2019 Mitchell County Program Impact Report

Approved: January 21, 2020

I. Executive Summary

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, 155 and is situated on 140,000 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.

In 2018, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension's Mitchell County Center staff and Advisory Leadership System members 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 and that has been the programmatic focus for 2019.

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. The staff is committed to helping people put researched-based information to work to improve their lives.


In 2019, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension's Mitchell County Center staff and Advisory Leadership System members conducted an environmental scan to determine the key educational issues of the county's citizens that should be given high priority by 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; health and nutrition, sustainable, profitable and safe plant, animal and food systems, and youth prepared to go from school to the workforce.

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. The staff is committed to helping people put researched-based information to work to improve their lives.


Highlighted below are some of the impacts our programming had in 2019.

- Educational and training programs for producers of plant and animal agricultural products and services enhance their ability to achieve financial and lifestyle goals and to enhance economic development locally, regionally and statewide. Mitchell County Cooperative Extension had 57 producers increasing/improving knowledge, attitudes, and/or skills as related to: 1. Best management production practices (cultural, nutrient, and genetics) 2. Pest/insect, disease, weed, wildlife management 3. Financial/Farm management tools and practices (business, marketing, government policy, human resources) 4. Alternative agriculture, bio-energy, and value-added enterprises. Animal agriculture producers saw a $32,500 net income gain by adopting Extension-recommended best management practices, including those practices related to husbandry, improved planning, marketing, and financial practices.

- Youth and adults must be able to demonstrate competencies in critical and analytical thinking, teamwork, communication, problem solving, decision making, and goal setting. Students must possess the skills to be ready for work or continuing education, have the knowledge and skills needed to be competitive in the global economy and to fully participate in our democratic system. One of the most popular ways of teaching these life skills is through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. 791 Mitchell County youth (students) increased their knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) through 32 educational opportunities.

II. 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; Health and Nutrition, Sustainable, Profitable and Safe Plant, Animal and Food Systems, and Youth Achieving School to Career 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.

4-H Youth Development - School to Career Success:
There is an on going concern that the United States is not preparing a sufficient number of students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). When compared to other nations the U.S. is ranked 27th in math literacy. Providing STEM enrichment opportunities will inspire youth excitement and appreciation for STEM programs, especially among female students. Of the 15,246 Mitchell County residents, approximately 13.9% are children between the ages of 5-18. The median household income for the area shows that 16.7% of residents are in poverty. As a result, 55.4% of school-aged children participate in the subsidized lunch program receiving either free or reduced lunch during the 2015/2016 school year. Our youth need opportunities for STEM education and education on how to live healthy lives.

Plant and Animal Production Systems:
Christmas tree production has become Mitchell County's most important economical crop with sales exceeding 3.5 million dollars in 2017. Fraser fir continues to be the most prevalent species with 50 growers raising 800+ acres on farms from as small as 1 acre to farms with 300 acres in production. For Christmas tree producers to remain competitive, they still must address issues of pest management, fertilization and plant development, and the genetic improvement of their planting stock. Integrated pest management has become a useful tool for pest control. Many of the growers have adopted certain IPM practices, but there is still room for more whole farm integration of this system. Adopting IPM practices will increase the judicious use of pesticides, improve quality, lessen the potential for pesticide resistance and reduce potential harmful impacts on the environment. Other Best Management Practices (BMP's) such as fertility management, groundcover management and financial management will be important for growers to remain profitable.

There are approximately 600 acres of horticultural crops being produced in Mitchell County. These include greenhouse and nursery crops, ornamentals, apples, vegetables and small fruits being grown by more that 150+ producers. During the past 10 years many small part-time and limited resource farmers have begun producing these as alternative crops. However, these crops have complex production and marketing practices which increase the economic hazards for new and present growers. With increased concerns for the environment, agricultural producers must incorporate environmentally safe practices into their operations in regard to soil, nutrient, water, and handling practices. Continued declines in the tobacco program will lead to increased interest in production practices and local marketing options for many of these horticultural crops.

Livestock production has seen a growth spurt over the past few years. With our small land base and herd sizes it is important that our producers keep their cost reduced to insure that they are running profitable operations. Our 150 producers will need to focus on pasture, nutrition, breeding and health management of their livestock in-order to remain profitable.

