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
Providing research-based information to our producers is a key element of UGA Extension in Wheeler County. One-on-one education and evaluation provide immediate changes in management for the current season and future success.
Through evaluation in 2016, the Wheeler County Extension agent recognized that some of the key disease-management concepts were not understood by a local commercial watermelon producer. The farmer had many years of experience in fertility and weed control, but lacked knowledge in disease-management and fungicides.
The Wheeler County Extension agent rewrote the UGA spring watermelon fungicide spray guide in a different format for the producer. The acronyms for diseases were spelled out and fungicides were linked to diseases covered. Fungicide options on the spray guide were narrowed down for the current environmental conditions and individualized for that farm, based on disease history.
By identifying the issue in 2016 after significant losses of around $500,000, the farmer followed the revised fungicide spray guide and consulted with the agent in 2017. This resulted in a high yield with no disease present throughout more than 200 acres and more than $1 million gross revenue, a $500,000 difference from 2016 to 2017. The 2018 season was difficult, with extensive rain all season. The farmer utilized the revised fungicide spray guide from the agent and kept the vines healthy with very little disease. The excessive rain in 2018 ended up claiming the crop. With the potential yield for 2018 similar to the $1 million profit of 2017, the farmer once again proved that following the revised UGA fungicide spray guide from his agent paid off, even if environmental conditions took his 2018 crop.
4-H Youth Development
Georgia 4-H Project SAFE (Shooting Awareness, Fun and Education) is a program with a curriculum designed to assist youth in personal development, establish a personal environmental ethic, and explore lifelong vocational and avocational activities.
The content provides a framework of knowledge and skills for lifetime participation in recreation, hobbies and careers related to shooting sports and wildlife. Core concepts stress safety, ethical development, personal responsibility and lifetime recreational skills. The Wheeler County 4-H Club introduced shotgun in 2014. The shooting-sports program offers opportunities different from FFA and other clubs. The shotgun team has grown significantly over the past four years. Wheeler County’s 2018-19 team consists of nine 4-H’ers: Trinity Miller, Megan Lester, Skyler Poole, Joshua Tillmon, Jacob Johnson, Joseph Clark, David Clark, TJ Gillis and Kyelle Harvey. The team shoots rifle and shotgun. Five of the nine 4-H’ers qualified for the state shotgun (trap, skeet and sporting clays) competition. Wheeler County has seen an increase in 4-H membership with the expansion of the shooting-sports program.
Expanding programming provides increased opportunities for 4-H’ers to develop life skills and team-building experience for positive youth development. The Wheeler County shooting sports program, run by Jesseca Campbell, has made an impact in the lives of the 4-H participants and given future 4-H generations opportunities that might not have been available without this program.