2020 Cleveland County Plan of Work

Approved: March 18, 2020

I. County Background

This Plan of Work represents NC Cooperative Extension’s commitment to the delivery of research-based information, educational programs and services aimed at improving quality of life for Cleveland County citizens during 2020. The plan aligns our work within three identified core program areas: Agriculture, Food, and 4-H Youth Development. The information needs of Cleveland County residents and issues affecting them were assessed through an informal environmental scanning process that engaged professional staff and a variety of stakeholders, including the county funding partner, collaborating agencies and organizations, and advisory volunteers.

Objectives to be addressed during 2020 include:

PROFITABLE AND SUSTAINABLE PLANT PRODUCTION SYSTEMS
Extension educational programs and technical assistance with benefit Cleveland County farmers, who harvest 40,852 acres of cropland each year. Major commodities include soybeans, wheat, corn, hay, and fruits and vegetables, which generate $22 million in sales annually. Focus areas will include:
• Variety Selection - helping area farmers select well-adapted, drought tolerant crop varieties and hybrids for our area through the distribution of University data and local demonstration/test plots
• Plant Nutrition - helping farmers understand the importance of good soil fertility and fertilizer use through various demonstrations (plant tissue testing, foliar fertilizers, and in-furrow amendments), meetings, and field days
• Cover Crops - helping farmers conserve soil moisture, reduce weed pressure, minimize soil erosion, and increase fertility levels with winter cover crops through demonstration plots and field day
• Pest Management - helping farmers better understand damaging pests and how to best manage them
• Grain Marketing - helping farmers increase profitability by better utilizing marketing tools and developing marketing plans
• Harvest Management – helping farmers maintain the quality, freshness and value of their crops through proper harvest and post-harvest handling
• North Carolina Commercial Blackberry and Raspberry Growers Association- helping promote and enhance state-wide bramble production
• Vegetable Variety Trials- helping Cleveland County growers find the best varieties for our area
• NCSU Research Plots- bringing practical research based information to local farmers

PROFITABLE AND SUSTAINABLE ANIMAL PRODUCTION SYSTEMS
Programs and services will also target livestock producers, who contribute $15 million to Cleveland County’s agricultural economy each year. Beef and dairy cattle are the leading commodities, but there are also a number of sheep, goat and pork producers who have small herds. The 2020 program will address:
• Herd health – helping farmers maximize animal performance by preventing disease through vaccination programs and sound management
• Nutrition – helping producers enhance animal performance and enterprise profits through sound feeding programs, effective pasture management, and mineral supplementation
• Husbandry – helping producers master day-to-day care, selective breeding and the raising of various species of livestock
• Marketing – helping farmers maximize profits through value-added marketing programs and direct-to-consumer sales

LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS
NC Cooperative Extension will support and strengthen a food system that provides significant agricultural, economic, health and social benefits to the local community. Our programs and services will empower farmers to increase their capacity to supply safe and wholesome products for direct sales, and help consumers make informed food-related decisions. Focus areas include:
• Foothills Farmers’ Market – continuing to guide and support the continued growth and development of our certified local farmers market with a focus on food demonstrations, vendor recruitment and training, customer retention, youth engagement, community visibility and board development. Also initiate a 3-year federally-funded project that builds market capacity, improves infrastructure, and grows the customer base.
• Cleveland County Kitchen – developing a cable television program and supplemental research-based information that empower consumers to eat seasonally and increase their consumption of healthy local foods
• Food Preparation & Safety – teaching individuals how to select, store and prepare local foods, including home food preservation techniques
• Producing Food at Home – teaching youth and adults how to successfully manage home vegetable gardens and backyard livestock and poultry operations

