2019 Alexander County Program Impact Report

Approved: January 15, 2020

I. Executive Summary

There were many successful programs held by North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Alexander County in 2019. These programs were designed to address major needs within Alexander County. Several major county needs identified by our local Environmental Scan were addressed.

Nutrition education and culinary skills are at an all-time low. Obesity rates in Alexander County continue to grow. Obesity has been linked to heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer, which are many of the leading causes of preventable death. In partnering with Alexander County Human Resource Department, a lunch and learn series utilizing the Med instead of Meds curriculum was implemented as a response to serve Alexander county employees and help them navigate food fads and to decide healthy food choices. Each session was an hour long and had a total of 15 participants. As a result of the program, all participants gained knowledge on the Mediterranean-style eating pattern, strategies to implementing the med way of eating on a daily basis, mindful eating, choosing healthy protein, limiting the amount of sugar you eat and drink, using herbs and spices to flavor food, and reading labels. The art of home food preservation is declining due to the readily available access to canned, dried, and frozen products in the grocery stores. Home food preservation is especially essential when you have your own garden and an overabundance of fruits and vegetables. Preserving the Harvest series was created to address the concern of food waste and how to extend the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables. The series consists of three workshops: jams and jellies, pickling and fermentation, and dehydration. Each workshop had a different number of attendants: 3 attended jams and jellies, 8 attended pickling and fermentation, and 3 attended dehydration. Real money, Real world is a simulation that teaches middle school students on budgeting and how secondary education can play a role in having better jobs, better homes and a better quality of life. The simulation was implemented towards all the 8th-grade students at West Middle school.

The Horticulture program continued focusing on increasing local foods to citizens of Alexander County and surrounding counties. A blueberry field day was held at a local farm with 107 attendees learning blueberry cultural information and hands-on pruning experience. A Small Farms-Big Dreams Class series was held with the small fruit classroom session and farm tour held here in Alexander for class participants. Extension continued to support and expand the three local community gardens through the assistance of several Master Gardeners. Also through working with the city of Taylorsville and local produce vendors, the Alexander Farmers Market continues to remain strong as a viable Saturday morning market. This has a huge impact on both our local vendors and produce buyers. Our farmers market held strong at 15 different vendors selling during our summer market, with most produce vendors selling out daily. This amounts to approximately $17,000 worth of fresh produce purchased and eaten by our local citizens. In addition, a Brushy Mountain Winter Tree Fruit School was held for approximately 60 local and regional apple, peach and Asian pear producers. This is very important in our area since Alexander County ranks 3rd in apple production and 4th in peach production in North Carolina. Many other horticulture programs were held in Alexander County in 2019, such as 4 pesticide certification classes, 4-H Plant Sale, Advanced Master Gardener Tree Fruit Workshop, 4-H Farm to Fork farm visits, and many more.

This past year Alexander county 4-H continued to offer many school enrichment programs including, Wake up to Ag, Embryology, and Color me Healthy. 4-H was also involved in the after-school programs at 6 of the elementary schools in the county. 4-H reached over 1,000 youth in the school systems this year. 4-H also offered some great summer day camps in 2019, we educated approximately 100 kids in many areas of the curriculum including STEM, aquaculture, Agriculture, and Culinary Arts. Alexander County is also home to eight youth clubs including 130 kids with several different focus areas. 4-H gives children a different style of learning by focusing on a hands-on approach with the belief that youth learn best by doing. We look forward to continuing our great program in 2020!


