2020 Ashe County Plan of Work

Approved: January 31, 2020

I. County Background

Ashe County is a mountainous county in the northwestern corner of North Carolina with a population of 27,281, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The county experiences four distinct and beautiful seasons. The three townships include Jefferson, the county seat, Lansing and West Jefferson. The charm of small town living draws thousands of tourists each year resulting in $60.73 million dollars in 2018, a 5.33% increase from 2017. Ashe County is the home of thriving businesses including GE Aviation and American Emergency Vehicles, the number one manufacturer of domestic ambulances in the United States. Ashe County Airport has the highest elevation of any airport in North Carolina, and second highest in the Eastern United States. The county is the 2nd largest producer of Christmas trees and greenery in the United States.

White persons, not of Hispanic/Latino origin account for 92.4% of the population. The largest growing minority group is of Hispanic/Latino origin and comprises 5.3% of the population.

Agriculture is a large component of the local economy, valued at $120 million, led by Christmas trees and greenery which were a $95 million industry in 2019. According to the United States of Agriculture (USDA), Ashe County has 1,140 farms totaling 112,462 acres. Farmland, including 22,979 acres in the Voluntary Farmland Preservation Program, adds to the beauty of the county while providing goods and services for the local economy. Christmas trees and greenery support 750 year round jobs and an additional 2,000 jobs during harvest season. The County ranks 13th in cattle production in the state with over $12 million realized last year from cattle production and livestock sales; other agriculture products include hay (12,400 acres with over 28,200 tons in 2018); 950 acres of pumpkins were grown with over $6 million realized; fruits, vegetables, berries, milk, wool, honey, sheep and goats providing diverse agriculture commodities. The local food movement is strong with producers unable to meet demand. Many farmers work off-farm for the majority of their income, with farm income under $60,000. Interest in gardening is high, as is home food preservation.

Adult and childhood obesity rates remain high in the county and are considered a major health issue. The county is a graying community with over 30% of the County’s population over the age of 60. By 2020 the County is projected to rise to fifth in the state of persons 65 years of age or older.

Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center used county and program area advisory leadership, community stakeholders, and county officials to identify programming needs through a county-wide needs assessment. Programming areas that were identified included:
• Continue to support current farming operations through education of best practices
• Assist citizens in developing successful diverse agriculture ventures
• Continue utilizing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles to support environmental stewardship and cost saving practices
• Life skills for youth and adults
• Substance abuse prevention
• Reducing obesity though education about healthy food choices, healthy food preparation, and exercise
• Provide youth development programs to keep youth actively involved and learning; leadership skills and agriculture
• Promote academic success through coordination of services for youth
• Health, safety and well-being of all families
• Food preservation and food safety
• Resource management
• Assisting community to develop, promote, and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life

II. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

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

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

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

Our community development programs build strong and thriving communities.

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

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

III. Relationship to County Government Objectives

Extension's Plan of Work is supported by county government. County management and elected officials were involved in the environmental scanning process used to create the plan. Identified needs from the environmental scan align with elected officials’ priorities of supporting the local economy, working to improve quality of life, supporting steady employment opportunities and planning for future needs of the county. County government is aware of and supports the mission and core programs of Extension.

Cooperative Extension is an integral part of the county's Emergency Operation Plan. There is an established protocol for working with county government during natural disaster events through the Emergency Management Department. Cooperative Extension will be responsible for developing and implementing educational measures to relay to the public during emergency situations. The department will also assist agricultural producers with issues that have the potential to impact the community.

IV. Diversity Plan

Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center will make all reasonable efforts to comply with our diversity statements and to promote inclusiveness for everyone. Extension programming is available to all citizens. Steps that have been taken to address diversity include:

* Strive to maintain Advisory Leadership System that represents the county population
* Collaborate with other agencies to expand our customer base
* Garner resources to offset costs of educational programs to eliminate expense as a barrier for limited resource audiences
* Participate in community events to broaden our base of minority clients
* Utilize mass media
* Brochures and flyers, providing bilingual information when possible
* Diverse staff able to work with all audiences

Additional efforts have been made to reach the Hispanic audience, the largest growing minority population in Ashe County. A Migrant Education Coordinator has been hired through the Board of Education and housed in the Ashe Center to provide bilingual services to the often under served, limited resource audience.

V. Primary Delivery and Evaluation Methods

Delivering timely, relevant educational programs that meet critical local needs is the cornerstone of Extension’s mission. Extension educational programs are designed to equip the citizens of Ashe County with the knowledge, skills and tools to improve their economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and quality of life. An Extension program delivery system is a planned and organized eclectic mix of educational methods used during an educational program. Extension educational methods are the specific ways by which research-based information is shared with targeted learners. Extension educators in our county employ a wide variety of hands-on, experiential educational methods, such as interactive workshops and classes, demonstrations, field days and tours, that allow learners to fully engage in the learning process, test new knowledge and/or practice new skills during the educational session. Equally important, this plan will also include educational methods such as seminars, client visits, fact sheets, and newsletters that serve to support and reinforce learning as well as provide motivation for continued learning. Armed with the most current literature on effective teaching and learning, Extension educators also skillfully select educational methods based on the learning style preferences and special needs of the targeted learners. These client-focused methods afford learners the opportunity to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to change their lives in meaningful ways. Another key feature of Extension program delivery that is evident in this plan is our commitment to being customer driven and customer focused. As such, in addition to the County Extension Center, Extension educational programs are delivered online, in community centers, on farms, and other locations in order for our programs to be available and accessible to, and fully utilized by the citizens of Ashe County.

