2019 Ashe County Program Impact Report

Approved: January 31, 2020

I. Executive Summary

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center is made up of 10 full time office staff and 21 part-time Afterschool staff. In 2019, staff made 51,172 direct contacts through educational programs, workshops, field visits, office visits, and meetings. There were 14,958 non face to face contacts made through emails, newsletters, and telephone calls. In 2019, Ashe County Center developed a marketing plan with help from Ashe County Advisory Leadership System. Through these new marketing efforts, digital media contacts increased significantly and reached 615,379 people throughout the year. Ashe County staff secured $41,060.95 in additional resources that supported programming efforts.

In 2019, Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center Staff used the county and program area advisory leadership and previous county-wide needs assessment to identify programming needs. Priorities identified for needed Extension programming and impacts included:

Profitable and Sustainable Plant Production Systems:
• Ashe County was number two in the nation in the production of Christmas trees and greenery, a $95 million industry. Elongate Hemlock Scale, a quarantinable pest in several states, risked the reduction of Christmas tree sales in 2019 for local tree growers. Extension efforts and research publications enabled Christmas tree growers to continue shipping over 1.25 million trees into the state of Florida bringing 2019 pest finds in line with normal regulatory pest finds and maintaining a $25 million market.
• Ashe County growers produced approximately 950 acres of pumpkins in 2019 valued at over $6 million annually. Ashe County’s contribution to state pumpkin production has helped make NC a top pumpkin producer on the East Coast.
• Five hundred forty participants adopted farm safety practices.
• Two hundred eight people received training on how to safely handle pesticides while keeping the environment and community safe.

Profitable and Sustainable Animal Production Systems:
• Agriculture, as the largest component of the local economy, is a vital industry to Ashe County. With over 300 livestock farmers, 19,500 head of cattle and 950 head of sheep and goats in the county, individual farm visits with the Extension Livestock Agent continues to increase and be an important resource for farmers. These field visits resulted in improved farm safety, increased livestock reproduction totaling $2,810 - $10,625 per visit depending on livestock, and improved forage quality, saving individual producers $3,000 in feed cost.
• As a result of improved forage quality, one local farmer entered hay samples into the NC State Fair competition, placing 1st.
• One hundred twenty-four producers increased knowledge of strategies to promote animal health and welfare and reduce the potential for infectious diseases through proper use of vaccines, detection and early identification of common diseases.

Volunteer Readiness:
• Four hundred fifty-five Extension volunteers made 11,170 contacts and contributed 1,243 hours of volunteer service, valued at $25.43 per hour, for a total economic value of $31,610.

School to Career (Youth and Adults):
• Ashe County 4-H made 41,146 direct contacts with youth in 2019 through quality educational programming.
• Over 120 children participated in high quality 4-H afterschool programs and 78 youth participated in the seven week summer day camp.
Ninety-five percent increased knowledge in STEM, and sixty of those participants were female. Ninety-five percent of participants also increased their physical activity and their fruit and vegetable consumption.
• The Migrant Education Program Coordinator enrolled 107 migrant children in local schools, connected 63 families to community services and educational opportunities, translated and interpreted pesticide education and farm safety training for producers and farm workers.

Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Risk Reduction:
• 840 youth participated in the 4-H Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). 86% of participants showed improvement in their knowledge of nutrition and the origin of their food, 55% improved food handling practices and 24% increased their level of physical activity.

