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.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
The 2018 cotton crop was in good shape when harvest season began, and it was looking to be a great year, but few south Georgia farmers were prepared for the devastation that would soon be caused by Hurricane Michael. As early warnings of a major storm approaching spread across the area, UGA Extension specialists and agents across the state devised a plan to measure crop losses.
Just days before the storm hit, agents went to fields in different stages of growth and cut all cotton out of a 10-foot row. The samples were bundled and the areas were marked. After the storm hit, agents went to the same area and cut out the next 10-foot row. Samples were sent to Tifton, Georgia, where the cotton was handpicked and weighed for yield loss.
More than 50 areas in 20 counties were sampled to gather accurate yield loss data. This was the first time samples were collected before and after a major storm. Cotton was the only crop for which data was collected.
Ben Hill County Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent Holly Anderson pulled four samples in Ben Hill County for the yield loss survey. Cotton losses were 600 to 1000 pounds of cotton lint per acre. The percent loss ranged from 37 percent to 61 percent in the four sample areas. Loss was variable depending on the age of the cotton and the area of the county where it was grown.
4-H Youth Development
Georgia 4-H programming is all about teaching youth to make wise choices. Having the skills to make good decisions is especially valuable when youth are faced with difficult life situations. One of the best ways 4-H’ers learn the art of making informed, wise choices is through judging team experiences. Multiple research studies indicate that judging team experience is highly influential in the development of life skills such as decision-making, communication, public speaking, self-confidence and responsibility.
In 2018, Ben Hill County 4-H had 18 students on the consumer judging team and 20 students on the poultry judging team. Over the past decade, Ben Hill County 4-H has had 248 competitors in area consumer or poultry judging competitions.
4-H’ers made considerable progress in their mastery of soft skills by participating in judging teams, as evidenced by their success at 2018 judging events. The senior poultry judging team brought home the national championship title after placing first at area and state competitions. The junior poultry judging team placed second in the area competition. In consumer judging, both the senior and junior teams won in the area competition, and the senior team placed third at the state competition.
The competitive spirit of judging contests inspires these youth to give their best efforts in judging competitions and in other life endeavors, as well. The unique experience of judging team participation has also been shown to cultivate a desire for lifelong learning.