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
Peach production is big in Peach County, but diseases shorten orchard longevity on replant sites. We are working with personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and UGA Extension specialists to help develop the use of a resistant rootstock. Efforts have been made at the USDA Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Georgia, to develop rootstock that resists several diseases. The use of this rootstock has been minimal due to propagation techniques currently being employed by nurseries.
We decided to begin using tissue-culture seedlings to make the process more user-friendly to tree nurseries and to be more efficient in our production of a commercially acceptable tree. Over the past two growing seasons, we planted approximately 7,000 tissue-culture seedlings in early spring at Fort Valley State University and at a local nursery just outside of Fort Valley, Georgia. Seedlings were budded in midsummer and the trees were evaluated in the fall.
By the second season, we had improved techniques enough to say that this is a viable system and we also demonstrated that peach nursery stock could be produced right here in the peach-growing region of Georgia. By using this rootstock, growers should be able to add years of life to an orchard and, in turn, be more profitable in the future.
4-H Youth Development
Peach County 4-H’ers are active and involved in numerous programs that enhance their life skills, and one of the most impactful is the Teen Leader Certification Program. This is a daylong training developed for middle- and high-school-aged 4-H’ers who want to learn more about becoming a stronger leader. Training classes are focused on the qualities of a strong leader, conflict management, how to work with younger ages, the roles and responsibilities of a Teen Leader and ways to engage younger 4-H’ers.
Leadership skills are an integral part of a well-rounded young adult. The Peach County 4-H Club provides many opportunities for youth to serve in leadership roles and to help younger youth. Teen Leaders are often part of county, district and state 4-H activities. They are called upon to provide additional assistance and support the 4-H staff, ensure youth are maximizing their involvement with 4-H events and act as ambassadors to promote 4-H. Certified Teen Leaders are called upon to teach workshops at 4-H events such as Junior Conference, Fall Forum, summer camp and county day camps. They also assist county, district and state staff with leading and mentoring others at competitions like Project Achievement. Research has shown that youth serving in leadership roles gain experience in conflict management, decision-making, teamwork and confidence-building.
Peach County 4-H has 11 youths who have completed the certification program and are highly active in leading events across the county, district and state. In 2018, eight of the youth led programs that helped prepare fourth- through sixth-graders for Project Achievement, 10 served as leaders in county-based events, two served as Teen Leaders at summer camp, four were selected to teach at statewide 4-H events, and one was selected to serve the state of Georgia as a Healthy Living Ambassador and attended the National 4-H Healthy Living Summit. These Peach County 4-H’ers are passionate about serving others and it shows in their dedication to 4-H, their community and building leadership.