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
As a result of increased food safety concerns related to COVID 19 and also, an increased interest in local sources of meats, more landowners in Harris County are fencing in the pastures and buying, cows, sheep, and goats to stock the pastures with. Limited pasture management skills make it difficult to provide an adequate amount of quality forage for their animals. This low-quality forage cannot move through the digestive system. This causes the animal to become impacted and die. After losing $10,000 worth of cattle, the producer contacted the Harris County Extension Office. The first order of business was to determine what caused the impaction. Harris County Extension Agent ran forage test on the hay. It was determined that hay was very low-quality. This poor-quality forage in addition to inadequate energy levels used for digestion in the cows from being thin was identified as the reason for impaction. While working with the individual producer to improve forage quality, the county agent developed county wide programming to educate producers on the importance of quality forage production. In a collaborative effort between Extension Beef Cattle Specialist and NRCS, the county agent offered Harris producers the Pasture Condition Score Sheet. To improve forage quality, producers were encouraged to implement soil and forage testing practices. The goals of the project are to:
• Identify livestock concentration and sacrifice areas
• Identify and reduce soil erosion and soil compaction areas
• Improve ground cover to 85% of pasture area
• Improve soil fertility and (pH) for 85% of producers who submit soil samples
as determined by the soil sample
• Improve forage quality for 85% of producer who submit forage samples as
determined by forage sampling
4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
In 2020, a worldwide pandemic was declared, that caused the world to go into quarantine. In response to the pandemic Talbot County, 4-H agent was charged with finding different ways to continue delivering youth development programs and opportunities in a virtual format. Talbot County 4-H came up with four programs to keep our 4-Her’s invested in our program. The first program was a picture journal zoom class. This class was created to keep our students connected with each other and us. This platform allowed students to share their pain, joy, or growth experience during the pandemic through art or photos. Our second program was a summer cooking class for the students. This class taught kids how to cook safe, healthy, fun and easy meals at home without the help of their parents. Our third class was a scientific experiment-based Zoom class to actively engage students through design-based projects while deepening their understanding of fundamental concepts. Just to keep things fun we created virtual craft days with sessions in rock art, making masks from t-shirts, making coke bottle bird feeders, making slime, and making safe hand sanitizer at home. To continue being a presence in our community, we volunteered at local food drives being held throughout the county. We also made over 100 Christmas gift baskets, along with our students and other local collaborators, to donate to our local elderly residents.
Talbot County 4-H will continue to grow and positively influence youth, who represent our future.