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.
North Carolina's agricultural crops industry makes major contributions to local communities and the state’s economy. In 2014, the estimated farm gate value of crops was $4.72 billion, placing NC as the 17th largest in the nation. North Carolina is one of the most diversified agriculture states in the nation. The state's 50,200 farmers grow over 80 different commodities, utilizing 8.4 million of the state's 31 million acres to furnish consumers a dependable and affordable supply of food and fiber. Tobacco remains one of the state's most predominant farm commodities. North Carolina produces more tobacco and sweet potatoes than any other state and ranks second in Christmas tree cash receipts. The state also produces a significant amount of cucumbers for pickles, lima beans, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, strawberries, bell peppers, blueberries, chili peppers, fresh market cucumbers, snap beans, cabbage, eggplant, watermelons, pecans, peaches, squash, apples, sweet corn, tomatoes, and grapes. There is continual technological change and the relative profitability of individual farm enterprises changes over time; therefore, farmers must respond by modifying their farming operations. Changes in consumer demand create new opportunities for producers. Growth in alternative forms of agriculture will include, among others, organic and niche market production. Educational and training programs for producers of plant agricultural products and services will enhance their ability to achieve financial and lifestyle goals and to enhance economic development locally, regionally and statewide.
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.
North Carolina's livestock industry makes major contributions to local communities and the state’s economy. In 2014, the estimated farm gate value of livestock, dairy, and poultry was $8.85 billion, placing NC as the 7th largest in the nation. Hogs & pigs have historically been an important part of North Carolina agriculture. The industry has changed dramatically since the 1980s from the small farm raising a few hogs to large confinement type operations. North Carolina's number of cattle & calves on farms has remained relatively stable throughout time. Milk cow inventory and milk production have continued to decline in the state. Unlike other commodities, broiler production in North Carolina is increasing throughout the state. There is continual technological change and the relative profitability of individual farm enterprises changes over time; therefore, farmers must respond by modifying their farming operations. Changes in consumer demand create new opportunities for producers. Growth in alternative forms of agriculture will include, among others, organic, niche market production, and pasture-raised livestock. Educational and training programs for producers of animal agricultural products and services will enhance their ability to achieve financial and lifestyle goals and to enhance economic development locally, regionally and statewide.
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.
Farmers will increase their capacity to supply product for local food sales through market planning efforts, producer and consumer education, beginning farmer training programs and local market infrastructure development. The fastest growing area of consumer demand in agriculture continues to be organic. Farmers' markets continue to expand as do multiple efforts in local sustainable agriculture. Nationally, "Buy Local, Buy Fresh" movements have emerged in the face of concerns about the risks involved in long distance transportation of industrialized food production. Increasingly, public officials and business leaders see promotion of local farm products as good public policy and local economic development. Additionally, individuals will learn to supplement their current diet by growing their own fruits and vegetables as individuals or as community groups.
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.
Training and educational programs for farmers, agricultural workers, food handlers, and consumers will provide research-based programming, materials, information and expertise to compel these individuals to implement practices relating to the overall safety and security for the food supply and farming systems. Components of this include on-farm, packinghouse, and transportation management, retail and food service establishments, and consumer’s homes. Therefore targeted audiences include farmers and agricultural workers and their families, food handlers and workers (both amateur and commercial), transporters, processors, business operators, food service and retail staff, supervisors of any food facility, long term care facility staff and individuals who purchase, prepare and serve food in their homes. With an estimated 76 million foodborne illnesses annually, costing an estimated $1.4 trillion, food safety highlights a specific area of risk to be addressed by Cooperative Extension. The recent produce-related foodborne illness outbreaks have brought public attention to a problem that has been increasing nationally for the last ten years. The issues of foodborne illness and food safety pose immediate risks for farmers affecting the areas of economics, consumer demand, and market access. Because no processing or kill steps are involved with produce that is typically eaten raw, the best measures to limit microorganisms and fresh produce related illness are to prevent microbes from contaminating the product. Practices like Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Good Handling Practices (GHPs), and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) represent a systematic preventive approach to food safety, protecting agricultural products as they move from farm to retail and restaurants and finally to families. While there is currently no legal requirements for growers to implement GAPs, buyers have responded to the public concern by requiring their produce growers to adhere to current guidelines and possibly even require GAPs certification. The main areas of concern incorporate production, harvesting, packing, and transporting produce in the areas of water quality, manure