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 & NATURAL RESOURCES
Goods and services related to Georgia’s agriculture and natural resources affect each of the state’s communities every day. Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, and its direct and indirect economic impact totals in the billions. Hundreds of thousands of Georgia jobs are directly involved in commodity or food- and fiber-related industries. UGA Extension faculty and staff play a key role in the success of this industry by sharing university-based research for Georgians to use on the farm and at home. Recommendations in areas including soil fertility, pest management, plant and crop varieties, water quality, and herd health and management focus on maximizing production and profits while minimizing environmental impacts. Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension agents also provide homeowners and communities with information on lawn care, landscaping, gardening, and water conservation through a variety of workshops. Some agents also work with schools on projects like community gardens and farm-to-school programs. Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers give thousands of hours of service to their communities by answering questions in county offices and creating educational opportunities.
MASTER GARDENER EXTENSION VOLUNTEERS (MGEVs)
Each year, MGEVs work to connect UGA Extension, plant enthusiasts, and communities across the state. In 2020, a worldwide pandemic was declared and left the population in-home quarantine. Pickens MGEVs have a passion for volunteering. Their time was spent over the summer offering native plants to our community at our local Farmers Market where they were able to follow Covid 19 protocols and still be able to assist the public with their knowledge of native plants and home gardening. As a result of the pandemic, the Farmers Market saw an increase in vendor participation, and vendors benefited from increased sales.
In 2020, MGEVs were able to help design and plant a memorial garden at the Roper Peace Park that consists of 1,000 daffodils that commemorate the memory of the 1.5 million children who were murdered during the Holocaust.
MGEVs are committed to growing and helping their community but 2020 created challenges for the program. We are looking forward to a better 2021 with hopes to resume programs for the local community.
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
Participation in the Pickens County 4-H program was impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic. 4-H has been recognized and welcomed into the elementary schools, middle school, and junior high school for monthly lessons or participation in club days every year but 2020 was a little different with the schools closing and going virtual. 4-H staff members were charged with delivering youth development programs and opportunities in a virtual format. Virtual summer activities were created to reach youth during the summer in a way that would encourage them to be active both inside and outside. Weekly activities were posted on our Facebook page to reach young people through an accessible social media platform. Summer kits were distributed for youth to participate. Kits involved community service projects, cooking activities, and STEM-related projects. We also competed in a variety of district competitions. Examples of district contests are Forestry Field Day, Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging, and District Project Achievement. One new experience that Pickens County 4-H offered this year was an opportunity to compete in a local County Fair exhibition contest. Students brought in their artwork, a final prepared food dish, or stem projects and were judged and received placement ribbons and prizes. Our youth have the opportunity to learn new skills, increase their self-confidence, make new friends, experience different surroundings, and participate in many new things.
Summer is usually one of the most exciting seasons for 4-H. Pickens County 4-H’ers would travel to a 4-H Center for a week-long summer camp but for 2020, we had to post-pone due to Covid 19 restrictions.
Pickens County is very proud of our volunteers. Many of the activities and programs listed above would not be possible without volunteers. For three years in a row, Pickens County volunteers have been recognized at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet held at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. This year, Pickens County volunteer Melvina Carlan received the National Lifetime of Service Award for Georgia 4-H. Volunteers donate their time and effort to make 4-H programs succeed on a community, district, and state level.