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
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in Jasper County offers many services to local clientele. Soil, forage and water tests are conducted through UGA’s laboratories, and in-office and on-site consultations are provided on an extensive number of topics, such as lawn health and maintenance, pond management, home gardening, insect control, herbicide and pesticide use, livestock herd management, land use decisions and orchard care, among others. The Jasper County ANR (Agriculture and Natural Resources) Agent position was vacant from January – September 2020. While the Jasper County office was closed to the public during the onset of the pandemic from the beginning of April through early June, services were still provided despite the staff working remotely. Our Administrative Assistant Janice Arnold would open the office during posted hours over two days each week so that local farmers and homeowners could still drop off soil and water samples to be tested. Through increased funding from the Jasper County Board of Commissioners and support from local stakeholders, UGA was able to advertise the vacant position over the summer, and John Scruggs started working as the new ANR Agent on October 1. John has hit the ground running with meeting people, assessing needs, and attending the many trainings (both virtually and in-person) required of new Extension Agents to help prepare them with the knowledge and resources needed to serve the community. He is already involved with the Piedmont Cattlemen’s Association and serves on their Board of Directors and attends other area producer meetings to represent Jasper County’s agricultural interests. John was recently appointed to serve on the Upper Ocmulgee River Resource Conservation and Development Council.
4-H Youth Development
Through their participation in 4-H, students are given opportunities to grow and learn as they develop important life skills such as leadership, responsibility, critical thinking, public speaking, and citizenship. Through various competitive events held during the year at the district and state levels, they get the chance to showcase what they have learned. Jasper County Extension Coordinator and 4-H Agent Kasey Hall works closely with the youth to prepare them and serves as the coach for the judging team competitions. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, local club members were able to participate in three in-person competitions from January to early March. In January, 24 members of the Jasper County 4-H archery team had a great showing at the state indoor archery match in Perry. In February and March, 30 4-H’ers in the fourth – twelfth grades participated in two DPA (District Project Achievement) competitions where they presented illustrated talks on topics in their selected project areas at the Rock Eagle 4-H Center. One eighth grade 4-H’er was recognized as the outgoing President of the Northeast District Junior Board of Directors while a seventh grader was elected as a new board member. One Senior 4-H’er placed first in her project and earned the opportunity to compete at State Congress in the summer. Within two weeks upon returning from Junior/Senior DPA, the schools closed due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus and didn’t reopen until the fall. This brought an abrupt end to in-person 4-H competitions, events, and camps that would have been held during the spring and summer. The Poultry Judging contest was held virtually at the state level in July with five Jasper County Senior 4-H’ers participating. The State Congress competition was also held virtually in July where our one participant placed first in the Dairy project and earned Master 4-H’er status. When face to face programs could resume later in the summer, the Land Judging competition was promoted for the first time locally. In August, four 4-H’ers competed at the in-person state contest held outdoors in Griffin, and the Junior team placed second in their first appearance. The area Cotton Boll & Consumer Judging contest was held virtually in November with 4-H’ers competing online from the 4-H office and their homes. There were 10 4-H’ers in the fourth – eleventh grades who participated, and the Senior team placed third overall and the Junior team placed fifth. Four 4-H’ers were recognized for their achievements with their high individual scores.