2017 Gaston County Program Impact Report

Approved: February 1, 2018

I. Executive Summary

In 2017, the Gaston County Center of NC Cooperative Extension delivered programs aligned to Extension’s statewide focus on agriculture, food, and 4-H. We offered successful educational programs that supported our local agricultural economy, enhanced home landscapes and gardens, improved residents’ health and nutrition, and prepared youth for success.

Local food production continues to be an area of programming emphasis. In 2017, we hosted the Foothills Farm School which provided an intensive 12-session series of hands-on workshops for 22 aspiring farmers. Participants gained production and marketing skills and concluded the school with a completed business plan. Our office provided consultations and grower certifications to 52 agricultural enterprises earning $353,000 through sales at Gaston County farmers markets and assisted the Gastonia Farmers Market in completing a market expansion to accommodate 18 additional vendors. Also, Cooperative Extension coordinated the Gaston Community Garden Network to support five community gardens in the County. These gardens provide local food production, education, and help to supply local food banks.

The focus on local foods extended into our 4-H Youth and Family and Consumer Sciences programming efforts. With support from Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, we provided 8 elementary schools and 44 classrooms with our Healthy Harvest school gardening and EFNEP nutrition program. The multi-week hands-on program reached over 1000 third and fourth graders of which 83 percent increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and 61 percent aspired to garden at home. Over 800 second graders also learned STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills and life cycles through our 4-H embryology programs. In addition, 219 Gaston County youth participated in multi-day farm, science, and cooking camps.

Meanwhile, Extension’s food preservation classes and nutrition programs like EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program), Living Healthy, and Eat Smart, Move More provided over 200 Gaston residents with healthy eating skills resulting in an estimated $80,000 in health cost savings. In 2017, Cooperative Extension partnered with the Gaston County Healthcare Commission and extended the Healthy Gaston Program to support 22 churches, schools, and businesses in establishing wellness programs. We also partnered with the Gaston County DHHS to initiate a Food Council in Gaston County.

Extension supported landowners throughout the County by providing certification training for 64 private and 212 commercial pesticide license holders working in Gaston County’s $10 million dollar landscaping and nursery businesses. We also responded to over 1000 garden and landscaping calls and 350 wildlife, home, or environment calls with accurate research-based information, assisting both consumers and retail outlets.

Gaston County Cooperative Extension leverages our Extension Volunteer base of over 350 Master Gardeners, Extension and Community Association members, beekeepers, 4-H leaders, SHIIP volunteers, Cattlemen’s Association members, and QNRC members, to increase customer support and programming. By securing grant funds, Extension delivered the Senior Health Insurance Information Program which saved 911 Gaston County Seniors $402,300. Grant funds also supported our Triple P parenting classes for over 100 mandated Gaston County clients which saved tax dollars associated with foster care ($4,500/year/child) or institutional care ($36,500/year/child). Cooperative Extension secured $7000 in donations to partner with the Gaston County Extension Master Gardeners in the purchase of a greenhouse to be located at the Extension office for educational purposes and the production of plants for the Healthy Harvest program. Finally, in partnership with Gaston County Government, we upgraded the Lucile Tatum Center to ADA standards and secured $4000 in grant funding to renovate the kitchen for community use.

II. County Background

The mission of Cooperative Extension is to work with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land, and economy of North Carolinians. Based on local needs, Gaston County Cooperative Extension tailors its programs to support agriculture and the local foods economy, engage youth in hands-on learning, and enhance residents' skills related to gardening, landscaping, nutrition, parenting, and finances.

Gaston County is the eighth most populated county in North Carolina with 210,086 people. There are a total of 14 municipalities in the county including Mt. Holly, Belmont, Dallas, Bessemer City, and Cherryville. Gastonia, the largest city and county seat, has a population of 71,741. Official census data places the county’s Black population at 15.3%. While the official Hispanic population is estimated at 5.9%., a larger percentage of students entering the school system speak Spanish as a first language.

Gaston County’s economy benefits from being located just west of Charlotte, and has recently gained momentum from the "Gaston Outside" image campaign. In addition, the county’s proximity to an international airport and interstate highway system are economic advantages. Despite these advantages, Gaston County’s poverty rate of 16.6% is higher than the State average and the county’s graduation rate from high school and its number of citizens with bachelor degrees are below the State averages. While traditional employees of the textile and manufacturing sectors still struggle to find replacement jobs, eastern parts of the county are becoming bedroom communities for commuters to Charlotte.

