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
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to plan and implement conservation practices that improve the conservation of natural resources on agricultural land. At the request of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil conservation technician, EQIP applicants made appointments to meet with Ricky Ensley, Polk County’s UGA Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent, to identify their target weeds and method of control.
Ensley met with seven Polk County landowners on site to discuss integrated pest management strategies to help them decide the best course of action for weed management in their pastures and hay fields. These landowners represent 200 acres of forage. These landowners made applications for EQIP funding.
Sheri Teems, NRCS district supervisor, states that the majority of our EQIP grazing contracts include herbaceous weed-control practices as a way of improving forage production. Since participants are receiving $30-40 an acre for this practice, we are trying to get them to go above and beyond what they usually do when they spray their pastures. We are requiring them to consult with UGA Extension to get site-specific recommendations before they spray. After following recommendations made by Extension, these seven producers qualified for EQIP funds. Those seven producers made informed weed-management decisions for 200 acres of forage crops. Those 200 acres of forage crops yield an average of 2.7 tons per acre of forage, valued at $54,000.
4-H Youth Development
There are 785 youth enrolled in the Polk County 4-H Club. Our 4-H staff conducted 25 monthly meetings focusing on agriscience and healthy living. Polk County 4-H’ers performed 454 hours of service in the Polk County community. Polk County volunteers donated 794 hours valued at $13,188.
Polk County 4-H’ers competed in District Project Achievement, which encourages youth to present demonstrations to a group of their peers and judges. They also complete a portfolio, much like a resume. Participating in the competition helps them to develop research, writing and presentation skills that also aid them in performing better on school-related tasks and tests, and becoming work-ready young adults. Polk County had 45 4-H’ers compete at District Project Achievement. One 4-H’er, Zoey Myrick, competed at State Congress, placing second.
Twenty-four 4-H’ers increased their knowledge and developed critical thinking and oral presentation skills by participating on Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging and Poultry Judging teams.
The shooting sports program, known as Project S.A.F.E. (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) allows 4-H youth the experience of solving problems and meeting challenges that develop their self-confidence. The Polk County BB Gun Team had 15 members compete at the state contest.
Twenty-two sophomores from Cedartown and Rockmart high schools participated in Polk County’s Polk Youth Leadership program. They attended four leadership sessions.
Family and Consumer Sciences
Polk County Extension hosted a Cooking for a Lifetime Cancer Prevention Cooking School. Twenty-two attendees learned about reducing the risk of cancer by proper nutrition. A diabetes class was held in October with 25 participants learning about nutritional diets for patients with diabetes.