2020 McDowell County Plan of Work

Approved: January 27, 2020

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 is projected to be 45,470 in 2020. The population increased 6.3% between 2000 and 2010 and will continue to steadily increase. Unemployment rate is at an all-time low at 4.8% (2016). Although unemployment has decreased over these past few years, unemployment and underemployment is considered an issue. The county median income was $38,776 in 2017. The county per capita income was approximately $22,275 (2014-2018). 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 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 issues were identified using a needs assessment process in 2018. The needs assessment process including stakeholder forums, leadership and community surveys, and county manager interview. Cooperative Extension staff also performed a trend analysis and ranked program priorities (as identified by the needs assessment) by considering both need and impact. Programs were then transferred to a Needs Assessment Prioritization Matrix to identify our "stars" and "horizons".

The following priority areas were identified:

1. Agriculture & Natural Resources
Local food system development
Home, community, & school gardening
Ag land preservation/Land use planning
Good, profitable production practices, reduction in environmental impacts
Pasture management
Composting, reusing, recycling consumer goods
Agriculture awareness
Food safety

2. Family & Consumer Sciences
Home food safety, food preparation, & food preservation
Healthy lifestyles
Nutrition education to limited resource families
Access to affordable, healthy food

3. 4-H & Youth Development
Life Skills
4-H Clubs
Citizenship & Leadership
Increasing education attainment

The Cooperative Extension staff plans develop strategies to address these issues. They will address these issues through a variety of educational programs and activities.

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 natural resource and environmental programs conserve our precious natural resources and maintain a clean and healthy environment.

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

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.

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. In addition, staff can be recruited to man the Emergency Operation Center during a natural disaster.

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, Marion East Community Forum, and Centro Unido Latino Americano.

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 different outcomes and impacts in our selected objectives. 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
Amy Moomaw
Richard Hill
Melissa Biddix
Rhonda McFadden
Donna Pyatt
Charles Harris
Emily Roberts
Tony Brown
Steffonza McIntyre
Alex Portelli
Alexus Boykins
4-H Advisory Committee
Carleen Policella
Sharon Fairchild
Lara Johnson
Terry Good
Stephanie Kellogg
Donna Pyatt
Issac Barrier
Noah Barrier
Jada Allison
Greylan Kellogg
McDowell Honey Bees
Ed Speer
Merrill Davis
Jim Austin
Ray Revis
Adam Wright
Sharon Braswell
Dan Shea
Jason McCurry
Beef Cattle
John Knighten
Boyce Pool
Wayne Miller
Ken Burleson
David Parker
Will Penland
Charles Harris
Robert Wilson
Dustin Laws
John Fisher
Agricultural Youth
Craig Lawing
Lawrence Moore
Dustin Laws
Dianne Frisbee
Megan Jornigan
Tracy Schill
Maranda Schill
Megan Lawing
Local Food Advisory Council
Eileen Droescher
Janet Bryan
Brenda Vaughn
Cathy Hohenstein
Emily Roberts
Alvin Lytle
Nikii Pittman
Belinda Swepson
Paula Avery
Alex Portelli
Ginger Webb
Heather Edwards
Kim Freeman
Keep McDowell Beautiful
Teresa Church
Lynn Greene
Ronnie Harvey
Jimmy Lewis
Al Reel
April Shoup
Greg Johnson
Brant Sikes
Brian Crisp
Bob "Pineapple" Wilson
Richard Carpenter
Extension Community Association
Jeannie Walker Elliott
Sue Glovier
Frieda Lytle
Dee Daughtridge

VII. Staff Membership

Molly Sandfoss
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: Molly_Sandfoss@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Administration responsibilities overseeing the overall Extension program in McDowell County. Also, specializing in Local Foods System Development, Consumer Horticulture, Small Farms, & Market Gardens.

Janet Bryan
Title: EFNEP Educator, Extension Program Assistant
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: janet_bryan@ncsu.edu

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

Tom Devine
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock
Phone: (828) 652-8104
Email: tldevine@ncsu.edu

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

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.)

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

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.

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) 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

McDowell County Center
60 E Court St
Marion, NC 28752

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