SAFETY AND SECURITY OF OUR FOOD AND FARM SYSTEMS
Extension programs will deliver a range of programs and services aimed at keeping our food and farms safe:
• Pesticide Education – helping pesticide applicators acquire required re-certification training credits and educating homeowners about the safe and
judicious use of pesticides
• Farm Stress Management – helping farm families identify and manage the stresses incurred from long hours, financial difficulties, aging and health
concerns, and other conditions
• Livestock Handling – helping livestock producers develop the knowledge and skills needed to safely handle and restrain animals while performing
various procedures
• Food Safety – training farmers relative to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification standards, helping affected growers understand and comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and training food handlers on strategies to prevent contamination and food-borne illness

LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Extension will prepare citizens, both youth and adults to assume leadership roles in the their organizations and community.
• Extension & Community Association members will be supported in seeking opportunities for learning, leadership and volunteerism
• Youth will receive guidance and support to prepare them for 4-H leadership roles at the local, district and state levels
• Foothills Farmers' Market will receive support and training relative to board member recruitment, board development, strategic planning, and officer succession planning

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
NC Cooperative Extension will play an important role in support of efforts to enhance the economy and quality of life in Cleveland County. Major areas of emphasis include:
• Resource Development – helping leverage the resources needed to facilitate economic development opportunities for production agriculture
• Community Awareness – helping citizens better understand and appreciate the importance of agriculture to our health, economy, and well-being
• Pesticide Disposal – helping farmers and homeowners reduce risk to personal safety and the environment through the proper disposal of outdated and unwanted pesticides and empty pesticide containers

PARENTING AND CAREGIVER SKILLS
A growing number of families face challenges that require children to be raised by grandparents or other relatives. Cleveland County has responded to this need by organizing a kinship care support group. The Broad River Grandparents Raising Grandchildren & Kinship Care Support Group (BRGRG) provides educational programming, awareness, advocacy and support for the children and grandparents/relatives who are parenting for the second time. NC Cooperative Extension will continue to lead this multi-agency initiative by:
• convening BRGRG advisory committee meetings
• hosting monthly support group meetings
• recruiting volunteers to assist with children's activities
• ensuring delivery of relevant programs
• coordinating financial and community resources to benefit participating families

SCHOOL TO CAREER
Cleveland County’s 4-H Program will position youth for success using a number of strategies that teach critical life skills. Focus areas for 2020 will include:
• Presentations – helping youth develop critical thinking, organization, and public speaking skills
• Community Clubs – helping youth develop social skills, interpersonal communication, teamwork and leadership ability, and explore opportunities for community service by organizing around common areas of interest
• Dairy Steer Project – helping youth develop responsibility and enhance scientific knowledge through an intensive, hands-on livestock project
• Shooting Sports – helping youth learn safe & responsible use of firearms and develop/demonstrate sound decision making, self-discipline, and concentration
• Embryology – helping second grade students explore the life sciences by incubating eggs and hatching chicks in their classroom
• Summer Camp – helping youth build social skills, responsibility, teamwork, and an appreciation for our natural resources though a week-long residential camping experience

URBAN AND CONSUMER AGRICULTURE
• The Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program will provide educational assistance to citizens concerning residential lawns, fruits, vegetables, trees, and ornamentals through the utilization of a trained and supervised volunteer staff
• Other information delivery strategies and front line services will teach the general public how to design, install, and maintain their lawns and landscapes in line with sound cultural and environmental principles, and to grow food crops for personal use
• Cabin Fever, a one-day symposium, will engage and inform gardening enthusiasts through a lineup of speakers and vendors focusing on landscape design and maintenance, tree care, plant propagation, and edible landscapes
• Extension will provide leadership and support to organizations seeking to establish community and school gardens, and teach youth to grow vegetables successfully by engaging them in the 4-H Mini Garden Contest

