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
Wilcox County’s farm gate value totals $117 million, excluding broiler-integrator production, and ranks 35th in total farm gate value out of all Georgia’s counties. Of the county’s 243,400 acres, 69 percent, or 168,155 acres, are forested. Timber sales are $6.8 million, a farm gate value that ranks 34th in the state.
Among row crops and produce, Wilcox County’s 25,309 acres of cotton represent $19.4 million of agriculture income, ranking 17th in Georgia. $13.8 million of agriculture income is brought in by 13,361 acres of peanuts. With an increase in produce, Wilcox ranks 5th in watermelon production and 8th in cabbage production in Georgia.
UGA Extension in Wilcox County uses media resources as an educational tool for farmers, agribusiness and the general public. Both radio and website media present timely tips and educational information concerning agriculture and the environment.
The “South Georgia Pine Ag Update” is a weekly radio program aired on seven radio stations across 55 Georgia counties. The program includes information from the county agent on current field crop issues as well as interviews with UGA specialists. In 2018, the agent produced 36 “South Georgia Pine Ag Update” radio programs to 390,000 listeners a week from Macon, Georgia, to the Florida line and Albany, Georgia, to the Atlantic coast. This radio program airs on seven stations across Georgia each week and covers an agriculture income of $5.04 billion (2017 Farm Gate Report).
The agent has also introduced a website and e-newsletter. The Wilcox County Ag blog is used to disseminate local news and educational information concerning agriculture. The newsletter has been a hit with farmers and contains many photos of crops, insects, disease problems and farm activities. It includes hot topics of concern to growers and information from UGA specialists. Information from the blog is sent to 127 farmers and agriculture businesses each week, totaling 9,980 views in 2018.
4-H Youth Development
Disasters are increasing internationally, and disasters like 2018’s Hurricane Michael can wreak havoc on Georgia. Georgia 4-H offered a three-time national award-winning youth preparedness, leadership and educational outreach program known as MyPI (My Preparedness Initiative) for teens. Nine county Extension personnel teamed with seven volunteers, two UGA Extension specialists and the national MyPI training staff at Rock Eagle 4-H Center in MyPI training. The agents, program assistants and community volunteers completed an intensive instructor certification to lead MyPI in eight counties across Georgia.
Training participants received three days of concentrated training in coaching preparedness, including an evaluation specialty. A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant funded a portion of the training and provided youth packs and MyPI manuals for 125 youths. At the training, participants committed to delivering the five- to 10-week training to 125 youths during 2018 and 2019. The training program was held in Wilcox County with a total of 24 students participating. Wilcox had the highest number of participants statewide. There are now 129 Certified Emergency Response Training (CERT) trained students throughout Georgia.