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 PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Since March 2020, programming has looked quite different for Whitfield County 4-H which turned towards virtual activities upon the closure of schools. Weekly meetings where held through Zoom on Wednesdays “4-H @ 4PM” from April 8 to June 24. 4-H’ers attended all the meetings they could averaging about 12 students per meeting in grades 4th to 12th. Each meeting consisted of a quick update and an activity. Some 4-H’ers also continued to use the platform to share information about their Project Achievement topics.
Starting on June 29th, 2020 a series of summer activity kits was developed in partnership with Murray County 4-H. Each week 60 kits were prepared in Murray County and half were delivered to Whitfield County. Activities included a variety of hands-on learning on different topics including STEM and healthy living. A related video was also posted on social media to accompany each kit. At the end, each participant received a “Back-to-School Kit” filled with supplies to help them prepare for the new school year. Each of the kits was free thanks to generous donations from the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia.
Gradually, Whitfield County 4-H’ers have been able to return to the office in small groups to participate in the activities they enjoy such as community service projects. The students have kept their Adopt-a-Mile clean and donated crafted items to the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia and Women’s Enrichment Center. Through a newly established music club lead by Whitfield AmeriCorps member, they have been able to socialize, play new instruments, get creative with songs, and upload videos to social media. Several students have been able to make time for 4-H contests-competing in Cotton Boll & Consumer Judging, preparing for District Project Achievement, and learning about Poultry Judging alongside the Whitfield 4-H Agent.
4-H leaders have also been so thankful for the opportunity to reach almost 300 students with in-school club meetings. New partnerships with Arden Forest School and Kid City programs have been very exciting. Moreover, a collection of funds from donors, including United Way, allowed for a purchase of a much needed mini-bus. As the weather gets warmer, planning for the summer is once again on the horizon. Hopes are high for being able to camp at Rock Eagle and implementing all the fun local day camps possible. Always working to make the best better!
ANR PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Many gardeners, both experienced and novice, desire to limit or eliminate the use of pesticides in garden food crop production. Non-chemical pest management creates exceptional challenges. Gardenerse the use of pesticides in garden food crop production. Non-chemical pest management creates exceptional challenges. Gardeners and homeowners are increasingly alert to the need to protect pollinators and beneficial insects and are interested in enhancing habitat with landscape and garden plantings. Community gardens provided locations to demonstrate alternative pest management practices and pollinator habitat enhancement.
At the Dalton State College campus garden, initial soil sampling was followed with demonstration of sequential cool- (Daikon radish) and warm-season (cowpea/soybean) cover cropping on several plots. A “low-maintenance” turfgrass area, adjacent to the campus garden plots, is being used to continue a project demonstrating white clover overseeding to enhance pollinator habitat.
Solarization is a process which manages weed seed and disease organisms by heating the soil. Nine plots at one community garden were covered with clear plastic in June. Plastic remained in place during the hottest summer months and was removed in September. Solarized beds were subsequently covered with cardboard and mulch to minimize weed growth.
One raised bed was developed as a pollinator garden, demonstrating entirely pesticide-free methods. Seeds of a “bee-friendly” annual flower mixture were started indoors and grown for transplanting using seed cups fashioned from used newspaper. Newspaper was laid on the raised bed soil to provide a weed barrier. Flower transplants were planted through the newspaper barrier and a layer of mulch was spread above the newspaper on June 15. Blooms were evident within 3 weeks and flowering continued through September. Three weed plants removed by hand. Otherwise, the plot remained weed-free for the growing season.