management, domestic and wildlife management, worker health and hygiene, transportation, traceability, and documentation. For North Carolina growers to be competitive and produce safe product, it is important that they gain knowledge about and implement food safety programs that minimize physical, chemical and biological hazards Food safety risks do not stop at primary production. As risks associated with pathogens can occur at many junctions between primary production and consumption, food safety is a truly farm-to-fork issue. The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have defined 5 factors that lead to foodborne illness outbreaks: Inadequate cooking or processing procedures; improper storage and holding temperatures, cross-contamination between potentially contaminated raw materials and ready-to-eat foods (either directly or through poor sanitation); and poor implementation of personal hygiene practices. The preventative steps targeting risk reduction taken at each of the components making up the food supply chain are critical in preventing food-borne illness. Educational programs including ServSAFE, School HACCP workshops, food safety at childcare and senior centers, and targeted farm-to-fork food safety inclusion for all food handlers is necessary for important for advances in knowledge and implementation of preventative programs. Equally important is that families and children have a secure food supply. Hunger in American households has risen by 43 percent over the last five years, according to an analysis of US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data released in the report "Household Food Security in the United States, 2004." The analysis, completed by the Center on Hunger and Poverty at Brandeis University, shows that more than 7 million people have joined the ranks of the hungry since 1999. The USDA report says that 38.2 million Americans live in households that suffer directly from hunger and food insecurity, including nearly 14 million children. That figure is up from 31 million Americans in 1999. Limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and food-insecure individuals, families and communities will be provided with information and opportunities to enhance household food, diet and nutritional security. Agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries in the United States, and consistently ranks as the first, second or third most deadly industry along with mining and construction. Agriculture is unique in that the work and home place are often the same, exposing both workers and family members to hazards. In the United States on average each year, there are 700 deaths and 140,000 injuries to those who work in agriculture, defined as farming, forestry and fishing. Farmers, farmworkers and their families are at high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries (primarily from tractor roll-overs, machinery entanglements, and animal handling incidents), musculo-skeletal conditions, work-related lung diseases, noise-induced hearing loss, heat stress and heat stroke, pesticide exposure and illness, skin diseases, behavioral health issues, and certain cancers associated with chemical use and prolonged sun exposure. The health and safety of migrant and seasonal farmworkers are complicated by other conditions such as infectious disease, hypertension, and diabetes, as well as cultural and language barriers. Farmers and farmworkers alike are subject to lack of access to health care. Agricultural injury and illness are costly, with total US annual costs reaching $4.5 billion and per farm costs equaling $2,500, or 15% of net income. Median health care coverage for farm families is $6,000 per year. In North Carolina, 27% of farm families do not have health insurance, while 29% of farmers do not have health insurance. Many others have health care coverage with high annual deductibles and high premiums. Agromedicine is a comprehensive, collaborative approach involving both agricultural and health scientists to develop solutions addressing the health and safety issues of the agricultural community through research, education and outreach. The North Carolina Agromedicine Institute, a partnership of NC State University, NC A&T State University and East Carolina University in collaboration with others, develops and evaluates effective programs to reduce injury and illness in agriculture, forestry and fishing. One such program is called Certified Safe Farm (CSF) and AgriSafe. CSF and AgriSafe were first developed and researched in Iowa. CSF and AgriSafe are being adapted to North Carolina agriculture by the NC Agromedicine Institute and its Cooperative Extension collaborators. Certified Safe Farm combines AgriSafe health services (wellness and occupational health screenings and personal protection equipment selection and fit services) conducted by trained AgriSafe health providers, on-farm safety reviews conducted by trained Extension agents, and community education and outreach to achieve safety and health goals established by participating farmers and their employees and families. Insurance incentives and safety equipment cost-share programs for participating farmers are still being developed. Other ongoing educational programs addressing agricultural health and safety include farm safety days for children, youth, or families, employee hands-on farm safety training, the National Safe Tractor and Machinery Operation Program for youth, and youth ATV operator safety certification programs.
Individuals and groups will acquire leadership and decision making capacities needed to guide and actively participate in local and state organizations.
Leadership is important to every level of a community sharing in the creation of wealth and well-being. Youth and adult leaders must be capable of motivating groups to achieve common goals that impact North Carolina families and communities.They will need the confidence and skill to guide and support North Carolina community and state organizations. Citizens participating in the 2007 NC Tomorrow survey denoted the importance of leadership by clearly requesting leadership training (54%), social advising, community advising and technical assistance (45%)from their university system.
