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.
ANR Impact: Southern Corn Rust
In 2020, Wayne County corn farmers were at risk of losing an excellent crop due to the potential impact of Southern Corn Rust. Southern Rust is a serious disease of corn caused by the fungus Puccinia polysora. This particular disease spreads rapidly and can lead to catastrophic damage to corn crops for producers. Without the proper education on weather patterns, scouting and preventive fungicides, Farmers can lose large portions of their corn crop to this disease. On June 11, 2020, a suspected Southern Corn Rust sample was brought to the UGA Extension Agent in Wayne County by a local cotton scout. The Agent prepared the sample for identification and the sample was confirmed positive by the UGA Extension Plant Pathologist for Southern Corn Rust that same day. Once the initial confirmation was made that Wayne County had in fact received its first case of this crop disease the Agent proceeded to notify all producers with the best preventative and curative fungicide recommendations. The agent also addressed the importance of applying fungicides at the appropriate stage of crop development for the preventative care to be successful. Once the first initial applications were applied producers were also instructed to watch and monitor their crops for any further spread or outbreaks. Through collaboration with local cotton scouts and timely educational efforts, the UGA Extension Office in Wayne County was able to inform farmers on the presence Southern Corn Rust and provide them with proper preventative applications, along with the crop development stages to limit spread and yield losses. The estimated yield from this year’s 4,994 acre corn crop was approximately 170 bushels per acre at an average price of $4.50 per bushel. This will result in a Farm Gate value of $3,820,410 for Wayne County corn producers for 2020.
4-H Impact: Multi-County Virtual Environmental Education Summer Programming
The summer of 2020 presented multiple issues for county 4-H programming. Schools closed in mid-March and 4-H face to face programming came to a halt due to COVID-19. Camden, Glynn, McIntosh, and Wayne County summer 4-H programs focus on providing adventures in learning utilizing science and our local coastal environment. Understanding the local environment and environmental issues helps create citizens that can better make informed decisions. To overcome COVID-19 restrictions, Camden, Glynn, McIntosh, and Wayne county 4-H programs created a three-part series, “Virtual Coastal Adventures,” to fulfill the need for science education from a distance. Virtual Coastal Adventures was designed to support the goal of teaching students about local environmental issues and marine life while incorporating the 4-H essential elements of mastery, independence, generosity and belonging. Virtual Coastal Adventures provided youth an opportunity to safely participate in a group activity during a pandemic while in-person programs were not possible; while also engaging youth in learning about their local environment. Each two hour session included a variety of delivery methods to ensure the program was accessible and allowed youth to participate in a variety of ways. Each session included asynchronous activity packets containing educational information and instructions for activities that would be completed during the virtual session, along with activities for youth to complete independently at home. Activity packets were mailed to participants prior to each session. Youth were given the opportunity to report on their accomplishments, engage in discussion, and ask questions during each virtual session. Collectively, the Virtual Coastal Adventures series engaged 30 youth in live, interactive online programming. A total of 53 youth participants registered for the series and received the activity packets (36 unique individuals). Seven Georgia counties were represented. Three parent/adult leaders participated in the live online programs. Siblings and family members in the home were also engaged in completing at home and live program activities with the 4-H member. These programs helped to establish a knowledge base of coastal environments and ecosystems. With this knowledge, students can begin to form new and positive attitudes about marine animals and environmental issues, which then creates the potential for behavior change to occur. Ultimately, with more activities offered through this program, behavior change in our 4-H students can lead to positive human impacts on our coastal environments and our planet’s overall health. The ultimate goal of these virtual events and activities was to keep youth and families involved with our Georgia 4-H program. While educating and supplying new methods of interactions through software and trainings that our 4-H agent researched, there were many new platforms utilized to also integrate into the new school year with Wayne County Youth!
FACS Impact: Food Safety in Southeast Georgia
Foodborne illness is a common and costly, yet preventable public health problem. Food Safety Education is being taught in Wayne County to address the risk of foodborne illness. Extension is the only source for residents of Wayne County for foodservice workers to receive ServSafe Manager Certification. The Wayne County FACS agent, in collaboration with other Family and Consumer Sciences agents, offers ServSafe training in Wayne and surrounding counties several times per year. Additionally, from 2015 through 2020, 86 newspaper articles have addressed food safety and/or food preservation for local readers. The agent attends four food-safety trainings per year with state specialists to incorporate the most up-to-date information on food safety for public clientele.