2019 Cherokee County Program Impact Report

Approved: January 7, 2020

I. Executive Summary

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). According to the 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%. 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. 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. Some outcomes include 200 adult and youth adopted healthy lifestyle changes, 40 farmers were reached with educational programs and increased profitability, and homeowners saved over $1000,000 by using good practices recommended by employees and volunteers. 1570 citizens were impacted by gaining knowledge, changing practices, and increasing profitability.

II. Executive Summary
Cherokee County Cooperative Extension staff, volunteers, and advisory committees continue to serve by providing researched-based information from the land-grant colleges to the citizens of Cherokee County and Western North Carolina. With contacts reaching over 7000 direct contacts, the county staff is committed to assisting with the issues that face our area. Over 56 non-degree classes were offered in the area of healthy lifestyles, leadership development, profitable and sustainable agriculture, and disaster preparedness. Cherokee County staff responded by providing educational programs to help gardeners and farmers learn proper techniques and methods to assist farmers to hedge for success, healthy lifestyle, good farmer’s market practices seminars, and beginning farmers' workshops. Also, programs such as Master Gardeners and 4-H volunteer training assisted with maintaining a healthy volunteer corps to assist with programming. Some successes include:

Healthy Eating
Obesity and related chronic diseases are prevalent among North Carolinian's. With 2/3 of adults overweight or obese, North Carolina ranks 5th in the nation for obesity, and 18th and 11th 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. NC Cooperative Extension's Steps to Health. Cherokee County 4-H Agent, Shannon Coleman, partnered with Murphy Elementary School 3rd and 4th-grade teachers and school administrators and provided the 3rd grade with the Steps to Health Program in 2019. 156 students at Murphy Elementary School participated in the program. Increases in eating more vegetables, drinking fewer sodas, and playing outside more often occurred.

Community Development
Since the drought and wildfires of 2016 residents have been interested in developing practices to assist with home protection. The Wildland Fire committee has developed a volunteer committee to assist with education in Fire-wise practices. Also, the county commissioners chose Cooperative Extension to collaborate with Emergency Management to assist with public awareness of public safety issues related to county residents. 75% of the participants understood the need for being prepared for an emergency. A Wildland Fire Awareness Day was conducted. 329 attended the activity.

Volunteer Readiness
Cherokee county depends upon the use of volunteers to assist us with reaching out to the citizens we serve. In 2019, 248 volunteers volunteered 1961 hours and had 6406 contacts. The value of their work is estimated at over $49000.

Agriculture
Farmers attended programs on how to interpret soil test reports. 28 farmers indicated they could save $9500/year by using soil amendments base upon soil test results.
Another educational activity students and visitors attended the demonstrations to learn more about: soil sampling, what and when to plant, to identify and scout for pests, choose the right sprayer, to properly mix and apply pesticides if needed, weeding techniques, pollinator habitat, beekeeping, irrigation, trellising crops and harvesting. The club netted over $5000.00 and won the FFA National Chapter Award Gold Standard.

II. 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 27,444. Agriculture provides receipts of $31,294,066 of which the majority of the receipts are in livestock, dairy, and poultry ($21,947,025). Public school enrollment was 3,791 (K-12) while 371 school age children were enrolled in home schools. According to most recent census data, the median household income is $35,284. Individuals with substandard income living at the poverty level account for 19.5% of the county population. Census data also indicates that 28.1% of children under age 18 in poverty.

Pediatric obesity has been on the rise in children ages 2 to 18 in North Carolina since 2012, according to The State of Obesity, an annual report sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The latest N.C. data shows 15 percent of 2 to 4 year old are obese, as well as 30.9 percent of 10 to 17-year-olds and 16.4 percent of high school kids. According to the CDC, nationally, childhood obesity rates started rising in the 1980s. That rate of obesity in children ages 6 to 11 was 7 percent in 1980. And in 2014, it was 17.5 percent. Similarly, the rate of teenage obesity was 5 percent in 1980; by 2014, that rate had quadrupled to 20.5 percent. More recent findings by Duke University researchers paint a worsening picture. They found that 35.1 percent of kids in the U.S. were overweight in 2016, up 4.7 percent from 2014. Additionally, more children are becoming obese at an earlier age. And the problem is only made worse in rural areas of North Carolina due to poverty, demographics and less access to healthy foods and physical activity, said Suzanne Lazorick, associate professor of pediatrics and public health at East Carolina University. It’s commonly known that obesity can contribute to Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and other health problems in adults. But take that extra weight and apply it to a young, developing person and other issues arise. Additionally, extra weight on a growing frame can cause bone and joint development issues, especially in knees. (Information directly from the North Carolina Health News, Pediatric Obesity Rates Continue to rise). Programs provided through NC Cooperative Extension programs like Steps to Health can address these issues among school-age children and help them and their families understand how they can eat healthier.
According to the 2018 NC Cooperative Extension needs assessment in Cherokee County, youth need more hands-on programs about work ethic, communication, eating healthy, personal responsibility, the importance of agriculture and understanding of agriculture, and programs that will help them gain employable skills(like STEM programs). Schools need resources like the hands-on activities that 4-H provides in STEM including environmental education activities like Soil Solutions. 4‑H programs empower young people to be leaders. Young people involved in 4-H become leaders who have confidence; know how to work well with others; can endure through challenges; and will stick with a job until it gets done. 4-H participants are 4 times more likely to give back to their community; 2 times more likely to make healthier choices; and 2 times more likely to participate in STEM activities. 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. Livestock still remains the top income producer for county agriculture. Beef cattle is still at the top, but small ruminants are increasing in acreage. Specialty animals including alpacas and llamas are adding acreage. 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 150 with more planned. Many of these growers do not have hands-on experience growing produce and/or growing in a high tunnel.

