phone calls, on-site farm visits and newspaper articles to inform producers about the identification and control of fall armyworms in forage crops. The agent also gave an educational update at two Polk County Cattlemen’s Association meetings. Producers were educated in integrated pest management strategies to help them decide the best course of action, such as pesticide application or hay harvest. The agent worked with 20 producers on the identification and control of fall armyworms in their forage crops. Some of these producers had to control two or more generations of armyworms on their forages. Due to the agent’s educational efforts, the producers were able to scout their forages for the presence of armyworms. These producers made informed control recommendations, thereby minimizing damage to at least 500 acres of forage crops in Polk County. Those 500 acres of forage crops yielded about 2.7 tons of hay valued at $135,000. In 2016, the UGA Extension Polk County ANR agent made 41 site visits, reaching 2,396 citizens in Polk County. Forty-six ANR-related articles were written for an average audience of 14,064.
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
There are 780 youth enrolled in Polk County 4-H. Our 4-H staff conducted 30 monthly meetings, focusing on water, healthy living and healthy lifestyles. Polk County 4-H’ers gave 566 hours of service to the Polk County community. Polk County volunteers donated 876 hours, valued at over $10,512. Polk County 4-H’ers competed in District Project Achievement (DPA), which encourages youth to present demonstrations to a group of their peers and judges. They also complete a portfolio, much like a resume. Participating in the competition helps them to develop research, writing and presentation skills that also help them to perform better on school-related tasks and tests, and to become self-directed learners and work-ready young adults. Polk County had 44 4-H’ers compete at DPA. Two 4-H’ers – Zoey Myrick and Shannon Williams – placed second and third, respectively, at State 4-H Congress. Twenty-six 4-H’ers increased their knowledge and developed critical-thinking and oral presentation skills by participating on cotton boll and consumer judging, and poultry judging teams. The shooting sports program, Project S.A.F.E. (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education), allows 4-H youth the experience of solving problems and meeting challenges that develop their self-confidence. Polk County 4-H offers a BB team for youth ages 9 to 12. The Project S.A.F.E. BB gun team had 13 members compete at the state contest. Twenty-four sophomores from Cedartown and Rockmart high schools participated in Polk County’s Polk Youth Leadership program. They attended sessions on understanding leadership, communicating effectively, appreciating differences and planning for their academic futures. Polk County 4-H’ers are striving “to make the best better.”