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 Whitfield County 4-H Club held a two-day regional financial literacy conference targeting middle school students in May. The 4-H conference program theme “Life 101” was held at Dalton State College to provide the 31 participants with a college-life experience. 4-H’ers enjoyed staying overnight in the dorm and participating in financial literacy classes comprised of experiential learning activities that addressed basic financial topics including budgeting and financial goals, consumer spending, interest, debit and credit cards, checking and savings accounts, career and college preparation, the importance of workplace soft skills and the value of leadership smarts. Students dealt with life issues in a life simulation and entered their unique piggy banks in a contest to earn prizes that included a scholarship to 4-H conferences. After their Life 101 courses, students were surveyed to measure the financial knowledge they acquired and the financial skills they are likely to use in the future. Responses overwhelmingly showed the students understood the importance of comparison shopping, that the salary a worker receives is not based on luck, and that, generally, more training and education will result in earning a higher income. More than 80 percent of the students indicated that they plan to use these financial practices in the future, including spending less than they earn, saving money regularly and obtaining additional education to increase their earning potential. Additional comments made by the 4-H’ers were:
- “I liked that the program helped me learn more about money and how important it is to save for the future.”
- “I feel I understand college much better!”
- “Can we stay all week?”
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Pasture and hay fields represent the largest land use in Whitfield County at 36 percent, comprising more than 14,000 acres and representing a land value exceeding $60 million. This acreage is used primarily for cow-calf production, supporting more than 8,000 cattle and generating farm-gate revenue exceeding $4.5 million. Winter feed costs exceed 50 percent of variable costs of production. Excellent hay quality may require the purchase of minimal supplemental feed to meet animal requirements. Poor quality hay, if not supplemented, reduces productivity. Hay testing provides a substantial return on investment, but few utilize the hay testing service provided by UGA Extension. During the previous two years, only three hay samples had been submitted for analysis through UGA Extension in Whitfield County. The Master Cattleman Program was hosted in Whitfield County in fall 2018. Sponsorship funds provided free forage analysis for participants from Whitfield and surrounding counties. Twenty-three samples were tested. Responding to questions about hay testing, 16 of 23 respondents indicated they previously had “rarely or never” had hay analyzed. Offering a free sample provided producers unfamiliar with the practice the opportunity to learn how to sample, submit and understand the results of analyses provided. One local producer learned that excellent harvest and storage management had resulted in high-quality hay. Based on recommendations from the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) agent, supplementation was unnecessary for the producer’s mature cows. Following UGA Extension recommendations resulted in a savings of more than $1,500 for the year.