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: Making the Best Better
In 2022, Whitfield County had much success in each of our four focus areas: in-school programming, summer camp, Project Achievement, and specialty clubs.
Whitfield County 4-H’s In-school continued to grow by leaps and bounds. 4-H currently serves 15 county and city schools, 1 private school, and a home-schooling group, totaling 43 classes across Whitfield County. After-school programs were added to encompass 5th-grade programming and also leadership opportunities for middle and high school students. New relationships have been formed with Dalton Junior High’s Cat City, and the Boys and Girls Club of Whitfield County and several schools were able to welcome 4-H back into the classroom after Covid-19.
Whitfield County 4-H’ers enjoyed several opportunities to participate in summer programs. Over 70 4-H’ers attended one of the five Georgia 4-H center camps. Scholarships were awarded through United Way and Georgia 4-H. Additional day camps included trips to Junior Achievement Discovery Center, environmental education at Wahsega 4-H Center, and local educational programs. Total summer programming included twenty-two programs and over 500 participants.
Project Achievement empowers young people with skills for a lifetime, Students choose a project area of interest, research the topic and write a presentation. 4-H’ers develop leadership, creativity, public speaking, record keeping, and other skills. In-school programming implements Project Achievement in the classroom with students having additional opportunities to continue their achievements by competing in Whitfield County Project Achievement Contest and District Project Achievement. Whitfield County 4-H was recognized for Outstanding Participation at the district level and over 70% of participants placed in the top three of their respective categories.
Additional specialty clubs include Tech Changemakers, Music Club/Rockin’ on Clovers, Poultry Judging, Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging, Robotics, and Livestock Showing.
4-H Tech Changemakers addresses the digital divide between youth and adults by providing education on common technological workforce challenges. Whitfield County 4-H Tech Changemakers designed presentations on focus areas, in both English and Spanish languages, that included icebreakers and engaging activities for participants. Each presentation included multiple 4-H youth presenting in dual languages. In addition to presentations, Whitfield County 4-H Tech Changemakers partnered with Engineered Floors to produce an information technology (IT) video used for employee training. Topics included the company’s cell phone and technology policy, email etiquette, phishing, and data security. New for 2023 is a volunteer-led podcasting group, exploring and learning new topics and methods of communicating. The Music Club welcomes students who have an interest in performing arts; singing, playing an instrument, set design, or dancing, to perform at several events throughout Whitfield County with its band, “Rockin’ on Clovers.” Several 4-H’ers participated in Georgia 4-H events and competitions including Poultry Judging, Cotton Boll and Consumer Judging, Robotics Club sponsored through Tennessee Valley Robotics, and Livestock Showing including the Georgia National Fair and Georgia Junior National Livestock Fair.
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.