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
UGA Cooperative Extension in Cook County provides lifelong learning to the people of Cook County through unbiased, research-based education about agriculture, the environment, communities, youth and families. This information is generated by university specialists and disseminated through the Cook County Extension office to residents of the county via informal educational meetings, newsletters, blogs, emails and newspaper articles. This county delivery system has been an effective tool for UGA Extension for more than 100 years.
Cook County is an agriculture-based community. In 2017, Cook County had a total farm gate value of more than $94,943,975. Cook County is home to traditional crops like corn, cotton, peanuts and soybeans, but it is the county’s vegetable production that is exceptional. Cook County’s vegetable production comprised 19% of the total farm gate value. The Cook County Extension office is a Cook County farmer’s go-to source for accessing the latest, unbiased, research-based information related to agricultural production. In 2019, this information was disseminated directly to Cook County farmers from the Cook County Extension office via seven formal agriculture production update meetings, nine published newspaper articles and 39 emailed or blogged “Ag Updates,” which highlighted current crop production challenges with UGA recommendations. Much of this research-based information was generated locally on Cook County farms through research trials investigating pecan ambrosia beetle trapping, crop fungicide effectiveness and cotton and variety performance, among other things. A total of six research/demonstration trials were conducted in Cook County in collaboration with local growers and UGA crop specialists. In 2019, data from the local peanut fungicide trial was presented at the American Peanut Research and Education Society (APRES) annual meeting in Auburn, Alabama, by Cook County Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent Tucker Price. Data from this trial is referred to by UGA peanut specialists during peanut production meetings in other peanut-producing counties, as well as during the Annual Peanut Farm Show attended by peanut producers across the U.S.
4-H Youth Development
The Cook County 4-H Program, led by 4-H Agent Katrina Laurel-Searcy, provides fun and educational activities including outdoor experiential learning and in-school program delivery. This allows 4-H members to acquire knowledge, develop life skills and form attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. A total of 438 youth enrolled in the club in 2019.
Active Cook County 4-H members are involved in Project Achievement for which students choose a project area of interest, research the topic, and write and give a presentation. 4-H’ers develop leadership, creativity, public speaking, record keeping and other skills. This year, 12 Junior and Senior Cook County 4-H’ers (grades seven through 12) competed at Rock Eagle 4-H Center during District Project Achievement, where eight 4-H’ers received individual awards for their respective projects, each of which includes a portfolio and a demonstration. Three of the Senior 4-H’ers placed first in their disciplines, allowing them to advance to State Congress – the highly anticipated competition in Atlanta, Georgia where 4-H’ers have a chance to earn Master 4-H status. In addition, eight Cloverleaf 4-H’ers (grades four through six) competed in Cloverleaf Project Achievement in Houston County last March, with four of them winning in their respective disciplines. Furthermore, our team of active 4-H youth placed third in Best in Community Service Project for their efforts and collaboration with Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS- Tifton) on the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), during which they helped 3,100 victims of Hurricane Michael.