2017 Graham County Program Impact Report

Approved: January 10, 2018

I. Executive Summary

Graham County Cooperative Extension focused on four major program areas in 2017: Local Food Systems, Profitable & Sustainable Agriculture, School to Career and Healthy Eating, Physical Activity & Chronic Disease Reduction. These program areas were identified as important by ALS committees as well as other county stakeholders. Some of the year's successes in these program areas include: a shiitake mushroom production workshop; beekeeper's meetings; pesticide training's; a 4-H poultry processing class; a fruit tree grafting class; school enrichment classes; a successful shooting sports team; a diabetes support group; a certified scuba diving course for 4-Her's; a series of Snap-Ed training's; resource protection and conservation; an agricultural workshop series at the public library; and making healthy decisions with youth.

Graham County Cooperative Extension is still able to offer about 50% more programs to both youth and adults due to having a sufficient meeting area. Having a smart board and good internet access allows us to attend on-line meetings and training's; something we could not have done before.

Meeting the needs of citizens has always been our top priority. Graham County Extension staff members made over 17,000 contacts (both face-to-face and non-face-to-face) in 2017. This resulted in an increase of around 500 contacts from 2016. In addition, staff offered a total of 555 hours of programming in 2017, which reached 7,600 participants in programming for 2017. A large portion of these programs focused on providing educational programs and research-based information to promote agricultural education, leadership, nutrition and youth development. Extension staff members have worked collaboratively to help build the leadership infrastructure of the county.

Cooperative Extension offered many note worthy programs in 2017, but the highlights of the year was the tremendous success of the 4-H Shooting Sports Team and the agricultural workshop series at the Graham County Public Library. The team received in excess of $3,651 in monies and equipment from the National Rifle Association. Other programs that made a difference in 2017 included: strong 4-H after school clubs, a county fishing derby, an understanding soil samples course, a fruit tree grafting course and a county diabetes support group.

Extension staff members also recruited volunteers from multiple state agencies, county agencies, and local businesses to conduct a variety of programs. These included horse clinics, horticulture workshops, sewing workshops and tourism projects. Overall, 82 volunteers were utilized over a period of 207 hours, which resulted in a net value of over $5,000.

Also in 2017, Advisory Leadership Committee Members participated in multiple public meetings. These included: county commissioner’s meetings and the Graham Revitalization & Economic Action Team (GREAT). This community involvement has helped highlight the importance of agriculture and 4-H to local families and the needs of Graham County Cooperative Extension as well.

Extension agents have successfully promoted leadership, agriculture and nutrition in the county through programs that encourage citizens to become active participants in the community through advocacy, service and volunteerism. As a result of these and many other endeavors, Graham County citizens have learned skills that can improve their quality of life, earning potential, and health and wellness.

II. County Background

Graham County, located in the rugged mountains of southwestern North Carolina, is small, isolated and rural. Citizens have identified the local people and the vast natural beauty of the area as the county's two greatest assets. The county possesses many assets and many challenges. An Extension environmental scan was conducted in 2010 and completed in January 2011. An extensive agricultural survey was conducted in 2014. Resident input was also collected from community assistance initiative public meetings and from a high school student survey completed in 2011. Based on much of the information gathered, Cooperative Extension will focus on local foods, agriculture and youth as the primary focus of programming in 2017.

Profitable and Sustainable Plant & Animal Production Systems; Local Foods

The median household income for Graham County residents is lower than state or national averages. Fifty percent of school-age youth qualify for the free/reduced lunch program. The county consistently has double-digit unemployment and frequently has the highest unemployment rate in North Carolina. As a result of these and other factors, the county has been classified by the Department of Commerce as a Tier 1 – Economically Disadvantaged County. In addition, challenges to the national and state economies continue to cause concern at the local level. These challenges have negatively impacted local businesses, farm producers, the budgets of local governments and led to the loss of businesses. Added to these economic hurdles, growth in industry and development will be limited by the steep terrain and by the amount of land available for construction.

The Extension environmental scan, tourism surveys, community surveys, community forums, interviews, school surveys, and recent focus group conversations reflected these concerns. Respondents ranked improving the local economy through agriculture, creating and keeping jobs, workforce development, and expanding agriculture businesses as high priorities for Extension programming. In addition, teaching workforce skills, increasing family income through agriculture, increasing local food sales, and support of the local farmer's market were seen as ways to improve the local economy. Extension advisory leaders support efforts to provide educational programs in entrepreneurship, workforce development, farm economics, energy conservation, family finances, and promoting the buy local campaign to address these issues.

