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.
4-H Youth Development / Agriculture and Natural Resources
Due to the COVID pandemic, our 4-H programming looked different in 2020. Before the shutdown, we were able to host a Pathways Career Fair for 500 middle school students in the Dade County Ag Center that featured displays from all career pathways offered at the high school.
Once the pandemic started, Dade County 4-H adapted to the unusual circumstances of this past year in a variety of ways. We posted information on at-home activities through our Dade County 4-H Facebook page and 4-H Activities Remind account and through articles in the Dade Sentinel newspaper. During the summer months, we added videos and activity kits that allowed students to go “Road Trippin’ Across the USA”. When school started back in the fall, we met with some classes through Zoom for hands-on science lessons with activity kits.
After-school 4-H Cloverbuds and 4-H Community Clubs are offered through a partnership with the Dade County Public Library. The 4-H Cloverbuds Club includes pre-K through third grade students. They meet each second Tuesday of the month in-person at the library or virtually live on the Dade County 4-H Facebook page. The 4-H Community Club is for fourth through twelfth grade students. They meet each fourth Tuesday of the month in-person at the library or live via Zoom.
Our 2020 Chick-to-Chicken project was a success. Students purchased chicks in March, picked them up in May, and raised them through the summer and fall. We were unable to host summer events for the members, but hope to incorporate those in 2021. We were able to host our Dade County 4-H Annual Chicken Show as the grand finale event of the multi-month project. Four students participated in the show held in November 2020. Immediately following the conclusion of the show, we hosted the inaugural Sale of Champions. The three best sets of hens were auctioned off to bidders from the community. Over $1,000 was raised and given back to the 4-H’ers through the Sale of Champions.
Our Dade County 4-H Livestock Show Team had a successful year. The team grew from one 4-H’er to three, with promising plans to continue to grow in 2021. Our Livestock Show Team travelled to many shows all across the state of Georgia and even to the national show in Louisville, KY. The team members placed well with their livestock at the shows, and each member showed improvement from the start of the year to the end.
We hosted the second annual State of Dade Lamb & Goat Classic in September 2020. The show was superior to the first in terms of quality and educational opportunities for youth. There were 120 animals exhibited by showmen from 11 Georgia counties and 5 states. In 2020, we expanded the 1-day event into a 2-day event to provide more educational opportunities for the youth. This was known as the inaugural “Stockman Contest,” and proved to be a great success. The Stockman Contest consisted of a skill-a-thon test, a livestock judging contest, a fitting contest, and showmanship placings. We also had a Georgia Born & Bred Division of the show. This provided great opportunity for youth showing Georgia Born & Bred livestock, and had tremendous support from Georgia breeders. Both the Stockman Contest and the Georgia Born & Bred Division are inaugural in the lamb and goat show industry of Georgia. We plan to continue both these additions each year at the annual State of Dade Lamb & Goat Classic.
If COVID conditions improve in 2021, we are looking forward to resuming our additional normal 4-H programming, including Poultry Judging, Cotton Boll & Consumer Judging, Forestry Judging, Wildlife Judging, and SAFE Shooting Sports BB, .22, and Shotgun teams. We will continue offering 4-H Project Achievement, summer camp, in-school club meetings, after-school clubs, and community service projects.
Our Agriculture and Natural Resources programming also looked a bit different in 2020. We kicked off the year with the inaugural D.A.D.E. Grass Class, a 12-month forage management series for pastures and hayfields. The series walked through, month by month, an entire year of forage management for pastures and hayfields. The goal was to provide timely, how-to information to farmers in advance of when they need to act on their pastures/hayfields. In total, 43 registrants were enrolled in the 12-month program. Although the series catered to Dade county farmers, registrants were from neighboring counties as well. The series began in January 2020 with monthly, in-person, face-to-face meetings. Due to COVID-19, the series converted to a virtual format. Presentations were provided on USB drives for registrants to view on their own at home. Feedback received from producers in the series includes, “Thank you so much for doing something for us Dade farmers,” “We have been starving for this sort of information,” “This is the greatest idea, you know, the month-by-month concept, thank you.” We look forward to providing the D.A.D.E. Grass Class again in the future, with the entire program face-to-face.