Relay for Life is an important event in Alexander County. Most everyone knows someone affected by cancer. The Alexander County Cattlemen’s Association sponsored Team Beef at this event and sold ribeye steak sandwiches. Team Beef was able to donate $450.00 to go towards cancer research and many people were able to enjoy delicious ribeye steak sandwiches. Big Dreams Small Farms was a program designed to target those that have small acreage but want to farm. This was a series that spanned several counties and subject areas. The small ruminant session was held in Alexander County. Small ruminants such as sheep or goats are good choices for farmers with small acreage. There were 12 registered participants who learned about small ruminant production and visited a local farm to see and talk with a local producer raising hair sheep. Alexander County ranks 13th in NC in beef cattle numbers. NC Cooperative Extension agents in Iredell, Yadkin, and Alexander coordinated a beef cattle grading demonstration that was held at the Harward Brothers Livestock Market. Livestock graders from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture demonstrated on live cattle what they look for on an animal to determine the muscle grade that a feeder calf, cow or bull receives. This is needed information for producers when making breeding animal selections or when marketing their animals to ensure they receive the best price possible. There were 94 producers in attendance.

In looking at the total year’s efforts, Cooperative Extension in Alexander County made 17,425 educational contacts. Through grants from United Way, Farm Bureau, Carolina Farm Credit, etc. over $3,650 were acquired to assist Extension Programs locally. Also in 2019, 238 volunteers contributed 758 hours of volunteer service valued at $19,276 to assist Extension educational programs in Alexander County. All in all, NC Cooperative Extension in Alexander County made a big difference in many people's lives in 2019.

II. County Background

Alexander County is a small, fairly rural county in North Carolina with a population of 37,268. The major racial mixes in Alexander County are 89.6% white, 5.5% black, and 4.3% Hispanic. Senior adults are expected to compose nearly 20% of the population by 2020. This will double their number from the year 1996. Geographically we are extremely diverse with being relatively flat in the southeastern section, having the Brushy Mountains in the northern and western sections and Lake Hickory bordering the entire southern portion of our county. The highest mountain is Hickory Knob at an elevation of 2,560 feet. However, the majority of the county is comprised of rolling hills. Agriculture is still a large income generator for its citizens, bringing in 212.3 million dollars last year. As small as our county is, it is ranked 3rd in apple production, 4th in poultry layers, 4th in dairy cows, 5th in peach production, 9th in broilers and 11th in beef cattle for North Carolina. Unemployment for Alexander County is approximately 4.1%. Only 13.0% of our citizens have a BS Degree or higher and 16.8% of our citizens are below the poverty level. Increasing numbers of Alexander County youth are overweight and an increasing number of school-age youth have been identified as diabetic. However, being rural and having a low property tax rate, we have become bedroom communities on the southern border for Hickory and on the eastern edge for Statesville. All these facts and situations add up to many educational opportunities for our local Cooperative Extension Center.

Issues identified in our 2018 Environmental Scan that will be addressed are:

- Healthy nutrition and eating habits taught in multiple school grades
- Teach various STEM and Agriculture programs throughout the school system
- Teach adult healthy eating habits
- Nutrition and preservation classes continually needed
- Teach importance of healthy exercise at all ages
- Assist with more local food production
- A need to preserve Ag-heritage and Ag-knowledge
- Need more organic and healthy soil education


Alexander County Cooperative Extension is committed to developing programs to provide educational programs to help solve problems facing the people of the county within the scope of its mission and resources. Long range planning has enabled Extension, over its 100 year history, to meet the changing needs of its clientele, and to design and implement programs addressing identified needs.

III. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

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

Value* Outcome Description
8Number of adults increasing knowledge of life skills (such as goal setting, stress management, self-care and healthy relationships)
227Number of adults increasing their knowledge of community resources
117Number of people gaining basic financial management knowledge and/or skills (such as; budgeting, record keeping, goal setting, writing goals, consumer decision-making)
209Number of people gaining knowledge and/or skills to increase family economic security (such as; how to access: SNAP benefits, SHIIP Medicare Part D; food cost management, cost comparison skills, shop for reverse mortgages, select long term care insurance, etc.)
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
8Number of adults using effective life skills (such as goal setting, stress management, self-care and healthy relationships)
8Number of adults increasing their use of identified community resources
24Number of professionals using learned best practices with children/youth/adults/older adults
74Number of people implementing basic financial management strategies (such as; developing a budget, keeping records, etc.)
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Outcome Description
11Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
9Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
112Number of pesticide applicators receiving continuing education credits
224Number of pesticide credit hours provided
911Number of crop (all plant systems) producers increasing/improving knowledge, attitudes, and/or skills as related to: 1. Best management production practices (cultural, nutrient, and genetics) 2. Pest/insect, disease, weed, wildlife management 3. Financial/Farm management tools and practices (business, marketing, government policy, human resources) 4. Alternative agriculture, bioenergy, and value-added enterprises
1Number of Extension initiated and controlled county demonstration test sites
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
6Number of producers who diversified their marketing strategies into local markets (direct, intermediated/food service, institutional).
22Number of producers (and other members of the local food supply chain) who have increased revenue
2Number of new farms (beginning farmers) selling into local markets for local consumption (in this reporting period)
3Number of producers reporting reduction in fertilizer used per acre
9Number of crop (all plant systems) producers adopting best management practices, including those practices related to nutrient management, conservation, production, cultivars, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), business management, and marketing
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Outcome Description
18Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
24Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
215Number of animal producers who increased knowledge of farm business management, business planning, financial management, marketing, or estate planning.
24Number of animal producers who learned how to develop a management plan (i.e. grazing plan, feeding plan, drought plan, business plan, disaster plan, etc.)
68Number of producers who increased knowledge of pasture/forage management practices (field improvement, herbicide management, grazing season extension, weed control, forage quality, haylage production, nitrate testing, etc.)
243Number of producers who increased knowledge of nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplements, breeding, and reproduction
85Number of producers who increased knowledge of the strategies to promote animal health and welfare and reduce the potential for infectious diseases through proper use of vaccines, biosecurity, detection and identification of common diseases, appropriate use of animal medications, and mitigation of antimicrobial resistance transmission
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
12Number of producers who diversified their marketing strategies into local markets (direct, intermediated/food service, institutional).
28Number of producers adopting extension-recommended practices related to planning, marketing, and financial management
15Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to quality assurance (vaccinations, castration, culling techniques, etc.)
36Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to genetic improvement (AI, heifer/bull selection)
31Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to nutrition (mineral, feed rations)
15Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to internal parasite management (fecals, deworming)
21Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices related to pasture management
54Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplement, breeding, and reproduction
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Outcome Description
40Number of teachers trained in 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum
810Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
371Total number of female participants in STEM program
17Number of high school age youth (students) participating as members of 4-H clubs
410Number of youth increasing knowledge of life skills
631Number of children/youth who improved knowledge of local food and agricultural systems.
160Number of youth increasing/improving knowledge, attitudes, skills, and/or aspirations regarding leadership
250Number of youth demonstrating increased knowledge of natural resources and environmental issues
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
45Number of teachers using 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum in their classrooms
395Number of youth (students) gaining career / employability skills
211Number of youth (students) gaining entrepreneurship skills
352Number of youth using effective life skills
150Number of youth willing to participate in conservation actions
322Number of youth increasing their physical activity
5Number of youth volunteers serving in new or expanded roles within Extension
3Number of youth volunteers serving in new or expanded roles beyond Extension, including community boards and task forces
7Number of youth assuming new/expanded leadership roles in the community
752Number of youth increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption
106Number of youth who grow food in school gardens.
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Outcome Description
3Number of participants willing to participate in conservation actions (such as rain gardens, wildlife management, conservation easements, land trusts, generational planning, etc.)
8Number of participants increasing their knowledge about best management practices (including storm water systems, septic system maintenance, erosion control, rain gardens, forestry, etc.)
4Number of child and youth educators aspiring to implement quality outdoor learning environments for children
245Number of adults demonstrating increased knowledge of natural resources and environmental issues
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
2Number of participants that adopted recommended agroecosystem adaption strategies for production agriculture or natural resource management, including for invasive species, pest management, pollutant loads, and wetlands.
12Number of acres under recommended agroecosystem adaption strategies for production agriculture or natural resource management, including for invasive species, pest management, pollutant loads, and wetlands.
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Outcome Description
539Number of individuals who gain knowledge or acquire skills related to vegetable/fruit gardening
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
21Number of individuals who grow food in community gardens.
5Number of individuals who begin home food production by starting a vegetable and/or fruit garden
269Number of participants who use extension-recommended best management practices in landscapes, turf, and gardens, including pest (insect, weed, disease, wildlife) and soil management
54Number of participants selecting appropriate landscape plants (adapted, drought tolerant, appropriate size, etc.)
37Number of participants growing food for home consumption
2Number of participants adopting composting
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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.

