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
Approximately 650 youth participated in our fun, hands-on lessons at Upson Lee Elementary School in 2019. Lessons included topics on career awareness and local farm-to-fork commodities. We will be continuing the farm-to-fork curriculum in 2020, focusing on local production.
In addition to our in-school programming, our after-school programs have been revamped. We have incorporated a new program design focusing on “Passion Programs.” Passion Programs are volunteer-led with topics of each volunteer’s choosing. Each month a volunteer picks a hands-on topic to teach our third through 12th grade students. A few highlighted programs from 2019 include Peanutrition Cooking Contest, Beefn’ Up Christmas, STEM club, and Crafting Days. Our students also had the opportunity to compete in multiple district contests including poultry judging, cotton boll/consumer judging, wildlife judging, shotgun team, BB team and District Project Achievement.
Our 4-H programming did not stop for summer break. This summer we offered fun-filled activities and field trips every week, as well as co-coordinating a county-specific summer day camp with the local Farm Bureau, called Summer AgVacation. The one-day camp focused on agricultural commodities and featured fun, hands-on activities.
Middle and high school students learned about local careers at monthly meetings. 4-H’ers discussed jobs they were interested in throughout the community and heard from representatives of the Thomaston Police Department and Upson County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit. We owe much of the success in 2019 to our dedicated volunteers and office staff. With the addition of our new 4-H educator, 2020 will bring many more new and exciting programs to Upson County 4-H.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Upson County Cooperative Extension hosted several producer-oriented workshops for the surrounding counties, allowing participants to earn credit hours for their private and commercial pesticide licenses and gain knowledge needed to identify problems and implement solutions on their farms.
Upson County Extension hosted two producer tours in 2019. In November, we organized a farm tour in Reidsville, Georgia, to visit a cattle marketing feed lot and get an inside tour of the Georgia State Prison System farms. The prison tour encompassed the dairy, milk-processing plant, irrigated croplands, cattle pastures and canning plant. The second tour, in December, visited University of Georgia variety test plots.
Upson Extension offered four sessions of the program titled “Extension Holiday DIY,” a program that allows community members to get hands-on and creative with everyday items focused around holidays.
As usual, the Southeastern Hay Contest was a success. More than 55 samples from Upson and Lamar counties were entered, with two producers placing first in their respective categories. Our counties were also recognized for submitting the most samples in the entire region, which goes to show that our producers really care about what they are producing and feeding to their animals. This year, we definitely experienced a severe drought in the county that caused many producers extreme losses of fields, pastures and crops. This also forced earlier-than-normal feeding of winter hay reserves, which in turn decreased availability for others not producing their own hay. This drought has taken its toll on the area, but we are hopeful for more moderate conditions in 2020.
The most successful program of the year was our Sale Barn Beef Program hosted at the end of February. We brought in a UGA beef specialist and a U.S. Department of Agriculture livestock specialist to talk about evaluating live cattle for marketing purposes. We held this program at the local Upson Sale Barn were we had heifers and steers available to practice live cattle evaluating. There were producers from all over the area in attendance. All-in-all it was a successful year, now on to the next one.