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
Marion County isn’t a major producer of row crops, but the county’s crop diversity makes the job of the county Extension agent exciting and somewhat challenging. Marion County’s agricultural enterprises cover almost every commodity that Georgia is famous for, including peanuts, corn, cotton, soybeans, peaches and pecans, as well as poultry and a few acres of blueberries. The top agricultural commodity for Marion County is poultry, followed by timber and hay.
Early in the year, the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent for UGA Extension in Marion County received a call to check on some young cotton in the south end of the county for insect damage and stand counts for possible disease due to heavy early rains. Upon arrival, the county agent started to assess damage to the field and discovered something unexpected. At first he didn’t believe what he had seen due to how young the cotton was, but he confirmed with Extension Specialist Bob Kemerait that the cotton had bacterial blight. This is the earliest bacterial blight has been found on cotton in the area. The potential for yield loss was unknown. The county agent collaborated with the farmer to set up three test plots in the three fields where the bacterial blight was found to get yield-loss estimates. In the end, the three fields averaged 316 pounds per acre lost. Unfortunately, there is no known control or cure for bacterial blight in cotton once it is found in the field. What we know now is that there is a greater chance for yield loss when bacterial blight is found on cotton that has six to eight leaves than when it is found later in the season. The only thing that can be done is to plant a variety of cotton that is resistant to bacterial blight.
4-H Youth Development
The Marion County 4-H Club helps young people and adult volunteers find a supportive environment where they can learn together and be challenged to reach their full potential. In a cooperative effort with Marion County Schools, 140 students in Marion County participate in monthly in-school educational programs that cover subjects such as forestry, wildlife, agriculture and healthy lifestyles.
Marion County 4-H also offers after-school programs including workshops for 4-H’ers involved in District Project Achievement, summer camps, day camps and a new club called “Hunter Gatherers,” which teaches 4-Hers the basics of survival and self-reliance while in the outdoors. In 2018, Marion County raised $2,000 dollars, which made it possible to send 4-H’ers to summer camps and District Project Achievement, allowing 4-H’ers to expand their horizons.
4-H’ers perform community-service projects such as trash pickup and rabies clinics either as requirements for or enhancements to their project work. In turn, the community gains a generation of young people who care about where they live and are willing to make a difference in their community.