2020 Catawba County Plan of Work

Approved: January 16, 2020

I. County Background

Catawba County is located in the western part of North Carolina in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The population of the county is estimated at 158,483 with approximately 70% of the population as urban and 30% as rural. The largest city is Hickory and the county seat is Newton. Catawba County has a diverse economy and is home to manufacturing including machinery, metalwork, plastics, cable, and furniture; retail, and residential development. Unemployment was around 3.3% for the end of 2019.

Production agriculture continues to be challenged by urbanization. Catawba County continues to lose 1% of its farmland each year, down to 63,530 acres of farmland and 638 farms in 2017. Catawba County had 34,226 acres of cropland, 20,033 acres of pastureland and 9,359 acres of woodland in 2017. The average farm size was 100 acres with 256 farms in the 10 to 49 acre category and 7 farms with more than 1000 acres. The total market value of all agricultural products sold was $77,281,000 with 72% of that coming from livestock and the other 28% coming from crops (including greenhouse and nursery).

In order to determine greatest needs, Cooperative Extension conducts extensive issues identification through the use of multiple advisory committees. Catawba County's priority issues were determined to be (1) increase educational achievement and excellence with programs in 4-H and youth development; (2) local food system development; (3) advancement of the County’s Food and Farm Sustainability Plan; and (4) improve commercial agricultural and home production systems. Catawba County Cooperative Extension utilizes numerous program committees to help identify issues and responses from within a broad range of program areas, while assuring that these issues fit within our NC State restructuring model – Agriculture, Food, and 4-H Youth Development - and the Catawba County strategic plan - grow the economy through attracting and retaining more people (especially young professionals) to live in Catawba 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 4-H youth development programs grow the skills young people need to succeed in life and career.

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

Agriculture Development
Agriculture To increase, support, and improve row crop production and Catawba County row crop producers’ farm profitability while also slowing the loss of the county’s farmland, two row crop presentations (e.g. best practices in soybean productions, industrial hemp, herbicide resistance management, agrochemical use, pest management, variety selection, etc.) will be held. At least 3 credits will be gained by participants towards X, N, D, O pesticide license requirements and/or Certified Crop Advisor continuing education credits. To educate Catawba County livestock farmers about pasture management in order to meet the nutritional needs of livestock, NC Cooperative Extension will host three meetings and/or farm demonstrations. Farmers will gain an understanding of grass species growth patterns, regional disease patterns, and the nutritional needs of grass pastures. This knowledge will aid in addressing environmental, disease, and low production challenges, resulting in increased length of time that pastures can be grazed by livestock or an increase in forage production. To help small farmers reduce input costs and increase productivity, market readiness and profits, a small farmers group will meet monthly during the winter and spring and bi-monthly during the summer and fall. These meetings will provide a place for farmers to discuss problems, explore opportunities for collaboration, receive disease and pest updates, and obtain programming specific to their needs. Eight presentations will focus on increasing productivity and profits, reducing input costs and crop loss and adopting food safety practices. At least two farm tours will be planned to demonstrate different production systems and equipment.
4-H and Youth Development
4-H and Youth Youth ages 5-18 will develop targeted life skills and gain new subject matter knowledge as a result of participating in volunteer-led 4-H clubs, short-term and skill-building competitive programs. Programming will strive for participants to show an increase in subject matter knowledge and life skill development by a minimum of 20 percent with impact measured using a written evaluation completed by participating families, successful completion of skill building competitive programs, club expansion and development. 4-H activities will include planning for 700 students that will participate in programs focused on healthy lifestyles and/or STEM education, which are key program areas identified for programming through National 4-H council. Programs will be offered through school classrooms and out-of-school settings with the intent to reinforce and extend grade level objectives. Youth participating in the healthy living program will increase their knowledge about and adopt positive healthy living behaviors related to healthy eating, avoiding substance use, and social and emotional development. Youth participating in STEM programs will increase their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math; show an increased interest in STEM, and improve their understanding of how STEM is used in everyday life. Thirty high school students, reflecting diverse backgrounds, will improve their leadership, citizenship, and college readiness skills participating in teen leadership programs such as Catawba County Youth Council, 4-H Ambassador, 4-H County Council, and college-preparedness programs. 100 percent of the teens will show an improvement in skills in at least one identified area. Skill development will be measured through pre and post training evaluations, completion of leadership portfolios, and the number of youth aspiring to advance to higher education.
Local Food System Development
To increase the capacity of local farmers, restaurants, and individuals to participate in the local food economy, NC Cooperative Extension will hold a local foods awareness week called Eat, Drink and Be Local. This is an annual event that we hope to continue expand participation. In order to promote agricultural literacy within the general public, NC Cooperative Extension will distribute a local food guide with a description of all the ways consumers can access food produced in Catawba County. To address gaps in consumer knowledge of purchasing, preparing, and preserving fresh foods, NC Cooperative Extension will host six events that educate the public on using fresh fruits and vegetables. These events will reach at least 250 consumers that will report via written evaluation a greater understanding of how to grow, purchase, and or cook with fresh fruits and vegetables and 20 percent will report plans for incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diets.
Food and Farm Sustainability Plan
Food and Farm Sustainability Plan To promote and support the local agricultural economy, being defined as within 75 miles of the center point of Catawba County, NC Cooperative Extension will provide educational programming that will increase the knowledge of 60 interested producers on different aspects of agricultural production such as fruit and vegetable production, livestock production, best farm management practices, and new direct marketing opportunities, which would enable them to begin/expand production. In collaboration with Catawba County Library and their community garden project, at least 30 landscape management and vegetable gardening classes will be hosted for the general public. The library’s community garden project provides an added community amenity that contributes to building a healthy community by providing opportunities for all ages to learn about gardening and by helping to produce healthy foods that are shared with local people in need of nutritious meals. A total of fifty (50) participants will report knowledge gained in different aspects of fruit and vegetable gardening. Eighty five (85%) percent of the participants will report that they increased their physical activity, learned how to start or improve their gardening skills, or gained a stronger sense of well-being by helping local people have access to healthier foods.
County Strategic Plan
County Health Assessment