Youth and adults will address community issues and/or challenges through volunteerism.
Youth and adult volunteers in North Carolina contribute thousands of hours each year to strengthen communities and create strong foundations for the future. As these individuals engage in service, they are gaining new skills, generating new programs to serve their communities, building successful organizations, and fostering an ethic of service. Cooperative Extension is poised to support the development of interpersonal skills, leadership experiences, and content knowledge to ensure that citizens are prepared to engage in meaningful service throughout the lifespan. Current research suggests that youth and adult participation positively impacts civic engagement and contributes to the development of leadership capacities. With its presence in every county, Cooperative Extension is uniquely positioned to contribute to building a stronger ethic of service among youth and adults.
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.
Throughout North Carolina, communities that come together to collaboratively address issues and/or interests are enhancing the community's quality of life and its economic, social and environmental resiliency. The state's growing population and economy is producing significant changes in its communities and in some cases resulting in the emergence of new communities. The perspectives, capacity and skills of all community members are essential to aligning community decisions and actions with local needs, assets and priorities. NC Cooperative Extension has an important role in engaging and supporting the ongoing work of citizens, organizations, and communities in decision-making, and strategic dialog to influence positive public policy, foster development of partnerships, create empowered communities, be prepared to address the high potential for natural and human-caused disasters.
Parents and caregivers will effectively use recommended parenting, self care practices and community resources.
North Carolina communities are only as strong and viable as the families that reside there. To create and maintain viable communities where children and youth succeed and the elderly are protected and cared for parents and caregivers need knowledge and skills that build their capacity to function effectively and carryout their responsibilities. They need to be equipped to: 1) foster positive parent-child relationships, 2) address anti-social behavior with appropriate disciplinary techniques, 3) implement positive role modeling, child monitoring and supervision strategies and 4) prevent practices that lead to the abuse and neglect of children. State data suggest that strengthening parenting skills could serve as an asset to families and communities. Risk and needs assessment data on 46,041 youth involved in NC courts found that 59% of the youth had problems in school, 40% had relationships with peers associated with gangs and delinquent behavior, 40% had parents who were either unable or unwilling to supervise them, and 68% had parents with either marginal or inadequate supervision skills. A large percentage of NC working families with children under six (63.34%) must rely on child care services. Child care practitioner education and training is key to providing quality childcare. Family members provide care to a rapidly growing aging population that could double, reaching 2.8 million in the next two decades. A majority of elderly North Carolinians suffer from multiple chronic illnesses. Caregiver demands can trigger health problems, financial and emotional stress. Families who provide care and support for elderly family members also need skills to succeed with less stress and financial burden and need to be linked to community resources that provide support for the care and maintenance of elderly family members.
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.
North Carolina families are experiencing financial distress. A slowing state economy with depressed incomes, rising interest rates, housing and medical costs and increased living expenses for gasoline and food have strained household budgets. NC households (21%) lack access to enough food for an active healthy life for all household members. Families forced into home insecurity in the state reached 47% because of the inability to pay their rent or increased mortgage payments. Foreclosure starts increased 154% between the third quarter of 2006 and first quarter 2010 with projections of increases in foreclosures through 2012. The loss of housing as a primary asset hurts the family emotionally, psychologically and economically and impacts property values and tax revenue in communities. To avoid negative financial outcomes families need skills to develop and execute spending plans to better manage income to cover monthly living expenses, to evaluate, select and manage financial products, and to increase and protect family assets. Eighteen percent (18%) or 1 out of 5 households are asset poor and lack sufficient net worth to subsist at the poverty level for three months without a job or source of support. Due to inadequate savings 1 out of 3 households reported using credit cards to cover basic living expenses, including rent, mortgage payments, groceries, utilities and insurance. Credit card debt and changes in interest rate policies have forced many families to become delinquent on credit repayment. Families nationwide also report feeling that they have inadequate savings for emergencies, educating their children and retirement. Skills that help families develop and implement debt repayment strategies, make sound consumer decisions to avoid scams and frauds, like predatory lending and identity theft, and create and implement plans to achieve short-term and long-term financial goals like acquiring a home, saving for retirement and education and emergency funds can help families recover from poor financial management practices and become more financially secure. In the context of “the Great Recession” and high unemployment (10.4% North Carolina; 9% National (October 2011)) families need knowledge and skills to access information and programs that support family economic security during periods of unemployment, under-employment and/or retirement.
