2020 Mecklenburg County Plan of Work

Approved: January 24, 2020

I. County Background

With Charlotte as its county seat, Mecklenburg County is the most populated county in North Carolina. The latest population estimate (2018) is 1,093,901. Ninety-six percent (96%) of the county's population lives in urban areas. Of the total county population, 11.% is reported in poverty.

Agriculture in the Charlotte Region takes place against a metropolitan backdrop. Charlotte is the state's largest city and the nation's second largest financial center. Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, accounts for nearly half of the twelve-county region's 2.1 million people.

According to research, it is believed Mecklenburg County's population growth will lead to an increased demand for local, natural, and organic foods and we see the potential for direct marketing to commercial establishments and consumers, especially in natural and organic niches. Citizens are showing an increasing interest in farming and food production which is supported by local government, other agencies, and consumers. Traditional agriculture continues to shrink as the increasing demand for development competes for available land. Rapid development has impacted the quality of natural resources, but County Government has an aggressive campaign to regulate this impact.

Mecklenburg County Government has a Strategic Business Plan that focuses funding and support into specific program areas. Elements of this plan and objectives from North Carolina Cooperative Extension were used to develop a survey instrument to identify priorities for Cooperative Extension in Mecklenburg County. The County Extension Advisory Council and staff identified five major areas for programming based on resources available: Improving Health and Nutrition; Environmental Stewardship; Natural Resource Management; Increasing Educational Achievement; and Local Food Production and Safety.

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 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

In the Mecklenburg County Government Strategic Business Plan there are two Goal Areas that relate to Cooperative Extension programs: Economic Opportunities; and Healthy Community. All Cooperative Extension services in Mecklenburg County report in the Monthly Management Report for assessment of performance through Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department within the Community and Recreation Centers Services division. In addition, in the Livable Meck plan, Cooperative Extension Programs helps to address several Guiding Principles including: Welcoming- focusing on Character, Entertainment, Opportunity, and Safe Neighborhoods; Connected- focusing on Engaged Residents and Transportation Choices; Prepared- focusing on A Skilled Workforce and Quality Education; Healthy- focusing on Physical Activity, Healthy Foods, and Clean Environment; and Resilient- focusing on Future Well-being and Collaboration. Cooperative Extension works through the Park and Recreation Department to support County Government in emergency situations by providing educational resources and assisting with organizing and supporting shelters.

IV. Diversity Plan

As a part of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, Cooperative Extension can conduct programs in facilities in all areas of the County. Most of our programs are promoted through the Park and Recreation marketing division, which has enhanced marketing with new staff focusing on social media in 2017 and marketing in late 2018, and all reasonable efforts are made to reach and to serve diverse audiences. An active web presence, Constant Contact, Event Brite, and use of mass media helps to reach audiences. In addition, several programs are conducted throughout the year that target underserved audiences in limited resource communities. Participants are recruited through promotion and contacts from Recreation Centers and Title 1 schools in limited resource neighborhoods. In addition, we work with community partners, local agencies, and non-profits who work with limited resource audiences such as YMCA, YWCA, and Boys & Girls Clubs. Cooperative Extension also works with Therapeutic and Inclusive Recreation staff within the Department to improve efforts with different audiences and how best to accommodate their needs.

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 Mecklenburg 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 mix of educational methods used during an educational program. These educational methods are the specific ways by which research-based information is shared with targeted learners. Extension educators 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. This plan also includes educational methods such as seminars, client visits, fact sheets, newsletters, webinars, online workshops (both live and recorded), and home study kits that serve to support and reinforce learning as well as to provide motivation for continued learning. Extension educators also select a variety of 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 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, at businesses, in the field, and other locations in order for our programs to be available and accessible to the citizens of Mecklenburg County, including those in limited resource communities.

In Extension, success is defined as the extent to which our educational programs have made a difference in the lives of the citizens of Mecklenburg County. Evaluation methods are the way we make those observations about whether any changes occurred as a result our educational programs and the significance of those changes. As an educational organization, we focus on key outcomes such as the knowledge and skills participants gain from our programs and how they will use it. 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 and talking with targeted learners. Therefore, this plan also includes qualitative evaluation methods such as testimonials from program participants, interviews, observations, and focus groups with participants.


VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

County Advisory Committee
Carrie Winter
Sandy Roork
Joyce Trott
Barbara Locklear
Heidi Pruess
June Hood
Marilyn Gore
Ann Harrison
John Leonard
Robin Emmons
Reggie Singleton
Rick Winiker
Gary Bromberger
Anne Sheffield
Sandra Redfern
Beverly Pearson
Gene Proffit
Cindy Trlica
Reggie Singleton
Stephanie Frisbee
Bill Sloan

Family and Consumer Sciences
Reggie Singleton
Demetria Cox
Dr. Jenn Mart
Nanette McLellan
Janet McGrant
4-H Youth Development
April Jones
Angela Paul
Lucy Sams
Chris Simeral
Bernard Singleton
Stephanie Tuckman
Sam Nelson
Taivon Sams

VII. Staff Membership

Nelson McCaskill
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (980) 314-1401
Email: nelson_mccaskill@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Administration and Community Development.

Shane Alston-Daniel
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (980) 314-1408
Email: sdalston@ncsu.edu

Steven Capobianco
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture
Phone: (980) 202-1449
Email: sjcapobi@ncsu.edu

Jenny Carleo
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Grain Crops
Phone: (704) 873-0507
Email: jscarleo@ncsu.edu

Candice Christian
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Consumer and Retail Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-9148
Email: cadescha@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: The overall goal of the Area Specialized Agents (ASAs) in Consumer & Retail Food Safety is to provide North Carolinians with technical food safety information and to support Family and Consumer Sciences agents in delivering timely and evidence-based food safety education and information to stakeholders.

Catherine Daniels
Title: 4-H Program Assistant, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (980) 314-1407
Email: catherine_daniels@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Manages the 4-H volunteer system. Supports 4-H programming through clubs, school enrichment, summer programs, and special interest groups.

Kristin Davis
Title: Extension Agent, Local Foods/FCS
Phone: (980) 314-1403
Email: kristin_davis@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Kristin Davis is the Family & Consumer Sciences Agent with NC State University's Cooperative Extension Service in Mecklenburg County. She leads the Family & Consumer Sciences program including programming in the areas of local foods, food literacy, food safety and volunteer development. She also serves as the local foods coordinator for the NC 10% Campaign in Mecklenburg County. In 2015, "The Sustainable Living Series" received Charlotte Magazine's Best of the Best (BOB) award, a program she created to meet citizens' needs. Kristin holds a Bachelor of Science in Family & Consumer Sciences, a Bachelor or Arts in Psychology, and a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is also licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in NC.

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

Richard Goforth
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Poultry
Phone: (910) 893-7530
Email: richard_goforth@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.

Stacey Jones
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Commercial Nursery and Greenhouse
Phone: (704) 920-3310
Email: stacey_jones@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: I work with commercial greenhouses and nurseries to help them with growing related issues. These issues range from pests (insect, disease, and weeds), substrates, nutrition, and other miscellaneous topics.

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.)

Rachelle Purnell
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (704) 336-2082
Email: rapurnell@ncat.edu
Brief Job Description: 4-H Youth Development

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.

Augusta Washington
Title: Program Assistant, EFNEP
Phone: (980) 314-1405
Email: awashin2@ncsu.edu

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

Mecklenburg County Center
1418 Armory Dr
Charlotte, NC 28204

Phone: (704) 336-2082
Fax: (704) 336-6876
URL: http://mecklenburg.ces.ncsu.edu