2018 Brunswick County Plan of Work

Approved: April 10, 2018

I. County Background

The Brunswick Vision strategic plan of 2017 included Extension staff to lead a citizen input group and serve on a guiding unit. The needs assessment portion identified many issues in the county that provide opportunities for Extension programming (promote agribusiness and agritourism; preserve shoreline, protect waterways and other environmental features; attract younger residents; and preserving agricultural and rural heritage). Marketing is an organizational issue that must be addressed based on Advisory Council input and because in the Brunswick Vision plan a forced ranking of departments ranked Cooperative Extension low, even though service satisfaction with Extension was mentioned specifically as a strength of the county by participants in the survey.
The staff will focus on three main areas in 2018: Marketing of our programs, Leveraging Local and State Resources, and Strengthening Community Partnerships. These priority areas are based on needs assessments and observations by staff and advisory groups. We are looking forward to a highly productive year with a full staff.


With over 123,000 residents, Brunswick County consistently has one of the fastest growth rates in North Carolina and is often among the leading growth counties nationwide as the local economy continues to rebound from a large recession which started late in the last decade. County Government is highly stable and fiscally sound with good leadership at the administration and department levels with nearly 1,000 employees working for the good of our residents.

Geographically, the county is a large (847 sq mi) coastal plain entity predominated by sand, low topography, shifting barrier islands and several small river systems which are completely contained within our borders. Economically, the county is split: the southern portion of Brunswick (below Highway 17) tends to be affluent along the coast while the portion of the county North of the highway is more rural with pockets of economic challenges.

Historically, the area was settled by Europeans in the early 1700's due to the region's valuable Naval Stores and Cape Fear River port. A colonial challenge to the tax stamps at Brunswick Towne preceded the Boston Tea Party by eight years. British forces and the Union Navy defeated the nearby Fort Anderson's inhabitants during their respective wars and the location remains as a state historic site. Today, Brunswick County has more municipalities than any other county in North Carolina and arguably the most number of golf courses here on the “Golf Coast.”

In Brunswick County, Extension is in a unique position to provide educational programming to various groups based on the identified needs. Several programs in the county target limited resource audiences with about 17,400 residents living below the poverty level. By curating the research-based information generated at North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University, we can provide Brunswick County citizens with the information and solutions to meet the needs of the county.

II. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

North Carolina's plant production systems will become more profitable and sustainable.
North Carolina's agricultural crops industry makes major contributions to local communities and the state’s economy. In 2014, the estimated farm gate value of crops was $4.72 billion, placing NC as the 17th largest in the nation. North Carolina is one of the most diversified agriculture states in the nation. The state's 50,200 farmers grow over 80 different commodities, utilizing 8.4 million of the state's 31 million acres to furnish consumers a dependable and affordable supply of food and fiber. Tobacco remains one of the state's most predominant farm commodities. North Carolina produces more tobacco and sweet potatoes than any other state and ranks second in Christmas tree cash receipts. The state also produces a significant amount of cucumbers for pickles, lima beans, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, strawberries, bell peppers, blueberries, chili peppers, fresh market cucumbers, snap beans, cabbage, eggplant, watermelons, pecans, peaches, squash, apples, sweet corn, tomatoes, and grapes. There is continual technological change and the relative profitability of individual farm enterprises changes over time; therefore, farmers must respond by modifying their farming operations. Changes in consumer demand create new opportunities for producers. Growth in alternative forms of agriculture will include, among others, organic and niche market production. Educational and training programs for producers of plant agricultural products and services will enhance their ability to achieve financial and lifestyle goals and to enhance economic development locally, regionally and statewide.
Producers will increase sales of food locally to more agriculturally aware consumers through market development, producer and consumer education, and new farmer and infrastructure support.
Farmers will increase their capacity to supply product for local food sales through market planning efforts, producer and consumer education, beginning farmer training programs and local market infrastructure development. The fastest growing area of consumer demand in agriculture continues to be organic. Farmers' markets continue to expand as do multiple efforts in local sustainable agriculture. Nationally, "Buy Local, Buy Fresh" movements have emerged in the face of concerns about the risks involved in long distance transportation of industrialized food production. Increasingly, public officials and business leaders see promotion of local farm products as good public policy and local economic development. Additionally, individuals will learn to supplement their current diet by growing their own fruits and vegetables as individuals or as community groups.
Individuals and groups will acquire leadership and decision making capacities needed to guide and actively participate in local and state organizations.
Leadership is important to every level of a community sharing in the creation of wealth and well-being. Youth and adult leaders must be capable of motivating groups to achieve common goals that impact North Carolina families and communities.They will need the confidence and skill to guide and support North Carolina community and state organizations. Citizens participating in the 2007 NC Tomorrow survey denoted the importance of leadership by clearly requesting leadership training (54%), social advising, community advising and technical assistance (45%)from their university system.
Youth and adults will address community issues and/or challenges through volunteerism.
Youth and adult volunteers in North Carolina contribute thousands of hours each year to strengthen communities and create strong foundations for the future. As these individuals engage in service, they are gaining new skills, generating new programs to serve their communities, building successful organizations, and fostering an ethic of service. Cooperative Extension is poised to support the development of interpersonal skills, leadership experiences, and content knowledge to ensure that citizens are prepared to engage in meaningful service throughout the lifespan. Current research suggests that youth and adult participation positively impacts civic engagement and contributes to the development of leadership capacities. With its presence in every county, Cooperative Extension is uniquely positioned to contribute to building a stronger ethic of service among youth and adults.
Parents and caregivers will effectively use recommended parenting, self care practices and community resources.
North Carolina communities are only as strong and viable as the families that reside there. To create and maintain viable communities where children and youth succeed and the elderly are protected and cared for parents and caregivers need knowledge and skills that build their capacity to function effectively and carryout their responsibilities. They need to be equipped to: 1) foster positive parent-child relationships, 2) address anti-social behavior with appropriate disciplinary techniques, 3) implement positive role modeling, child monitoring and supervision strategies and 4) prevent practices that lead to the abuse and neglect of children. State data suggest that strengthening parenting skills could serve as an asset to families and communities. Risk and needs assessment data on 46,041 youth involved in NC courts found that 59% of the youth had problems in school, 40% had relationships with peers associated with gangs and delinquent behavior, 40% had parents who were either unable or unwilling to supervise them, and 68% had parents with either marginal or inadequate supervision skills. A large percentage of NC working families with children under six (63.34%) must rely on child care services. Child care practitioner education and training is key to providing quality childcare. Family members provide care to a rapidly growing aging population that could double, reaching 2.8 million in the next two decades. A majority of elderly North Carolinians suffer from multiple chronic illnesses. Caregiver demands can trigger health problems, financial and emotional stress. Families who provide care and support for elderly family members also need skills to succeed with less stress and financial burden and need to be linked to community resources that provide support for the care and maintenance of elderly family members.
Futures that Work: School to Career Pathways
We are living in a new economy powered by technology, fueled by information and driven by knowledge. Extension programs provide opportunities for youth and adults to improve their level of education and increase their skills that enable them to be competitive in our global society and workforce.
North Carolinians will make decisions and adopt practices that implement effective resource protection and conservation.
The natural resources in North Carolina are an important asset that benefit all citizens, but many citizens are unaware of the consequences of actions and practices they implement. The continued population growth of North Carolina is putting pressure on natural resources in terms of quantity and quality. To have a healthy and productive natural environment, professionals and citizens must be knowledgeable of environmental issues and conservation and management opportunities.
Consumers and communities will enhance the value of plants, animals, and landscapes while conserving valuable natural resources and protecting the environment.
Residential, commercial and public entities will make decisions regarding plant selection, placement and management that will decrease water consumption, preserve and improve water quality, mitigate storm water contaminants, reduce erosion, energy consumption, and greenwaste, expand wildlife habitat, improve real estate value, and improve diet and nutrition of consumers. The horse and "farmer lifestyle" industry will continue to grow and have an increasing impact on North Carolina's economy, while protecting the environment. The NCDA&CS reports that 65,000 horse producers own over 225,000 horses which annually generates over $704 million of gross revenue from training, showing, boarding and breeding establishments in addition to agri-business sales of horse-related products. The total economic impact of the NC green industry is $8.6 billion, involving 151,982 employees, and 120,741 acres of production (Green Industry Council, 2006). North Carolina residential consumers spend $5.9 billion dollars per year on garden and landscape related expenses (Green Industry Council, 2006). For 2007, North Carolina's population is estimated to be 8,968,800 (LINC). The population grew by 1,323,288 (15%), between 1997 and 2007 and it is projected to grow by another 1,330,055 (13%), over the next ten years (LINC). Over 50% of the population now lives in urban areas. Despite evidence of the ecological and financial benefits, environmentally responsible landscaping strategies are not being implemented widely. Renovating a landscape to incorporate water conserving strategies may result in using 36% less water. Urban water run-off accounts for the majority of water pollution, mostly pesticides and fertilizers, that does not come from a specific industrial source. Selection of well-adapted plants, effective pest management, and appropriate care and feeding of plants will greatly reduce dependence on fertilizers and pesticides. Rain water that is not absorbed by the soil becomes erosive storm water runoff, which transports pollutants such as fertilizer, pesticides, sediment, motor oil, litter, and animal waste to local streams and rivers. Landscape designs will include rain gardens and other runoff catchment facilities (underground cisterns, etc.) that are attractive and easy to maintain in residential areas. Homeowners will learn that proper plant selection and placement can reduce winter heating bills by as much as 15% and summer cooling bills by as much as 50 percent, while reducing the need to prune over-sized plants. Wild habitat areas are rapidly being converted into housing and commercial properties, displacing native plants and animals. Choosing native or adapted plants that provide food and shelter creates a haven for butterflies, birds, lizards, and other animals. Edible landscaping can increase the amount and expand the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables consumed.
Youth and adult program participants will make healthy food choices, achieve the recommended amount of physical activity and reduce risk factors for chronic diseases.
Many North Carolinians are affected by chronic disease and conditions that compromise their quality of life and well-being. Heart disease, stroke and cancer continue to be leading causes of death in our state. In addition, obesity and obesity related chronic diseases such as diabetes continue to rise at alarming rates. Healthy eating and physical activity are critical to achieve optimal health. Many North Carolinians have diets that are too high in calories and too low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Portion sizes, foods eaten away-from-home and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages continue to rise. In addition, most North Carolinians do not engage in regular physical activity. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. If the trend of overweight is not slowed, it will eliminate the progress we have made in reducing the burden of weigh-related chronic disease. One in every three US children born after 2000 will become diabetic unless many more people start eating less and exercising more. The cost of obesity in North Carolina in health care costs alone is over 2 billion dollars. There are many proposed reasons for the obesity epidemic, however unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are widely recognizes as primary contributors to the problem. Those who make healthy food choices and are physically active are more likely to achieve and maintain a healthy weight as well reduce chronic diseases. Ultimately, this will lead to reduction in health care costs, increased longevity, greater productivity and improved quality of life.

