Making A Difference in Our County
We're working hard for the citizens we serve. Here are some examples of successful projects from the past year:
Ranch Horse Division
Added Prior to 2010, the Georgia 4-H State Horse Show had seen a decrease in the number of participants. This was due, in part, to economic conditions, but also because many 4-H’ers have horses that are not specifically trained for the four main divisions – Stock Seat, Hunt Seat, Saddle Seat and Contest Event Division – that were offered. Many of these members had horses that were more suited for ranch work. This is especially true for 4-H’ers in Thomas County. Upon recommendation to the Georgia 4-H Horse Advisory Committee, a new division to the State Horse Show was introduced. This division, Ranch Horse, essentially allows 4-H’ers with working, ranch-type stock horses to compete at the state level and exhibit their unique skills and abilities. In 2010, the Ranch Horse class was added to the choices at horse school to prepare riders for this division. Riders were taught basic components of ranch horse competition: cattle basics and core foundational horsemanship skills. The Ranch Horse division was added to the 2011 4-H State Horse Show. In 2015, there were a total of 60 ranch horse exhibitors, a participation increase of 82 percent from 2011. The largest group of riders in the state came from Thomas County. In addition to increased participation, this division has also awarded $4,000 in scholarships. Taking steps toward educating 4-H’ers has had a positive effect on growing awareness of this new division and has helped to teach 4-H’ers important skills needed to succeed in ranch horse competition.
Agricultural Blog for Farmers, Agribusinesses and Community Leaders
Thomas County’s University of Georgia Cooperative Extension responds to the needs of farmers, agribusinesses and the general public with timely Web-based tips and educational information concerning agriculture and the environment. The Extension agent developed the Thomas County Agriculture blog to electronically disseminate local news and educational information concerning agriculture. This blog contains photos of crops, insects, disease problems and farm activities. It includes hot topics of concern to growers as well as information from scientists. It’s searchable by topic and can be accessed by search engines. The agent makes about five posts per week, with more than 300 articles written in 2015. The blog has gained 108 followers since June 2012 and reached 33,105 viewers in 2015. It’s been well received by farmers and agribusinesses on the email list of more than 150 subscribers. Farmers and those in commercial agriculture appreciate timely information they can read on computers, phones and other devices. Thomas County has more than 200,000 acres of land in forestry production. In mid-2015, a forester in Thomas County complimented the works of the county agent’s blog saying, “Andrew, with the negativity you hear from folks, I want you to know I see your blog posts every Friday. They are not going unnoticed ... I value the information you put on there.”