Clemson Extension ceased all in-person trainings and meetings last March due to COVID-19 concerns. We realize that while we all need to take action to protect each other from the virus, our clients continue to have questions and training needs for their various enterprises.
Clemson Extension continues to respond to phone calls and emails on a daily basis, but we also have responded by creating trainings using the Zoom online video conference program. Extension agents are able to set up a date and time in the Zoom program and simply send a link to our clients. Clients then are able to click on the link to join the meetings. These meetings are not recorded, but are presented live.
Since March 2020 the Laurens County Extension Office has offered live Zoom trainings that include 22 Confined Animal Manure Manager recertification trainings (with 14 more scheduled), a Small Pasture and Hayfield Irrigation training, three Master Gardener classes on residential irrigation for various online classes around the State, a Horse Manure Management training, and a training on Feeding Horses.
The Laurens 4-H Program has offered many 4-H projects on-line and continues to offer projects and interaction in a non-contact manner utilizing the Zoom program. SC 4-H Agents also developed the “SC 4-H @ Home” program, a national award winning program that allowed them to utilize online content to hold educational events and programs for SC 4-H’ers (many 4-H’ers in other states also participated in this program as well).
Laurens County Extension is currently working with agents from Abbeville, McCormick, Greenwood, Edgefield, and Union to develop monthly residential horticulture classes held via Zoom. These will be 60 to 90 minute classes, and will offer topics such as Basic Vegetable Gardening, Fire Ant Control, Excluding Wildlife From Your Garden, and a wide range of other topics useful to our clientele. The classes will be held in the evening to allow more clients to attend.
The State Master Gardener Program has also responded to the need for virtual programming, creating a live, on-line Master Gardener course for the entire state since local counties are not able to offer in-person courses at this time. 78 SC residents are enrolled in the current virtual Master Gardener course.
The South Carolina Bull Test Sale has also moved to an on-line format, allowing cattle growers to buy excellent bulls for their herds without having to attend a crowded auction area to do so.
Clemson Extension continues to provide information to our clientele through phone calls, emails, Laurens Extension Facebook posts, and newspaper articles. Laurens County Extension is also currently developing a quarterly newsletter to be shared with clients via email, which should be live in February 2021.
Laurens County Extension Agents have also been able to make one-on-one farm visits when needed, practicing social distancing and safe, masked interaction with local clients while addressing their needs. Our Extension Agronomy Team developed a “map pinning” app, which allows row crop farmers to place a “pin” on a map noting an area that they need help with. The row crop agent then visits the area noted by the pin and provides recommendations for the problem. This allows them to help clients with no contact required.
Helpful links for more information:
Laurens Count Extension web page
Laurens County Extension Facebook
Laurens County 4-H Program Facebook
Home and Garden Information Center
SC Master Gardener Program
Clemson Extension Livestock and Forages Facebook
SC Confined Animal Manure Manager Program
Bryan Smith, County Coordinator
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