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:
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
The Sumter County 4-H program works collaboratively with the local school system and other community youth programs to provide programming in which youth and adults experience extraordinary learning. Members of 4-H grow and work together with adults to develop life skills through leadership programs, Project Achievement competitions, summer learning and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workshops, and specialty clubs.
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Commodity prices in 2016 were lower than in years past; therefore, it is imperative for growers to try to maximize their economic gain by harvesting a crop at optimal maturity. Sumter County’s chief economic driver is agriculture, and peanuts are one of the major driving forces of the county’s farm gate value, with approximately 50 percent of peanuts being grown for seed. In 2016 more than 14,000 acres of peanuts were planted in Sumter County. The value of a farmer’s peanuts is determined by the grade and the yield of the peanuts. It is critical to dig peanuts when optimal maturity is reached to maximize both the yield and grade of peanuts, which will result in maximum profits for producers. Sumter County’s UGA Extension office conducts maturity evaluations for peanut producers in the area to optimize the date to dig individual fields of peanuts, and the Extension agent assisted growers in making more than 300 harvest decisions in 2016. Producers take a representative sample – about 200 peanuts – from a field and bring them to the Extension office. The peanuts are then blasted using a pressure washer and turbo nozzle to remove the outer layer of the hull. The inner layer of the hull is then compared to a profile board to determine relative maturity with respect to days until optimum maturity. Research indicates that returns can be as much as $200 per acre higher with proper harvest timing, and research by scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service’s National Peanut Research Laboratory shows that digging three weeks too early or too late can result in a 20 percent reduction in yield potential. With an average yield of 4,800 pounds per acre, that could mean a potential loss of 960 pounds per acre. With 15,000 acres of peanuts in the county, that would be a loss of more than 14.4 million pounds. That is an estimated value of $2.9 million, or about $200 per acre, that could potentially be lost due to harvesting too early or too late.
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES
Family and Consumer Sciences Extension specialists, agents and staff assist in addressing real-world issues faced by Georgians of all ages. They provide the latest information and programs on obesity, chronic disease, food and financial insecurity, unhealthy housing, food safety and preservation, nutrition, and more. UGA Extension offers resources for parents, caregivers and others to help promote the positive development and safety of preschool, school-aged and adolescent youth. Extension professionals in this program area lead consumer economics trainings and programs such as ServSafe® certification, child care continuing-education courses, health and wellness classes, and financial literacy programming. Extension also promotes healthy lifestyles through statewide programs. Walk Georgia – a virtual, fitness-tracking resource – encourages increasing physical fitness and healthy lifestyles in order to improve the well-being of communities. Other health programs managed by UGA include the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). These classes teach families how to stretch their food dollars, eat healthier meals and snacks, and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.