2020 Columbus County Plan of Work

Approved: January 21, 2020

I. County Background

Columbus County is the third largest county in land area in North Carolina and has 10 incorporated towns (Whiteville, Tabor City, Fair Bluff, Chadbourn, Lake Waccamaw, Bolton, Sandyfield, Brunswick, Cerro Gordo, and Boardman). Columbus County is close to two large retirement areas, the North Carolina coast, and Myrtle Beach. The county has witnessed a trickle of retirees moving into the county, but not in large numbers.

Total County population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013) is 57,246. Population by race is White - 35,730 (64.0%), Black - 17,719 (30.5%), American Indian – 1,859 (3.5%) and other races 1,394 (2.4%). Columbus County’s population is 49.5% male and has a median age of 36.9. 13.8% of the county’s population is over the age of 65. 2.3% of the county’s total population reported themselves as Hispanic or Latino (of any race).

The economy in Columbus County continues to change in major ways. Agriculture, while still important in county earnings and income, employs only 2% of the workforce. Tobacco is still a cornerstone in the agricultural sector in county earnings despite national trends that have caused its decline in recent years. Timber is a large industry as over 400,000 acres of the county are forested. Non-traditional agriculture such and commercial pecan production has increased over the last 3 years. In 2019 the unemployment rate averaged 4.5% which is better than 5.6% in 2018.

One of the top issues in the county continues to be the extremely high obesity rate and the rise of major health problems for adults and youth. Even though we have made progress, for the last several years Columbus County has been in the bottom tier and is considered an unhealthy county. In 2019 Columbus County again was voted as one of the most unhealthiest counties in the state however, we have moved below 96th in the health rankings so there is progress. Another top issue is alternative crops that can bring in additional profits for local farmers. In 2020, this will be at the forefront in terms of addressing agricultural needs. The alternative crop that is getting the attention is Industrial Hemp. Extension will continue to provide educational leadership through programs that address the most pressing issues and needs in the county. Extension will continue to provide programs that are specifically targeting these issues.

The Advisory Leadership System continues to be instrumental in developing our overall plan. Meetings, focus groups, face to face interviews, trend data, and data available from other agencies and groups, were utilized to identify current issues to be addressed by Cooperative Extension. The major county issues identified by the citizens of Columbus County to be addressed by the Extension this year fall under the following objectives: 1) Plant Production Systems, 2) Food Safety and Nutrition, 3) Community Development, 4) 4-H Youth Development, 5) Natural Resources and Environmental Systems, 6) Consumer Horticulture, 7) Animal Production Systems and 8) Family and Consumer Sciences.

There continues to be many challenges as well as opportunities in the upcoming year. However, as we continue to work with our local Advisory Leadership System, specialists and administration from NC State University and NC A&T State University, Cooperative Extension can and will make a difference in the lives of Columbus County citizens. As the county's link to NC State University and NC A&T State University, the Columbus County Center and staff of NC Cooperative Extension are committed to providing educational programs in response to the local needs identified. This working document outlines some of those programs and Extension's plan of work for the next year.

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

Columbus County government does not presently have a strategic plan.

Cooperative Extension is viewed as a county department. The County Extension Director is considered a county department head and attends monthly county department head meetings. The County Extension Director meets periodically with the county manager. The director also reports to the board of commissioners annually at a commissioner's meeting to present a departmental update. In addition, the Cooperative Extension Staff and advisory council provide a "Report to the People" annually. This year Extension continues to be given the task by County Government to be the lead organization in developing agricultural markets outside of Columbus County. There is also a renewed focus on maximizing the profitability of traditional and non-traditional agricultural farms.

The County of Columbus provides Extension's operating budget, facilities, and vehicles. County administrative offices are available to assist Cooperative Extension in fulfilling its role as a county department. The personnel director is involved in filling vacant positions. The administrative secretary works closely with the county finance and purchasing staff. The county attorney is also available if needed. County officials are invited to participate in various Extension functions. In 2019 the county will graciously continue to work with Cooperative Extension in filling vacant positions if necessary and to prevent a reduction in services.