Graham County farm families are looking for new and innovative ways to supplement family income. With a decent tourism base, a large number of summer residents, and a new focus on locally grown foods, the local farmers market has improved to meet the demands of this new clientele. Results from the environmental scan suggest that emphasis be given to producing alternative crops, further developing the current farmer’s market, developing new agriculture and value-added markets, and promoting agriculture to youth and families. Furthermore, the addition of about twenty high tunnel greenhouses has set the stage for the development of the local food market here in Graham County.


In addition to working to strengthen agriculture, Extension must also address the need to build community leaders and skilled workers for the future. Current and future leaders must be equipped to make tough decisions in a fast paced environment. Workers must be able to learn and adapt quickly to changes in the workplace. Communicating effectively and working effectively on a team will be important skills. Extension will focus on building adult and youth leaders through volunteerism, community service, citizenship, serving on local committees, and teaching others. Strong community leadership and a skilled workforce will improve the local economy and improve the quality of life for citizens. Finally, the addition of a new Extension facility in 2012 equipped with a teaching kitchen and meeting room has enabled Extension staff to increase their number of programs by about 50%. The loss of an FCS agent in Graham County has proved challenging, but the remaining employees are effectively taking up the slack.

School to Career

While the dropout rate in Graham County has reduced over the years, youth can rarely stay in Graham County due to a severe lack of employment opportunities. Residents have been, and continue to be, discouraged over this fact. In many cases, this leaves youth feeling that obtaining a good career is too big of a challenge, or in some cases, not worth the effort at all. Cooperative Extension feels that it can play a pivotal role in helping youth identify and make good career choices that could keep them closer to home. Through working with local schools and using one-on-one efforts Extension can help youth in Graham County realize the value of a good education and the realization of a rewarding career.


HEALTH, Physical Activity & Chronic Disease Reduction

Focus groups, surveys, and environmental scan results, along with recommendations from school personnel, the sheriff’s department and other county departments, revealed that a majority of citizens are concerned with improving individual health and wellness, especially among the county's youth. The need to address obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic diseases ranked high as a community need. Recent studies completed by the school system and health department reported that a majority of citizens are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. Other demographic data revealed high rates of diabetes and heart disease within the population. Proper diet and following recommendations for physical activity can improve citizens’ quality of life and reduce risk factors for obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In 2017, Cooperative Extension will focus on educating clients, both adult and youth, concerning healthy eating, as well as food selection, preparation, and preservation in order to try and provide solutions to some of these problems. These identified health factors are having negative impacts on the stability of local families. Extension must focus on providing educational programs that support and strengthen families in Graham County. In addition, Cooperative Extension will continue to offer a diabetes support group on a monthly basis. The goal will be to teach county citizens living with diabetes how to better manage the disease and live a healthy life.

CONCLUSION

NC Cooperative Extension has an important role to play in the future of Graham County. Through Extension efforts to impact county agricultural enterprises, support and improve local foods, and address health and youth issues, agents can help citizens find solutions to community problems and empower people in the decision-making process. As a result, people can become stronger, healthier, more resilient, more productive, and more involved citizens. In conclusion, empowering people to be good citizens, workers and leaders; helping build strong, healthy and resilient families; and strengthening the local economy through workforce development and agriculture will be the goals of Graham County Cooperative Extension in 2017.

