Making A Difference in Our County
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples of Extension’s impact in the county over the past year.
4-H Youth Development
Bacon County 4-H empowers its members to make a difference in their club, community, country and world by providing many opportunities to engage in the community. The four H’s represented in the 4-H clover emblem symbolize the training of “Head, Heart, Hands and Health.” Many of the programs offered through Bacon County 4-H promote an environment for learning and teaching. Poultry judging instills knowledge on grading poultry products to U.S. Department of Agriculture standards. Bacon County 4-H’ers use their hearts and hands to impact the community around them. Whether it is spending time with elderly residents during programming during the fall carnival, Valentine’s Day and Easter or donating, decorating and packaging items to ship to a military unit overseas for Christmas, the 4-H’ers develop an understanding of the importance of giving back.
Consumer judging teaches 4-H’ers the importance of cotton as an agricultural commodity as well as how to become better consumers who compare products and think about purchases. 4-H’ers are taught nutritional value and MyPlate information during consumer judging and cooking competitions. With activities that vary from showing hogs to learning safe shooting techniques, from giving a speech to attending 4-H camp, 4-H’ers from Bacon County grow as individuals and increase their confidence, abilities, knowledge base and leadership skills. Over the years Bacon County 4-H has had several master-status 4-H'ers, Leadership in Action winners, Dean's Award winners and finalists, STEM ambassadors, Georgia 4-H Foundation scholarship winners, and National Youth in Action winners.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
In 2018, new agricultural technologies were focal points for both the Spring Integrated Pest Management Field Day and the Fall Equipment and Technology Field Day, bringing new tools like aerial imagery and soil moisture sensors directly to Georgia blueberry growers. The Bacon County Blueberry Research and Demonstration Farm provided field space and logistical support from Area Extension Agent for Commercial Blueberry Renee Allen, Grounds Foreman Shawn Thompson and the Bacon County Board of Commissioners for several projects on spotted wing drosophila research. There were even novel projects on soil and foliar probiotics with collaborator Rachel Itle, a UGA fruit-production and genetics scientist. This makes Bacon County a proactive center for applied blueberry research and allows growers to try out new technologies with a hands-on learning approach.
Other research projects conducted focused on the invasive species spotted wing drosophila, Exobasidium leaf and fruit spot disease and Botryosphaeria crown blight. The largest blueberry production meeting in the state is hosted in Bacon County, with more than 200 blueberry growers and industry representatives at the annual blueberry update each January. Research and educational meetings with Bacon County growers are improving our management and production practices to make a better quality blueberry.