The County Extension Director also serves on the Vice Chairman -Partnership for Children Board, Local Emergency Planning Committee, County Animal Response Team and Safety Team. In case of a natural disaster, the CED is one of two department heads designated to maintain the Supply Command Center at the county 911 center. The Columbus County Cooperative Extension government building is also listed as the designated sight if the state needs to come in and set up an Emergency Command Center during or after a major natural disaster.

The Columbus County staff is prepared to assist county government during emergencies by providing educational materials to help citizens make informed and appropriate decisions concerning the health and safety of their families. Extension is also ready to assist with any disaster and recovery operations especially those associated with animal welfare and rescue.

IV. Diversity Plan

Cooperative Extension is committed and continues to embrace the value of diversity and the elimination of discrimination. Extension is available to all people regardless of race, color national origin, socioeconomic status, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation in keeping with Extension's Comprehensive Affirmative Action Plan. All Reasonable Efforts will be used to ensure that program opportunities are available to the citizens of county. These include, but are not limited to, targeting underrepresented groups through media, flyers, personal letters, social media and personal contact.

Columbus County will also continue to address diversity through the following:
1. An inclusive advisory leadership council with members representative of the total county.
2. Develop and implement programs to include all citizens.
3. Seek out opportunities to serve on committees and boards that serve a diverse group of people.
4. Participate in events such as health fairs and other events that target minority groups.
5. Target under served minority groups.
6. Cooperative Extension will use resources to translate documents into the Spanish language to further enhance communication among multicultural groups where applicable.

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 Columbus 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 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, 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 Columbus 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 Columbus 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 impacts 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

Advisory Council
Ricky Bullard
Esther Collier
Kathryn Faulk- Chair
Kipling Godwin
Phil Gore
Dewey Graham
Harold Shuman
Jeannie Stanaland- Secretary
Brenda Troy
Jimmy Stephens
Marie Campbell
Connie Wilson
Karla Freeman
Leslie Jones
Rita Knox
4-H County Council
Ethan Kellihan
Alex Kellihan
Devan Young
Constance Freeman
Columbus County Beekeepers Association
Eddie Ward
Tony Parker
Bonnie Jupina
Charles McDuffie
Lenwood Williams
Carl Cutler
Columbus County Farmers Market
Susie Rockel
Harold Shuman
Myra Godwin
Johnny Reynolds
Carolyn Shuman
John Fipps
Horse Livestock
Amanda Thompson
Leslie Reed
Cathy Prince
Kerry Kenner
Jackie Johnson
Pork Producers
Timmy Kinlaw
Jerry Willoughby
Carolyn Creech
Sonny Hart
Keith Enzor
Commercial Horticulture
Bobby Williams
Mackie Bullock
Harold Shuman
Jerry Robinson
FCS Advisory Leadership
Esther Collier
Jackie Roseboro
Sandra Nobles
Kip Godwin
Jamika Lynch
Carol Caldwell
Kristi Priest
Extension and Community Association County Council
Ramona Barnes
Hilda Bullard
Sandra Nobles
Barbara Larrimore
Connie Wilson
Hilda Jordan
4-H Horse Committee
Tami Cumbee
Valerie Gensel
Rachel Lowery
Alissa Simmons
Mikell Todd
Alberta Horn
Kim Torelli
Field Crops Advisory Committee
Dewaynel Johnson
Harry Hart
James Worley
Sonny Hart
Chandler Worley
Alan Ward
Bennett Wilder
Ernie Freeman
Mackie Bullock
Kevin Godwin
Dewayne Johnson
4-H Youth Council
Adrienne Blanks
Matthew Blanks
Jon Jones
Bailey Sutherland
Cattle Producers
Ethan SCott
Christine Long
Charles Lennon
Russell McPherson

VII. Staff Membership

Dalton Dockery
Title: County Extension Director-Agriculture/Horticulture
Phone: (910) 640-6605
Email: dalton_dockery@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provide Leadership and Direction to the NC Cooperative Extension Staff in Columbus County

Rebekah Benton
Title: EFNEP Educator, Extension Program Associate
Phone: (910) 640-6607
Email: rebekah_thompson@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Nutrition Program Associate 4-H EFNEP. Provides nutrition education for Columbus County youth.

