Making A Difference in Our County
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is working hard for its constituents. The following are examples:
AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Irwin County Cooperative Extension serves county citizens through multiple avenues. The foundation of many agent recommendations begins with soil testing. A total of 1,083 soil samples were submitted to the UGA Soil and Water Lab, which makes Irwin County fifth in the state in soil submissions in 2020. The major activity is winter production meetings and we had just completed all our winter planned meetings prior to the Covid-19 mandated office closure. Those topics were weed management, peanut production, cotton production, disease management, and pecan production delivered by specialists and agents, reaching more than 435 personal contacts. Applied research is another way to gather and share information. Through applied research on-farm trials information is collected on the local level. In 2020, our office staff participated in numerous trials that focused on cotton seed study, peanut fungicide trial, peanut Endoprime trial, assistance in cotton and peanut variety trials, twin vs single peanut trial, psyllid trapping in citrus, and a corn yield determination. Educational efforts go beyond the county boundary through presentations to district and state opportunities. Many of these applied research trials were accomplished with the aid of a summer intern who spent three months of the summer learning about UGA Cooperative Extension and the role of the county agent.
A main focus of the office is the traditional role of helping our clientele through one-on-one contacts made via phone, office visits and farm or site visits. Our clientele’s immediate concerns pertaining to production agriculture or other issues need precise decisions to help provide answers in a multitude of situations. For example, peanut maturity determination is done at our office, with a total of 394 individual tests conducted. Our efforts are shared through communication using various methods. Thirty-four newsletters were emailed, with each issue reaching 400 farmers and agribusinesses. Multiple information updates are also sent via text messages to 190 farmer cell phones. A video was produced on peanut pegging zone testing and 1,799 people have been reached via Facebook. Newspaper articles and feature stories are also submitted periodically.
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
The Irwin County 4-H Club is the largest youth organization in the county, with 300 members from ages 9 to 19. Participation in Project Achievement helps youth develop communication skills through project work showcased in county, district and state competitions. In March 2021, Irwin County hosted an in-house Cloverleaf Project Achievement with 6 club members demonstrating. 4-H members are reached through 17 individual clubs that meet each month. Elected officers attend officer training and enhance their leadership skills. 4-H members attend camp and enjoy a time of outdoors, learning, and making new friends. Poultry Judging is a county-favorite judging event and our team made it to state competition. 4-H participation also includes youth livestock projects, shooting sports, community service and numerous other activities.
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES
Although Irwin County does not have a Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) agent based in the office, we strive to assist local residents with their questions. Common questions cover food safety, food preservation, mold and mildew, healthy meal planning, nutrition, family budgeting and more. A Southwest District FACS agent came to our county to help with a pickling class at the high school.