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:
The Concrete Cowboys are a group of teenagers who live in west Philadelphia and ride horses under the direction of a volunteer. The program helps teenagers master skills, gives them a sense of belonging and fosters independence. The concern is that they lack some of the basic items needed to ride and care for the horses. Thomas County 4-H members joined in and assisted the program with a tack drive. To date, we have had two saddles donated as well as a huge selection of other tack and horse care items valued at over $3,000. For our Thomas County 4-H’ers, this has been a great lesson on generosity and a unique opportunity to practice service for others. The leader of the Concrete Cowboys is playing a vital role in his community by assisting at-risk teenagers through his equine program. In addition to providing experiences for these young people to develop life skills and build confidence, riding horses helps to build independence and leadership. For our 4-H’ers, the impact was about awareness of the needs of others. Of the 4-H members participating, a survey indicated that as a result of participating in this project, 100 percent were more aware of community needs, more likely to participate in future community service projects and more likely to encourage friends to participate.
FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE PROGRAMMING
Thomas County has over 200,000 acres of forestland. County landowners manage their forests for both timber production and wildlife. Private consultants largely meet forestry needs, but there has been a need for Extension research and knowledge in Thomas County’s landowner clientele. Thomas County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent Andrew Sawyer worked with Extension specialists based in UGA’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Department of Agriculture biologists to implement an annual Forestry and Wildlife Program and field day for Thomas County’s landowner clientele. The Forestry and Wildlife Program began in 2014 with 28 attendees. Landowners received information from UGA specialists concerning forestry insect and weed management, thinning and production, and access roads. The need for a wildlife component to the program was expressed. In 2015, Sawyer found an outside sponsor and new location for the annual meeting. Greenwood Plantation has some of the oldest virgin pine in the U.S. and follows a single-tree selection management style, which UGA specialists discussed as an option for Thomas County landowners. Information was presented to 65 attendees representing 122,000 acres of forestland. The 2016 program covered management of damaged trees due to Hurricane Hermine as well as beaver management and bamboo control on Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomas County. The Thomas County Extension office has reached 148 attendees from three states representing over 220,000 acres of forestland through its annual Forestry and Wildlife Program.