2018 McDowell County Plan of Work

Approved: January 25, 2018

I. County Background

McDowell County is a rural county located in Western North Carolina at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. McDowell's population was 44,996 in 2010. The population increased 6.3% between 2000 and 2010. Unemployment has decreased in 2016 to 4.8%. Although unemployment has decreased over these past few years, unemployment and underemployment is considered an issue. The county median income was $37,426 in 2014. The county per capita income was approximately $18,717 (2011-2015). Manufacturing is the main source of employment in McDowell County.

The county has many of the advantages and disadvantages of other rural counties. Some of the advantages are a clean environment, strong community spirit, strong family values and a low tax rate. Some of the disadvantages are lack of services, lack of activities for youth, and low wages. The county has seen an increase in population and increased competition for land in the last few years. In addition, the county population is changing with retirees moving into the county, the growth of the immigrant population and an increase in working people relocating to the county because of tax advantages.

This plan of work was developed to address a variety of trends and issues which affect the citizens of McDowell County. These trends and issues were identified using an environmental scan process in 2007. The Cooperative Extension Service staff began the scan process by completing a demographic profile of the county. This profile was a comprehensive document containing demographic information from a variety of sources. From the profile data the staff then compiled a preliminary list of trends and issues.

The Extension staff met with the County Advisory Council in July 2007 to discuss these trends and issues and to identify additional trends and issues. After this meeting the staff met with additional groups and boards affiliated with the Extension program. These groups were asked to identify the trends and issues that they believed were important for the county and for the Extension program to address. In addition, a needs assessment survey was conducted during July and August of 2007. This survey was available both in written and electronic form. The survey was emailed to numerous clients and stakeholders, included in newsletters mailed during this time and publicized in the local media.

From these meeting and the survey a variety of trends and issues were identified. The Advisory Leadership Council and other Extension leaders met again in early September 2007 to prioritize the trends and issues identified.

Additional data on trends and issues was gathered from agent observation and from meetings with stakeholder boards and committees in 2008-2017. The extension staff then met and discussed changes that should be made in the plan of work. The plan of work was then updated in 2017.

The following priority areas and the top trends and issues they involve were:

1. Economic Opportunity Through Improving Agriculture and the Food Supply
Production and sale of local agricultural products
Business development and management training for agriculture and small business
Development and promotion of local agriculture
Development of agritourism

2. Environmental Stewardship and Natural Resource Management
Protecting and improving water quality
Loss of farmland and other green space
Development pressure
Waste reduction
School-age education

3. Improving Health and Nutrition
Obesity
Proper nutrition and eating habits
Lifestyle-related disease
Food safety & food preservation

4. Increasing Educational Achievement and Leadership and Personal Development Skills
Teaching youth work ethic
The need for leadership skills
Citizenship skills
Service opportunities for youth
Need for volunteers

The Cooperative Extension staff plans to address these trends and issues through a variety of educational programs and activities. Some of these include local foods; livestock production; aquaculture production; forage and crop production; consumer horticulture; pesticide education; nutrition, health and wellness training; volunteer development; traditional 4-H clubs; 4-H special interest activities; 4-H Summer Discovery; 4-H Field Days; youth livestock programs and 4-H School Enrichment.

II. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

North Carolina's animal production systems will become more profitable and sustainable.

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.

Agricultural producers, workers, food handlers and consumers will adopt safer food and agricultural production, handling, and distribution practices that reduce workplace and home injuries/illnesses, enhance food security, and increase the quality and safety of food that North Carolinians prepare and consume.

Youth and adults will address community issues and/or challenges through volunteerism.

Futures that Work: School to Career Pathways

North Carolinians will make decisions and adopt practices that implement effective resource protection and conservation.

Consumers and communities will enhance the value of plants, animals, and landscapes while conserving valuable natural resources and protecting the environment.

Youth and adult program participants will make healthy food choices, achieve the recommended amount of physical activity and reduce risk factors for chronic diseases.

III. Relationship to County Government Objectives

Cooperative Extension links to McDowell County Government though a variety of means. These include attendance at department head meetings by the County Extension Director, an annual Report to the People program, attendance at County Commissioner meetings and discussions with the County Manager and his staff. The County Board of Commissioner's 2007-2008 annual goals were also considered during the environmental scan process. The Cooperative Extension Service Plan of Work contains components that link to the county's Education, Economic Development, and Employee Support and Development goals.

Cooperative Extension also works with county government on economic development as it relates to agriculture and local food. Cooperative Extension works with county government on present use value taxation on agriculture, horticulture, or forested land and farmland preservation as well.

The Cooperative Extension Service staff works with county government in emergencies and disasters in numerous ways. The agricultural agents provide damage assessment for emergency management after natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and drought. The Agriculture & Natural Resources Extension Agent organized a County Animal Response Team and provided a resource list for animal emergencies. The Extension staff has assisted animal control in locating shelter sites for animals during natural disasters. Extension agents have also provided information to citizen on natural disaster recovery and on dealing with agricultural disasters.