In Extension, success is defined as the extent to which our educational programs have made a difference in the lives of the citizens of Ashe County. Evaluation methods are the way we make those observations including any changes that occurred as a result of 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, attitudes, skills, and aspirations 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, and interviews and focus groups with participants.

VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Ashe County Extension Advisory Council
Marilyn Agnew
Rusty Barr
Maggi Birdsell
Sue Bradshaw
Trathen Cheek
Jessie Davis
Jennifer Gilbert
Doug Goss
Kitty Honeycutt
Russell King
Jesus Padilla
Tyler Rash
Adam Stumb
Tracy Taylor
Patricia Turner
Janet Ward
Phyllis Yates
Vickie Young
Ashe County Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Advisory Council Members
Sue Bradshaw
Tim Church
Tom Efford
Diane Killen
Sandy Long
Fawn Roark
Mary Gordon Tugman
Linda Worsham
Ashe County 4-H Migrant Education Advisory Team
Alejandrina Ambrocio
Bessy Bejarano
Lonia Monroy
Angel Murillo
Claudia Perez
Michelle Pelayo
Farmland Preservation Committee
Alex Church
Jim Cox
Anthony Farmer
Lloyd Miller
Cecil Miller
Andy Powers
Vickie Young
Micah Orfield
4-H Blue Ridge Afterschool Advisory Team
JoAllen Lowder
Journey Ward
Caroline Goss
Travis Birdsell
4-H Mountain View Afterschool Advisory Team Members
David Blackburn
Tonya Sizemore
Caroline Goss
Travis Birdsell
4-H Westwood Afterschool Advisory Team Members
Jennifer Holden
Lola Cox
Caroline Goss
Travis Birdsell
Extension Agricultural Livestock Advisory Committee
Gary Bare
Judy Bare
Keith Barlow
Trathen Cheek
Kim Furches
Richie Gardner
Julia Houck
Shelley McNeill
Michelle Pelayo
Gail Sheets
Tracy Taylor
Micah Orfield
Extension Christmas Tree Advisory Committee
Jim Barlow
Avery Barr
Ashley Church
Richie Gardner
Carrie McClain
Amber Scott
Matthew Sexton
Charles Sturgill
Dick Workman
Travis Birdsell
Extension Consumer Horticulture Advisory Committee
Melanie Deboard
Martha Grissom
Jaqui Hutton
Randy Hutton
Nancy Jordan
Russell King
Beth Lyon-Smith
Penny Moore
Bill Naser
Travis Birdsell
4-H Afterschool Administrative Committee
Phyllis Yates
Jamie Little
David Blackburn
Jennifer Holden
JoAllen Lowder
Caroline Goss
Travis Birdsell
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Advisory Committee
Amanda Butalla
Melissa Fowler
Jane Gardner
Heather Greene
Eloisa Hernandez-Ruiz
Jamie Little
Michelle Pelayo
Stephanie Topczewski
Martha Turner
Linda Worsham

VII. Staff Membership

Travis Birdsell
Title: County Extension Director and Extension Agent, Agriculture
Phone: (336) 846-5850
Email: travis_birdsell@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Travis began his career with Extension in 2012 as the Horticulture Extension Agent. In 2018 he began also serving as the County Extension Director. He is currently responsible for Christmas tree, home horticulture, administration, and community & rural development.

Richard Boylan
Title: Area Agent, Small Farm Management
Phone: (828) 264-3061
Email: richard_boylan@ncsu.edu

Amanda Butalla
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (336) 846-5850
Email: amanda_butalla@ncsu.edu

Rhonda Church
Title: EFNEP Educator, Extension Program Associate
Phone: (336) 846-5850
Email: rhonda_church@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: EFNEP Nutrition Education Program with limited resource audiences.

Jill Cockerham
Title: Program Assistant, Local Foods
Phone: (336) 372-5597
Email: jccocker@ncsu.edu

Jamie Davis
Title: COSS Office Assistant
Phone: (336) 846-5850
Email: jamie_davis@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

Brad Edwards
Title: Program Assistant - IPM
Phone: (336) 846-5850
Email: brad_edwards@ncsu.edu

Caroline Goss
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H
Phone: (336) 846-5850
Email: caroline_goss@ncsu.edu

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

Jessica Ham
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (336) 846-5850
Email: jessica_ham@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.

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.)

Currey Nobles
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-9520
Email: canobles@ncsu.edu

Micah Orfield
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock
Phone: (336) 846-5850
Email: micah_orfield@ncsu.edu

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.

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) 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

Ashe County Center
134 Government Cir
Suite 202
Jefferson, NC 28640

Phone: (336) 846-5850
Fax: (336) 846-5882
URL: http://ashe.ces.ncsu.edu