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
Foliage-feeding insects can cause severe damage to the leaves and stems of a peanut plant, which is the lifeline of the plant. Correct identification of insects is vital in making the correct insecticide choice in controlling the pests. Without proper iidentification of the pests, some insecticides could be ineffective on the pests being targeted. This seemed to be an unusual year in Dodge County, with multiple species attacking the plants in high populations all at the same time. There are approximately 5,000 acres of peanuts produced in Dodge County each year, with an economic value of $5 to 5.5 million. The Agriculture and Natural Resources agent estimates are that 80% of the peanut acres in the county had to be treated for foliage-feeding insects this growing season, compared to 30% percent in recent years. Proper identification of insect species is crucial in the choice of insecticide used. In all situations scouted this year, proper identification was made and damage was limited to a minimal amount.
Agricultural literacy can be cultivated in any person, no matter the age or experience. Helping others understand the important role agriculture plays in their everyday lives became a target goal of the Dodge County 4-H Program Development Team. Dodge County Extension/ 4-H set out to provide an agricultural literacy experience through enrichment, citizenship and general 4-H programming. Successfully expanding one’s agricultural knowledge increases the ability to make better choices related to overall health and well-being. After identifying the situation/problem in the aforementioned area, the agent and Program Development Team immediately began brainstorming and planning an educational component that would not only be informative but fun, stimulating and motivating as well. As a result of the educational events, 38 children and adults were exposed to or provided information about agriculture production from beginning to end in a fun yet educational capacity. After this program, students were more informed about the benefits provided by our agricultural community, the community’s career options, the locally grown food supply and the local economy, and adults are now more cognizant of the educational need within our community. Of the 21 students who participated in the two-day program, 90.4% of those students signified, through a post survey, that they learned more about agriculture. Through that same survey, 95.2% indicated that they have a better understanding about where their food comes from. Students were also asked, verbally, if they would participate if the program was offered again, and 100% indicated a new passion and understanding for the world of agriculture and would definitely participate in future activities.
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES
Although Dodge County does not have a Family and Consumer Sciences agent based in the county Extension office, we strive to assist local residents with their questions. Common questions cover food safety, food preservation, mitigating mold and mildew, healthy meal planning, nutrition, family budgeting and much more. These issues and others are answered through a wide variety of free UGA Extension publications available at the county office and phone conferences with Family and Consumer Science agents from surrounding counties. Neighboring FACS agents often conduct programming that our county residents are welcome to attend.