2019 Macon County Plan of Work

Approved: January 22, 2019

I. County Background

Macon County is located in southwestern North Carolina bordering Georgia to the south, touching South Carolina in the southeast, and is two counties east of Tennessee. The US Census Bureau estimates Macon County's population at 33,917 in 2010, with an average annual increase of 1.4%. Since 2010, the population has increased slowly. Current population is estimated at 34,732 with an annual increase of 0.2%.

In 2018, Macon County was considered a Tier 1 county, the fourth year as Tier 1. Macon has recently been designated as a Tier 2 county. An estimated 16.2% of the population lives below the poverty level. Median household income is $42,456. Unemployment is at 3.8%, an improvement from 2016's level of 4.9%.

Economic growth has improved. Housing starts increased from 75 in 2013, to 85 in 2015, to 93 in 2017. There has been an increase in small businesses in the last few years. Four 'Dollar General' retail stores and a micro brewery (Macon County's second) have been built. Tektone, a small electronics company, has expanded with plans to hire an additional 35 employees. Harmony House, a seller and distributor of dehydrated foods, both domestically and internationally will be expanding from an 8500 square foot facility to an over 32,000 square foot location with intentions to expand employment. A new "Super" Walmart and a "Super" Ingles have been built, replacing older, existing stores. We did see the closure of Kmart, a major retailer in our county.

The county's topography is characterized by mountains and rolling hills separated by narrow valleys with altitudes ranging from 1500 feet to 5000 feet. The soils are primarily clay, clay loam or loam and only a small percentage of the land is suitable for commercial agriculture. Of the 140,800 acres of land in the county, more than forty-six percent is US Forest Service, leaving approximately 75,000 acres in private, forest and agricultural use. Major commodities produced in addition to timber include beef cattle, horses, forages, hay, corn, Christmas trees, ornamental plants, trellised tomatoes, small fruits, vegetables, and truck crops.

Extension Needs Assessment 2018

In 2018 NC Cooperative Extension conducted a statewide needs assessment. The assessment collected data from five sources in each county.
*Community Members
*County Manager Interview
*Extension Employees
*County Commissioners and County Managers
*Focus Groups, Stakeholders (ALS, Clients)

The assessment collected trend data and stakeholder input related to needs in Agriculture, Nutrition and Health, Youth Development and Community and Rural Development. The data was collected through electronic or paper surveys, focus group meetings and face to face meetings. Participants indicated Priorities, Preferred Delivery Modes and Satisfaction with Programs.

Based on the results of this assessment, Cooperative Extension in Macon County will focus on the following priorities:

Agriculture and Food
1. Assisting farmers and beginning farmers in agricultural production and profitability.
2. Strengthening the local food system.
3. Educational opportunities about home, community, and school gardening.
4. Supporting the ‘Green Industry’.

Nutrition and Health
1. Ensuring safe food handling practices to prevent food-borne illness.
2. Educational opportunities about home food safety practices, food preservation, and canning.
3. Reducing obesity through education about healthy food choices, healthy food preparation, and exercise.

4H Youth Development
1. Increasing youth STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) literacy.
2. Helping youth develop leadership, citizenship, and life skills.

Community Development
1. Building resilient communities through coalitions and collaborative efforts.
2. Building the capacity of nonprofits and community leaders.

County programs will address these identified issues and others as needed under North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s statewide program objectives listed below.

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.

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

The Macon County Extension Center has worked diligently to bring research-based information to the county's citizens. Extension is a recognized provider of information on dealing with natural and man made disasters and provides information on recovery and preparedness on behalf of the University and county government. Macon County Extension serves as the point of contact for animal responses during a time of emergency or natural disaster. Extension plans are to aid Macon County Government, providing community contacts and volunteers for assistance during times of disaster. Extension can also assist with educational efforts relating to conservation of farmland and maintenance of green space, which has been identified as a county priority. Local Food production, an issue of local concern, is supported by extension programming. Many issues in Macon County's comprehensive plan are being addressed by Cooperative Extension on state, regional and county levels. A draft of a revised comprehensive plan was released in January 2019.

Extension staff works with county government on a variety of educational needs and projects for the betterment of Macon County. Pesticide licensing tests and pesticide education classes provides city and county employees a way to become certified to apply pesticides and classes to meet their continuing education requirements. Cooperative Extension partners with the county on the Macon County Community Garden, the Environmental Resource Center and the Macon County Fair. The 4-H Expanded Food and Nutrition Program delivers health and nutrition information to the county’s elementary schools. Extension provides "Safe Plates" food safety certification classes for commercial food service.

