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:
EXTENSION EDUCATES INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURALISTS
Screven County’s diverse soil, weather and geographical conditions enable many diverse agricultural enterprises. Since 2012, the county has become home to a Swedish-owned dairy that milks 1,200 dairy cows using a 65-stall carousel. Two other agricultural enterprises were started by international farmers in the county: an 800-tree pecan orchard was planted by a farmer of Jordanian decent, and a group of Chinese farmers are now producing 20 acres of vegetables. Educational programs in pesticide certification and safety, soil sampling, and crop/irrigation management were provided. The dairy is generating $600,000 in gross milk sales. It has also increased the demand for locally grown corn silage. The pecan operation has adopted management practices such as drip irrigation and has implemented an integrated pest management program thanks to Extension programming. These orchard management practices have the potential to generate $120,000 per year in increased nut sales. The county Extension coordinator has educated the Chinese vegetable farmers on agricultural practices through a family-member interpreter, which allowed them to earn a pesticide license, receive equipment education and successfully install irrigation. The vegetables will be used in family-operated restaurants. This enterprise will generate an annual income of $1,000 per acre.
4-H STUDENTS DEVELOP EMPLOYMENT SKILLS
All across the nation, a large percentage of young people preparing to enter the workforce are significantly lacking in skills, such as teamwork, decision-making and communication, which will help them become effective employees and managers. According to the Junior Achievement USA organization, only 20 percent of young job hires are qualified for their new positions. This is especially true in Screven County, where there is an average 10 percent unemployment rate. Life skills are a comprehensive set of universal cognitive and experientially learned skills and abilities that connect behavior, attitudes and knowledge that youth can develop and retain throughout their lives. These life skills can increase young people’s well-being and help them develop into active and productive members of their communities. Because skills relevant to key growth sectors of the modern economy are often not covered in traditional education systems, it is important for organizations like 4-H to incorporate teaching methods and soft-skill development into their programs to help youth manage the transition from school to work. Screven County 4-H offers a program to fifth- through 12th-grade students that is fun, educational and builds on what students are already learning, while teaching them new skills. Screven County 4-H works to teach valuable life skills in a variety of ways: consumer and livestock judging, leadership development, fair competitions and Project Achievement. Each of these activities helps students learn about making consumer decisions, creating a plan of work, setting goals, developing and delivering verbal presentations, self-motivation, organizational skills, self-responsibility and time management. Over the last 12 years, more than 800 youth in Screven County have been directly involved in 4-H activities that teach life skills necessary for employment. The skills students learn through 4-H will carry them throughout life and will allow them to become more successful in the future.