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
The Berrien County 4-H S.A.F.E. modified trap team was in a bind. By adding a Junior program along with the recruitment of additional coaches the team's participation has increased resulting in recognition as well as program infrastructure and sustainability.
The Berrien County 4-H S.A.F.E. modified trap team was in a bind. In 2009, the team was down to 6 shooters and one coach. As the senior team members were graduating high school, the program was being left with depleted numbers. Seeking volunteers to aid in programming would build capacity enabling 4-H to reach more middle and high school students not already involved in 4-H programming efforts.
The 4-H Agent called a meeting with the modified trap team coaching staff. The meeting discussed ways to increase participation. A possible solution discussed during this meeting was the addition of a Junior (7th- 8th grade) modified trap team. By adding a new team, additional volunteer leader support was needed. Agent and coaches identified volunteers to aid in this program expansion. Shooter and parent orientation meetings were held to promote the junior team and discuss interest. As a result, the first junior team was founded and implemented.
This expansion offered more students opportunities to participate and learn. From 2011 to 2022 the program has grown from just 6 youth and 3 volunteers to 38 youth and 8 volunteers. Since 2014 Berrien County 4-H has averaged 28 shooters a year. Over 100 different youth have participated as a member of the Berrien County 4-H Modified Trap Team since 2011.
With participation increasing additional coaches were needed. Youth and adult partnerships along with volunteerism are strong components for positive youth development. Seven additional coaches have been trained since 2014. In any given year an individual coach averages 70 volunteer hours through a variety of S.A.F.E. modified trap team roles (instructor, driver, fundraising, meetings, etc.). Since 2011 over 2900 hours have been served by volunteers valued at ($29 per hour) over $85,000.
Additional funding was needed as the program expanded. Since 2014, nearly $70,000 has been raised to supply, equip, expand, and improve the overall program for youth. These funds were raised through raffles, t-shirt fundraisers, registration fees, sponsorships, and community support. Also, grant funds totaling over $12,000 were secured from two organizations.
The team’s infrastructure has improved as well. Funds have been utilized to purchase two additional throwers, allowing more practice opportunities to better prepare shooters. A shelter was donated and installed with help from a local contractor and volunteer coaches’ manpower. A concrete pad was poured for the shelter as well as concrete shooting stations for better footing for participants.
Youth have excelled in the program. Additional coaches are able to better instruct team members with more one-on-one instruction. Over 75% of team members qualify for state each year. On multiple occasions, Berrien County shooters have earned individual and team awards. Individuals have places 5th, 2nd and 1st at the state match. The junior and senior teams have placed in the top 5 various years with both the Senior and Junior team placing as high as 2nd place overall.
4-H is based on a positive youth development (PYD) approach that recognizes all youth have interests, abilities, and strengths that can be enhanced by participation in programming. Research shows that participation in high quality 4-H programs increases thriving in youth, and thriving youth achieve important developmental outcomes, such as social competence, connection with others, and academic/vocational success.
Berrien County 4-H Modified Trap is a high-quality program as it has aided students away from the shooting range. One past participant indicated that he grew more confident throughout his participation. He says that shooting helped him to learn to make friends outside of his initial friend group, and to build stronger relationships with adults including most importantly his step-father. He also stated that he was able to set goals with the team and learned to work towards those goals. Earning a spot at state competition was a goal set and achieved with help from coaches that served him above and beyond. He currently uses the life skills learned through modified trap serving in the U.S. Air Force.
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
In 2021 Berrien County Extension cooperated with Atkinson County Extension to implement an on-farm peanut fungicide trial, wherein 6 different programs were evaluated for yield and disease incidence. The yield difference between the highest yielding and lowest yielding programs was 841 pounds an acre. Assuming a price point of $0.20 a pound, this difference comes out to $168.20 an acre.
Berrien County is a large row crop county in south central Georgia. One of the main row crops grown in Berrien County is peanuts. According to the latest Georgia Farm Gate Report, Berrien County grew approximately 25,000 acres of peanuts in 2020, with an estimated value of $22 million. This makes Berrien County one of the top ten peanut producing counties in Georgia. One of the main challenges peanut growers face annually is disease management. There are several diseases that affect peanuts, but two in particular can be very problematic, white mold and leaf spot. There are several fungicides marketed for control of these diseases, which makes field evaluations of promoted products critical for productive and successful grower selection.
Berrien County Extension worked with Atkinson County Extension in setting up an on-farm trial comparing and evaluating six different fungicide programs in an irrigated peanut field. These programs were developed through industry guidelines as well as UGA recommendations. Companies represented in the trial were: Bayer CropScience, FMC, Valent, Nichino, Sipcam Agro and Syngenta. The Extension Agents cooperated with UGA Plant Pathologist Dr. Bob Kemerait in getting both white mold and leaf spot ratings for each program. Additionally, yield data was taken at the completion of the trial.
The results of the trial showed that the Syngenta fungicide program had the highest efficacy rating for white mold while the Bayer program had the least effective control. Additionally, the Bayer and Nichino programs had the highest leaf spot efficacy rating, while the Syngenta program demonstrated least amount of leaf spot disease control. Regarding yield, the Syngenta program had the highest with 6,610 pounds an acre and the Nichino program had the lowest at 5,769 pounds, a difference of 841 pounds per acre. At a price point of $0.20 a pound, this difference in yield, when using the higher yielding program, would generate a potential increase in income of $168.20 an acre for peanut producers. Extrapolated to county wide peanut acreage of 25,000, this has the potential cost savings of over $4 million.