Welcome To The
Arkansas County, Arkansas
Cooperative Extension Service
We are part of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s statewide network and the University of Arkansas System’s Division of Agriculture. Our mission is to provide research-based information through non-formal education to help all Arkansans improve their economic well-being and the quality of their lives. Whether it is agriculture, 4-H, health and living, or community development, the Arkansas County Extension Office is at your service!
Smart Water Usage on the Prairie
State and national water regulations are putting more emphasis on water conservation in row crop agriculture due to high water usage in crop production. Education of irrigation techniques is a way to help conserve water, promote agriculture sustain ability and help to optimize economic returns on the farm.
The PHAUCET (Pipe Hole and Universal Crown Evaluation Tool) irrigation program is a computer software application which designs and optimizes the irrigation pipe hole size so that fields are irrigated more uniformly, resulting in both water and fuel savings. This summer we worked with seven farms to demonstrate this program on over 3,000 acres. These acres were mostly comprised of hard to irrigate fields. The growers were looking for a way to more uniformly irrigate these fields to reduce water runoff and increase overall irrigation efficiency.
The PHAUCET program was an overwhelming success with all 7 producers planning to put all furrow irrigated crops into PHAUCET next year. For example, one field that had previously taken 47 hours to irrigate, PHAUCET reduced the time to 28 hours resulting in a savings of $328 in energy and 1,140,000 gallons water on one 98-acre field. Similar savings were noted on the other 600 acres across the farm. This program saves money and conserves millions of gallons of alluvial water at the same time.
Photo: Arkansas County Staff Chair Chuck Capps discusses Phaucett irrigation with a local farmer.
Healthy Shopping Choices
Approximately 17% of Arkansas County’s population is below poverty level. Preparing the healthiest meals possible on a limited budget presents a great challenge to this population. Learning to prepare foods in a healthier way, reading labels for healthy ingredients and adding whole grains in place of refined grains can be beneficial. 132 lessons were conducted with at least 84 adults concentrating on improving nutritional intake on a budget as well as increasing physical activity. Lessons conducted focused on Dietary Guidelines and the need for physical activity. Participants were able to learn how to prepare healthier versions of dishes utilizing foods available through SNAP-Ed benefits, commodities and the local food pantry. As a result of offering educational lessons, participants were able to better provide for their families. Nutrition lessons enabled participants to purchase more with food dollars, add variety to meals prepared and choose healthier options.
Photo: Vine ripened produce at the Arkansas County Farmers Market.
Community Supports 4-H Partnership
Tractor Supply Company has a long history of support for 4-H and for several years has had a relationship with local 4-H clubs to help them raise funds for their needs. This relationship allows the clubs to raise funds twice a year and promote local 4-H to the community. Since the Stuttgart Tractor Supply store opened Arkansas County 4-H has partnered with them on the Paper Clover campaign. They have provided hot dogs for the 4-H leaders to cook and a place for 4-H promotion on a Saturday. The youth and leaders are able to meet and greet customers and discuss 4-H with them. The food is sold and the proceeds go to the paper clover campaign through the store. The local store has been great at supporting Arkansas County 4-H and assisting in any way possible. By partnering with Tractor Supply Arkansas County 4-H has been able to reach parents and youth who have not previously been reached about 4-H. In the spring of 2014 the Stuttgart store earned the District Champion award making for four straight winning campaigns. Over $2,000 has been raised since this partnership began. Because of this partnership 40 youth and 20 leaders have learned that partnering with local businesses is important to increase the visibility of and participation in Arkansas County 4-H. Based on 4-H'ers and leaders visiting with customers one on one it was found that over 70% were not aware of all the programs available through 4-H. These citizens were made aware of 4-H stem activities, leadership training, public speaking and scholarship opportunities. Read more about Arkansas County 4-H and Youth Development.
Photo: Customers learning about 4-H and buying hot dogs at the Tractor Supply Paper Clover Day.
Reducing Risk for Heart Disease
Arkansas County's population is 35% obese and 36% physically inactive. Obesity and inactivity can be a disastrous combination for heart disease as well as other chronic illnesses. By increasing understanding and education, risk levels can be decreased. Increasing physical activity has been shown to promote a healthy weight and lessen the risk of chronic disease. The Cooperative Extension Service already offered the opportunity for improving health through exercise in eight Strong Women classes, Medicine Ball classes, Reshape Yourself, nutrition concepts, label reading, and leader trainings. Participants were able to learn ways to fit exercise into their daily routine wherever possible and how to reduce risks for chronic disease. Participants in Extension programs improved health by increasing understanding of heart disease, risk factors, and steps to lower risks. Comparison of pre- and post-test results from all participants showed the following: 80% increased their understanding of heart disease and how it develops, 100% increased understanding of risk factors they cannot control, 85% increased understanding risk factors they can control, and 82% increased understanding on steps to lower heart disease risk. Read more about Arkansas County Family & Consumer Sciences programs.
Photo: Strong Women Training participants from U of A Phillips Community College at DeWitt.
Students Feel Better With Choices
53-75% of school-age youth in Arkansas County live in poverty and 63% have limited access to healthy foods. Eight out of nine schools in Arkansas County have SNAP-Ed eligible campuses. The high percentage of overweight/obese is proof of inadequate or improper nutrition in the county. At least 162 lessons focusing on increasing healthier eating habits and increasing physical activity were conducted with SNAP-Ed eligible populations in Arkansas County. Over 1,060 school-age youth were reached through these programs. All lessons conducted were based on the Dietary Guidelines demonstrating ways to increase fruit and vegetable intake, the importance of becoming and staying physically active, consuming whole grains and maintaining a healthy weight. Youth surveyed reported the following: 81% reported increasing consumption of fruit, 82% reported increasing their consumption of vegetables, 96% reported limit consumption of sugary drinks and increase water intake and 98% reported increasing physical activity.
Photo: Arkansas County Extension staff working with students at Back to School Extravaganza at John Cain Park, Stuttgart for back to school supply and education day.