Value* Outcome Description
28Number of participants who increase their knowledge of safe home food handling, preservation, or preparation practices
30Number of food handlers who increase their knowledge and skills in safe food handling practices
28Number of individuals who learn how to prepare local foods, including through use of home food preservation techniques.
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
144Number of adults increasing their fruit and vegetables consumption
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

IV. Number of Contacts Made by Extension

Type of ContactNumber
Face-to-face* 10,713
Non face-to-face** 7,031
Total by Extension staff in 2019 17,744
* Face-to-face contacts include contacts that Extension personnel make directly with individuals through one-on-one visits, meetings, and other activities where staff members work directly with individuals.
** Non face-to-face contacts include contacts that Extension personnel make indirectly with individuals by telephone, email, newsletters, news articles, radio, television, and other means.

V. Designated Grants Received by Extension

Type of GrantAmount
Contracts/Grants $0.00
Gifts/Donations $700.00
In-Kind Grants/Donations $200.00
United Way/Foundations $2,750.00
User Fees $0.00
Total $3,650.00

VI. Volunteer Involvement in Extension Programs

Number of Volunteers* Number of Volunteer Hours Known client contacts by volunteers Dollar Value at 25.43
4-H 203 528 0 $ 13,427.00
Advisory Leadership System 13 44 22 $ 1,119.00
Extension Master Gardener 22 186 64 $ 4,730.00
Total: 238 758 86 $ 19,276.00
* The number of volunteers reflects the overall number of volunteers for multiple events.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Advisory Council
Cary Cash-Chair
Gary Herman
Carry Cash
Sandra Miller
Chris Dugan
Corey Parker
Traci Fox
Amy Childers
Ronnie Reese
Wayne Wooten
Matt Cooksey
Trudy Perry
Mike Richmond
Poultry
Shawn Brown
Martha Smith
Kathy Gilreath
Darryl Moore
Carl Bentley
Louise Hatton
Lee Herman
Master Gardener
Phill Bowman
Venus Bowman
Ronnie Robinette
Chad Ritchie
Larren Hagen
Beef
David Herman
Daniel Chapman
Eugene White
Rodney Herman
Trevor Chatham
Charles Johnson
Dustin Queen
Brad Gilreath
Brandon Brown
Horse
Denise Vick
Amanda Jagniszak
Dr Tiffany Bradford
FCS Volunteer Leadership
Wanda Stafford
Ella Mae Nichols
Carrie Pulley
Carolyn Campbell
Family & Consumer Science
Macy Jones
Laura Crooks
Kristen Jolly
Ella May Nichols
Bria Marlowe
Christine Gates
4-H & Youth
Merlyn Davis
Ava Harris
Brandon Brown
Amy Childers
Sandra Miller

VIII. Staff Membership

Lenny Rogers
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 632-4451
Email: lenny_rogers@ncsu.edu

Allison Brown
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Agronomy and Livestock
Phone: (828) 632-4451
Email: allison_brown@ncsu.edu

Julie Campbell
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 632-4451
Email: julie_campbell@ncsu.edu

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

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 (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.

Der Holcomb
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 632-3125
Email: dxiong@ncat.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.)

Currey Nobles
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-9520
Email: canobles@ncsu.edu

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.

DJ Salyer
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H youth Development
Phone: (828) 632-3125
Email: dj_salyer@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.

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

Alexander County Center
151 West Main Avenue
Taylorsville, NC 28681

Phone: (828) 632-4451
Fax: (828) 632-7533
URL: http://alexander.ces.ncsu.edu