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
Horse club, horse show and horse quiz bowl are only a handful of the many equine activities that Banks County 4-H offers youth. However, there are several major barriers that prevent some interested youths from participating in equine activities. A lack of money, not owning a horse and not having knowledge about horses was more than enough to discourage many Banks County youths from participating in 4-H
Banks County Extension Agent Lauren Morris and Grove River Ranch Owner CJ Farmer felt there was a need to increase participation in Banks County 4-H equine activities, so the two organizations worked together to revamp the Banks County 4-H Horse Club by addressing the various barriers that prevented growth in the program.
To make the program more accessible to all youths, the Banks County 4-H Club provided horse club scholarships to youth who requested them. CJ Farmer provided lesson horses to all horse club riders to help those youths who did not own their own horses. Lauren Morris provided hands-on learning about horse safety and helped each horse club member complete equine lessons in the “Georgia 4-H Horse Project – The Novice Horseman” to increase members’ knowledge about horses. Banks County 4-H Horse Club held 10 meetings from September 2017 through May 2018 with 24 members, four horse-club teen leaders, three volunteers and three Banks County 4-H staff.
The Banks County 4-H Horse Club increased its membership from six members in 2016-2017 to 24 members in 2017-2018. The increase of 18 students in a single year is a testament that working to overcome common barriers in 4-H horse programs is well worth the effort.
Agricultural and Natural Resources
Banks County’s cattle, hay and forage crop has a gross farm-gate income of more than $10 million, ranking second only to poultry ($255.4 million) in farm-gate income for the county. The county agent — working with local livestock associations and agricultural producers throughout the county — identified key factors in successful cattle operations. Feed efficiency, nutrition and supplemental feeding, economics, hay harvest and storage, and vaccination programs were among the subjects targeted. Monthly production meetings were set up to address these issues.
Banks County is a rural, agricultural community which has a large presence on Interstate 85 for retail sales. With the potential for a shift toward nonagrarian populations in the county, it is imperative that this segment of the population be educated on the benefits of agriculture, in terms of both the economy and community enhancement. The county agent, working with the agricultural awards committee, set up an agriculture tour highlighting the various agricultural entities that have a major economic impact on the county. The tour had 40 attendees consisting of elected officials, community leaders, civic club representatives and business owners outside of the agriculture industry, highlighting a second-generation family egg farm that produces, packs and distributes eggs for grocery and food-service customers throughout the Southeast U.S. Their operation is supported by 1.7 million egg-laying hens. Another tour highlighted a family farm that has been in operation for more than 100 years. They produce and sell fruits and vegetables, operate two produce and fresh-fruit stores, and offer meeting facilities as well as an agritourism operation