2020 Iredell County Plan of Work

Approved: January 17, 2020

I. County Background

Iredell County is situated in the Piedmont section of North Carolina bordering on the Charlotte metro area. Iredell County is experiencing rapid growth as are many counties near an urban area. In 2018 the estimated population was 178,435. There has been an 9.2% increase in population since 2010. By 2019, Iredell County is projected to have a population of 182,508, for an increase of about 16 percent in 10 years or an average of 2,550 people each year. Twenty-three percent of the population was under 18 and approximately fifteen percent were over age 65 in 2018 according to estimates. African Americans are the largest minority group with about 14.7% of the population and about 11.4% of the population was Hispanic.

According to census.gov, 88.9 percent of people 25 and older in Iredell County had at least a high school education and 27 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In 2018, 12.7 percent of Iredell residents were in poverty with 18.6 percent of children under 18 living below the poverty level. In addition, 8.1 percent of people 65 and older were below the poverty level.

Manufacturing employs around 18.8 percent of the employed population with another 14.3 percent working in retail. Agriculture and forestry employ seven percent of the working force but provides farm income of over 168 million dollars in Iredell County. The total economic impact of agriculture to Iredell County is $662 million. This is actual money from agriculture that remains in the county. Dairy, poultry, and beef cattle comprise 75 percent of farm income. There are 1,055 farms (93 percent family owned) covering 133,346 acres, which is 36 percent of the county land area. Iredell County ranks number one in the state for dairy production, all cattle (both dairy and beef), corn silage production and ranks third for poultry layers, fifth for hay production and sixth for beef cattle. Other crops include corn, soybeans, wheat, rapeseed, cotton, viniferous grapes, strawberries and nursery crops.

As with many areas, Iredell County residents face health challenges. The infant mortality rate of 9.7 deaths within one year per 1,000 births is above the state average of 6.8 deaths per 1,000 births. Statewide, the percent of residents living without health insurance has increased in recent years. Again, Iredell County is below the state average with 10.7 percent uninsured versus 17 percent statewide.

In order to determine what issues, Cooperative Extension should address in Iredell County; a needs assessment was conducted where issues were prioritized with citizens in the areas of 4-H and Youth, Community and Rural Development, Family and Consumer Sciences and Agriculture. The assessment was targeted to collect current and emerging issues relating to each of the extension program areas. Upon receipt of the assessments that were received issues were ranked accordingly. The top five current issues in each program are as follows:

4-H Current Issues:
- Educate local industry how youth can become a valuable asset to their company
- Make 4-H program more relevant to today's youth
- Greater promotion of 4-H in the county
- Improve life skills to compete in the world economy
- Increase the importance of agriculture to youth

Community and Rural Development Current Issues:
- Health and Wellness (Obesity and Nutrition)
- Job education for technical certification
- Local farmers keeping up with local demand for food
- Education about local resources
- Farmland preservation

Family and Consumer Sciences Current Issues:
- Buying local - support local farmers
- Food safety and farm to table
- Food safety for restaurants and others
- Food preservation
- Obesity

Agriculture Current Issues:
- High input cost of production
- Urban sprawl
- Farmland preservation
- Land cost inflation
- Educate non-farm citizens

Cooperative Extension can provide educational programs to help address Iredell County goals in Education, Public Safety, Economic Vitality, Land Use/Environment, Collaborative Government, and Comprehensive Health Care. Extension will provide interactive workshops and classes, demonstrations, field days, and tours, to help residents gain new knowledge and skills. In addition, seminars, client visits, fact sheets, newsletters, and study kits will help educate residents. In addition to the Iredell Agricultural Resource Center, educational programs will be delivered online, in community centers, on farms, and other locations to help make the programs available and accessible to Iredell County residents.

II. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

Our family and consumer sciences programs improve the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

Our plant production programs improve production, profitability, and sustainability of the agriculture sector.

Our animal production programs improve production, profitability, and sustainability of the agriculture sector.

Our 4-H youth development programs grow the skills young people need to succeed in life and career.

Our consumer horticulture programs teach families and communities about environmentally friendly methods for gardening and controlling pests.

Our food safety and nutrition programs create a safer and more sustainable food supply and improve the health and nutrition of individuals, families, and our communities.

III. Relationship to County Government Objectives

Iredell Cooperative Extension Objectives

Plant Production Systems
Animal Production Systems
Family and Consumer Sciences
4-H and Youth Development
Consumer Horticulture
Food Safety and Nutrition

Iredell County 2025 Strategic Framework Strategies

Continue collaboration efforts of school districts and Mitchell Community College to build on success already achieved with a focus on academics, vocational training, and workforce development.
Improve communication and promotion of non-school educational, recreational, and cultural opportunities that exist in Iredell County, with a comprehensive calendar and appropriate publicity.
Support inter-agency efforts to address important and emerging public safety issues such as gang violence, teen crime, drugs, disaster recovery, threat of terrorism, inter-agency communications, public communication, and others.
Support educational efforts to enhance work force development, explore opportunities resulting from potential labor availability created in other areas, and communication with Mitchell Community College programs.