III. Other Objectives

Continue development of the "Gardens of Brunswick" concept as a premier horticultural destination site and teaching garden.
1) In cooperation with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and Brunswick Community College's Horticulture Department, continue development of complementary plants collections with plant identification labels at the main campus and the government complex that will be marketed as the "Gardens of Brunswick". 2) In cooperation with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and Brunswick Community College's Horticulture Department, develop an internship program where college students assist in the expansion of the Brunswick Botanical Garden and other county-owned properties. 3) Incorporate the Brunswick Botanical Garden and the storm water best management practices demonstration into a comprehensive plan for enhancing the landscaped areas of the Brunswick County Government Complex. 4) Develop and implement major events centered around the botanical garden with educational and community development components. These may include tours of the gardens and special events highlighting specific plant collections or other aspects of the garden. 5) Incorporate additional areas (Buildings F and G, new fuel station, parking lot in front of Building N) into the Brunswick Botanical Garden to improve aesthetics, properly handle storm water and expand the educational mission of the garden.

IV. Relationship to County Government Objectives

The Brunswick Vision Plan was approved by the County Commissioners in January of 2017. The strategic priority areas of the plan and some of Extension's relationships to them are as follows:

Economic Development: Cooperative Extension supports the $48M agricultural industry in the county, the green industry, hospitality and food service businesses through training and services provided.

Education and Workforce Development: 4-H youth development programs challenge and support our children and enrich the curriculum provided by our school system with leadership and STEM initiatives. Pesticide Education programs provide job skills for green industry and agriculture workers.

Public Safety: The Voluntary Agricultural District supports farm and forest lands which have a lower public safety and public services cost per land area than other zoned uses.

Public Health: Family and Consumer Science programs seek to prevent chronic health conditions, improve health of individuals and families, and teach parents the skills they need to keep their families thriving. Partnerships with Vector Control agencies help public pesticide operators manage mosquito and other problematic pest populations.

Quality of Life: Horticulture staff teach and demonstrate the skills needed to beautify our surroundings with native plants and environmentally appropriate plantings through workshops, seminars, and at the Brunswick Botanical Gardens.

Infrastructure: Agriculture and Horticulture programs address irrigation efficiency and appropriate water use.

