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.
THOMAS COUNTY 4-H AT A GLANCE
The Thomas County 4-H Program is grounded in the belief that young people learn best by doing. In our county, 4-H members complete hands-on projects in areas like civic engagement, agriculture and health and science, in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult volunteers and mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles.
Thomas County 4-H’ers are fortunate because they can concentrate on one focus area of their choice or they can try a variety of programs throughout their 4-H experience. Through participation in Georgia 4-H Project Achievement, 4-H’ers choose a project area of interest, research that topic, then write and present to a group of their peers. Through this experience, 4-H’ers develop public speaking, leadership, record keeping and many other skills. This opportunity empowers young people with skills that will last a lifetime. Challenging, encouraging, exploring and discovering is what the Thomas County 4-H Program is all about.
AGRICULTURE: PEANUT MATURITY CLINICS
Approximately 14,000 acres of peanuts are planted every year in Thomas County. Each year, peanut maturity clinics have been conducted at one or two locations in the county. This contributes to helping farmers know when to harvest, however this also costs them in terms of time spent away from the farm. The agent continued previous programming offered in the county and made it available to interested individuals through marketing in print and in person. Holding the peanut maturity clinics at a location convenient for growers led to more samples being submitted, improved yields and more contacts made. The clinics were held at farms throughout the county by appointment. Once peanut growers called, a clinic would be held at their barn or a neighbor’s barn at a convenient time for them. By freeing up more of the grower’s time this year, this allowed for 70% more contacts to be made and 35% more samples to be submitted to determine maturity. Many of the growers commented that yields were lower this year in their dryland fields due to the drought and knowing when to harvest was essential to making the yields that they needed.
REESTABLISHING FACS PROGRAMMING
The Family and Consumer Sciences Program in Thomas County is experiencing exciting times, as it is not only rebuilding after being inactive for 10 years, but also is gaining momentum. In 2019, FACS agent Ashleigh Childs established a relationship with the Live Better Thomas County campaign and sits on the advisory board as a decision-maker and partner in the obesity and chronic disease prevention efforts within the county. Through this initiative, the FACS program has played a critical role in providing educational content for a monthly newsletter that is distributed to all Kindergarten through fifth grade students in the Thomas County school system, reaching approximately 4,000 families. The Thomas County Library system has served as a catalyst for education and outreach by offering monthly FACS programming at four branch locations, reaching members in the municipalities of Pavo, Coolidge, Ochlocknee and Thomasville. Establishing a media presence was a priority to promote the services and information the FACS program offers and has been accomplished through a monthly column in the Thomasville Times-Enterprise, a weekly radio segment titled Fast FACS on WPAX/WTUF 107.3 and an active Facebook page.