In terms of agriculture, enterprises such as beef cattle, poultry, nurseries and greenhouses, and locally marketed fresh vegetables have increased as the number of farmers markets have increased too in recent years. Extension focuses on expanding agricultural production to meet the growing demand for healthy local foods in Gaston County and the Charlotte region.

County leaders are focused on job creation and workforce development through improved education. The region is forecasted to gain a great deal of residential development and commercial growth over the next ten years. There will be growing demands to build and maintain schools and infrastructure throughout the county. Lower tax revenues make it challenging to address these issues as well as the loss of open space, high rates of overweight children, an aging population, and lack of walk-able communities.

As one of the 100 county offices of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, Gaston County’s Cooperative Extension Service focuses its programs on each of the State Extension Objectives listed in this plan of work. Our Extension office tailors its programs to the specific needs of Gaston County by receiving input from County Government, local citizen commissions, and a citizen advisory board.

Gaston County’s Cooperative Extension programs are based on local needs assessments, including the 2015 Quality of Life Community survey. Programs center around the following 4 key issues impacting our communities:

1. Agriculture Enterprises
2. Food and Nutrition
3. Building Youth and Adult Leaders
4. Strengthening Families

Gaston County’s problems require innovative solutions. Cooperative Extension brings the research and knowledge of NC State University, NC A&T University, and all of America’s land-grant institutions to Gaston County. Together with over 300 local volunteers we apply this knowledge to create real life solutions.

III. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

North Carolina's plant production systems will become more profitable and sustainable.

Value* Outcome Description
11Number of crop (all plant systems) producers increasing/improving knowledge, attitudes, and/or skills as related to: 1. Best management production practices (cultural, nutrient, and genetics) 2. Pest/insect, disease, weed, wildlife management 3. Financial/Farm management tools and practices (business, marketing, government policy, human resources) 4. Alternative agriculture, bioenergy, and value-added enterprises
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
20Number of crop (all plant systems) producers adopting best management practices, including those practices related to nutrient management, conservation, production, cultivars, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), business management, and marketing
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

North Carolina's animal production systems will become more profitable and sustainable.

Value* Outcome Description
19Number of animal producers increasing/improving knowledge, attitudes, and/or skills as related to: 1. Best management production practices (cultural, nutrient, and genetics) 2. Pest/insect, disease, weed, wildlife management 3. Financial/Farm management tools and practices (business, marketing, government policy, human resources) 4. Alternative agriculture, bioenergy, and value-added enterprises
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
19Number of animal producers adopting Extension-recommended best management practices, including those practices related to husbandry, improved planning, marketing, and financial practices
4Number of animal producers implementing Extension-recommended best management practices for animal waste management
4Number of waste management certifications gained or maintained due to Extension education efforts
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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.

Value* Outcome Description
76Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
60Number of adults (including producers, food business owners, etc.) who improved knowledge of local food and agricultural systems.
58Number of children/youth who improved knowledge of local food and agricultural systems.
300Number of individuals who gain knowledge or acquire skills related to vegetable/fruit gardening, and if also reporting under Urban and Consumer Agriculture Objective, divide up the reported number appropriately between the two objectives to avoid duplication.
42Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
18Number of individuals who learn how to prepare local foods, including through use of home food preservation techniques.
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
11Number of new and existing access points for consumers that expand or improve their offering of local fruits and vegetables. Access points include farmers markets, retail stores, school food programs, community gardens, institutions other than schools (e.g. hospitals, universities, etc.), and other systems/access points not noted (e.g. restaurants, etc.).
17Number of producers selling their agricultural products to local markets (direct, intermediated/food service, institutional) for consumption in NC.
20Number of producers who diversified their marketing strategies into local markets (direct, intermediated/food service, institutional).
11Number of producers (and other members of the local food supply chain) who have increased revenue.
18Number of new farms (beginning farmers) selling into local markets for local consumption (in this reporting period).
1Number of new local food value chain businesses, other than farms (in this reporting period).
74Number of individuals who grow food in community gardens.
428Number of youth who grow food in school gardens.
12Number of individuals who begin home food production by starting a vegetable and/or fruit garden, and if also reporting under Urban and Consumer Horticulture Objective, divide up the reported number appropriately between the two objectives to avoid duplication.
2200Number of pounds of fresh produce donated for consumption by vulnerable populations.
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

Agricultural producers, workers, food handlers and consumers will adopt safer food and agricultural production, handling, and distribution practices that reduce workplace and home injuries/illnesses, enhance food security, and increase the quality and safety of food that North Carolinians prepare and consume.

