2018 Cherokee County Plan of Work

Approved: January 22, 2018

I. County Background

Cherokee County is located in Southwestern most portion of Western North Carolina. With abundant natural resources, the area has become a retirement destination in recent years. The current population is 27,300. Agriculture provides receipts of $25,719,000 of which the majority of the receipts are in livestock ($23,081,000). Public school enrollment was 3905 (K-12) while 312 school age children were enrolled in home schools. According to most recent census data, the median household income is $27,992. Individuals with substandard income living at the poverty level account for 15.3% of the county population. Census data also indicates that 19.22% of children under age 18 and 23.63% of children under age 6 live in poverty.
The CDC reports for obesity indicate that no state met the nation's Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity prevalence to 15%. Rather, in 2010, there were 12 states with an obesity prevalence of 30%. In 2000, no state had an obesity prevalence of 30% or more. North Carolina still has a state average of 29.6 with the ideal BMI goal less than 30. While North Carolina reports an average BMI of 29.6, this does not appear to be significantly lower. By state, obesity prevalence ranged from 20.5% in Colorado to 34.7% in Louisiana in 2012. No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Obesity and related chronic diseases are prevalent among North Carolinian's. With 2/3 of adults overweight or obese, North Carolina ranks 13th in the nation for obesity, and 9th and 17th highest for adult diabetes and hypertension, respectively. Poor eating practices and physical inactivity are not limited to adults. Children are following closely in their footsteps, with only 1 in 4 eating recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables and almost half spending more than 2 hours watching television every day.

According to Louv, there is a connection between this negative trend and the absence of meaningful and consistent outdoor experiences. The EPA has found that the disconnect between children and nature has a profound impact on our children’s physical and mental health and sense of environmental stewardship. It is our responsibility to introduce children to the outdoor environment. Research has shown that the current generation of children treats nature as an afterthought, choosing to stay indoors playing video games, surfing the internet, and watching television, spending less time interacting with the environment and their families. Research confirms that there is no substitute for being outdoors. According to findings provided by North Carolina 4-H, there are over 1.9 million North Carolina citizens between the ages of 5 and 19 A recent study found that North Carolina employers listed the following skills as critical: basic mathematics, reading comprehension, and the ability to integrate information and communication technology. Because of the new global, knowledge-based economy, there is greater competition for jobs outside of North Carolina and the nation’s borders. With the rise in job competition and the dropout rate in North Carolina being high, youth need a program like 4-H that bridges the school-based career coursework with experiential learning programs and life skill development.
There is also a movement to preserve the family farms through profitability. With the assistance of Ag Options and local groups, new and innovative crops and methods are being introduced to assist landowners in making their land generate profits. Also, the local foods initiative has provided opportunities for producers to market products through local markets. Area farmers have constructed high tunnel greenhouses through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) cost-share assistance for farmers. In a three-county area, the local NRCS office has helped construct over 40 with 60 more planned. Many of these growers do not have hands on experience growing produce and/or growing in a high tunnel.

II. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

North Carolina's animal production systems will become more profitable and sustainable.
North Carolina's livestock industry makes major contributions to local communities and the state’s economy. In 2014, the estimated farm gate value of livestock, dairy, and poultry was $8.85 billion, placing NC as the 7th largest in the nation. Hogs & pigs have historically been an important part of North Carolina agriculture. The industry has changed dramatically since the 1980s from the small farm raising a few hogs to large confinement type operations. North Carolina's number of cattle & calves on farms has remained relatively stable throughout time. Milk cow inventory and milk production have continued to decline in the state. Unlike other commodities, broiler production in North Carolina is increasing throughout the state. 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, niche market production, and pasture-raised livestock. Educational and training programs for producers of animal 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.
Community members, organizations and local government will engage in collaborative dialog and decision-making to build economically, socially and environmentally resilient communities. This will be done through inclusive engagement, partnership building, and/or community planning.
Throughout North Carolina, communities that come together to collaboratively address issues and/or interests are enhancing the community's quality of life and its economic, social and environmental resiliency. The state's growing population and economy is producing significant changes in its communities and in some cases resulting in the emergence of new communities. The perspectives, capacity and skills of all community members are essential to aligning community decisions and actions with local needs, assets and priorities. NC Cooperative Extension has an important role in engaging and supporting the ongoing work of citizens, organizations, and communities in decision-making, and strategic dialog to influence positive public policy, foster development of partnerships, create empowered communities, be prepared to address the high potential for natural and human-caused disasters.
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. Relationship to County Government Objectives

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Cherokee County Center values the strong partnership with county government. The Cherokee County Center aligns programming with county needs by involvement in the environmental scanning process and the involvement of the county manager with the Extension Advisory Council. The programs conducted by the Cherokee County Center receives suggestions from county government as to the issues that face Cherokee County and the region.

