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
Agriculture accounts for approximately a quarter of Ben Hill County’s tax base, making it a significant contributor to all services produced for its citizens. Ben Hill County is proud of its agricultural strength, diversity and history of excellent producers.
University of Georgia Extension extends lifelong learning through unbiased, research-based education, helping producers maximize profits and production while being good stewards of land and the environment. Production meetings are a major resource for agricultural programming in Ben Hill County. Through commodity-specific production meetings, producers learn about new technologies and recommendations for the coming year.
Water conservation and crop water use is a topic of concern with Ben Hill farmers, especially during a hot, dry season like 2019. During the 2019 growing season, trials were conducted across the state in peanuts, cotton and corn, to look at crop water use and soil moisture. A Ben Hill county farmer was involved in these trials to help determine the best time to water based on soil moisture and crop demand. Water sensors were used during the season to learn which sensors worked and which ones maximized yield while minimizing water usage.
Ben Hill County Extension also helps producers with planting and replanting decision-making.
The 2019 cotton season started out dry and hot. Stand issues became prevalent due to lack of water and extreme heat at planting time. County Agricultural and Natural Resources Extension Agent Holly Anderson helped farmers perform stand counts in fields to determine the profitability of replanting the field. Producers were able to make more informed decisions to help maximize profit and yield by having stand count numbers analyzed.
4-H Youth Development
Ben Hill County 4-H puts a strong emphasis on providing opportunities and experiences to develop leadership skills. One of the best ways to do this is through Ben Hill County’s Summer Day Camp program which is attended by rising fifth through seventh graders. 4-H teen leaders, who are rising eighth through 12th graders, receive valuable leadership experience by leading classes and activities.
Teen leaders are involved in event planning and teach classes that coordinate with their project work. They prepare the classes and lead games, sports and crafts. For the past six years, the program has run similarly to camp at Rock Eagle. At Ben Hill’s Summer Day Camp, campers are divided into three groups, each led by a teen leader counselor. Teen leaders are responsible for decorating their group’s area for the camp. There is competition among the groups and winners at the end of the three-day event get a small prize, along with bragging rights. The teen leaders not only enjoy it, but learn a lot about working with younger campers and taking responsibility. The head teen leader for each group learns how to delegate and gains experience in leading peers. In addition, the camp creates a desire in the campers to be active in 4-H work and activities.
This past summer, Ben Hill County had five of their former 4-H members, now college students, selected to serve as counselors in the Georgia Camping program. Only one other county had as many camp counselors as Ben Hill. The counselors all agree county teen-leader experiences played a role in their abilities to confidently step into the state camp counselor program.