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
Lowndes County has one of the largest populations in southern Georgia at 119,000, and includes a mixture of urban agriculture and traditional agriculture. Traditional agriculture includes cotton, peanuts, soybeans, corn, wheat, hay, pasture, livestock and tobacco. Horticulture crops include pecans, vegetables, muscadines, blueberries, strawberries and, most recently, cold-hardy citrus. Due to Covid-19 most agricultural programs and presentations have been given by using Zoom. These programs have been piloted by the Lowndes Fort Valley State University Extension agent. Lowndes County Extension continues to lead in the development of the new citrus industry through programming, research, site visits, grower consultations and invited presentations. In 2020 two additional citrus research plots were installed to examine Tango mandarin and Silverhill satsuma on newly released USDA and University of Florida rootstocks that are tolerant to a devastating citrus disease called citrus greening. We are assessing to see if the seedless and easy to peel Tango can survive our temperatures and extend citrus harvest in Georgia as it matures later than satsumas. This information will provide information to growers so they can choose citrus varieties and rootstocks in the event citrus greening becomes an issue in Georgia. Since an initial cold-hardy citrus meeting held in Lowndes County in 2013, the industry has grown from less than seven scattered acres of citrus to 2,700 acres. Three citrus processors and five new citrus nurseries have now emerged in Georgia. Forage and livestock issues have been addressed through programs, research and site visits. Agents continue to support Lowndes residents’ agricultural needs through personal interactions, phone calls, blogs, newspaper columns and programming for Master Gardeners and the green industry.
4-H Youth Development
Lowndes County 4-H has played an active role in teaching educational programming in the Lowndes County School System since the 1950s. 4-H Program Assistants Sarah Baltzell and Grace Chauncey reach elementary students in 8 schools, by teaching lessons via google meets and virtually through nearpod. Nearpod is an interactive learning site where 4-H staff can recreate their lessons virtually while adding in interactive components to ensure the learning is as hands on as possible. While 4-H lessons have looked different this year; 4-H staff have still worked to the best of their ability to reach students in the classroom and those learning virtually at home through the interactive nearpod lessons. All lessons correlate with state standards, include science, language arts, STEM activities and leadership skills. Additionally, students are reached through after-school programs like Poultry Judging and Consumer Judging, as well as other after-school clubs. Lowndes 4-H holds its shooting sports programs in high regard and has 3 active teams: Shotgun, Archery, and BB team. These clubs are very active and are currently preparing for spring competitions. In preparation for the annual public speaking competition Project Achievement, 9 middle and high school students submitted portfolios of work that were created throughout the 2020 calendar year. Project Achievement teaches youth writing skills, public speaking skills and independence. Lowndes 4-H has a group of youth in 4th-12th grade that meet monthly called 4-H County Council. These members have gathered monthly to execute a community service project. Projects this year have included gift bags to local: K-9 Law enforcement officers, 911 operators, Game Wardens, SGMH nurses, local fire stations, and EMTs. Lowndes 4-H has continued to collect pop tabs for the Georgia 4-H donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities and has collected 680 lbs of pop tabs in the 2020 year.