Amanda Collins
Title: County Extension Office Assistant
Phone: (910) 640-6605
Email: amanda_collins@ncsu.edu

Phyllis Creech-Greene
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock
Phone: (910) 641-3996
Email: phyllis_creech@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.

Meleah Evers
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (910) 640-6605
Email: meleah_collier@ncsu.edu

Mike Frinsko
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Aquaculture
Phone: (252) 448-9621
Email: mofrinsk@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provide technical training and assistance to commercial aquaculture producers in the Southeast Extension District

Carsha Hayes
Title: County Extension Office Assistant
Phone: (910) 640-6605
Email: carsha_hayes@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.

Jonathan Jacobs
Title: Program Assistant, Agriculture
Phone: (910) 640-6605
Email: jcjacobs@ncsu.edu

Lynette Johnston
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-0303
Email: lynette_johnston@ncsu.edu

Peggie Lewis Joyce
Title: Area 4-H Agent - Central Region
Phone: (336) 242-2080
Email: peggie_lewis@ncsu.edu

Colby Lambert
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Forestry
Phone: (910) 814-6041
Email: colby_lambert@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provides educational opportunities and technical support to forest landowners, agents, and forest industry in eastern North Carolina.

Danny Lauderdale
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Ornamental Nursery and Greenhouse, Eastern Region
Phone: (252) 237-0111
Email: danny_lauderdale@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provides programming to commercial ornamental nursery and greenhouse producers in eastern North Carolina.

Stephanie McDonald-Murray
Title: Regional Nutrition Extension Associate - Southeast EFNEP and SNAP-Ed
Phone: (910) 296-2143
Email: stephanie_mcdonald@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Job Description: Provides programmatic supervision to the EFNEP program in the South East District.

Lydia Miles
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Field Crops
Phone: (910) 640-6606
Email: lcmiles2@ncsu.edu

Nannetta Rackley
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (910) 640-6605
Email: nbrackle@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: County Extension Administrative Assistant to CED and Horticulture support to CED that is a Hort Agent

Diana Rashash
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Water Quality/Waste Management
Phone: (910) 455-5873
Email: diana_rashash@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Water and wastewater issues of all types: stormwater, aquatic weed ID & control, water quality & quantity, septic systems, animal waste, land application of wastewater, environment & sustainability, climate, etc.

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!

Margaret Ross
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Poultry
Phone: (252) 670-8254
Email: margaret_ross@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Working with commercial poultry producers to assist in writing nutrient management plans and conducting educational programming.

Michael Shuman
Title: Extension Technician, Agriculture
Phone: (910) 640-6605
Email: michael_shuman@ncsu.edu

Chip Simmons
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Food Safety
Phone: (919) 414-5632
Email: odsimmon@ncsu.edu

Nakoma Simmons
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (910) 640-6607
Email: nakoma_simmons@ncsu.edu

Alyssa Spence
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agromedicine, Farm Health & Safety
Phone: (252) 527-2191
Email: arramsey@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: I work with the NCSU Applied Ecology-Toxicology & Agromedicine Department to serve the18 counties in the Southeast District, providing health/safety resources and programming to field agents in this area.

Wesley Stallings
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture- Grain Crops
Phone: (910) 455-5873
Email: wcstalli@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Agriculture-Grain Crops

Allan Thornton
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Commercial Vegetables and Fruits
Phone: (910) 592-7161
Email: allan_thornton@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Vegetable Extension Specialist. Conducts Extension and applied research programs for commercial vegetable and fruit growers and agents in eastern North Carolina.

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

Columbus County Center
45 Government Complex Rd
Suite A
Whiteville, NC 28472

Phone: (910) 640-6605
Fax: (910) 642-6315
URL: http://columbus.ces.ncsu.edu