Making A Difference in Our County
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. We translate the science of everyday living for families, farmers and communities to foster a healthy and prosperous Georgia. 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 and Social Media. 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 2019, Cook County had a total farm gate value of more than $88,251,763.65. Cook County is home to traditional crops like corn, cotton, peanuts and soybeans, in addition to fruits and vegetables. Peppers, cabbage, collards, kale, squash, blueberries, blackberries, persimmons, and muscadines are produced in Cook County. 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.
Much of this research-based information is generated locally on Cook County farms through research trails investigating pecan ambrosia beetle trapping, crop fungicide effectiveness and cotton variety performance, among other things. In 2020 Cook Extension facilitated 2 watermelon fursarium trials to investigate fungicide effectiveness in control of the disease in watermelons; 2 cotton variety trials to investigate variety performance locally; a 15 acre peanut fungicide trail to evaluate fungicides for white mold efficacy; and monitored pecan ambrosia beetles pecan nut casebearer moths via traps in commercial pecan orchards. Data generated from Cook County agricultural trials are disseminated locally in addition to being used by UGA Agriculture Specialists to present at county agricultural production meetings. Cook County field trail data has been presented at the Annual Peanut Farm Show in addition to American Peanut Research and Education Society (APRES) annual meetings.
Cook County Extension disseminates information locally through field site consultations, office visits, social media, texts, email and blog site posts.
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 718 youth enrolled in the club in 2020.
This 4-H year looked a lot different than previous ones due to the impact of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) which continues to create uncertainty and concern both globally and within our community in Cook County. The lockdowns in response to COVID-19 have interrupted conventional schoolIng with nationwide school closures, to include Cook County Schools. Cook County 4-H made efforts to maintain learning continuity during this period through 15 virtual classes and 7 community service projects. Majority of these service projects were drive-through giveaways to support learners in the most marginalized groups, who do not have access to digital learning resources. Cook County is a community with a population of 17,162 where 76.2% are households with computer, with only 60.5% having broadband internet subscription. In this community, 25% are under 18 years of age, to include school-aged youth. A challenge and need are to provide educational resources and learning opportunities to Cook County residents following abrupt school closures. To ensure the continuity of education despite the lockdown, Cook 4-H have sought to use technology and offer real-time lessons on virtual meeting platforms that were uploaded and available for later viewing for self-paced learning. Cook 4-H members were also given opportunities to teach and lead virtual classes in a program call "4-H Kids Teaching Kids".
Project Achievement, where students choose a project area of interest, research the topic, and write and present a presentation. Also looked a lot different this year, transitioning to a virtual platform for Cloverleafs (grades 4th-6th). One Cook County 4-H'er won 1st place for her project during this virtual competition. Prior to lockdowns, eight Junior and Senior Cook County 4-H youth (grades 7th-12th) competed at Rock Eagle 4-H Center during District Project Achievement, where our county received six awards.