IV. Diversity Plan

North Carolina Cooperative Extension-McDowell County Center is committed to providing programs and services to all of the citizens of our county. We do not restrict access to participation in any Extension sponsored event. All reasonable efforts are made to include diverse audiences within the county. We continue to reach limited resource and minority groups through school enrichment programs, personal contacts, community groups, newsletters and other educational programs.

We strive to make all of our citizens aware of the programs that we provide through announcements in the local newspapers and radio station. Awareness of our programs is also increased by distributing marketing materials at schools, churches, stores and other places that people gather. Additional efforts to include minorities in our programs have been made by offering programs through the public schools with a high minority population. Extension has also made connections with the West Marion Forum, a minority-led community group.

All Extension sponsored groups are asked to sign a nondiscrimination statement and made aware of the nondiscrimination polices of the universities and the county.

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 McDowell 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, newsletters, and home study kits 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 focus. 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 McDowell 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 McDowell County. Evaluation methods are the way we make those observations about first and foremost 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 communicating with targeted learners. Therefore, this plan also includes qualitative evaluation methods such as testimonials from program participants, interviews, and focus groups.

VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Advisory Leadership Council
Marianne Plain
Randall Conley
Sharry Mikell
Tony Brown
Suzanne Rampey
Dee Daughtridge
Emily Roberts
Donna Pyatt
John McKinney
Alex Portelli
Amy Moomaw
Rhonda McFadden
Randall Thomas
Consumer Horticulture
Jane Townsend
Toni Hollenbeck
Sukey O'Donnel
Alex Portelli
Kerrie Hillman
Martha Millren
Ruth Sander
4-H Advisory Committee
Donna Pyatt
Carlene Anderson
Suzanne Rampey
Eric Sisk
Terry Good
Heather Peek
McDowell Honey Bees
Ed Speer
Karen Speer
Don Miller
Jim Austin
Tonya Kiser
Merril Davis
Stephanie Wilds
Beef Cattle
John Knighten
Boyce Pool
Tommy Allison
Wayne Duncan
David Parker
Will Penland
Charles Harris
Robert Wilson
Dustin Laws
Agricultural Youth
Craig Lawing
Lawrence Moore
Megan Jornigan
Ashley McCartha
Dustin Laws
Kathy Norman
Tracy Schill
Miranda Schill
Dianne Frisbee
Local Food Advisory Council
Tracy Cotton
Eileen Droescher
Juliet Eirikis
Tim Gautney
Lou Godfrey
Lynn Green
Cathy Hohenstein
Randy Hollifield
Emily Roberts
Corey Jackson
Amy Haynes
Adam Lawing
Alvin Lytle
Ray McKesson
Heather Peek
Amanda Pittman
Belinda Swepson
Paula Avery
Alex Portelli
Emily Roberts
Bunny Slough
Ginger Webb
Heather Yzquierdo
Keep McDowell Beautiful
Teresa Church
Lynn Greene
Ronnie Harvey
Jimmy Lewis
Al Reel
April Shoup
Harriet Smith
Randall Thomas
Extension Community Association
Jeannie Walker Elliott
Debbie Smith
Frieda Lytle
Dee Daughtridge

VII. Staff Membership

Molly Sandfoss
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: molly_sandfoss@ncsu.edu

Janet Bryan
Title: Program Assistant, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: jlbryan6@ncsu.edu

Brent Buchanan
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Dairy
Phone: (315) 212-1277
Email: babuchan@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Dairy Extension Programming in Western North Carolina Counties of Haywood, Madison, Buncombe, Transylvania, Henderson, Yancey, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Mitchell, Avery, Burke, Cleveland, Watauga, Caldwell, Catawba, Lincoln, Gaston, Ashe, Wilkes, Alexander, Iredell, Alleghany, Surry, Yadkin, and Davie.

Matt Burneisen
Title: Program Assistant, Agriculture and Natural Resources - Keep McDowell Beautiful
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: mrburnei@ncsu.edu

Juliet Eirikis
Title: Extension Asst
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: jmeiriki@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.

Cathy Hohenstein
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: cathy_hohenstein@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: I am a Registered Dietitian with responsibilities for issues related to food preservation and preparation, nutrition, food safety and quality, health and wellness, human development through the ages from childhood to older adults, and healthy homes.

Adam Lawing
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: adam_lawing@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 & 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

Heather Peek
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: heather_peek@ncsu.edu

Chad Ray
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: chad_ray@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: (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.

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) 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

McDowell County Center
60 E Court St
Marion, NC 28752

Phone: (828) 652-8104
Fax: (828) 652-8104
URL: http://mcdowell.ces.ncsu.edu