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
The high-school graduation rate for Turner County is 78 percent. The College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) is an accountability measure that promotes college and career readiness for all Georgia public school students. According to the Tufts 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development, the structured learning, encouragement and adult mentoring that young people receive through 4-H participation plays a vital role in helping them achieve future life successes. Young people involved in 4-H report better grades and an elevated level of school engagement, and they are nearly two times more likely to go to college. 4-H youth are 3.4 times more likely to actively contribute to their communities when compared to their peers.
Under the leadership of Lynn Davis, Turner County 4-H agent, approximately 70 youth practiced their leadership skills and worked together to achieve a common goal of reaching over 400 youth through the National Education Association’s Read Across America. Turner County 4-H’ers proved they knew a thing or two about reading as they promoted literacy for children of all ages. These teens practiced leadership, citizenship and life skills. Through community engagement, Lynn is helping to build social capital where it may not be expected. Youth-adult partnerships provide natural mentorship opportunities and community connectedness.
Immediately following the reading event, students shared that they felt important and that they would be successful in life. Kenvus H. believed the project made him “become a better reader because he gained public speaking skills to help make (his) career successful.” One teacher commented, “This experience gives the middle-school students confidence in themselves, as they are the ‘role models’ or ‘big kids.’ This experience gives the elementary-school students someone to look up to and imagine that one day, they can grow up to come back and read to younger students themselves.” Leadership skills ranked second as the greatest skill deficit behind communication in a recent survey of major employers. Today’s youth have few opportunities to learn the leadership skills so valued in the workplace and our society.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Each year, Turner County Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) conducts farm visits to examine cotton-crop maturity and determine the optimal defoliation date for each crop. Many growers attend to peanuts first and let cotton wait; however, these visits encourage timely defoliation, which can lead to increased yield and quality. This year, Turner County ANR Agent Will Gay conducted these cotton defoliation consultations on more than 70 site visits. This has significant impact, especially on a year like 2018 when the county was hit by Hurricane Michael. After the hurricane hit, Gay documented yield loss throughout the county, information that was extremely useful later when the Georgia Development Authority offered low-interest disaster loans to farmers within the disaster zone. Gay filled out many loss-verification forms needed for submitting loan applications. Field research was conducted on cotton, peanut and watermelon crops in 2018, however, some of the most important work was to follow up on the whitefly epidemic of 2017 so that growers would know what to expect. Gay was involved with specialists on projects that screened winter weeds for viruses and identified possible host plants for whiteflies. In 2018, whiteflies were present in cotton as early as July, and Gay assisted growers in the management of whitefly populations.