II. 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 $57.65 million dollars in 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 leading 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 2018. According to the United States of Agriculture (USDA), Ashe County has 1,140 farms totaling 112,462 acres. Farmland, including 22,680 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 (11,000 acres with over 25,000 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

III. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

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

Value* Outcome Description
314Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
64Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
208Number of pesticide applicators receiving continuing education credits
18Number of pesticide credit hours provided
1173Number 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
41Number of Extension initiated and controlled county demonstration test sites
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
16Number of producers who diversified their marketing strategies into local markets (direct, intermediated/food service, institutional).
126Number of producers (and other members of the local food supply chain) who have increased revenue
4Number of farms certified as a Certified Safe Farm
5Number of new farms (beginning farmers) selling into local markets for local consumption (in this reporting period)
9Number of farms that made safety improvements following a CSF on-farm safety review
425Number of farmers, employees or family members adopting regular use of appropriate PPE following AgriSafe or Certified Safe Farm participation
540Number of participants that have adopted farm safety practices
366Number of producers reporting reduction in fertilizer used per acre
25100Number of acres in conservation tillage or other Best Management Practice
790Number 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.

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

Value* Outcome Description
25Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
25Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
56Number of animal producers who increased knowledge of farm business management, business planning, financial management, marketing, or estate planning.
60Number of animal producers who learned how to develop a management plan (i.e. grazing plan, feeding plan, drought plan, business plan, disaster plan, etc.)
66Number of producers who increased knowledge of pasture/forage management practices (field improvement, herbicide management, grazing season extension, weed control, forage quality, haylage production, nitrate testing, etc.)
113Number of producers who increased knowledge of nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplements, breeding, and reproduction
124Number of producers who increased knowledge of the strategies to promote animal health and welfare and reduce the potential for infectious diseases through proper use of vaccines, biosecurity, detection and identification of common diseases, appropriate use of animal medications, and mitigation of antimicrobial resistance transmission
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
181Number of participants that have adopted farm safety practices
64Number of producers adopting extension-recommended practices related to planning, marketing, and financial management
139Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to quality assurance (vaccinations, castration, culling techniques, etc.)
3Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to genetic improvement (AI, heifer/bull selection)
97Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to nutrition (mineral, feed rations)
13Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to internal parasite management (fecals, deworming)
76Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices related to pasture management
98Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplement, breeding, and reproduction
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

Our community development programs build strong and thriving communities.

Value* Outcome Description
580Number of participants who improved knowledge of local food and agricultural systems
12Number of adult participants acquiring the skills needed to serve as a volunteer
15Number of participants who increased their awareness, knowledge or skill in business related topics (e.g., management, product development, marketing, business structure options, business law and/or liability)
3Number of participants that increase their knowledge of disaster preparedness planning, mitigation and recovery
1Number of participants acquiring knowledge and skills to convene and lead inclusive groups
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
2Number of local food value chain businesses created due to Extension’s programming or technical assistance
12000Dollar value of in-kind resources contributed by organizations or community
13900Value of grants received by organizations, communities, or Extension where Extension was instrumental in initiating, facilitating, or providing technical assistant in the development of the grants to support community or economic development work
2Number of (eg., community and economic development, land use, disaster, etc.) new, revised or adopted plans that have begun to be implemented in communities, organizations, local governments, or businesses
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Outcome Description
10Number of teachers trained in 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum
115Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
60Total number of female participants in STEM program
40Number of high school age youth (students) participating as members of 4-H clubs
69Number of youth increasing knowledge of life skills
92Number of children/youth who improved knowledge of local food and agricultural systems.
6Number of youth increasing/improving knowledge, attitudes, skills, and/or aspirations regarding leadership
55Number of youth demonstrating increased knowledge of natural resources and environmental issues
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
6Number of youth (students) gaining career / employability skills
6Number of youth (students) gaining entrepreneurship skills
75Number of youth using effective life skills
55Number of youth willing to participate in conservation actions
115Number of youth increasing their physical activity
6Number of youth assuming new/expanded leadership roles in the community
115Number of youth increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Outcome Description
312Number of individuals who gain knowledge or acquire skills related to vegetable/fruit gardening
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
17Number of individuals who begin home food production by starting a vegetable and/or fruit garden
218Number of participants who use extension-recommended best management practices in landscapes, turf, and gardens, including pest (insect, weed, disease, wildlife) and soil management
218Number of participants selecting appropriate landscape plants (adapted, drought tolerant, appropriate size, etc.)
83Number of participants growing food for home consumption
12Number of participants adopting composting
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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.

