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
The mission of Georgia 4-H is to assist youth in acquiring knowledge, developing life skills, and forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive, and contributing members of society. This mission is accomplished, through “hands on” learning experiences, focused on agricultural and environmental issues, agriculture awareness, leadership, communication skills, foods and nutrition, health, energy conservation, and citizenship.
Exploring and discovering, encouraging and challenging, that’s what Georgia 4-H is all about. As a program of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension System, 4-H is part of the nationwide Extension network.
The Jefferson County 4-H program offers a curriculum that covers a variety of topics including agriculture, environmental science, healthy living, and financial literacy to students beginning in the 5th grade. Additional programs include Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging, Junior Conference, District Project Achievement, 4-H summer camp, State Council, and Poultry Judging Team.
4-H’ers participate in community service projects to benefit the local food pantry and Ferst Readers in Jefferson County. Additionally, Jefferson County 4-H collects pop tabs to support Georgia 4-H Foundation’s annual donation to the Ronald McDonald House charity. The Little Library established in 2021 is located outside of our office. It contains free books for children of all ages to enjoy.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
According to the Farm Gate Report, Burke and Jefferson Counties are typically in the top 10 counties for corn production in Georgia. With increased corn market prices, growers in these counties continued to commit more acres to corn in 2022. Growers turn to Extension for guidance on variety selection, as well as, planting and crop management recommendations. Among other practices, variety selection, integrated pest management and proper rate and timing of fertilizer application are critical points in profitably achieving higher yields. With continued emphasis on corn in our crop rotation, the agents in Burke and Jefferson Counties collaborated with UGA Southeast Research and Education Center superintendent to develop a research trial to assess the performance of several varieties under Extension recommended management to maximize profit margins. Data collected from this trial will be distributed to corn growers to assist in making variety selection and crop management decisions in future years.
Producers rely on timely Extension information to make informed production decisions. Different varieties yield higher under various management plans resulting in the potential for significantly higher return on investment. Growers need to give careful consideration when selecting corn hybrids to avoid planting a variety that will not provide adequate return on investment. Due to grower questions on corn variety selection, agents responded by developing a large-scale variety trial at the Southeast Research and Education Center (SEREC) to provide information on selected varieties and how they respond while being produced under UGA Extension recommendations. This trial was designed to identify commercially available varieties of corn that growers could readily access versus identifying new or experimental varieties.
With nearly 40,000 acres planted to corn in 2022 between Burke and Jefferson Counties, this commodity has a large imprint on the counties’ agricultural economy. Variety choice and the way a particular variety fits a grower’s management can significantly impact corn yield. In this trial, the difference in yield from the top yielding variety to the lowest yielding variety was 35 bushels. With average corn prices at $6.50 /bushel, the impact of determining the optimum variety is $228 /acre when choosing between the highest and lowest yielding varieties. If this applied to a modest estimate of 25% of the corn acres in Burke and Jefferson Counties, there could be a $2,280,000 increase in income across those counties.
Family and Consumer Sciences
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.