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.
Success in 2020 looked very different for many, and despite the many cancellations and quarantines, Bleckley 4-H had a successful year. The year started strong with a visit to Denver, Colorado where our Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging Team competed in the National FCS Skill-A-Thon. The team worked together to place first in the LifeSkills group presentation component and fifth overall. After this, we had a successful Cloverleaf and Junior/Senior DPA season where we were awarded for most participants and highest percentage of placing. We had one scholarship winner, a Georgia EMC Photography contest winner, 3 Georgia 4-H Clovers and Company members, and nine youth qualify for State Congress.
After the shutdown, Bleckley County 4-H has had to change formats of basic programming in order to still achieve community outreach amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to do so, 4-H staff utilized zoom and YouTube. Zoom was used for virtual club meetings and state congress preparation, and YouTube was used for a five-week summer virtual program. The highlight of our summer was the summer virtual program where we reached 50 students in grades 3-6 through YouTube lessons and take-home S.T.E.M activity kits.
Bleckley 4-H started gearing backup by hosting a County Fall Frenzy in lieu of the Georgia National Fair. It was a very successful event with 138 entries. To end the year, the Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging team placed first at the district contest and third in the state competition. Based on 2020 successes despite a pandemic, we anticipate a successful year in 2021.
Bleckley County is a very diverse agricultural county, with farmers growing a wide variety of crops. However, cotton was once again the most widely planted crop, coming in at more than 11,000 acres in 2020. Realizing the importance of relevant and timely information on cotton, the Bleckley ANR agent, Cole Moon, addressed these issues by holding research trials in the county. One trial in 2020 focused on different seeding rates in cotton and another trial observed aphid population dynamics, aphid insecticide efficacy and cotton leafroll dwarf virus (CLRDV) incidence. CLRDV is a new virus affecting Georgia cotton, and the ANR agent played a role in conducting timely research alongside Dr. Phillip Roberts that will be used to inform growers across the state concerning this virus. Other programming included the continuation of the Bleckley County Ag Blog that is sent to more than 80 recipients.
Services to homeowners and citizens of Bleckley County include taking calls, visiting homes and participating in Career Day and agriculture field trips within the local school systems.
As the Southeast District Water Educator, David Hall covers a large area including parts of the Southwest, but spends a large portion of his time here in Bleckley County. Most notable is programming spent with the Bleckley County school system. In collaboration with Bleckley 4-H, Hall has taught students the importance of clean water and how it can become polluted from different sources. Other topics included a soil health presentation, career day and Ag day. Contacts were made with more than 1,500 kids.
Other programing included assisting the Bleckley ANR Agent, Cole Moon, with his field trials, Mobile Irrigation Labs and water sampling for county citizens as requested. David helps keep the 224 members of our Bleckley ANR Facebook page informed with many updates throughout the year also.
Bleckley County Extension doesn’t currently have a Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) agent. The Extension office works with surrounding county agents to provide programs on diabetes, high blood pressure prevention, canning, SafeServ® certification and cancer awareness. The Extension office makes the effort to assist local residents with their questions. Common questions are in regard to food safety, food preservation, mold and mildew management, healthy meal planning, family budgeting and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).