2020 Clay County Plan of Work

Approved: January 7, 2020

I. County Background

Clay County is located in extreme Southwestern corner of North Carolina bordering the Georgia line to the south and is one county removed from Tennessee. The county's estimated population is 11,074 in 2017. The county's topography is characterized by mountain and rolling hills separated by narrow valleys with altitudes ranging from 1500 feet to 5000 feet. With 140,800 acres of land in the county, almost forty-six percent is in US forest, and approximately 75,000 are in private forest and agricultural use. Major commodities produced in addition to timber include beef cattle, horses, forages, hay, small grains, corn, soybeans, and truck crops. There has been an increase in exotic and niche farming operations in the county over the past few years.

An environmental scan was conducted in 2018 to determine the needs facing the citizens of Clay County. Our methods included surveys, individual interviews, and focus groups. The issues resulting from the environmental scan were presented to the Clay County Extension Advisory Council for suggestions.

The assessment has given us the necessary insights to begin to empower people and provide solutions that will enhance the quality of life for citizens of Clay County, North Carolina. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Clay County Center can address these issues through collaborative programming with cooperating partners and agencies and on a regional basis where similar issues were identified.

There is also a movement to preserve 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 food initiative has provided opportunities for producers to market products through local markets. The awareness of local foods has provided more support and networks from other agencies such as the Health Department, Master Gardeners, Senior Centers, local producers, and many others. Educational programs will be conducted to assist with the profitability of Agriculture both on a horticulture and Livestock level.

Clay County 4-H is working to develop an adult leadership base for the future. With grant funds to assist with travel and training, adult leaders are being secured and new clubs are being formed. Existing clubs are securing leaders to assist with club activities.

II. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

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

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

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

Our community development programs build strong and thriving communities.

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

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

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

Our food safety and nutrition programs create a safer and more sustainable food supply and improve the health and nutrition of individuals, families, and our communities.

III. Relationship to County Government Objectives

The Clay County government has completed a strategic plan. The Clay County Center has worked closely to bring research-based information to the county’s citizens. Clay County Center is recognized as a provider of information on recycling, disaster planning: readiness and recovery for dealing with natural and man-made disasters on behalf of the University and county government. Clay County Center serves as the point of contact for animal responses during a time of emergency or natural disaster. The Clay County Center provides information on local foods, marketing, and economic development, and career exploration for youth in Agriculture and Natural Resources for students in the local school system.

IV. Diversity Plan

Clay County Center commits and its Extension employees embrace 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, veteran status, or disability. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Clay 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.

Clay County's population of 11,074 is made up of a small number of minorities. In 2017 the persons of minority populations were 5.6% of the total population. The largest two of these minorities (African American and Hispanic) makes up about 4.8% of the general population. 15.3% of the population is below the poverty level. 12% of the population over 25 years of age has no high school degree. Of the persons 21 to 64 years of age, 13.1% have some form of disability, based upon 2017 data.

Our staff seeks to provide programs to underserved audiences by being inclusive, relevant, and responsive in planning, designing, implementing and evaluating programs that target diverse audiences and recognize the value of all people. We plan to meet this objective by assessing the needs of our county clientele and involving all groups of citizens in the assessment process. Target audiences will be identified and programs will be planned to meet the identified needs. Efforts will be made to reach minority populations through networks, community efforts, the advisory system, and communication resources.

Programs in Clay County are open to all people and are advertised to the general population through local media as well as the Extension web pages and newsletters. "North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating."

V. Primary Delivery and Evaluation Methods

Delivering timely, relevant educational programs that meet critical local needs is the cornerstone of Extension’s mission. Extension educational programs are designed to equip the citizens of Clay 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 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 to 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 use of the Community Services Building, 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 Clay County.

In Extension, success is defined as the extent to which our educational programs have made a difference in the lives of the citizens of Clay 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 to focus on key outcomes such as the knowledge and skills participants gain from our programs. More specifically, in this plan, we are using quantitative research methods such as retrospective testing, pre and post tests and/or surveys to measure a change in knowledge gained, the application of that knowledge, number of new skills developed, and types of new skills developed. Extension, as a results-oriented organization, is committed to also assessing the social, economic and/or environmental impact that our programs have on the individuals who participate, their families and communities and ultimately the county as a whole (i.e. true significance of the changes stemming from our programs). We plan to measure these impacts in both the long and short-term. In this annual plan (short-term), we have outlined financial impact and cost-benefit analysis as our primary evaluation methods. Another value held in Extension is actively listening to and dialoguing with targeted learners. Therefore, this plan also includes qualitative evaluation methods such as testimonials from program participants, and interviews and focus groups with participants.

VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

NC Cooperative Extension, Clay County Center Advisory Council
Bass Hyatt
Ed Roach
Benita England

VII. Staff Membership

Lisa Gonzalez
Title: County Extension Director and Agriculture Agent
Phone: (828) 389-6305
Email: lcgonzal@ncsu.edu

Marti Day
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Dairy
Phone: (919) 542-8202
Email: marti_day@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Responsible for educational programs for dairy farmers, youth with an interest in dairy projects and the general public with an interest in dairy foods and the dairy industry.

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

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

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.

Julie Lyvers
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 389-6305
Email: julie_lyvers@ncsu.edu

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

Kelli Miller
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 389-6305
Email: klmill22@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.

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.

Kim Terrell
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 349-2047
Email: kvterrel@ncsu.edu

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

Mitch Woodward
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Watersheds and Water Quality
Phone: (919) 414-3873
Email: mdwoodwa@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: NC Cooperative Extension's Goals include: - NC's natural resources and environmental quality will be protected, conserved and enhanced. - NC will have profitable, environmentally sustainable plant, animal and food systems. Protecting our environmental resources, particularly drinking water quality, is a top priority in NC. NC Cooperative Extension is a leader in teaching, researching, and accelerating the adoption of effective water quality protection practices.

VIII. Contact Information

Clay County Center
25 Riverside Cir
Suite 2
Hayesville, NC 28904

Phone: (828) 389-6305
Fax: (828) 389-8872
URL: http://clay.ces.ncsu.edu