2020 Brunswick County Plan of Work

Approved: February 6, 2020

I. County Background

The current Brunswick Vision strategic plan 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 preserve agricultural and rural heritage).

The staff will focus on three main areas in 2020: Marketing of our programs broadly (with intentional outreach to underserved audiences), Leveraging Local and State Resources to fully staff our Program areas (Environmental and Nutrition education are big opportunities locally), and Strengthening Community Partnerships (to extend our reach without compromising quality and fidelity). These priority areas are based on needs assessments and advisory council input. We are looking forward to a highly productive year with great support from the County and our various partners.


With nearly 140,000 residents, Brunswick County was 1st in the state and 4th in the US for percent population growth, nearly tripling since 1990. 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 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. The child poverty rate is an alarming 26%.

In Brunswick County, Extension is in a unique position to provide educational programming to various groups based on identified needs. Several programs in the county target limited resource audiences with about 14,000 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

Our family and consumer sciences programs improve the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

Our plant production programs improve production, profitability, and sustainability of the agriculture sector.

Our animal production programs improve production, profitability, and sustainability of the agriculture sector.

Our community development programs build strong and thriving communities.

Our 4-H youth development programs grow the skills young people need to succeed in life and career.

Our natural resource and environmental programs conserve our precious natural resources and maintain a clean and healthy environment.

Our consumer horticulture programs teach families and communities about environmentally friendly methods for gardening and controlling pests.

Our food safety and nutrition programs create a safer and more sustainable food supply and improve the health and nutrition of individuals, families, and our communities.

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. The Agricultural Development Plan was finalized and approved in 2019 by the Planning Board and County Commissioners to better support local farms.

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 like those of Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018, as well as Dorian in 2019. 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
Allison Campbell
Yvette Gosling
Margaret Shelton
Marilyn Graham
Montrell Miller
4-H Advisory Committee
Sydney Blair
Autumn Apple
Arletta Aleshire
Elizabeth Jones
Melinda Johnson
JoAnn Shandley
Horticulture Advisors
Krystyna Ochota
Jeanne Pavero
Vicki Fuhrmann
Vic Stephens
Voluntary Agricultural District
Chip Carroll
Jody Clemmons
Marc Green
Jim Stanaland
Travis Potter
Mamie Caison
Kirstie Dixon
Michelle Kasey
Local Foods Policy Council
Jane Kulesza
Margaret Shelton
Lewis Dozier
Kacie Shrum
Jillian Bowling

VIII. Staff Membership

Mark Blevins
Title: County Extension Director - Agriculture Agent
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. His career has included student internship work at the JC Raulston Arboretum and the Eastern Band of Cherokee, before starting his career in Extension as the Horticlture Agent in Gaston County in 2005. Mark has been the Brunswick County Extension Director since 2011. "As the Agriculture Agent, I help farmers increase their sustainability (environmental, economic, and social) and improve confidence in their decisions through scientific research. As the County Extension Director, I lead, support and equip this staff so farmers, gardeners, families, and youth have access to solid science from our Universities to make the biggest difference we can in Brunswick County."

Haylee Allen
Title: Program Assistant, Empowering Youth and Families Program
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: hballen2@ncsu.edu

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

Marti Day
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Dairy
Phone: (919) 542-8202
Email: marti_day@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Responsible for educational programs for dairy farmers, youth with an interest in dairy projects and the general public with an interest in dairy foods and the dairy industry.

Jamie Fox
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: jfox4@ncsu.edu

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

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.

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

Peggie Lewis Joyce
Title: Area 4-H Agent - Central Region
Phone: (336) 242-2080
Email: peggie_lewis@ncsu.edu

Michelle Kasey
Title: County Extension 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, Ornamental 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: EFNEP Nutrition Educator, 4-H Program Associate
Phone: (910) 253-2592
Email: angie_lawrence@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: EFNEP Nutrition Educator 4-H Program Associate

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

Krystyna Ochota
Title: Consumer Horticulture: Program Assistant/Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: (910) 253-2595
Email: kochota@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Assist with Consumer Horticulture Program planning and implementation Coordinate Master Gardener activities and training Provide training and education to Master Gardeners and the public, including classes, Infoline, Ask and Expert

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.

Ashley Robbins
Title: Area Specialized Agent - Dairy
Phone: (919) 542-8203
Email: ashley_robbins@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Marti Day and I are the Area Specialized Dairy Agents - the county-based arm of the Cooperative Extension Dairy Team. We are out here in the counties to help you set and reach your farm, family and business goals. We have collaborative expertise in the areas of Waste Management, Udder Health, Cow Comfort, Nutrition and Forage Management with specialties in (Ashley)Reproduction, Records Management, Animal Health and (Marti)Alternative Markets, Organic Dairy, Grazing Management, and On-farm Processing. We hope to provide comprehensive educational programs for our farmers, consumers and youth for every county across the state. We are here for you by phone, email or text and look forward to working with you!

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

Alyssa Spence
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agromedicine, Farm Health & Safety
Phone: (252) 527-2191
Email: arramsey@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: I work with the NCSU Applied Ecology-Toxicology & Agromedicine Department to serve the18 counties in the Southeast District, providing health/safety resources and programming to field agents in this area.

Lee Stiles
Title: Program Assistant, Empowering Youth and Families Program
Phone: (252) 222-6352
Email: lastiles@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Empowering Youth and Families Program Assistant facilitates the curriculum through educating, lecturing, and demonstrating ways to prevent opioid misuse among youth. This program also strengthens family bonds.

Email: clsyracu@ncsu.edu

Allan Thornton
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Commercial Vegetables and Fruits
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.

Tom Woods
Title: Extension agent - Horticulture
Phone: (910) 253-2610
Email: tom_woods@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Create and implement non-formal education programs Support Commercial & Ornamental Horticulture Landscape & turf management Home Horticulture and Community Gardens Manage Master Gardeners Urban Forestry Interface Manage Pesticide Safety, Re-certification & Recycling Training

Mitch Woodward
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Watersheds and Water Quality
Phone: (919) 414-3873
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