Individuals and groups will acquire leadership and decision making capacities needed to guide and actively participate in local and state organizations.

Youth and adults will address community issues and/or challenges through volunteerism.

Value* Outcome Description
10Number of adult participants acquiring the skills needed to serve as a volunteer
1Number of youth participants reporting aspirations to serve in new or expanded volunteer roles in community
1Number of adult participants reporting aspirations to serve in new or expanded volunteer roles in community
20Number of hours adult volunteer training conducted
6Number of hours youth volunteer training conducted
6Number new volunteers recruited
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
40Increased number of hours contributed by trained youth volunteers
70Increased number of hours contributed by trained adult volunteers
1Number of youth volunteers serving in new or expanded roles within Extension
6Number of adult volunteers serving in new or expanded roles within Extension
6Number of adult volunteers serving in new or expanded roles beyond Extension, including community boards and task forces
1Number of adult volunteers recruiting and/or training new volunteers
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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.

Parents and caregivers will effectively use recommended parenting, self care practices and community resources.

Adults and youth will apply financial management practices to increase their economic security, which include to: meet basic necessities, increase savings, reduce debt, and build long-term assets.

Value* Outcome Description
21Number of people gaining knowledge and/or skills in managing financial products and financial identity (such as; credit, debt management, identify theft, credit reports and scores, scams, banking skills)
5002Number of people gaining knowledge and/or skills to increase family economic security (such as; how to access: SNAP benefits, SHIIP Medicare Part D; food cost management, cost comparison skills, shop for reverse mortgages, select long term care insurance, etc.)
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
231Number people implementing risk management strategies (such as; seeking HUD or other housing counseling, accessing federal or state programs to address the issue, comparing among and selecting insurance coverage, financial preparation for disasters)
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

Futures that Work: School to Career Pathways

Value* Outcome Description
59Number of teachers trained in 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum
1685Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
1011Total number of female participants in STEM program
10Number of high school age youth (students) participating as members of 4-H clubs
16Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge of career/employability skills
16Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge of entrepreneurship
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
59Number of teachers using 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum in their classrooms
1685Number of youth (students) gaining knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
16Number of youth (students) gaining career / employability skills
16Number of youth (students) gaining entrepreneurship skills
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

North Carolinians will make decisions and adopt practices that implement effective resource protection and conservation.

Value* Outcome Description
3Number of youth and adults demonstrating increased knowledge of natural resources and environmental issues
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

Consumers and communities will enhance the value of plants, animals, and landscapes while conserving valuable natural resources and protecting the environment.

Value* Outcome Description
40Number of participants improving knowledge, attitude, skills and aspirations regarding gardening and landscape practices including plant selection and placement, turfgrass management, soil management, growing food, water conservation and water quality preservation, storm water and erosion management, green waste management, pest and wildlife management
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
35Number of participants who use extension-recommended best management practices in landscapes, turf, and gardens, including pest (insect, weed, disease) management, fertility management, water conservation, water quality preservation and pruning techniques
7600Total cost savings from the use of extension-recommended best management practices in landscapes, turf, and gardens, including pest (insect, weed, disease) management, fertility management, water conservation, water quality preservation and pruning techniques
62Number of participants who use extension-recommended pest management practices in homes, public facilities, businesses or in community pest management programs
4800Cost savings from using extension-recommended pest management practices in homes, public facilities, businesses or in community pest management programs
26Number of participants selecting appropriate landscape plants (adapted, drought tolerant, appropriate size, etc.)
3500Cost savings from the appropriate selection of landscape plants
73Number of participants growing food for home consumption
7300Value of produce grown for home consumption
25Number of participants implementing extension-recommended practices to conserve water use and protect water qualty
1000Costs savings from implementing extension-recommended practices to conserve water use and protect water qualtiy
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

Youth and adult program participants will make healthy food choices, achieve the recommended amount of physical activity and reduce risk factors for chronic diseases.