Value* Outcome Description
775Number of participants who increase their knowledge of safe home food handling, preservation, or preparation practices
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
130Number 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.).
30Number of adults increasing their fruit and vegetables consumption
485Number of participants increasing their physical activity
100Number 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* 51,172
Non face-to-face** 793,058
Total by Extension staff in 2019 844,230
* 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 $21,700.00
Gifts/Donations $5,445.95
In-Kind Grants/Donations $13,915.00
United Way/Foundations $0.00
User Fees $0.00
Total $41,060.95

VI. Volunteer Involvement in Extension Programs

Number of Volunteers* Number of Volunteer Hours Known client contacts by volunteers Dollar Value at 25.43
4-H 122 281 1017 $ 7,146.00
Advisory Leadership System 62 36 966 $ 915.00
EFNEP 126 382 6358 $ 9,714.00
Extension Master Gardener 100 420 1914 $ 10,681.00
Other: Agriculture 33 28 903 $ 712.00
Other: Forestry & Natural Resources 12 96 12 $ 2,441.00
Total: 455 1243 11170 $ 31,609.00
* The number of volunteers reflects the overall number of volunteers for multiple events.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Ashe County Extension Advisory Council
Judy Bare
Rusty Barr
Maggi Birdsell
Sue Bradshaw
Trathen Cheek
Timothy "Van" Cook
Jennifer Gilbert
Doug Goss
Kitty Honeycutt
Russell King
James Miller
Candi Miller
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
Vilma Alvarado
Sandra Fuentes
Jose Olvera
Veronica Olvera
Claudia Perez
Michelle Pelayo
4-H Ashe County Middle School Advisory Board
Dustin Farmer
Tonya Sheets
Fawn Roark
4-H Afterschool Program Assistant
Farmland Preservation Committee
Jim Cox
Joel McNeill
Lloyd Miller
Cecil Miller
Todd Young
Vickie Young
Micah Orfield
4-H Summer Parks Advisory Team
Caroline Goss
Michelle Pelayo
4-H Afterschool Program Assistant
Travis Birdsell
4-H Blue Ridge Afterschool Advisory Team
Callie Grubb
Carmalina Mahaffey
4-H Afterschool Program Assitant
Travis Birdsell
4-H Mountain View Afterschool Advisory Team Members
David Blackburn
Perla Reyes
4-H Afterschool Program Assistant
Travis Birdsell
4-H Westwood Afterschool Advisory Team Members
Jennifer Robinson
Lola Cox
4-H Afterschool Program Assistant
Travis Birdsell
Extension Agricultural Livestock Advisory Committee
Gary Bare
Judy Bare
Keith Barlow
Trathen Cheek
Andrew Cox
Kim Furches
Richie Gardner
Julia Houck
Shelley McNeill
Michelle Pelayo
Gail Sheets
Tracy Taylor
Micah Orfield
Extension Christmas Tree Advisory Committee
Rusty Barr
Andy Cheek
Joe Freeman
Carrie McClain
Amber Scott
Andrew Sexton
Charles Sturgill
Candace Dixon
Travis Birdsell
Extension Consumer Horticulture Advisory Committee
Jaqui Hutton
Martha Grissom
Beth Lyon-Smith
Nancy Jordan
Russell King
Penny Moore
Terri Palmer
Jill Wall
Travis Birdsell
4-H Afterschool Administrative Committee
Phyllis Yates
Jamie Little
Callie Grubb
Dustin Farmer
David Blackburn
Jennifer Robinson
Caroline Goss
Fawn Roark
4-H Afterschool Program Assistant
Travis Birdsell
Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Advisory Committee
Bai Xiong
Melissa Fowler
Jane Gardner
Heather Greene
Eloisa Hernandez-Ruiz
Jamie Little
Michelle Pelayo
Martha Turner
Linda Worsham

VIII. 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.

IX. 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