IV. Diversity Plan

Macon County Cooperative Extension is committed to the value of diversity and the elimination of discrimination on the basis of characteristics such as race, nationality, socio-economic status, religious belief, ethnicity, family and marital status, gender, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, or disability. North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Macon County Center is also committed to affirmative action, the development of programs and practices that promote equal opportunity for members of target groups identified by legislation as having experienced disadvantages in employment.

The most recent US Census Data indicates Macon County's population of 34,732 is 89% white. The persons of minority populations were 11% of the total population. The largest of these minority populations is Hispanic at 7.3% followed by African American at 1.6% of the total population. Data also shows 16.2% of the population is below poverty level, 12.5% of the population over 25 years of age has no high school diploma, 18.9% of the population is under age 18 and 28.2% is over age 65, up from 23.8% in 2010. People with disabilities comprise 11.8% of the total population.

Our staff seeks to provide programs to under served audiences by being inclusive, relevant, and responsive in planning, designing, implementing and evaluating programs that target diverse audiences and recognize the value of all people. Programs in Macon County are open to all people. All reasonable efforts will be made to make educational events available to every resident of Macon County. Dissemination of event announcements and information will include flyers, newspaper articles, newsletters, radio, email, and on our website.

V. Primary Delivery and Evaluation Methods

The cornerstone of Extension’s mission is to deliver timely, relevant educational programs that meet critical local needs. Extension educational programs are designed to equip the citizens of Macon County with the knowledge, skills and tools to improve economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and quality of life. The Extension program delivery system is a planned and organized mix of educational methods that best serve the audience. 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, classes, demonstrations, field days and tours that allow learners to fully engage in the learning process, test new knowledge and practice new skills during the educational session. Of equal importance are educational methods such as client visits, fact sheets, educational publications and newsletters that serve to support and reinforce learning as well as provide motivation for continued learning. Our educational publications may be found on line at "https://macon.ces.ncsu.edu"

Extension educators 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 knowledge and skills in their preferred way of learning. As such, in addition to traditional classes held at 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, accessible and fully utilized by the citizens of Macon County.

Success is defined as the extent to which Extension's educational programs have made a difference in the lives of the citizens in Macon County. Program evaluation is utilized to make observations about changes that occur as a result of our educational programs and the significance of those changes. As an educational organization, the changes we see focus on key outcomes such as the knowledge and skills participants gain from our programs. To measure the impacts of our educational programs, we use methods such as pre and post-tests or surveys to measure knowledge gained, the application of that knowledge, new skills developed, change in practices and economic effect.

VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Macon Advisory Council
Mike Breedlove
Warren Cabe
Dorothy Crawford
Charles Deal
Claudette Dillard
Alan Marsh
Susie McCoy
Claire Suminski
Jerry Sutton
Kathy Tinsley
Ronnie Beale
Roger Seay


Livestock Advisory Committee
Roger Seay Jr.
Jim Ledford
Steve Ledford
Jamie Brooks
Warren Cabe
Pam Bell
Field Crops and Forages Committee
Charles L. Deal
Mark Bell
Harold Huscusson
Everardo Ortiz

Community Development Committee
Jerry Sutton
Claudette Dillard
Gail Stiwinter
Kathy Kahler
Suzanne Williams
Janie Sutton
Joan Maki
Tom Young

Horticulture Committee
Roger Beattie
Cindy Powell
Belinda Anderson
Don Carringer
Nolan DeWitt
Jean Hunnicutt
Mike Breedlove
Kent Ledford
Dave Sapin
FCS Advisory Council
Kathy Tinsley
Pat Wilcox
Betty Cabe

VII. Staff Membership

Alan Durden
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 349-2049
Email: alan_durden@ncsu.edu

Joe Deal
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock, Forages and Pastures
Phone: (828) 349-2046
Email: joe_deal@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.

Deborah Hunter
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 349-2046
Email: debbie_hunter@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: 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.

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

Carol Pitts
Title: EFNEP Educator, Extension Program Assistant
Phone: (828) 349-2046
Email: carol_pitts@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Provides youth with nutrition, food safety, food resource and management knowledge in an effort to make positive change behaviors.

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.

Julie Sawyer
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 456-3575
Email: julie_sawyer@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Duties and responsibilities include: Food Safety, Food Preservation, Local Foods Healthy Lifestyle and Nutrition and other Family and Consumer Sciences.

Debbie Stroud
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Consumer and Retail Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-9149
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.

Tammara Talley
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 349-2226
Email: tammara_cole@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: 4-H Youth Development

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, Agriculture - 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 42 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.

VIII. Contact Information

Macon County Center
193 Thomas Heights Rd
Franklin, NC 28734

Phone: (828) 349-2046
Fax: (828) 349-2405
URL: http://macon.ces.ncsu.edu