2020 Buncombe County Plan of Work

Approved: January 17, 2020

I. County Background


As a results-oriented organization, Cooperative Extension is committed to 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. Therefore it is important to note demographic characteristics of the County.

Buncombe County has the seventh largest population of the North Carolina counties. According to 2019 estimates, the County's total population was 257,185 individuals.

While 76% of the population resides within areas classified as urban, agriculture remains important to the economy. Buncombe County has 72,284 acres of farmland remaining constituting 1,073 farms. Agriculture income from the 2017 census of agriculture was estimated at $48.4 million, with greenhouse/nursery plants, fruits & vegetables,beef cattle and milk being the leading income generators. Extension also works extensively with green industry companies now, which include landscaping, arborists, golf courses and retail nursery personnel. This growing segment of agribusiness adds an estimated additional $26.7 million dollars of revenue to the local economy.

Delivering timely, relevant educational programs that meet critical local needs in the areas of agriculture, food systems and 4-H/youth development is the cornerstone of Cooperative Extension's mission. NC Cooperative Extension - Buncombe County Center, is further charged with providing unbiased research based educational information to the residents of Buncombe County. This mission is fulfilled on behalf of USDA, NC State and A&T State Universities and Buncombe County government.

Work plans are developed with guidance from community residents who serve on various Advisory Committees for our organization. As a part of this Long Range Planning process, staff of NC Cooperative Extension – Buncombe County Center work with Specialized and Program Advisory Committees, volunteers from the community and the Extension Advisory Council to update program needs each year. These groups utilized existing county and state data in their group work to identify major educational need areas for Buncombe County citizens. Data was also collected via surveys and focus groups to be included in determining priority needs. Educational objectives were developed to guide the work of staff members. Five priority areas were identified during this process and include:

Economically Viable Agricultural Systems
Preservation and Improvement of Environmental and Natural Resources
Strengthening and Sustaining Community and Economic Development
Improving Human Health/Safety
Increasing Leadership, Personal Development and Citizenship Skills

Primary educational delivery methods utilized employ a wide variety of hands-on, experiential educational methods by which research-based information is shared with targeted learners. Those methods include 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 are other educational methods such as seminars, client visits, fact sheets, blogs ,websites, and internet based interactive classes that serve to support and reinforce learning, as well as provide motivation for continued learning.

Various evaluation methods will be used to evaluate program impacts. Some items measured are increased knowledge, skills and/or evidence of the implementation of recommended practices in agriculture and family and consumer sciences. Surveys will be used extensively to obtain impact data. While the impact of educational programs on youth and communities requires longitudinal measurements, youth and community leader involvement in leadership development activities will be used as an indication of effectiveness of educational efforts. In addition to the objective measures of program impact, success stories documenting program successes with individual farms, families, and groups will be written and recorded. We appreciate the opportunity to serve the citizens of Buncombe County in 2020.

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. Relationship to County Government Objectives

All departments of Buncombe County government have implemented performance measures so that our citizens can monitor and review our progress toward County goals. Each departmental short-term goal is tied to one or more of the long-term countywide goals within each major county service function. Annual reports document the connection of Cooperative Extension objectives to these county goals.

In the summer of 2019 an new strategic plan process was convened in Buncombe County. This new strategic plan will guide our work starting sometime in the summer of 2020. Until then, the county sustainability plan will continue to guide our county planning objectives. To review this system, in May of 2012, Buncombe County Commissioners adopted a new sustainability plan for the county. Along with this adoption, they opted to replace the old county strategic plan with the new sustainability plan. This plan was revised in the spring of 2016 to focus performance metrics on more measurable data. The mission and functions of Cooperative Extension, Buncombe County Center remain largely the same, but our county objectives have been modified to reflect the new emphasis on sustainability. These objectives are:

1. Increase the number of volunteers with Buncombe County.
2. Increase the number of citizens who receive education in food choices, nutrition, and food safety.
3. Promote sustainable agricultural production and community gardening.
4. Reduce the use of harmful chemicals.
5. Increase demand for locally produced foods.

IV. Diversity Plan

The Buncombe County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension values diversity as a rich attribute in our county. Diversity is reflected in the core differences of all human beings and is valued among employees, clientele and educational partners.

Programs in Buncombe County are open to all people and are advertised to the general population. The Buncombe Center has two Spanish-speaking employees, and efforts are being made to expand the availability of Spanish translations of Cooperative Extension resources. The office currently has a simultaneous interpreting system which utilizes a radio frequency system to assist an interpreter in communicating with program participants. Interpreters are recruited as needed to meet programming needs. Efforts are also made to include the African-American audience (6.3% of the County's population) in programming, especially in the areas of nutrition education and youth development.

Our equal opportunity statement is on all of our printed material:
"North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating."

V. 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 Buncombe 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 eclectic 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's program delivery that is evident in this plan is our commitment to being customer driven and customer focused. 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 Buncombe 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 Buncombe County. Evaluation methods are the way we make those observations about first and foremost whether any changes occurred as a result of 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. 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.

VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Urban Horticulture/Master Gardener
Barbara Hayes
Sheila Dunn
Bob Wardwell
Renee Lampila
Gail Banner
Kyle Gilgis
Lyn McNab
Ann Ammons
Charles Gershon
Donna Sapp
Mary Koppenheffer

Green Industry
Ann Higgins
Bill Quade
Michael Balough
June Jolley
Brad Martin
Anthony LeBude
Kevin McCrae
Bill Glenn
Anthony Cole
Jerry Roberts
Charles Shook
Justin Gillespie
Tim Worley
Madison Baldwin
Julia Schniedewind
Jackie Gillespie
Sonia Worley
Ginny Judd
Jackie Justice
John Schnautz
Tony Seker
Health, Nutrition, Foods, Parenting, Child Development & Family Relationships
Danielle Arias
Amy Barry
Tara Chandler
Rebecca Chapman
Darcel Eddins
Nelle Gregory
Patrice Harrison
Stephanie Kiser
Terri March
Carol McLimans
Beth Palien
Leigh Pettus
Alphie Rodriguez
Robert Simmons
Beth Stahl
Jane Anne Tager
Monica Weinstein
Community & Rural Development
Cindy Ball
Christopher Jayne
Kyle Carver
Anthony Cole
Denny Dillingham
Brenda Humphrey
David McMahon
Small Farms
Ashley Eppling
Thomas Gibson
Alison Kiehl
Anne & Aaron Grier
Tom Elmore
Molly Nicholie
Claudine & Paul Cremer
Rebecca Vann

VII. Staff Membership

Steve Duckett
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: steve_duckett@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Responsible for county office administration, Community and Rural Development programs, Row Crops, Pond Management.

Alison Arnold
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Consumer Horticulture
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: alison.arnold@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Responsible for all consumer horticulture topics including the Master Gardener program.

Meghan Baker
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: meghan_baker@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.

April Dillon
Title: Area Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (704) 482-4365
Email: april_dillon@ncsu.edu

Lauren Greene
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Poultry
Phone: (336) 651-7347
Email: lauren_greene@ncsu.edu

Brandy Hansen
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: brandy_hansen@ncsu.edu

Noah Henson
Title: Area Agent, Agriculture - Livestock, Dairy, Equine, Forages
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: nbhenson@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.

Cathy Hohenstein
Title: Area Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: cathy_hohenstein@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: I am a Registered Dietitian with responsibilities for issues related to food preservation and preparation, nutrition, food safety and quality, health and wellness, human development through the ages from childhood to older adults, and healthy homes.

Jessica Hughes
Title: County Extension Support Specialist
Phone: (828) 250-4870
Email: jbhughe4@ncsu.edu

Holly Jordan
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: holly_jordan@ncsu.edu

Craig Mauney
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Commercial Vegetables and Fruits
Phone: (828) 684-3562
Email: craig_mauney@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provides educational opportunities, training and technical support to commercial fruit and vegetable growers, agents, and industry in Western NC. (My office is located at the Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center not the Henderson County Extension Center as is noted by IT on this website. Please do not contact the Henderson County Extension Center as I am not located there.)

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!

Elena Rogers
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Food Safety - Fresh Produce Western NC
Phone: (828) 352-2519
Email: elena_rogers@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provide educational programs, training and technical support focusing on fresh produce safety to Agents and growers in Western NC.

Clifford Ruth
Title: Area Agent and Regional Certification Program Coordinator, Agriculture
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: cdruth@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Current Responsibilities: Provide educational programs primarily for the folk in the commercial green industries in WNC as well as pesticide education for farmers in Buncombe and Transylvania County. Coordinate certification and licensing workshops across the western third of the state. (30 counties and EBCI)

Debbie Stroud
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Consumer and Retail Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-9149
Email: dlstroud@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Area Specialized Agents in Consumer and Retail Food Safety help to ensure that Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Agents have access to timely, evidence-based food safety information. This is accomplished by (1) working with FCS Agents in their counties, (2) developing food safety materials and (3) planning and implementing a NC Safe Plates Food Safety Info Center.

Amanda Taylor
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Nursery and Greenhouse, Western Region
Phone: (828) 475-2915
Email: amanda_jo_taylor@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provides programming to commercial nursery and greenhouse producers in Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties.

Skip Thompson
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Aquaculture
Phone: (828) 456-3575
Email: Skip_Thompson@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provide educational opportunities and technical support to the trout and carp aquaculture industries in 42 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in western North Carolina. Fish health, production management, and waste management educational programs will assist trout farmers, fee-fishing pond managers, carp ponds and trout fingerling producers with the management and sustainability of their facilities.

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.

VIII. Contact Information

Buncombe County Center
49 Mount Carmel Rd
Suite 102
Asheville, NC 28806

Phone: (828) 255-5522
Fax: (828) 250-6011
URL: http://buncombe.ces.ncsu.edu