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 Lowndes County 4-H Club has played an active role in teaching educational programming in the Lowndes County School System since the 1950s. 4-H Agent Lynn Hall and 4-H Program Assistant Sarah Baltzell reach more than 1,300 elementary- and middle-school students in 56 club meetings a month. Lessons taught, which all correlate with state standards, address language arts, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and leadership skills. Additionally, more than 165 students are being reached through after-school programs like poultry judging and consumer judging. The 4-H Archery Club placed in the top five teams across the state and the shotgun team continues to excel. Lowndes County 4-H volunteers started a new BB shooting sports team last year and club members are preparing for spring competitions. Fourteen middle- and high-school students have submitted portfolios of work collected throughout the 2018 calendar year in preparation for the annual public speaking competition. Two hundred fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade 4-H’ers participated in the county-level Project Achievement competition. Twenty fifth- and sixth-grade 4-H’ers advanced to the district competition held in Colquitt County. Project Achievement teaches youth writing skills, public speaking skills and independence. Members have written cards to soldiers, collected pop tabs for the Georgia 4-H donation to the Ronald McDonald Houses, collected canned goods for the Second Harvest Food Bank and collected items to send to military servicepeople serving overseas. Lowndes County sent 128 4-H campers from fourth through 11th grade to a variety of camping opportunities. Three senior 4-H’ers competed at State 4-H Congress in Project Achievement with one mastering in their project area. Mastering is the highest honor a 4-H’er can receive.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Lowndes County has one of the largest populations (114,000) in south Georgia, with 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, satsuma mandarins. Forage and livestock issues have been addressed through programs, research and site visits. School gardens have been developed in all Valdosta elementary and middle schools by agents and Master Gardener Extension Volunteers. This partnership resulted in the Valdosta City Schools being awarded the Golden Radish Award from Georgia Organics. Lowndes County continues to lead with the development of the state’s new citrus industry through programming, research, site visits and consultations to growers throughout Georgia. Citrus-research trials and growers are drawing groups and conferences to Lowndes County. A UGA plant pathology class has made Lowndes County a stop on their disease tour for the fourth year in a row to visit a local citrus grower’s operation. In addition, Lowndes County hosted the Southeastern U.S. Citrus Expo at Raisin Cane in November. Members of this group represent citrus hobbyists from Georgia and surrounding states. Since an initial satsuma meeting in Lowndes County, trees planted in Georgia have increased from less than 2,000 statewide to more than 73,000 as of April 2018. Agents continue to support Lowndes County residents’ agricultural needs through personal interactions, phone calls, blogs, newspaper columns and programming for Master Gardeners and the green industry.