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.
Peanut White Mold Disease Control
Bulloch County planted 23,933 acres to peanuts in 2020 and had a peanut farm gate value of $16,872,91 in 2019. The producers’ current best line of defense to combat white mold involves selection of more-resistant varieties and judicious use of fungicides. Peanut producers in Bulloch County battle the same diseases as do growers across the state. Leaf spot diseases and white mold require growers to use effective foliar-applied fungicide programs to reduce severity and increase yield.
The Bulloch County Agriculture and Natural Resources agent conducted a study in a white mold infected commercial field in Bulloch County. All production practices, to include fertility, weed control, insect management, and disease management were according to recommendations from UGA Extension. Eight different fungicide treatments were included in the demonstration trial. There is a direct negative linear relationship between yield and white mold. There was a 614-pound per acre yield difference between the highest and lowest yielding fungicide programs. The difference in yield was attributed to dryland conditions and white mold severity. This increase in yield applied to the acres planted to peanuts in 2020 totals $2,938,972 increase in profits for Bulloch County peanut producers.
Northeast and Southeast District Virtual 4-H Poultry Judging Contest
The COVID-19 pandemic halted all in-person youth development in-school and afterschool programs in March 2020. During the pandemic quarantine it was vitally important for youth to have a way to stay connected with their 4-H programs and peers. 4-H programming is driven by the essential elements of belonging, independence, generosity and mastery. To continue to provide these essential elements to our youth during a global crisis, 4-H programming had to adapt its delivery method to continue to meet the needs of youth in a positive way.
Amidst the pandemic quarantine, many county 4-H programs were preparing for district-level poultry judging contests, which were cancelled leaving county programs across the state without an option to compete at the district-level. This cancellation resulted in Cloverleaf and Junior 4-H’ers (grades 4-8) having no official contest planned for the year. 4-H programs across the state adapted their poultry judging practice and preparation delivery methods to include the use of digital technologies such as Google Classroom and Zoom in an effort to remain connected with youth.
In April 2020, conversations began about hosting an alternative district-level poultry judging contest. These conversations led to the formation of a cross-district effort to develop a contest for 4-H’ers in both the Northeast and Southeast districts of Georgia 4-H. Through collaborative efforts, Susannah Lanier and Carole Knight created a virtual poultry judging contest open to Northeast and Southeast district counties that included all aspects of the Georgia 4-H Poultry Judging contest. The goal in planning was for the virtual event was to mimic an in-person event as much as possible thus being a live, timed event with all classes included. Counties in Northeast and Southeast district were invited to register in advance of the June event. With this being the first competition of its kind in the state, team coaches attended an Orientation meeting prior to the event to view the format and better understand procedures. Competition organizers also selected 4-H professionals from the two districts to serve as oral reasons judges. On June 9, 2020, 47 youth from 10 counties competed in the first ever live virtual poultry judging contest through Georgia 4-H. Of that total, 24 participants were in grades 4-8 meaning this was their only opportunity to compete this year. Four 4-H professionals and volunteer coaches also participated in the event as oral reasons takers.
Based on feedback from participants, the contest maintained its competitive integrity and gave 4-H’ers the opportunity to exhibit their skill sets in a competitive format. Skills that 4-H’ers identified developing through Poultry Judging not only include knowledge about chickens and eggs but also how to compare and contrast, analyze, critically think and communicate. The impact of this event is best seen from the perspective of youth that participated. One 4-H’er said “virtual options should continue to be provided for those that can’t go to the live contest” and another was very thankful “for giving Junior 4-H’ers an opportunity to compete.”
On June 10, 2020, a virtual awards ceremony was held to recognize those individuals that placed in the top 10 individually and top 3 as teams. During this ceremony, competition organizers also reviewed each class with participants and coaches. At the conclusion of the virtual contest and awards ceremony it was clear that the initial goal of providing a way for 4-H to continue to reach youth in a positive way during a global pandemic was achieved. 4-H’ers were able to experience belonging, independence, generosity and mastery.
Due to the success of this contest in a live virtual format, organizers of the state-level Virtual Poultry Judging Contest adopted many of the best practices used to execute a similar event for Senior 4-H’ers (grades 9-12) across the state in July 2020.