Support inter-agency efforts to address important and emerging public safety issues such as gang violence, teen crime, drugs, disaster recovery, threat of terrorism, inter-agency communications, public communication, and others.
Identify and pursue opportunities in emerging industries in which Iredell County has a competitive advantage such as alternative energy (and other Ag related opportunities) and Life Sciences.
Support efforts of and enhance collaboration between economic development corporations and Chambers relating to recruitment, retention, expansion, and agribusiness.
Assure that all land use plans tie together and are consistent with the County’s economic development, transportation, education, environmental, and other quality of life goals and protect the County’s agricultural community.

Increase countywide communication of public health issues and disease prevention.
Work with the private sector to increase their involvement in prevention education and wellness programs (especially large employers).
Continue to provide access for growing population including poor, elderly, etc.

Research, benchmark and adopt best practices from the top two or three communities that have successfully faced similar growth challenges with different strategies, with consideration of funding issues.

IV. Diversity Plan

Special efforts will be made to reach new audiences and expand work with under-served audiences, including Hispanic and Latino audiences and audiences with disabilities.
Programs will be publicized to all groups using a variety of media outlets including internet postings. When possible, educational materials will be provided in languages other than English. Inter-agency efforts will be used to promote diversity and equal opportunities for all people of Iredell County. Networking with groups such as the Boys and Girls Club of the Piedmont, I-Care, Head Start, and other human service agencies will help reach under-served audiences with educational efforts. Programs will be promoted and offered through local businesses and industries, and public, private, and charter schools, when appropriate. Joint programs with other groups such as other County Departments and local hospitals will help reach out to some groups. In addition, members of under-served audiences will be included in advisory council groups.

V. Primary Delivery and Evaluation Methods

Extension educational programs are designed to equip the citizens of Iredell County with the knowledge, skills and tools to improve their economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and quality of life. An Extension program uses a variety of planned and organized educational methods. Extension educational methods are the specific ways by which research-based information is shared with targeted learners.

Extension educators in our county employ a wide variety of hands-on, experiential educational methods, such as interactive workshops and classes, demonstrations, field days and tours, that allow learners to fully engage in the learning process, test new knowledge and/or practice new skills during the educational session. Additionally, educational methods such as seminars, client visits, fact sheets, newsletters, and home study kits serve to support and reinforce learning as well as provide motivation for continued learning.

Armed with the most current literature on effective teaching and learning, Extension educators also skillfully select educational methods based on the learning style preferences and special needs of the targeted learners. These client-focused methods afford learners the opportunity to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to change their lives in meaningful ways. Another key feature of Extension program delivery that is evident in this plan is our commitment to customer service. As such, in addition to the County Extension Center, Extension educational programs are delivered online, in community centers, on farms, and other locations so that programs will be available and accessible to, and fully utilized by, the citizens of Iredell County. Where appropriate, the “train-the-trainer” approach is used with community volunteers and partners from other agencies. Extension educators train these individuals in selected subject areas and the volunteers subsequently teach clients or assist them in gaining knowledge and skills.

In Extension, success is defined as the extent to which our educational programs have made a difference in the lives of the citizens of Iredell County. Evaluation methods are the way we make observations about whether any changes occurred as a result our educational programs, and subsequently the significance of those changes.

As an educational organization, the changes we seek focus on key outcomes such as the knowledge and skills participants gain from our programs. More specifically, in this plan, we are using quantitative research methods such as retrospective testing, pre and post tests and/or surveys to measure change in knowledge gained, the application of that knowledge, number of new skills developed, and types of new skills developed. Extension, as a results-oriented organization, is committed to also assessing the social, economic and/or environmental impact that our programs have on the individuals who participate, their families and communities and ultimately the county as a whole (i.e. true significance of the changes stemming from our programs). We plan to measure these impacts in both the long and short-term. In this annual plan (short-term), we have outlined financial impact and cost benefit analysis as our primary evaluation methods. Another value held in Extension is actively listening to and dialoguing with targeted learners. Therefore, this plan also includes qualitative evaluation methods such as testimonials from program participants, observations, and interviews and focus groups with participants.

VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Advisory Council
Kelly Clontz
Mike McLain
Mary Lou Goodman
Neal Loftin
Cindy Hardin
Paula Gertsell
Richard Renegar
Tina Wilson
Chris Campbell
Craig Pugh
Lisa Familia
Paulette Kenley
Ben Shelton
Dr. James Rhyne
Melinda Roberts
Hannah Loftin
Bryant York
Karen Zika
Grover Lineberger
Dr. Amanda Whitener
Ken Robertson, County Commissioner Representative
Susan Robertson, Deputy County Manager
Judy Athey
Karen Zika, State ALC representative

Farmland Preservation
Daniel Allen
Lisa Valdez
Charles Carter
Jim Dobson
Donald Johnston
Jerry Turner
Drew Sherrill
Ben Shelton
Jim Dobson
Andy Gray
Ethan Myers
Jeff McNeely
John Ervin
Amanda Baldwin
Dennis Leamon
Dr. Amanda Whitener
Kelly Clontz
Mike Christopher
Donald Myers
Brad Holland
Ronald Clodfelter
Jim Thewlis
Ken Robertson
Susan Robertson
Ray Anderson
Sam Dobson
Bill Walker