IV. Relationship to County Government Objectives

IV. Relationship to County Government Objectives
Catawba County Government is passionate about the Catawba County Extension Center and NC Cooperative Extension delivering education and technologies that enrich the lives, land, and economy in the county. Our Plan of Work has been developed with Catawba County and continues to follow the objectives outlined in the Farm and Food Sustainability Plan. Additionally, we continue to work with our extension program advisory councils and other relevant stakeholders to prioritize programs and adjust where needed.

V. Diversity Plan

V. Diversity Plan
All reasonable efforts will be made to make educational events available to every resident of Catawba County. Dissemination of event announcements and information will include flyers, newspaper articles, newsletters, radio and television, email, website, and maintaining a presence at community events. We are putting a large emphasis on diversifying our use of social media and expanding the readership of our monthly update newsletter and weekly articles submitted to local newspapers in order to establish a regular and growing audience. We have expanded our outreach and programming throughout the libraries in Catawba County to reach a wider and more diverse audience. We are also working to diversify our volunteer base with the Hands-On Gardener Program and Juntos Program with 4-H. We will continue to offer 'Gardening in Spanish' workshops at the Newton library as reqeusted. These programs are conducted completely in Spanish for the growing Hispanic population in Catawba County. We are also reaching out to minority groups for participation on our Extension Advisory Council to have representation that is more aligned with our county demographics.

VI. Primary Delivery and Evaluation Methods

VI. Primary Delivery and Evaluation Methods
Extension educational methods are the specific ways by which research-based information is shared with our targeted learners and activity participants. Extension educators in Catawba 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.

In Extension, success is defined as the extent to which our educational programs have made a difference in the lives of the citizens of Catawba 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 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.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

4-H Advisory Council
Sue and Kat Stulpin
Emily and Joanna Kanupp
Deval Mason
Holly Meier
Amanda Linder
Josh and Amy Wilson
Voluntary Agricultural District Board
Dave McCart, Chair
Howard Rhinehardt, Vice Chair
Jeff Elmore
Susan Proctor
Susan Balbach
Randy Willis
Randy Wilis
Small Farms Committee
Casey Ostwinch - Honey Tree Farm
Matthew Lowder - The Bearded Farmer
Michael Waltach - Catawba Farmers
Susan Proctor - Windy Wool Windings Farm
Jarrett Boonstra - Crouching Hippo Farm
Gerrit Bonnstra - Crouching Hippo Farm
Armandt Boonstra - Crouching Hippo Farm
Beatrice Marong - Ammans Farm
Olivia James - Ammans Farm
Tim - Shady Oaks Farm
Mai Yang - Mais Farm
Hou Xiong - Hous Farm
Karen Coto - Coto Farm
Family and Consumer Sciences Advisory Committee
Currently not active as we are without an FCS agent
Food Safety/Food Policy Council
Scott Carpenter
Tina McGillvary

Garden Production Advisory Committee
Pam Eavenson
Margie Natalie
Cindy Rywak
Susan Bisulca
Peggy McCosh
Rachael Nagele
Hugh McCammon
Buddy Weathers
Michelle Orr

VIII. Staff Membership

George Place
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 465-8247
Email: gtplace@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: I serve as the director for Catawba County Cooperative Extension Services. I am also the extension agent for programming and consultation in food crops.

Jenny Carleo
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Grain Crops
Phone: (704) 873-0507
Email: jscarleo@ncsu.edu

Natalie Cline
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 465-8240
Email: nscline@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.

Glenn Detweiler
Title: Area Agent, Agriculture - Livestock
Phone: (828) 465-8246
Email: glenn_detweiler@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Agriculture-Livestock

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

Marissa Herchler
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Animal Food Safety
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, pet food and ingredient facilities in North Carolina. Please contact Marissa with any animal food safety-related questions, or Preventive Controls for Animal Food (PCAF/PCQI) training inquiries.

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.)

Tina McGillvary
Title: 4-H Program Assistant
Phone: (828) 465-8240
Email: tmmcgill@ncsu.edu

Donna Mull
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 465-8240
Email: donna_mull@ncsu.edu

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.

Adam Smith
Email: ansmith3@ncsu.edu

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.

April Vigardt
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Local Foods
Phone: (828) 465-8240
Email: alvigard@ncsu.edu

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

Catawba County Center
1175 S Brady Ave
Newton, NC 28658

Phone: (828) 465-8240
Fax: (828) 465-8428
URL: http://catawba.ces.ncsu.edu