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LEONARDTOWN, Md. – When the pandemic started in 2020, organizations and businesses across the nation had to shut down many of their large activities. But, 2021 was the first year they slowly brought these activities back. 

The University of Maryland Extension(UME) has created a report on St. Mary’s County and its annual activities.

“The local UME faculty and staff are recognized for innovative programming and research that benefits both St. Mary’s county and the entire state,” the university said. “While COVID-19 did affect our programming last year, we found innovative delivery methods to resume and provide ongoing education and services with much success.”

Here’s a breakdown of the programs:

FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES

The FCS Program topics included chronic disease prevention and management and innovative approaches to health and wellness in 2021. Programs reached 625 adults and 1072 youth through 17 handouts/presentations, 11 workshops, 11 webinars, three all-day youth events, two video recordings, one research project, one e-newsletter, and one teleconference.

AGRICULTURE & FOOD SYSTEMS (AgFs) 

The AgFs program conducted over 400 farm consultations at the request of producers, and focused on solving a variety of production issues, such as insect, weed, disease, fertility, or cultural techniques. Six applied field research trials were conducted in collaboration with farmers across the county during the last year to address current production issues.

4-H YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

The 4-H Program provides a supportive setting for youth to learn beneficial life skills to reach their fullest potential as responsible, caring citizens. In 2021, the program had 197 youth enrolled while 10 of their community clubs could hold club meetings and do hands-on activities and virtual programming. The St. Mary’s County fair could have an in-person fair with over 1,412 4-H entries received from 100 4-H youth members. 

During the year, members set goals, record their project activities and learning opportunities, record income and expenses, and summarize what they learned during the project year. In 2021, they completed 69 record books, which included over 157 projects.

WATERSHED PROTECTION AND RESTORATION PROGRAM (WPRP) 

In 2021, Nicole Basenback collaborated on community projects and activities that engaged residents in stormwater and natural resource conservation activities. Efforts supported brought over $10,000 in grants and solicited funds into St. Mary’s County. Nicole partnered with Friends of St. Clements Bay to bring a “Greener Front Yard” to the new building that houses the Leonardtown Library and Garvey Senior Activity Center.

Community Outreach and Education

  • Rain Barrel Workshop – 30 attendees and 23 rain barrels distributed. 
  • Provided an educational watershed video for the Town of Leonardtown’s virtual Earth Day Event.

MASTER GARDENER (MG) 

The Master Gardener program mission is to train and support volunteer horticultural educators who put their knowledge to work for the citizens of St. Mary’s County. In 2021, the Master Gardener Program comprised 70 active volunteers and 35 interns, who performed 3,000 hours of volunteer service in St. Mary’s County. 

Collectively, between plant clinics, the St. Mary’s County Fair, public presentations, recordings, and public school-related activities, Master Gardeners have interacted with about 1,850 residents of St. Mary’s County in 2021.

AGRICULTURAL NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT (NM) 

The local Nutrient Management (NM) program is coordinated by Greg Simpson, a Maryland Nutrient Management Advisor. The NM Advisor conducts farm visits, processes soil, manure, and plant tissue tests, and also provides technical support to any farm operator in the county who requests it. 

In 2021, NM’s planned covering of 12,432 acres was completed for 72 individual cooperators covering 374 tracts of land farmed primarily in St. Mary’s County. Of these cooperators, 39 requested plans to qualify for participation in the Maryland Cover Crop Program, and 15 had plans prepared for the Maryland Manure Transport Program. 

SNAP-EDUCATION (SNAP-Ed) 

Maryland SNAP-Ed is a program within the University of Maryland Extension that creates healthier environments and improves the health and well-being of limited-income families across Maryland. SNAP-Ed programs encourage a nutritious and active lifestyle through increased food access, drinking more water, and promoting physical activity.

In St. Mary’s County, delivery of the program materials continued to respond to the changing needs of our six partnering SMCPS elementary schools and 2 food pantry access sites to continue to reach as many of those participants as possible. They distributed curricula to students via classroom teachers and the SNAP-Ed Project leader via teleconferencing directly to students on their school-issued computers.

“Through its programs in production agriculture, gardening, nutrient management, 4-H youth development, nutrition and health education, and watershed education, UME St. Mary’s staff and volunteers continue to provide many services to county residents,” the UME said. “UME continues to evolve and sponsor education and services to meet changing needs along with supporting traditional needs of county residents.”

Contact our news desk at news@thebaynet.com

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