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School might be out, but learning does not have to end! In late May, twenty-seven Coffee County 4-H’ers had the opportunity to participate in a unique hands-on learning experience hosted by the Coffee County Extension | 4-H Office. The goal of this event, titled “The Coffee County Rural-Urban Exchange,” was to expose students in grades 5-8 to the many manufacturing and agricultural opportunities that are available to them right here in Coffee County.
Day one of the Coffee County Rural Urban Exchange began with a visit to Premium Waters where they got a company and product overview and then toured the plant. It was eye-opening for the kids to see the water they might buy at Walmart being made right here in Douglas! They also learned about the different jobs needed to keep the plant operating to produce and ship water all over the United States. After a busy morning, the group enjoyed a delicious hamburger and hot dog lunch sponsored and cooked by Coffee County Young Farmers. During lunch, students were also joined by Ronda Sports, vice president from the Douglas Lions Club, who spoke about the importance of making a difference in our community.
Following lunch, 4-Her’s went to the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce to learn about the business of growing local businesses in Coffee County! Day one concluded at Premium Peanut with a company overview and a tour of the shelling and oil plant. 4-Her’s were amazed at the different technologies used to shell and process the peanuts that go into candy bars and peanut butter.
Day two of Coffee County Rural Urban Exchange was all about agriculture. The first stop was Highsmith Farms. Coffee County Young Farmer Advisor, Spencer Highsmith, taught the students about different ways to identify cattle such as tagging, tattooing, and freeze branding. Students were even able to work together to tag and EID calves. Special thanks to All American Panel LLC and Justin Jones for allowing us to borrow an HR5 EID Reader and compatible scale head to show students how livestock producers utilize technology in their operations to ID their livestock and capture valuable management data.
Next, the 4-H’ers went to McKinnon Farms to learn about cotton and peanut production. We learned about and sat in tractors, a cotton picker, and sprayers. They were also able to get in the cotton field to conduct stand counts and thrips injury ratings on cotton. In the peanut field, students learned about different types of insects that affect peanut growth as well as the parts of the peanut plant. From there, they ate a Chick-Fil-A lunch sponsored by Pilgrim’s and learned about broiler production from local chicken producer Cray Grantham. Being the Vice President of the Coffee County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, Mr. Grantham also discussed what our local Farm Bureau does to support agriculture and students.
The final stop for the first ever Coffee County Rural-Urban Exchange was The Berry Brothers/ Walker Farms to learn about picking and packing blueberries. Students toured the packing shed and picked their own blueberries to take home. They even got to play a game while in the field!
The Coffee County Extension | 4-H team would like to extend a big thank you to all of those that gave their time to these students at each stop as well as these businesses that helped make this event possible: Coffee County Farm Bureau, Coffee County Young Farmers, and Pilgrim’s. Their support helped create this awesome program to teach students about different industries in our community and their impact on the entire country and even the world.
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