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
The Cherokee County Extension Agriculture Agent worked collaboratively with Extension Agents in neighboring counties, and local farms to build the capacity of 53 individuals through home fruit production related trainings.
Home fruit and vegetable gardening is foundational to Extension’s role in communities across Georgia. Since 2016 the Cherokee County Extension office averages 500-600 soil samples annually. The single largest category (35%) for samples, is home fruit or vegetable planting.
Fruit gardening is often more challenging for hobbyists and homeowners. The perennial nature of the plants require sound decisions be made prior to planting and maintenance be performed throughout the life of the plants. A knowledge gap exists in critical elements such as variety selection, pruning, and pest management.
Cherokee County Extension Agriculture Agent, organized and presented field days in Cherokee County and Walker County. These field day trainings included a half day of theory on variety selection, site considerations and pest management. The second half of the training was hands on with stations on pruning, spray equipment and safety, and pest identification. Fifty-three individuals attended these two field days from six counties. International Society of Aboriculture (ISA) recognized the training with 5 continuing education credit hours with five individuals participating receiving credits.
4-H AND YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
All face to face 4-H summer programming was canceled due to the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). This meant that Cherokee County staff were faced with the challenge of delivering youth development programs and opportunities at a distance or in a virtual format. Cherokee County 4-H addressed the needs of our 4-H’ers through a series of independent hands on summer activities.
Cherokee county 4-H staff were tasked with finding creative ways to implement virtual learning and hands-on summer activities. Starting in June 4-H staff offered a variety of “summer survival” activities for youth. Summer survival activities included a pantry recipe challenge, geocaching challenge, escape room challenge and seed survival activity kit. Each participant registered in advance to receive the challenge directions through email, and all challenge activities were free to participate.
Recipe challenge: All students were provided with recipe card to create their own recipe. 4-H’ers were required to use whole grain noodles, and had to include at least one ingredient from all other food groups. They were instructed to list specific quantities of ingredients and specific cooking instructions along with a picture of the finished product. Recipes were judged by restaurant inspectors in the Environmental Health Department, and a cloverleaf, junior, and senior winner was announced.
Geocaching: 4-H staff set up a geocache at a local park in Cherokee county. Students used GPS (coordinates) and clues to find the cache that contained a 4-H item hidden inside. Once the item was located, students took their pictures with the items and emailed them to the Extension/4-H office. The first three to locate the cache were announced as winners.
Escape Room: 4-H staff created an online escape room using Google Forms. Questions were all 4-H related and covered topics from consumer judging, wildlife judging and poultry judging. When 4-H’ers got the correct answer, they were able to move to the next room until they escaped the virtual space. Times were recorded and the fastest three times were recognized.
Seed Survival Kit: A seed bomb activity and watch the roots grow activity were included in the seed survival kit along with all the supplies needed for 4-H’ers to do the activity at home.
The Cherokee County 4-H “summer survival” series gave 4-H’ers the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities that were safe and fun. It helped ease the monotony of children being inside with little to no extra-curricular activities and was a way for 4-H’ers to release their inner creativity.