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.
4-H Youth Development
Cattle vaccines can be very costly for area cattle producers, so it is very important to store and handle them correctly. The Thomas County 4-H Club recently teamed up with a retired Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent and the Thomasville Stockyards to build chute-side vaccine coolers. The chute-side vaccine coolers will be given to area cattle producers and can help maintain the correct temperature range for vaccines and help keep syringes out of direct sunlight while working cattle. Every person who handles a vaccine — from the manufacturers and distributors to veterinarians and producers — has a role in ensuring vaccine effectiveness. Taking care of the vaccine itself can help prolong its capability until it is time for the product to be administered to the cattle. Thomas County 4-H members initially built six coolers, with plans to work with neighboring cattlemen and 4-H groups to build more. This project will help area producers by adding value to their market beef cattle, showing a continued commitment to quality and strengthening herd profitability. An area cattle producer stated, “I think this is a great project for our 4-H’ers — it will benefit them and it will benefit us. It is important for our industry to make sure that we are handling these vaccines safely during shipping, delivery, at the vet’s office, and finally, at chute-side just prior to administering them to the cattle.”
Agriculture and Natural Resources
UGA Extension in Thomas County is dedicated to meeting the educational needs of the community. During 2018, Thomas County Extension conducted eight educational programs attended by nearly 200 people. To determine annual programming needs, Thomas County Extension conducts needs assessments throughout the community, and programs are developed to fit each need. One example of program development pertains to Thomas County cotton production. Thomas County was ranked in the top 20 for farm-gate values for cotton in 2017, and cotton is the most-farmed row crop in the county. In 2018, Thomas County growers planted more than 30,000 acres of cotton. Due to the importance of this commodity in Thomas County, more programming options were pursued. Neighboring counties host meetings on cotton defoliation near the end of the season, and some Thomas County growers expressed the desire to have the same opportunity in their home county. A meeting was held in Thomas County with more than 20 producers attending. A sponsored meal was served and private and commercial pesticide applicator continuing education credits were awarded. In 2019, Thomas County Extension will host this meeting again, earlier in the season to allow for better attendance and to provide more information on plant growth regulators in a timely manner. Also in 2018, research was conducted on cotton-variety selection and aphid pests of cotton, and a whitefly survey was conducted to monitor risk. The majority of these trials were successful and the conclusions drawn from this research will be shared at international meetings in the coming year.