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
In 2017, the total farm-gate value of vegetables in Echols County was more than $189.3 million. The high value of the Georgia vegetable industry comes with high input costs and high risks. Two of the biggest inputs are the fumigants used and the plants themselves. The plants need a seedbed free of weeds and nematodes as provided by the fumigant, but the fumigant has to be out of the seedbed before the transplants can be safely planted. A fumigant gas meter was purchased and placed in the Echols County Extension office for use with producers in Echols and surrounding counties to help protect growers’ investments. When producers start fumigating, there are many variables that determine when it is safe for them to plant. The fumigant level in the plastic bed has to be at a certain level, or it could stunt or kill the plants. Soil type, soil moisture, temperature, type of plastic, fumigant and rate are all determining factors for how long it takes the plastic bed to gas out. Most growers use a calendar to determine if enough time has passed for the beds to gas out and then wait on companies selling the fumigant to come out and check it using a fumigant gas meter. This process works well, but there are a limited number of companies and meters in our area, so the wait time can sometimes be lengthy depending on the number of growers in south Georgia needing a plastic check and whether or not a field has to be checked more than once. With produce, you try to hit a planting window, allowing you to start picking when the market is high rather than when market prices are starting to go down. Being able to get in the field earlier allows producers the added security of hitting their target window.
4-H Youth Development
The Echols County 4-H Club offers a variety of activities for youth. We partner with the school system to offer in-school club meetings to students in the fourth through eighth grades and provide hands-on learning opportunities that follow the Georgia Performance Standards. In 2018, we reached 316 students through in-school programming.
Public speaking is a big part of what 4-H is all about. Presenting a demonstration at Project Achievement gives 4-H’ers important life skills. This year, 11 students competed in public speaking competitions.
Students in sixth through 12th grade can participate in our Project SAFE (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) Modified Trap shotgun program. 4-H also offers traditional livestock show programs in which 4-H members can exhibit hogs in the local and state shows. Thirty-two students have participated in various hog shows, including the Georgia National Fair, the local hog show, and the State Hog Show in Perry, Georgia. Summer camp is offered to students of all grade levels in different locations throughout Georgia. Our office has worked hard to make camp affordable for as many youth as possible. We offer several fundraisers for parents to choose from to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of camp. We also offer leadership conferences to students in seventh through 12th grades throughout the year, including Senior Fall Forum, Senior Conference, Junior Conference and State Council. By participating in community service projects, students learn the importance of giving to others. Each year, we donate pop tabs and cans to Ronald McDonald House Charities.