HEALTHY EATING, PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND CHRONIC DISEASE REDUCTION
In Cleveland County, 60% of adults and 40% of children are overweight or obese. Fewer than 20% of Cleveland County adults consume five or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and less than half meet daily physical activity requirements. Those empowered to make healthy food and lifestyle choices will reduce their risk for developing chronic diseases. Ultimately, this will lead to reduction in health care costs, increased longevity, greater productivity and improved quality of life. Programs targeted for deliver in 2020 include:
• A Matter of Balance - a 6-week program designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase the activity levels of older adults who have concerns about falls
• Med Instead of Meds - teaches citizens to avoid the need for prescription medications by adopting the Mediterranean-style eating pattern, shown to promote health and decrease risk of many chronic diseases
• Cook Smart, Eat Smart - a 9-hour cooking school that teaches food shopping and cooking techniques to encourage preparing and eating more meals at home with an emphasis on healthy recipes, simple ingredients and limited use of prepared foods
• Steps to Health/Eat Smart Move More: Take Control - a 6-session chronic disease prevention program that provides strategies to help adults manage and improve their health by changing their eating and physical activity patterns
• Cleveland County Employees Health & Benefits Fair - supporting the county's "Cleveland Strong" wellness initiative by reinforcing the importance of diet and exercise to personal health and wellness
• Healthy Eating & Food Safety - programs that promote increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, including a promotion of the Mediterranian diet

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

Each year, with input from the county manager and department heads, Cleveland County Commissioners develop priority goals and objectives. This Plan of Work aligns with two (2) of the strategic prioritizes identified by county government for 2020:

• FOCUS AREA 2, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: To actively bring people to Cleveland County through recruitment of new industry, creating a nealthy business climate for existing businesses and growing Cleveland County as a tourist destination (agricultural diversification, new enterprise creation, value-added production, Fork2Farmer initiative, farmers' market promotion, Visit NC Farms initiative)

• FOCUS AREA 5, COMMUNITY WELLNESS: To promote physical activity, healthy eating, and positive relationships within families (Steps to Health, Living Healthy with Diabetes, Med Instead of Meds, Cleveland County Kitchen, Food Preservation classes, A Matter of Balance, 4-H Mini Garden Project, 4-H Dairy Steer Project, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, Health Rocks, etc,)

IV. Diversity Plan

Extension staff members will employ a number of strategies designed to reach new and underserved audiences, including Hispanic/Latino and African-American populations, the economically disadvantaged, and persons with disabilities:

• Use advisory and decision-making groups that are representative of the community in planning and implementing programs
• Select meeting places and times that will encourage rather than inhibit participation from diverse populations
• Create and maintain lists of organizations that can reach diverse populations (for announcing meetings, activities, tours, events, etc.)
• Utilize media outlets that reach targeted populations to market a broad range of programs and events
• Develop program announcements and posters to be placed in public venues
• Make personal contacts with individuals who will help reach diverse populations
• Contact community groups for assistance in informing community members of available programs
• Solicit grant funds to provide camp scholarships for low-income youth
• Empower and engage limited income audiences and improve food access via the farmers' market SNAP/EBT initiative
• Actively accommodate the learning environment needs of persons with disabilities

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 Cleveland County with the knowledge & skills needed 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-focused. As such, programs and services are not offered just at the County Extension Center; we deliver information and assistance 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 Cleveland 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 Cleveland 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 retrospective testing, 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 (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 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

County Advisory Council
Katie Spangler Earl
Jim Toole (chair)
Dotty Leatherwood
Ervin Lineberger
Debra Blanton
Jean Anne Privett
Tammy Bass
Linda Laine
Janet Hart
Ron McCollum
Janice Morton
Andrew White
Wayne Yarbro