Fruit & Vegetable
Melinda Roberts
Doug Prevette
Brian Howard
Robert Froyd
David Little
David Simonson
Janie Stephens
4-H Leadership Advisory Committee
Elizabeth Bustle
Randy Billings
Neal Loftin
Tonya Loftin
Karen Zika
Paige Garrett
Stephanie Cass
Jessica Wilson
Erica Horne

Food Safety Advisory Committee
Linda Marshall
April Donalds
Darlene Kent
Sylvia Plaza-Garcia
Barbara Johnson
Marta Koesling
Lisa Nesbitt
Tina Wilson
Juanita Norman
Yolanda Johnson
Mark Wilkinson
Diane McCoy
Jackie Negley
Bill Johnson

Consumer Horticulture
Martha Hazelton
Brenda Bernhardt
Bonny Romberg
Pam Aman
Paulette Kenley
Lisa Delano
Field Crops
Phil McLain
Trent Cloninger
Jimmy Howard
Brian Pope
Ralph Renegar
4-H Youth County Council
Chase Dillard
Ruth McMeans

Extension and Community Association
Judy Athey
Mary Lou Goodman
Libby Eldridge
Charlene Simms

VII. Staff Membership

Nancy Keith
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (704) 878-3165
Email: nancy_keith@ncsu.edu

Jenny Carleo
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Grain Crops
Phone: (704) 873-0507
Email: jscarleo@ncsu.edu

Beth Cloninger
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (704) 878-3166
Email: beth_rogers@ncsu.edu

Marti Day
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Dairy
Phone: (919) 542-8202
Email: marti_day@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Responsible for educational programs for dairy farmers, youth with an interest in dairy projects and the general public with an interest in dairy foods and the dairy industry.

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

Laura Elmore
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock and Field Crops
Phone: (704) 878-3155
Email: laura_elmore@ncsu.edu

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

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

Taylor Jenkins
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development - 4-H
Phone: (704) 878-3159
Email: taylor_jenkins@ncsu.edu

Stacey Jones
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Commercial Nursery and Greenhouse
Phone: (704) 920-3310
Email: stacey_jones@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: I work with commercial greenhouses and nurseries to help them with growing related issues. These issues range from pests (insect, disease, and weeds), substrates, nutrition, and other miscellaneous topics.

Matt Lenhardt
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture
Phone: (704) 873-0507
Email: matt_lenhardt@ncsu.edu

Craig Mauney
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Commercial Vegetables and Fruits
Phone: (828) 684-3562
Email: craig_mauney@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provides educational opportunities, training and technical support to commercial fruit and vegetable growers, agents, and industry in Western NC. (My office is located at the Mountain Horticulture Crops Research and Extension Center not the Henderson County Extension Center as is noted by IT on this website. Please do not contact the Henderson County Extension Center as I am not located there.)

Kelly Pierce
Title: 4-H Program Associate
Phone: (704) 878-3151
Email: kelly_pierce@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: 4-H Youth Development

Ashley Robbins
Title: Area Specialized Agent - Dairy
Phone: (919) 542-8203
Email: ashley_robbins@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Marti Day and I are the Area Specialized Dairy Agents - the county-based arm of the Cooperative Extension Dairy Team. We are out here in the counties to help you set and reach your farm, family and business goals. We have collaborative expertise in the areas of Waste Management, Udder Health, Cow Comfort, Nutrition and Forage Management with specialties in (Ashley)Reproduction, Records Management, Animal Health and (Marti)Alternative Markets, Organic Dairy, Grazing Management, and On-farm Processing. We hope to provide comprehensive educational programs for our farmers, consumers and youth for every county across the state. We are here for you by phone, email or text and look forward to working with you!

Elena Rogers
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Food Safety - Fresh Produce Western NC
Phone: (828) 352-2519
Email: elena_rogers@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provide educational programs, training and technical support focusing on fresh produce safety to Agents and growers in Western NC.

Andrea Sherrill
Title: Area Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, Iredell and Catawba Counties
Phone: (704) 878-3157
Email: andrea_sherrill@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Food & Nutrition, Health & Wellness, Food safety, Food Preservation and Extension & Community Association (ECA) Liaison Agent.

Stephanie Watts
Title: Program Assistant
Phone: (704) 873-0507
Email: stephanie_watts@ncsu.edu

Mitch Woodward
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Watersheds and Water Quality
Phone: (919) 414-3873
Email: mdwoodwa@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: NC Cooperative Extension's Goals include: - NC's natural resources and environmental quality will be protected, conserved and enhanced. - NC will have profitable, environmentally sustainable plant, animal and food systems. Protecting our environmental resources, particularly drinking water quality, is a top priority in NC. NC Cooperative Extension is a leader in teaching, researching, and accelerating the adoption of effective water quality protection practices.

VIII. Contact Information

Iredell County Center
444 Bristol Dr
Room 110
Statesville, NC 28677

Phone: (704) 873-0507
Fax: (704) 878-3164
URL: http://iredell.ces.ncsu.edu