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
Tift County is one of the most diverse agricultural counties in the state. Vegetable crops, row crops, forages, ornamental horticulture, livestock, forestry, fruits, tree nuts and more are grown in Tift County. UGA Cooperative Extension in Tift County provides research-based information for agriculturists through educational production meetings, on-farm research and individual engagements. Tift County producers faced many challenges in 2019. Extended periods of drought complied with extreme heat made for a challenging year. With the drought and heat, insect pests were more prominent than in recent years. Lesser Cornstalk Borers and Southern Corn Rootworms were a major factor in our peanut fields this year. Cotton and watermelon prices were down this year, which brought difficult decisions regarding inputs that would normally protect the crop. Throughout 2019, Tift County Extension agents conducted applied research with local growers comparing cotton varieties, researching chemistries for greenhouse applications, managing diseases in vegetables and cotton, and controlling insects in cotton, peanuts and vegetables.
Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS)
Tift County Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) provides programming that increases the health, wellness and financial capability of individuals and families served. All first graders participate in a handwashing lesson. Proper handwashing is the No. 1 way to prevent the spread of the flu virus. Preventing the spread of germs allows students more instructional time and parents fewer missed workdays. All second graders receive a nutrition lesson about added sugar. Creating an awareness of how much sugar they consume and the negative effects of too much sugar in the body helps prevent childhood obesity. Food safety programs provide employees and restaurant managers the opportunity to complete the National ServSafe® Managers certification. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly one in six Americans gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne illnesses.
The free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) tax preparation service is now in its fifth year, saving residents hundreds of dollars. Providing the community with resources for overall wellness is the top priority for Tift County’s FACS Agent Roxie Price. Price represents Tift County and Georgia by serving as President for the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS).
4-H Youth Development
Young people become self-directing, productive, contributing members of society through 4-H. Tift County Extension 4-H leaders work with a total of 800 public, private and homeschooled youths, delivering educational opportunities for students in fifth through 12th grades. Our program complements and enhances basic grade-level curriculum by bringing UGA resources to each classroom where 4-H programs are taught. Tift County 4-H offers opportunities for youth of all ages, backgrounds and ability levels. Project Achievement gives 4-H’ers the opportunity to research, develop and present a demonstration on a topic of their choice. These projects can highlight any hobby or interest the 4-H’er may have. This is a great tool to build public-speaking skills and to showcase the 4-H member’s hard work and success. In addition to participation in activities like Project Achievement, Tift County 4-H’ers can take advantage of spending a week at summer camp at one of Georgia’s five 4-H centers. They may also participate in judging and team events, including quiz bowls, poultry and consumer judging, livestock projects or shooting sports teams. Tift County 4-H also believes in giving youth a chance to serve their community. Members of 4-H have served at events and contributed to causes including Relay for Life, Ronald McDonald House Charities, the local soup kitchen and the Adopt-a-Mile program.