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
Brooks County Extension is committed to meeting the needs of Brooks County commodity producers through field troubleshooting and research efforts. Annually, Brooks County Extension conducts approximately 15 to 20 research trials or projects to assist producers with agronomic production issues and challenges. In 2018, one of the applied research trials addressed disease control for one of Georgia’s favorite and most valuable crops, watermelon. Brooks County is home to approximately 254 acres of watermelons, a production level which equates to more than $1.5 million in farm-gate value, and annually places Brooks County in the top 19 counties for watermelon production in Georgia. However, each year watermelon producers in Brooks County and throughout Georgia face potential challenges with their disease management programs and profitability margins from the threat and development of Phytophthora fruit rot. To address this production challenge, Brooks County Extension collaborated with two of Brooks County’s watermelon producers to conduct both in-field and postharvest efficacy fungicide application research trials. Evaluations of several fungicide products and combination fungicide spray programs were assessed to determine the level of control provided against Phytophthora fruit rot. The results from the Brooks County Extension watermelon disease trial were analyzed and recommendations were prepared to provide the most effective fungicide options for suppression of Phytophthora fruit rot. The most recent recommendations, developed with contributions from Brooks County Extension research trials, were shared with watermelon producers throughout the Southeast U.S. at the annual Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Georgia.
Brooks County Extension supports the dairy industry throughout south Georgia. Brooks County is home to more than 11,000 commercial dairy cows, which equates to a farm-gate value of more than $34 million. In 2018, Brooks County Extension collaborated with University of Florida (UF) College of Veterinary Medicine and UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to form the Southeast Dairy Stewardship Program. This educational programming addresses milk quality on dairy farms, provides participants Confined Animal Feeding Operation credits and contributes toward National Dairy FARM program employee-training requirements. In addition, throughout the year, Brooks County Extension offers nutrient-management consultation to assist dairies with creating required nutrient-management plans.
4-H Youth Development
Brooks County Extension is dedicated to the education and growth of Brooks County youth. To meet this need and introduce 4-H to the youngest members of the community, a Brooks County Cloverbud 4-H Club was developed in 2014 to include kindergarten to fourth-grade students. The club began with five members, but has expanded to an enrollment of 25 students with an additional three new Brooks County 4-H volunteer leaders. Cloverbud educational classes include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), art, agriculture, citizenship and community-service lessons. Annually, Cloverbud members are provided the opportunity to participate in an educational summer field trip. Most recently, Cloverbud 4-H’ers have visited local farms, Challenger Learning Center and Flint RiverQuarium. Brooks County Extension is proud to provide early educational opportunities to children throughout the county to enhance growth, development and participation in Georgia 4-H throughout their school years.