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, more than 315 Marion County youth participate in monthly educational programs that cover subjects such as character building, healthy lifestyles and agricultural awareness. In 2019, $4,700 was raised to help fund sponsorships which helped make it possible for 11 Marion County youth to attend and participate in the 4-H summer camp program, eight in Cloverleaf District Project Achievement 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.
Fun Events we have added include archery team, shotgun team, cooking club and a planned garden club.
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.
Matt Murdoch, ANR agent for Marion and Schley counties, put on a learn-and-burn event for county extension agents in the southwest district. The event was based in Marion County and had eight ANR agents and two Natural Resources Conservation Service workers attend. This event taught county agents what all is involved with prescribed fire. Each agent was assigned two mentors for the day. Working with Georgia Forestry (GFC) and The Nature Conservancy we were able to have more one-on-one conversations with our mentors and were able to learn as much as possible during the event. We were taught different burn techniques. Backing fire, head fires, grid fire as well as flanking fire were all demonstrated and then implemented through hands-on learning. Each technique is used for different situations and land terrains. As a team we were able to successfully burn off 50 acres of pasture land.
This event was designed to determine the experience levels of the county agents to prepare for the next learn-and-burn event to be held this coming spring. Using prescribed fire to manage forestry lands and pasture lands on a rotational basis is crucial for healthy timber production and wildlife management. The information provided at the event will allow the county agents to take back what they learned and utilize it in their own counties.