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.
Bleckley 4-H had an incredibly successful 2022. We welcomed both a new Agent, Alena Owen, and Program Assistant, Chasity Goss to our county team this year. The year started strong with 55 students competing in Cloverleaf and JR/SR Southeast District Project Achievement. We were awarded for the highest percentage of placing in Senior project areas. We also had two collegiate scholarship winners, three Georgia 4-H Clovers and Company members, and ten youth qualify for State Congress.
Summer programming engaged over 75 youth with both local programs and overnight 4-H Camps at Fortson, Jekyll, and Wahsega 4-H Centers. Local summer day camps this past year involved trips to Urban Air Adventure Park, Splash in the Boro, Go Fish Education Center, the Museum of Aviation, and STEM activities at the Extension office.
Bleckley 4-H once again received the Superior Performance award at the Georgia National Fair for the 23rd consecutive year. It was a very successful event with 165 entries. To end the year, we also had one student selected as one of six Georgia 4-H’ers for the 2023 National 4-H Conference. We are so proud of our 4-H’ers and anticipate a successful year in 2023.
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 just shy of 12,000 acres in 2022. Realizing the importance of relevant and timely information on cotton, the Bleckley ANR agent, Cole Moon, addressed these issues by collaborating with local growers and UGA specialists to hold research trials in the county. Cotton trials in 2022 focused on the optimization of seeding rates, the effects of foliar-applied potassium, and the effects of mixing select varieties. All trials are performed in order to help growers maximize yield, quality, and ultimately, profitability on their farms. Other programming included the continuation of the Bleckley County Ag Blog that is sent to more than 80 recipients, as well as the first Bleckley County Ag Research Field Day. At this event, local growers along with local, state, and federal elected officials visited the some of the aforementioned trials with the ANR agent for an in-person experience. The ANR agent and the UGA Cotton Specialist, Camp Hand, explained the trials as well as some issues farmers are facing.
Services to homeowners and citizens of Bleckley County include taking calls, visiting homes and participating in Career Day, Farm Day, and agriculture field trips within the local school systems.
As the Southeast District Water Educator, David Hall covers all of the Southeast corner of the State and also some programing in parts of the Southwest, but spends a large portion of his time here in Bleckley County. Most notable is the 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 800 kids.
Other programing included assisting the Bleckley ANR Agent, Cole Moon, with his field trials and production meetings, conducting Mobile Irrigation Labs, Rotary Club presentation and water sampling for county citizens as requested. David helps keep the increasing Bleckley County ANR Facebook page up to date for its 418 members.
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).