Public Information and Citizen Engagement: Extension's Advisory Leadership System and grassroots input format maintain a strong connection between the public and local government.

Regarding emergency situations, Cooperative Extension staff are part of the Local Emergency Planning Commission and are activated when the Emergency Operations Center is initiated during emergent events. Additionally, the Training Center at the Extension office is an overflow facility for emergencies requiring larger numbers of staff or volunteers.

V. Diversity Plan

NC Cooperative Extension's Brunswick County Center is committed to employing a diverse staff and providing educational opportunities that will help improve the quality of life for all audiences including those that have traditionally been under-served. Programs are open to persons without regard to race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability and other dimensions of human diversity. All reasonable efforts are made to ensure accessibility including translation services for non-English speaking individuals and accommodations for the visually and hearing-impaired.

To accomplish this plan, local churches, crisis assistance organizations, and other community oriented non-profits throughout the county are being sought as partners in programming. Food production, healthy living and youth development topics have proven themselves as ways to gain entry into a community and share additional resources as needs and interests provide further guidance.

VI. Primary Delivery and Evaluation Methods

Delivering timely, relevant educational programs that meet critical local needs is the cornerstone of Extension’s mission. Extension educational programs are designed to equip the citizens of Brunswick County with the knowledge, skills and tools to improve their economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and quality of life. An Extension program delivery system is a planned and organized mix of educational methods used during an educational program. Extension educational methods are the specific ways by which research-based information is shared with targeted learners. Extension educators in our county employ a wide variety of hands-on, experiential educational methods, such as interactive workshops and classes, demonstrations, field days and tours, that allow learners to fully engage in the learning process, test new knowledge and/or practice new skills during the educational session. Equally important, this plan will also include educational methods such as seminars, client visits, fact sheets, newsletters, and home study kits that serve to support and reinforce learning as well as provide motivation for continued learning. Armed with the most current literature on effective teaching and learning, Extension educators also skillfully select educational methods based on the learning style preferences and special needs of the targeted learners. These client-focused methods afford learners the opportunity to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to change their lives in meaningful ways. Another key feature of Extension program delivery that is evident in this plan is our commitment to being customer driven and customer focus. As such, in addition to the County Extension Center, Extension educational programs are delivered online, in community centers, on farms, and other locations in order for our programs to be available and accessible to, and fully utilized by, the citizens of Brunswick County.

In Extension, success is defined as the extent to which our educational programs have made a difference in the lives of the citizens of Brunswick County. Evaluation methods are the way we make those observations about first and foremost whether any changes occurred as a result our educational programs, and subsequently the significance of those changes. As an educational organization, the changes we seek focus on key outcomes such as the knowledge and skills participants gain from our programs. More specifically, in this plan, we are using quantitative research methods such as retrospective testing, pre and post tests and/or surveys to measure change in knowledge gained, the application of that knowledge, number of new skills developed, and types of new skills developed. Extension, as a results-oriented organization, is committed to also assessing the social, economic and/or environmental impact that our programs have on the individuals who participate, their families and communities and ultimately the county as a whole (i.e. true significance of the changes stemming from our programs). We plan to measure these impacts in both the long and short-term. In this annual plan (short-term), we have outlined financial impact and cost benefit analysis as our primary evaluation methods. Another value held in Extension is actively listening to and dialoguing with targeted learners. Therefore, this plan also includes qualitative evaluation methods such as testimonials from program participants, and interviews and focus groups with participants.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

County Advisory Council
Jane Kulesza
Ron Skubic
JoAnn Shandley
Michael Gore
Allison Campbell
Yvette Gosling
Margaret Shelton
4-H Advisory Committee
Bobbi Lawrence
Sydney Blair
Autumn Apple
Amelia Apple
Arletta Aleshire
Elizabeth Jones
Melinda Johnson
JoAnn Shandley
Horticulture Advisors
Jeanne Pavero
Merry MacBarb
Vicki Fuhrmann
Vic Stephens
Krystyna Ochota
Grace Wrigley
Voluntary Agricultural District
Chip Carroll
Jody Clemmons
Sam Bellamy
Marc Green
Mamie Caison
Kirstie Dixon
Michelle Kasey
Local Foods Policy Council
Jane Kulesza
Sarah Daniels
Margaret Shelton
Michael Callahan
Lewis Dozier
Morgan Nelms

VIII. Staff Membership

Mark Blevins
Title: County Extension Director, Brunswick & Interim County Extension Dir, New Hanover
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: mark_blevins@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Mark directs the total county program in beautiful Brunswick County and has service responsibilities for agriculture, environmental issues and community development.