Since 2012 the Cherokee County Extension Office has provided the county with information about Radon gas for Cherokee County. The soil composition of Cherokee County has a large percentage of uranium. When uranium decays it produces Radon gas. If a home is built on a site that is emitting radon gas, the gas can become trapped in the home. Since radon gas is the second-leading cause of cancer behind cigarette smoking, there is an urgent need to alert as many residents as possible. NC Radon partners with Cooperative Extension to provide free Radon testing kits during the month of January for county residents. Radon awareness classes are held thru Cooperative Extension in the month of January to inform residents of the danger of radon gas and the Extension office also serves as a pick-up point for the free radon test kits. Since 2014 over 250 kits have been distributed throughout the county. 12% of the county homes have been tested and 48% tested over 4Pc/l, triggering a recommendation for radon mitigation.

Because of the cost share assistance through the local National Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS), there has been over thirty high tunnel structures constructed in the county in 2015. Over thirty more were under contract to be constructed in 2016. These high tunnels extend the growing season and can net more per square foot than field production. Depending on the crops grown, this production system can gross between $1000 and $13,000 on an 1800 square foot bed. Each of the NRCS structures is 2160 square foot. Assuming a median gross of $7000 per 1800 square foot, each NRCS structure has the gross potential of $8400 per year. Sixty tunnel can gross $504,000. This potential increase is an important objective to Cherokee County.

The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program is designed to help the cattle producer sell a higher quality animal with fewer handling defects and important to Cherokee County Government. Studies have shown a producer can net 5 pounds of extra gain. A recent sale in WNC showed that BQA cattle earned an average of $40 more per head than the North Carolina average for cattle sales at that time. If a producer sells 20 head per year, this could add an extra $800 to their income.

NCSU's SNAP-Ed(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) Program is Steps to Health. Steps to Health educates and inspires limited resource North Carolinians to eat smart and move more through nutrition and food resource management education programs targeting preschoolers, kindergarteners, 2nd-grade students, 3rd-grade students, adults, older adults, families, and Latino families. Residents in Cherokee County benefit from volunteers donating their time, labor and often materials for various landscaping and garden projects. here were 758 educational contacts at this school and this grade level. 40% of students reported they eat more fruits and vegetables. 81.5% of parents observed their child trying new foods more often.

Cherokee County Emergency Management and Cherokee County Government needed assistance with keeping the public informed of information as it relates to emergency situations. NCCE took the lead role as PIO during disasters. Cherokee County Center provided a $48,000.00 savings to county government by performing the PIO during disasters and emergency situations.

IV. Diversity Plan

As North Carolina becomes more diverse, Extension employees need training on cultural issues and curricula to meet the needs of its citizens. North Carolina Cooperative Extension is committed to embracing the value of diversity and the elimination of discrimination on the basis of irrelevant characteristics such as race, nationality, socio-economic status, religious belief, ethnicity, family and marital status, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Cherokee County Center is also committed to affirmative action - that is, the development of programs and practices that promote equal opportunity for members of target groups identified by legislation as having experienced disadvantages in employment.

Our staff seeks to provide programs to underserved audiences by actively marketing our programs to minority communities and their leaders. Cherokee County Center will make all efforts to provide programs to all people of the county. Cherokee County Center programs, when held in the different communities, will be open to all residents of the county, even those that do not live in the host community.

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 Cherokee 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 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 Cherokee County.

VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Community Development Advisory Committee
Robin Caldwell
Randy Wiggins
Calvin Mashburn
Mike Stiles
Brenda Blount
Don Reynolds
Anita Solesbee



Agriculture Advisory Committee
Burke West
Tim Davis
Eric Carlson
Shawn Johnson

Youth and 4-H Advisory Committee
Leanne Cook
Angie Hopkins
Jan Griggs
Delores Howell
Brenda Blount
Kiffney Griggs
Michael Hopkins
Reagan Lindsay

VII. Staff Membership

Doug Clement
Title: County Extension Director, Cherokee and Clay Counties
Phone: (828) 837-2210
Email: doug_clement@ncsu.edu

Cindy Chastain
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 837-2210
Email: cindy_chastain@ncsu.edu

Shannon Coleman
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 837-2210
Email: shannon_coleman@ncsu.edu

Lauren Greene
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agribusiness - 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.

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

Julie Lyvers
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 389-6305
Email: julie_lyvers@ncsu.edu

Craig Mauney
Title: Extension Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Commercial Vegetables & 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.

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.

Debbie Stroud
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Consumer and Retail Food Safety
Phone: (910) 814-6033
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 - 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 38 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.

Keith Wood
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture
Phone: (828) 837-2210
Email: keith_wood@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Field crops, commercial horticultural crops, urban horticulture, livestock, alternative energy, Local Food Coordinator

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.

VIII. Contact Information

Cherokee County Center
40 Peachtree St
Murphy, NC 28906

Phone: (828) 837-2210
Fax: (828) 837-2172
URL: http://cherokee.ces.ncsu.edu