Value* Impact Description
236Number of adults increasing their fruit and vegetables consumption
401Number of youth increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption
49Number of participants increasing their physical activity
17Number of adults who improve their blood glucose (A1c.)level
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

IV. Number of Contacts Made by Extension

Type of ContactNumber
Face-to-face* 10,788
Non face-to-face** 10,900
Total by Extension staff in 2017 21,688
* 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 $2,250.00
Gifts/Donations $2,245.00
In-Kind Grants/Donations $2,950.00
United Way/Foundations $0.00
User Fees $0.00
Total $7,445.00

VI. Volunteer Involvement in Extension Programs

Number of Volunteers* Number of Volunteer Hours Known client contacts by volunteers Dollar Value at 24.69
4-H: 59 1,180 1,104 $ 29,134.00
Advisory Leadership System: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Extension Community Association: 60 16,576 822 $ 409,261.00
Extension Master Gardener: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Other: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Total: 119 17756 1926 $ 438,396.00
* The number of volunteers reflects the overall number of volunteers for multiple events.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Beekeepers Association Board
Allen Thompson
Burton Beasley
Debi Wheeler
Dan Turner
Tamela Bell
Debi Wheeler – Newsletter Editor
Master Gardeners
Kathy Hornbuckle
Kay Cherry
Gayla Woody
Peggy Murphy
Dana Harper
Family and Consumer Sciences
Joe Baier
Lucy Baier
Linda Tino
Audrey Hunt
Beth Deaton
Pam Myers


Quality of Natural Resources Committee
Michelle Cook
Charles Heafner
Mike McLeod
Ray Maxwell
Ross Hetherington
Jerry Hatton
Farm Management
Gavin Bell
Cathy Lewis
Art Duckworth
Mike Fulbright
Tim Stowe
Lis Marie
Cindy Dye


4-H Youth
Janet Bowen
Lewis Friday
Officer Chad Owens
Tammy Mims
Sarah Miller
LeeAnn Dodd
BJ Waelz


County Extension Advisory Committee
Allen Thompson
Sharon Lanier
Joe Baier
Betsy Steketee
Michelle Cook
Mike McLeod
Larry Hyde
Tim Stowe
Art Duckworth
Cathy Lewis
David Thornburg
Lewis Friday
Kyle Lineburger
Barry Dellinger
Stan Beam
Patti Plaksin
Mac Brawley
Ann Tippit
Dwayne Burks
Deborah Ally

VIII. Staff Membership

David Fogarty
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (704) 922-2130
Email: david_fogarty@ncsu.edu

Brooke Beeksma
Title: Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences - EFNEP
Phone: (704) 922-2121
Email: brbeeksm@ncsu.edu

Belinda Bogle
Title: Triple P Parent Practitioner
Phone: (704) 922-2122
Email: belinda_bogle@ncsu.edu

Pam Bryson
Title: Program Coordinator
Phone: (704) 865-3291
Email: pam_bryson@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Liaison to Gaston County Extension and Community Association

Brent Buchanan
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Dairy
Phone: (315) 212-1277
Email: babuchan@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Dairy Extension Programming in Western North Carolina Counties of Haywood, Madison, Buncombe, Transylvania, Henderson, Yancey, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Mitchell, Avery, Burke, Cleveland, Watauga, Caldwell, Catawba, Lincoln, Gaston, Ashe, Wilkes, Alexander, Iredell, Alleghany, Surry, Yadkin, and Davie.

Jim Burke
Title: Extension Agent, Natural Resources
Phone: (704) 922-2119
Email: jim_burke@ncsu.edu

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

Rich Chuvala
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (704) 922-2126
Email: richard_chuvala@ncsu.edu

Marcus Cyprian
Title: Program Assistant - Agriculture, Horticulture
Phone: (704) 922-0301
Email: mjcypria@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.

Richard Goforth
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Poultry
Phone: (704) 283-3801
Email: richard_goforth@ncsu.edu

Cyndy Gustashaw
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (704) 922-2111
Email: cynthia_gustashaw@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

Craig Mauney
Title: 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.

Linda Minges
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (704) 922-2127
Email: linda_minges@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Linda Minges, MPH, RD, LDN, provides a variety of nutrition, wellness, and food safety programs throughout Gaston County.

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.

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.

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.

Lara Worden
Title: Area Agent, Agriculture
Phone: (704) 922-2118
Email: lara_worden@ncsu.edu

IX. Contact Information

Gaston County Center
1303 Dallas-Cherryville Hwy
Citizens Resource Center
Dallas, NC 28034

Phone: (704) 922-0301
Fax: (704) 922-2140
URL: http://gaston.ces.ncsu.edu