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
30Number 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
1Number of Extension initiated and controlled County demonstration test sites (new required for GLF/PSI reporting)
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
25Number 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
4000Net income gains realized by the adoption of best management practices, including those practices related to nutrient management, conservation, production, cultivars, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), business management, and marketing
10Number of producers reporting increased dollar returns per acre or reduced costs per acre
4Number of producers reporting reduction in fertilizer used per acre
50Number of acres in conservation tillage or other Best Management Practice
* 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
20Number 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
15Number of animal producers adopting Extension-recommended best management practices, including those practices related to husbandry, improved planning, marketing, and financial practices
3000Net income gains by producers adopting Extension-recommended best management practices, including those practices related to husbandry, improved planning, marketing, and financial practices
15Tons of livestock organic by-products utilized (nutrients from waste, compost, etc)
4500Net income gain by using livestock organic by-products instead of synthetic fertilizers
* 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
17Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
20Number of adults (including producers, food business owners, etc.) who improved knowledge of local food and agricultural systems.
40Number 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.
5Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
2Number 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
2Number 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.).
6Number of producers selling their agricultural products to local markets (direct, intermediated/food service, institutional) for consumption in NC.
2500Gross sales of local foods by producers. (Increase in gross sales to be calculated at the state level.)
6Number of producers (and other members of the local food supply chain) who have increased revenue.
2Number of new farms (beginning farmers) selling into local markets for local consumption (in this reporting period).
800Number of pounds of local foods donated for consumption by vulnerable populations.
1Number 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.
3Number of individuals who begin home food production by starting to raise backyard livestock.
* 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
5Number of teachers trained in 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum
569Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
503Total number of female participants in STEM program
9Number of high school age youth (students) participating as members of 4-H clubs
171Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge of career/employability skills
83Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge of entrepreneurship
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
6Number of teachers using 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum in their classrooms
515Number of youth (students) gaining knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
261Number of youth (students) gaining career / employability skills
284Number of youth (students) gaining entrepreneurship skills
* 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
698Number of youth increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption
387Number of participants increasing their physical activity
296Number of participants who consume less sodium in their diet
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

IV. Number of Contacts Made by Extension

Type of ContactNumber
Face-to-face* 10,340
Non face-to-face** 7,181
Total by Extension staff in 2017 17,521
* 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 $3,651.19
Gifts/Donations $0.00
In-Kind Grants/Donations $0.00
United Way/Foundations $0.00
User Fees $0.00
Total $3,651.19

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: 42 141 439 $ 3,404.00
Advisory Leadership System: 35 46 88 $ 1,110.00
Extension Community Association: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Extension Master Gardener: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Other: 5 20 85 $ 483.00
Total: 82 207 612 $ 4,997.00
* The number of volunteers reflects the overall number of volunteers for multiple events.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

4-H and Youth Development
Debra Brittain
Ellie Brittian (youth member)
Haley Brooks
Rick Parham
Bay Snyder
Karen Taylor
Frank Findley
Jasmine Jiang
Local Food Systems
Laura Mathis
Wanda Collins
Elsie Hyatt
Carol Lawson
Jessica Wehr
Marshal McClung
Hoot Gibbs
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Billy Cable
Tommy Collins
Roger Hyatt
Mike Kelly
John Lovin
Jean Taylor
Karen Anderson
Billy Corbin

VIII. Staff Membership

Randy Collins
Title: County Extension Director & Extension Agent, Agriculture
Phone: (828) 479-7979
Email: randy_collins@ncsu.edu

Pam Adams
Title: 4-H Program Assistant
Phone: (828) 479-7979
Email: pam_adams@ncsu.edu

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

Marissa Herchler
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Animal Food Safety (FSMA Programs)
Phone: (919) 515-5396
Email: marissa_herchler@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Marissa is an Area Specialized Agent for animal food safety, with emphasis on the new Food Safety Modernization Act rules, as they apply to feed mills in North Carolina. Please contact Marissa with any FSMA related questions, or PCQI training inquiries.

Amy Holder
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 479-7979
Email: amy_holder@ncsu.edu

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.

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.

Debbie Stroud
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Consumer and Retail Food Safety
Phone: (910) 814-6033
Email: dlstroud@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Area Specialized Agents in Consumer and Retail Food Safety help to ensure that Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Agents have access to timely, evidence-based food safety information. This is accomplished by (1) working with FCS Agents in their counties, (2) developing food safety materials and (3) planning and implementing a NC Safe Plates Food Safety Info Center.

Amanda Taylor
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Nursery and Greenhouse, Western Region
Phone: (828) 475-2915
Email: amanda_jo_taylor@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provides programming to commercial nursery and greenhouse producers in Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Gaston, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Lincoln, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties.

Skip Thompson
Title: Area Specialized Agent - Aquaculture
Phone: (828) 456-3575
Email: Skip_Thompson@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provide educational opportunities and technical support to the trout and carp aquaculture industries in 38 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in western North Carolina. Fish health, production management, and waste management educational programs will assist trout farmers, fee-fishing pond managers, carp ponds and trout fingerling producers with the management and sustainability of their facilities.

Mitch Woodward
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Watersheds and Water Quality
Phone: (919) 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.

IX. Contact Information

Graham County Center
39 S Main St
Smith Howell Building
Robbinsville, NC 28771

Phone: (828) 479-7979
Fax: (828) 479-2000
URL: http://graham.ces.ncsu.edu