Gina Britton
Title: County Extension Support Specialist
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: Gina_Britton@ncsu.edu

Mike Frinsko
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Aquaculture
Phone: (252) 448-9621
Email: mike_frinsko@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provide technical training and assistance to commercial aquaculture producers in the Southeast Extension District

Anita Handler
Title: Program Coordinator, Youth Restitution Grant
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: anita_handler@ncsu.edu

Marissa Herchler
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Animal Food Safety (FSMA Programs)
Phone: (919) 515-5396
Email: marissa_herchler@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Marissa is an Area Specialized Agent for animal food safety, with emphasis on the new Food Safety Modernization Act rules, as they apply to feed mills in North Carolina. Please contact Marissa with any FSMA related questions, or PCQI training inquiries.

Alicia Jenkins
Title: Program Associate, Parent Education
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: alicia_jenkins@ncsu.edu

Kwanisha Jenkins
Title: EFNEP Educator, Extension Program Assistant
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: kjenkin5@ncsu.edu

Lynette Johnston
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-0303
Email: lynette_johnston@ncsu.edu

Michelle Kasey
Title: Administrative Assistant
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: michelle_kasey@ncsu.edu

Morgan King
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: mhking3@ncsu.edu

Colby Lambert
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Forestry
Phone: (910) 814-6041
Email: colby_lambert@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provides educational opportunities and technical support to forest landowners, agents, and forest industry in eastern North Carolina.

Danny Lauderdale
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Nursery and Greenhouse, Eastern Region
Phone: (252) 237-0111
Email: danny_lauderdale@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provides programming to commercial ornamental nursery and greenhouse producers in eastern North Carolina.

Angie Lawrence
Title: Program Associate, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (910) 253-2592
Email: angie_lawrence@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: 4-H Program Assistant, 4-H TiLT Coordinator

Shawn Lennon
Title: Program Assistant - Agriculture, Horticulture
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: slennon@ncsu.edu

Bill Lord
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Water Resources
Phone: (919) 496-3344
Email: william_lord@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Water quality education and technical assistance

Sam Marshall
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: wsmarsh2@ncsu.edu

Stephanie McDonald-Murray
Title: Regional Nutrition Extension Associate - Southeast EFNEP and SNAP-Ed
Phone: (910) 296-2143
Email: stephanie_mcdonald@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Job Description: Provides programmatic supervision to the EFNEP program in the South East District.

Rachel McDowell
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Consumer & Retail Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-9155
Email: romcdowe@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Support FCS Agents in delivering timely and evidence-based food safety education and information to stakeholders in NC.

Morgan McKnight
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (910) 798-7660
Email: morgan_mcknight@ncsu.edu

Diana Rashash
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Water Quality/Waste Management
Phone: (910) 455-5873
Email: diana_rashash@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Water and wastewater issues of all types: stormwater, aquatic weed ID & control, water quality & quantity, septic systems, animal waste, land application of wastewater, environment & sustainability, climate, etc.

Margaret Ross
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Poultry
Phone: (252) 670-8254
Email: margaret_ross@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Working with commercial poultry producers to assist in writing nutrient management plans and conducting educational programming.

Chip Simmons
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Food Safety
Phone: (919) 414-5632
Email: odsimmon@ncsu.edu

Allan Thornton
Title: Extension Associate
Phone: (910) 592-7161
Email: allan_thornton@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Vegetable Extension Specialist. Conducts Extension and applied research programs for commercial vegetable and fruit growers and agents in eastern North Carolina.

Thomas Woods
Title: Agriculture Technician
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: tom_woods@ncsu.edu

Mitch Woodward
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Watersheds and Water Quality
Phone: (919) 250-1112
Email: mdwoodwa@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: NC Cooperative Extension's Goals include: - NC's natural resources and environmental quality will be protected, conserved and enhanced. - NC will have profitable, environmentally sustainable plant, animal and food systems. Protecting our environmental resources, particularly drinking water quality, is a top priority in NC. NC Cooperative Extension is a leader in teaching, researching, and accelerating the adoption of effective water quality protection practices.

IX. Contact Information

Brunswick County Center
25 Referendum Dr
Bolivia, NC 28422

Phone: (910) 253-2610
Fax: (910) 253-2612
URL: http://brunswick.ces.ncsu.edu