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
We are living in a new economy powered by technology, fueled by information and driven by knowledge. Extension programs provide opportunities for youth and adults to improve their level of education and increase their skills that enable them to be competitive in our global society and workforce.
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.
The natural resources in North Carolina are an important asset that benefit all citizens, but many citizens are unaware of the consequences of actions and practices they implement. The continued population growth of North Carolina is putting pressure on natural resources in terms of quantity and quality. To have a healthy and productive natural environment, professionals and citizens must be knowledgeable of environmental issues and conservation and management opportunities.
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.
Residential, commercial and public entities will make decisions regarding plant selection, placement and management that will decrease water consumption, preserve and improve water quality, mitigate storm water contaminants, reduce erosion, energy consumption, and greenwaste, expand wildlife habitat, improve real estate value, and improve diet and nutrition of consumers. The horse and "farmer lifestyle" industry will continue to grow and have an increasing impact on North Carolina's economy, while protecting the environment. The NCDA&CS reports that 65,000 horse producers own over 225,000 horses which annually generates over $704 million of gross revenue from training, showing, boarding and breeding establishments in addition to agri-business sales of horse-related products. The total economic impact of the NC green industry is $8.6 billion, involving 151,982 employees, and 120,741 acres of production (Green Industry Council, 2006). North Carolina residential consumers spend $5.9 billion dollars per year on garden and landscape related expenses (Green Industry Council, 2006). For 2007, North Carolina's population is estimated to be 8,968,800 (LINC). The population grew by 1,323,288 (15%), between 1997 and 2007 and it is projected to grow by another 1,330,055 (13%), over the next ten years (LINC). Over 50% of the population now lives in urban areas. Despite evidence of the ecological and financial benefits, environmentally responsible landscaping strategies are not being implemented widely. Renovating a landscape to incorporate water conserving strategies may result in using 36% less water. Urban water run-off accounts for the majority of water pollution, mostly pesticides and fertilizers, that does not come from a specific industrial source. Selection of well-adapted plants, effective pest management, and appropriate care and feeding of plants will greatly reduce dependence on fertilizers and pesticides. Rain water that is not absorbed by the soil becomes erosive storm water runoff, which transports pollutants such as fertilizer, pesticides, sediment, motor oil, litter, and animal waste to local streams and rivers. Landscape designs will include rain gardens and other runoff catchment facilities (underground cisterns, etc.) that are attractive and easy to maintain in residential areas. Homeowners will learn that proper plant selection and placement can reduce winter heating bills by as much as 15% and summer cooling bills by as much as 50 percent, while reducing the need to prune over-sized plants. Wild habitat areas are rapidly being converted into housing and commercial properties, displacing native plants and animals. Choosing native or adapted plants that provide food and shelter creates a haven for butterflies, birds, lizards, and other animals. Edible landscaping can increase the amount and expand the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables consumed.
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.
Many North Carolinians are affected by chronic disease and conditions that compromise their quality of life and well-being. Heart disease, stroke and cancer continue to be leading causes of death in our state. In addition, obesity and obesity related chronic diseases such as diabetes continue to rise at alarming rates. Healthy eating and physical activity are critical to achieve optimal health. Many North Carolinians have diets that are too high in calories and too low in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Portion sizes, foods eaten away-from-home and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages continue to rise. In addition, most North Carolinians do not engage in regular physical activity. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has nearly doubled in the past 10 years. If the trend of overweight is not slowed, it will eliminate the progress we have made in reducing the burden of weigh-related chronic disease. One in every three US children born after 2000 will become diabetic unless many more people start eating less and exercising more. The cost of obesity in North Carolina in health care costs alone is over 2 billion dollars. There are many proposed reasons for the obesity epidemic, however unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are widely recognizes as primary contributors to the problem. Those who make healthy food choices and are physically active are more likely to achieve and maintain a healthy weight as well reduce chronic diseases. Ultimately, this will lead to reduction in health care costs, increased longevity, greater productivity and improved quality of life.
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 24.14
4-H: 59 1,180 1,104 $ 28,485.00
Advisory Leadership System: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Extension Community Association: 60 16,576 822 $ 400,145.00
Extension Master Gardener: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Other: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Total: 119 17756 1926 $ 428,630.00
* 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: brent_buchanan@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 & 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: Extension 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.

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.

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