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
Our 4-H Youth Development programs help young people and adult volunteers find a supportive environment where they learn together and are challenged to reach their full potential. In a cooperative effort with Marion County Schools, youth in grades 5-12 participate in monthly educational programs that cover subjects such as environmental science, healthy lifestyles and agricultural awareness. In 2020, over $8,000 was raised through fundraisers and grants to help fund programs such as a Cooking Club, Gardening Club and our SAFE Archery and Shotgun teams! Additionally, these funds helped make it possible for ten 4-H'ers to participate in District Project Achievements and other leadership building opportunities which allow them to expand their horizons and help to prepare them for future involvement in our community. Many of our 4-H’ers typically perform community service projects, either as requirements or enhancements to their other project work. In turn the community gains a generation of young people who care about where they live and are willing to make a commitment to improvement.
While the COVID-19 global pandemic may have affected our in-person activities, we were able to offer many different virtual programs. We restructured our club meetings in the Fall 2020 semester to be held through digital platforms and have added a new, multi-county healthy living program called "It's Easy!" As regulations relaxed we were able to begin offering smaller in-person events as well. Marion County 4-H continues to grow, having 374 4-H'ers enrolled in 2020.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Marion County is small in acreage when it comes to agriculture commodities, but diversity makes the job of the county’s UGA Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agent exciting and somewhat challenging. The diversity of Marion’s agricultural enterprises cover almost every commodity that Georgia is famous for, including peanuts, corn, cotton and soybeans, as well as poultry and cattle. Marion is known for its forestry and wildlife, as well as small-patch blueberries and peas. The top agriculture commodity for Marion County is forestry, followed by poultry, cattle and other livestock.
Marion County Extension collaborates with local producers and specialists from the university to help troubleshoot basic production issues, as well as make informed decisions on fertility, varieties, fungicides, irrigation, and weed management. This collaboration is even more important in a county with smaller acreage because there is less acreage for producers to spread their risk.