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.
4-H Youth Development
Jefferson County 4-H’ers start fifth grade with lessons that teach about agriculture grown in our county. Sixth graders are taught the importance of refraining from tobacco, drugs and alcohol. Seventh grade 4-H’ers participate in Project WET, learning that water of sufficient quality and quantity is important for all water users. Eighth grade students learn about financial literacy, while our high school students participate in community and leadership activities to prepare them for the future.
While our 4-H’ers would normally participate in events such as Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging, Junior Conference, District Project Achievement, 4-H summer camp, State Council, goat show and Poultry Judging Team, last year marked the first time for many unprecedented events in our 4-H history, most events were cancelled or switched to virtual events.
While trying to maintain some resemblance to our great organization, agriculture packets were either taken to our elementary schools or emailed to the students, in the spring when our schools shut down. The Little Library was implemented at our office, which contains free books for children of all ages to enjoy.
Since re-opening Jefferson County 4-H has been fortunate to be able to return to the classroom for face to face learning, while for those who are still learning virtually, we are able to participate in this also.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
The need to provide unbiased, researched based information to the agricultural community did not halt due to a pandemic. Providing food and fiber to our country and our world continued, and farmers continue to find a way to make things work. Though programming took on new avenues, Jefferson County Extension found ways to provide updates and timely information to our growers.
Jefferson County agent joined with other county agents in the surrounding area to create Tri-County Updates. These updates provided in-field video footage on timely topics such as current pest management and disease issues affecting corn, cotton and peanuts. This YouTube series provided visual examples to assist growers in management decisions, discussed economic thresholds and even harvest timing information to potentially increase yields and grades of crops. These programs were distributed to the tri-county area farmers and resulted in over 200 views from this area. When the pandemic prevented the Southeast Research and Education Center Experiment Station in Midville from holding their annual agronomic crop field day, area agents assisted the station’s superintendent in planning and executing a virtual field day to showcase the research that is so pertinent to the area growers and the issues they face in production. With over 600 views statewide, growers and industry were able to gain valuable knowledge in the latest research.
Jefferson County Extension continued with both on-farm and research station trials to address crop management questions from the agricultural community. These trials included the following: irrigation management through soil moisture sensors in cotton, corn and peanuts; corn nutrient management trial; twin-row corn yield comparison to single rows; long-term cover crop rotational study; planter downforce settings across varying soil types and its effects on corn plant emergence; corn variety trial; irrigated and non-irrigated cotton variety trials; planter downforce and speed effects on peanut disease and yield; in-furrow fungicide effects on cotton seedling disease in conservation tillage, cover crop system; effect of clover/ryegrass cover crop on dryland corn yields with and without sidedress nitrogen; and pine tip moth in loblolly pines study.
Jefferson County Extension continued to service our community through individual site visits for homeowners, farmers and agribusinesses to assist with disease, pest management decisions, crop management and pest identification.
Although Jefferson County does not have a Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) agent based in the county Extension office, we strive to assist local residents with their questions. Common questions cover food safety, food preservation, dealing with mold and mildew, healthy meal planning, nutrition, family budgeting, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) resources and 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 Sciences agents from surrounding counties. Neighboring FA CS agents often conduct programming that our county residents are welcome to attend. This year there have also been many virtual opportunities for training and participation regardless of the client’s location. Our office can provide information about programming in surrounding counties.