Profitable and Sustainable Animal Production Systems
Ronnie Spangler
Lisa Yarbro
Mark Greene (chair)
Gary Gold
Dr. Luke Martin
Dr. Ruffin Hutchison
Dr. Rhod Lowe
Robbie Henderson
Leon Leonhardt
Kris Dedmon
Local Food Systems
Vanne Young (chair)
Jordan Jackson
Lizzie Chen
Linda Laine
Sherri Greene
Jeff Powell
Pam Bright
Roxie Cogdill
Carmen Coles
Heather Crowley
Pat Farley
Ashley Nader
Audrey Whetten
Celeste Burdthart
Norma Roman
Carol Maxwell
Greg Tillman
Debra Blanton
Mary Sue Boyles
Joan Parrish
Les Dixon
Safety and Security of Food & Farm Systems
Dorothea Wyant
Gene Wright
Charlie Jones
Will Thompson
Luke Beam
Myron Edwards
Robin Tutor
Harry Sain
Sammy Thompson
Leadership Development
Pat Farley
Mary Sue Boyles
Lorinda Richard
Mary Jane Seagle
Joan Parrish
Les Dixon
Jean Ann Privett
Mary Lee Jones
Clara Carter
Willie Mae Johnson
Parenting and Caregiver Skills
Anne Short
Fonda Cromer
Dottie Richardson
Antoinette Thompson
Jan Kendrick
Dana Hamrick
Gail Ross
Roxanne Rabb
Linda Geter
Danielle Williams
Symantha Franklin
Colin Ashley
Leanne Sanders
Wayne Brazzell
Jane Wright
Jean Ann Privett
Urban and Consumer Agriculture
Judy Ford (chair)
Peggy Goforth
Patsy White
Bob Teague
Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Risk Reduction
Linda Page
Sharon Eaker
Karen Grigg
Paulette Putnam
Daniel Dedmon
Danielle Williams
Lori Simpson
Laura Lynch
Pat Farley
Joan Parrish
Vontella Dabbs
Rebecca Rhinhardt
Erica Rutledge
Jeananne Privett
Linda Geter
Tammy Bass
Anzie Horn
Sharon Martin
Profitable and Sustainable Plant Production Systems
Ervin Lineberger
John Carroll
Loyd Lewis
Wayne Mitchem
Andrew White
Keith Hollifield
Nelson Dellinger
Neal Scism
Sammy Thompson

VII. Staff Membership

Greg Traywick
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (704) 482-4365
Email: greg_traywick@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Administration, Livestock, Local Food Coordinator, Pesticide Education, Community Development, Pest Management

Nancy Abasiekong
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (704) 482-4365
Email: nancy_abasiekong@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Foods & Nutrition, Food Safety, Health & Wellness, Human Development,ECA Liaison

Candice Christian
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Consumer and Retail Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-9148
Email: cadescha@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: The overall goal of the Area Specialized Agents (ASAs) in Consumer & Retail Food Safety is to provide North Carolinians with technical food safety information and to support Family and Consumer Sciences agents in delivering timely and evidence-based food safety education and information to stakeholders.

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.

Taylor Dill
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Field Crops
Phone: (704) 736-8461
Email: tedill@ncsu.edu

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

Julie Flowers
Title: Area Agent, Agriculture - Consumer Horticulture
Phone: (704) 922-2104
Email: julie_flowers@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Julie Flowers is the Consumer Horticulture Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Gaston and Cleveland County. She coordinates the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program, helps homeowners resolve horticultural issues, and leads public workshops/speaking engagements on a variety of horticultural topics. Julie possesses an Associates Degree in Horticulture and Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture Education. She is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Horticulture.

Charlie Godfrey
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (704) 482-4365
Email: jcgodfre@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.

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.)

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.

Daniel Shires
Title: Area Agent, Agriculture
Phone: (704) 482-4365
Email: daniel_shires@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Commercial Fruit & Vegetable Crops

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.

Annie Thompson
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (704) 482-4365
Email: annie_thompson@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Administrative Assistant- 4-H, Agriculture, Horticulture, Family & Consumer Sciences, Livestock, Beekeeping

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

Cleveland County Center
130 S Post Rd
Suite 1
Shelby, NC 28152

Phone: (704) 482-4365
Fax: (704) 480-6484
URL: http://cleveland.ces.ncsu.edu