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
TITLE Pecan Weevil Trap Decision-Making Tool for Farmers
SUMMARY: Pecan weevils are a pest problem for farmers. Early detection is key during the growing season. I began making pecan weevil traps as a reinforcing decision-making tool, selling them to orchard owners as a fundraiser. A total of 1,325 acres of pecans were monitored by using pecan weevil traps offered through Dougherty County Extension.
SITUATION: Dougherty County has approximately 20, 000 acres of pecans of which 17,500 are in production. This is a crop with a farm gate value of $39,007,500. Each year, farmers are faced with management options and decisions to protect their pecan crop. Historically, pecan producers have not monitored their orchards for pecan weevils, they have applied insecticide treatments even with no signs of pecan weevil damage. The availability and accessibility of the pecan weevil traps, built by the Agent and sold for fundraising purposes has become a decision-making tool for many pecan farmers.
RESPONSE: This year at the request of four farmers, I made a total of 70 pecan weevil traps that were placed on 1,325 acres in Dougherty, Peach, Brooks, and Lanier counties. These four counties represent a total of 31,746 acres with a farmgate survey value of $58,942,162. The farmers began placing the traps in their orchards as early as mid-August to monitor for the presence of pecan weevils. The pecan weevil treatment threshold is 3 or more weevils in one pecan tree , with three to five sprays needed to effectively manage the population.
IMPACT: According to Dr. Lenny Wells, Extension Pecan Specialist, it costs approximately $8-$10/acre to spray for pecan weevils. However, if an orchard has been routinely and annually treated, a producer may be able to skip a year of treatments with no negative impact. Economic loss per pound is difficult to determine but contaminated samples can ruin an entire load of pecans, and are predominantly a problem in older orchards.
Potentially, with the presence of pecan weevils at crop-destroying thresholds , a grower could lose $1000 per acre or more. Even considering a deduction of only .40¢/lb. that’s a potential loss of $400 per acre. If a grower applies 3 seasonal pecan weevil applications, with a total treatment cost of $30/acre, that is a cost effective control option with a potential minimum return on investment of $370/acre.
Of the 1,325 pecan acres monitored with pecan weevil traps producers found zero to three weevils per trap. One producer did not treat 225 acres because no weevils were trapped, resulting in a cost savings of $6,750. Another farmer ended up spraying only once, stating “The traps helped out a lot when checking and it made a difference at least to be able to monitor because we have had some orchards in the past that were hotspots for the weevils. The traps helped to determine whether or not to spray.”
Family and Consumer Sciences
University of Georgia Family and Consumer Sciences Extension programs and publications provide chronic disease education, prevention and management programs for Georgians who are at risk for or suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and/or cancer. Dougherty County offers a yearly Diabetes Cooking School and Cancer Prevention Cooking School to inform county residents how good nutrition can prevent these diseases. By learning skills that address chronic disease, we can greatly reduce the cost of health care and teach people how to live healthier. Dougherty County FACS agent also provides free Virtual Income Tax Assistance (VITA) yearly working with the University of Georgia and University of Florida.
Recent statistics reveal that youth in Dougherty County lead the state of Georgia in sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Relationship and health education offered to this demographic teaches healthy relationships and goal setting for youth.
The federal Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) works with low-income families with small children and includes a seven-week nutrition demonstration program.
4-H Youth Development
TITLE: Dougherty County 4-H Programming Increases Students’ Life Skill Development through Public School Partnerships
SUMMARY: Many students tend to shy away from speaking in public for various reasons. Two of the most common include being nervous and lacking the speaking skills to do so. Although public speaking is considered to be one of the greatest fears among people, it is also a critically needed skill for student achievement and lifelong success.
Through Dougherty County 4-H Project Achievement students in the public school system practiced conducting research, writing and showcasing their public speaking skills. Students received valuable feedback on how to improve their skills and grow in this area of life skill development.
SITUATION: Members of the Dougherty County Board of Education expressed a concern about their students’ lack of life skills and reading skills. Both life skills and reading skills are critical to student short term and long-term outcomes. The common goal of both the Dougherty County School System and the Dougherty County 4-H Program is to produce well rounded and productive citizens, and by working together to address these concerns, steps are being made to accomplish that goal.
RESPONSE: Project achievement is a public speaking contest that offers students options based on their topic of interest; research that topic, write a speech about the topic, and create a corresponding visual poster or other aids to guide his or her presentation. Eleven 5th grade classes totaling in 220 students were instructed by 4-H faculty and staff on the project achievement process. Curriculum resources such as the Georgia 4-H Friends “Intro to DPA” magazine, and the hamburger analogy method was used to teach students how to build a speech.
The hamburger analogy is that the top bun is the introduction of their speech and included their name, topic, and an attention grabber. The meat, cheese, and lettuce are the three main points about their topic that they would like to discuss. The last bun includes their closing and summary of their speech.
After presenting the Project Achievement lessons, students were invited to develop their projects with the support of 4-H and teacher support at 11 individual prep sessions during and after school hours. These prep sessions provided students with additional support in writing and organizing their speeches and posters. Dougherty 4-H also provided students with supplies needed to complete their projects. The Dougherty 4-H program eliminated time and resource barriers as much as possible to increase participation and reduce any hardships on families that might exclude a child’s participation.
IMPACT: Out of the 30 students who participated in the countywide project achievement prep sessions, 24 students participated in the county wide project achievement culminating event. There were over 60 attendees to include principals, teachers, parents, and the Dougherty County School District’s Science Coordinator. The students were divided into groups based on their topics, and presented before judges who gave them constructive feedback. At the end of their presentations, all scores were tallied and ribbons were awarded to the top three winners of each room.
From the 24 students who participated in the countywide project achievement, 14 advanced to the Southwest District Cloverleaf project achievement event. Four of these students placed in the top three. Comments from students, parents and school officials confirm that impactful progress on life skill development to include reading and public speaking skills increased as a result of their student’s participation. Dougherty County 4-H will follow these students as they advance to higher grades and continue evaluating their behavior and attitude changes as their skills grow in these areas.