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.

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.

Value* Outcome Description
29Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
29Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
38Number of animal producers who increased knowledge of farm business management, business planning, financial management, marketing, or estate planning.
45Number 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.)
9Number of producers who increased knowledge of nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplements, breeding, and reproduction
9Number 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
28Number of producers who increased knowledge of animal waste management practices
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
28Number of producers implementing Extension-recommended best management practices for animal waste management
9Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to quality assurance (vaccinations, castration, culling techniques, etc.)
9Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to internal parasite management (fecals, deworming)
8Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices related to pasture management
9Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplement, breeding, and reproduction
9Number of producers using improved biosecurity practices
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

Our community development programs build strong and thriving communities.

Value* Outcome Description
22Number of participants who improved knowledge of local food and agricultural systems
5Number of participants who developed new jobs skills
32Number of adult participants acquiring the skills needed to serve as a volunteer
9Number of participants that increase their knowledge of disaster preparedness planning, mitigation and recovery
27Number of participants acquiring knowledge and skills to convene and lead inclusive groups
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
5Number of (eg., community and economic development, land use, disaster, etc.) new, revised or adopted plans that have begun to be implemented in communities, organizations, local governments, or businesses
* 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
13Number of teachers trained in 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum
220Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
186Total number of female participants in STEM program
8Number of high school age youth (students) participating as members of 4-H clubs
421Number of youth increasing knowledge of life skills
416Number of children/youth who improved knowledge of local food and agricultural systems.
421Number of youth increasing/improving knowledge, attitudes, skills, and/or aspirations regarding leadership
60Number of youth demonstrating increased knowledge of natural resources and environmental issues
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
13Number of teachers using 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum in their classrooms
421Number of youth using effective life skills
416Number of youth increasing their physical activity
8Number of youth volunteers serving in new or expanded roles within Extension
1Number of youth volunteers serving in new or expanded roles beyond Extension, including community boards and task forces
416Number of youth increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption
185Number 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.

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

Value* Outcome Description
292Number 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
108Number of individuals who begin home food production by starting a vegetable and/or fruit garden
275Number of participants who use extension-recommended best management practices in landscapes, turf, and gardens, including pest (insect, weed, disease, wildlife) and soil management
15Number of participants selecting appropriate landscape plants (adapted, drought tolerant, appropriate size, etc.)
315Number of participants growing food for home consumption
206Number 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.

IV. Number of Contacts Made by Extension

Type of ContactNumber
Face-to-face* 7,374
Non face-to-face** 605,384
Total by Extension staff in 2019 612,758
* 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 $0.00
United Way/Foundations $200.00
User Fees $0.00
Total $900.00

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 164 461 5616 $ 11,723.00
Advisory Leadership System 12 294 151 $ 7,476.00
Extension Master Gardener 72 1206 639 $ 30,669.00
Total: 248 1961 6406 $ 49,868.00
* The number of volunteers reflects the overall number of volunteers for multiple events.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

NC Cooperative Extension, Cherokee County Center Advisory Council
Robin Caldwell
Anita Solesbee
Preston Mashburn
Randy Wiggins
Brenda Blount



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

VIII. Staff Membership

Doug Clement
Title: County Extension Director, Cherokee and Clay Counties
Phone: (828) 837-2210
Email: doug_clement@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: The CED administers the operations of the county Extension office. In this role, he/she is responsible for budget preparation, supervision of all professional and clerical staff, relations with public officials, and other typical administrative matters.

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

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

Teresa Goley
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 837-2210
Email: teresa_goley@ncsu.edu

Lisa Gonzalez
Title: Regional Area Specialized Agent - Local Foods
Phone: (828) 359-6927
Email: lcgonzal@ncsu.edu

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

Adam Griffith
Title: Area Agent, CRD
Phone: (828) 359-6935
Email: adgriff5@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.

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.

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.

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) 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

Cherokee County Center
40 Peachtree St
Murphy, NC 28906

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