2018 Mitchell County Plan of Work

Approved: January 25, 2018

I. County Background

Mitchell County is a rural county located in the northern mountains of Western North Carolina on the Tennessee state line. It has an estimated population of 15,126 and is situated on 140 thousand acres, which is composed of 108,000 acres of woodland, 5,000 acres of cropland, 22,000 acres in pastures and hay land, and approximately 5,000 acres in streams and towns. The county is known nationally for its gems and minerals, and the working artist who call Mitchell County home. The county has traditionally been a manufacturing county with agriculture providing secondary income to many. Many of the furniture and textile industries have closed, but the mining industry remains as the largest industrial employer. Service sector jobs are increasing as tourism increases in the county. The natural beauty provided by the mountains and valleys that make up the county continue to draw many visitors to the area.

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension's Mitchell County Center staff and Advisory Leadership System members have conducted an environmental scan to determine the key educational issues of the county's citizens that should be given high priority by our staff. The environmental scan was conducted by surveying citizens, gathering input from various focus groups, advisory leadership council input, census information and direct observation. There were three key issues and trends identified from the environmental scan process. These issues included; Healthy Weight and Chronic Disease Prevention, Sustainable, Profitable and Safe Plant, Animal and Food Systems, and Youth Achieving Educational Success .

Since 1914, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension has been an outreach of North Carolina State University to the citizens of North Carolina. The Mitchell County Center continues today to be that gateway of educational information that meets the specific needs of the citizens in Mitchell County. We are committed to helping people put researched-based information to work to improve their own lives.

II. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

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

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

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

The Mitchell County Cooperative Extension works to keep abreast of the counties activities and future plans so that we may best meet the needs of local government and county citizens. The Mitchell County Cooperative Extension Center has worked closely with county government during past emergencies and natural disasters to assist them in carrying out emergency operations. We have provided educational information on dealing with life before and after a flood or winter ice storm. Cooperative Extension has provided animal care recommendations following a disaster and assisted rescue and recovery of animals during and after a natural disaster.

We are working to assist Mitchell County citizens in economic recovery through agriculture education, life-skills development and entrepreneurship.

IV. Diversity Plan

Mitchell County's 2016 estimated population of 15,126 is made up of a small number of minorities. In 2016 census estimates stated that the persons of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 5% of the population. This population has increased from 50 in 1990 to 631 in 2010. Eighteen percent (18%) of the population is below poverty level. Fourteen percent (14%) of the population over 25 years of age have no high school degree. Of the persons 21 to 64 years of age, 25% have some form of disability.

The Mitchell County Extension Center is committed to embracing the value of diversity and the elimination of discrimination on the basis of irrelevant characteristics such as race, nationality, socio-economic status, religious belief, ethnicity, family and marital status, gender, age, sexual orientation or disability. Our objective is to be inclusive, relevant and responsive in planning, designing, implementing and evaluating programs that target diverse audiences and recognizes and values all people. We plan to meet this objective by assessing the needs of our county clientele and involving all groups of citizens in the assessment process. Target audiences will be identified and programs will be planned to meet the identified needs. All programs are open to every Mitchell County citizen.

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 Mitchell 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 education 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 focused. 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 Mitchell 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 Mitchell 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. Another value held in Extension is actively listening to and dialoguing with targeted learners. Therefore, this plan also includes qualitative evaluation methods such as testimonials from program participants and interviews and focus groups with participants.

VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Advisory Leadership Council
Hal Campbell
Bill Carson
Doug Dellinger
Kathy Garland
Doug Harrell
Carolyn McKinney
Dan McKinney
David E. Terrell
Rodney Buchanan
Kathy Young
Jessica Farley

Agriculture Advisory Committee
Doug Harrell
Dennis Johnson
Gerald Whitson
Tommy Phillips
James Miller
Mark Byrd
Christmas Tree Advisory Committee
John Wilson
Jerry Wilson
David Yeater
Charles Turybyfill
4-H Advisory Committee
Keith Masters
Susan Topper
Sally Woody
Chelsea Phillips
Robin Street
Mark Byrd

N.C. A&T 4-H Specialized Committee
Angie Atkins
Misti Silver
Robyn Street
Mark Byrd
Tamara Rousseau
Family and Consumer Science Advisory Committee
Jessica Farley
Kathy Garland
Krystal Meadows
Amy Sheele
Suzette Renfro
Jessica Thomas
Alice Harty
Robert Thompson
Renee Johnson
Lynn Deyton
Heather Calhoun
Lynne Hensley
Kellyn Slotnick

VII. Staff Membership

Jeff Vance
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 688-4811
Email: jeffery_vance@ncsu.edu

Kaley Brown
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 688-4811
Email: Kaley_brown@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.

Melanie Cashion
Title: EFNEP Educator, Extension Program Assistant
Phone: (828) 733-8270
Email: melanie_cashion@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Program Assistants help families learn the practical skills necessary to improve the nutritional quality of the meals they serve their families. The hands-on, learn by doing approach of EFNEP allows the participants to make multiple positive behavior changes. These include better managing their food budgets, preparing and eating more meals at home, increasing physical activity, making healthy food and drink choices, limiting TV time, controlling portion sizes and using safe food practices.

Sue Estridge
Title: Area Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 649-2411
Email: sue_estridge@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.

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

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.

Kim Slotnick
Title: 4-H Program Assistant
Phone: (828) 688-4811
Email: kim_slotnick@ncsu.edu

Michelle South
Title: Area Agent, Agriculture - Livestock
Phone: (828) 733-8270
Email: michelle_south@ncsu.edu

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.

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 38 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.

Vonda Vaughn
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 688-4811
Email: vonda_vaughn@ncsu.edu

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

Mitchell County Center
10 S Mitchell Ave
Bakersville, NC 28705

Phone: (828) 688-4811
Fax: (828) 688-2051
URL: http://mitchell.ces.ncsu.edu