Food Safety and Nutrition:
Obesity rates continue to be an increasing concern for the youth and adults in Mitchell County. According to Western NC regional data 61% of adults are overweight or obese; 56% do not meet national recommendations for physical activity; 71% consume less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily; and 22% of adults currently smoke, a rate higher than the state. These issues are also affecting the county’s children. According to the NC Nutrition and Physical Activity Surveillance System, rates of childhood overweight/obesity for children ages 2 to 4 are significantly high (27.4% vs. 29.4% for the state). Many of our programs address nutrition and the importance of food safety.

Mitchell County Cooperative Extension will be addressing these issues in 2019 through our educational programming opportunities.

III. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

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.

Value* Outcome Description
20Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
20Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
12Number of animal producers who increased knowledge of farm business management, business planning, financial management, marketing, or estate planning.
10Number of animal producers who learned how to develop a management plan (i.e. grazing plan, feeding plan, drought plan, business plan, disaster plan, etc.)
185Number of producers who increased knowledge of pasture/forage management practices (field improvement, herbicide management, grazing season extension, weed control, forage quality, haylage production, nitrate testing, etc.)
17Number of producers who increased knowledge of nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplements, breeding, and reproduction
187Number of producers who increased knowledge of the strategies to promote animal health and welfare and reduce the potential for infectious diseases through proper use of vaccines, biosecurity, detection and identification of common diseases, appropriate use of animal medications, and mitigation of antimicrobial resistance transmission
1Number of producers who increased knowledge of animal waste management practices
175Number of producers who increased knowledge of how to prepare, mitigate, and recover from natural disasters impacting animal agriculture
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
10Number of producers who diversified their marketing strategies into local markets (direct, intermediated/food service, institutional).
5Number of new farms (beginning farmers) selling into local markets for local consumption (in this reporting period)
150Number of producers (and other members of the local food supply chain) who have increased revenue
1Number of farms certified as a Certified Safe Farm
1Number of farms that made safety improvements following a CSF on-farm safety review
30Number of participants that have adopted farm safety practices
30Number of farmers, employees or family members adopting regular use of appropriate PPE following AgriSafe or Certified Safe Farm participation
15Number of producers adopting extension-recommended practices related to planning, marketing, and financial management
1Number of producers implementing Extension-recommended best management practices for animal waste management
125Number of acres where Extension-recommended nutrient applications were used
50Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to quality assurance (vaccinations, castration, culling techniques, etc.)
10Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to genetic improvement (AI, heifer/bull selection)
30Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to nutrition (mineral, feed rations)
35Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to internal parasite management (fecals, deworming)
50Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices related to pasture management
185Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplement, breeding, and reproduction
30Number of producers using improved biosecurity practices
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

Our 4-H youth development programs grow the skills young people need to succeed in life and career.

Value* Outcome Description
8Number of teachers trained in 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum
791Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
364Total number of female participants in STEM program
2Number of youth (students) participating in 4-H dropout prevention (student at-risk) programs
20Number of high school age youth (students) participating as members of 4-H clubs
1846Number of youth increasing knowledge of life skills
488Number of children/youth who improved knowledge of local food and agricultural systems.
273Number of youth increasing/improving knowledge, attitudes, skills, and/or aspirations regarding leadership
285Number of youth demonstrating increased knowledge of natural resources and environmental issues
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
22Number of teachers using 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum in their classrooms
10Number of youth (students) gaining career / employability skills
280Number of youth using effective life skills
80Number of youth willing to participate in conservation actions
16Number of youth increasing their physical activity
14Number of youth volunteers serving in new or expanded roles within Extension
12Number of youth volunteers serving in new or expanded roles beyond Extension, including community boards and task forces
12Number of youth assuming new/expanded leadership roles in the community
76Number of youth increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption
190Number of youth who grow food in school gardens.
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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.

Value* Impact Description
3Number of adults increasing their fruit and vegetables consumption
3Number of participants increasing their physical activity
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

IV. Number of Contacts Made by Extension

Type of ContactNumber
Face-to-face* 7,926
Non face-to-face** 174,230
Total by Extension staff in 2019 182,156
* Face-to-face contacts include contacts that Extension personnel make directly with individuals through one-on-one visits, meetings, and other activities where staff members work directly with individuals.
** Non face-to-face contacts include contacts that Extension personnel make indirectly with individuals by telephone, email, newsletters, news articles, radio, television, and other means.

V. Designated Grants Received by Extension

Type of GrantAmount
Contracts/Grants $46,386.00
Gifts/Donations $8,737.33
In-Kind Grants/Donations $200.00
United Way/Foundations $3,387.67
User Fees $1,055.00
Total $59,766.00

VI. Volunteer Involvement in Extension Programs

Number of Volunteers* Number of Volunteer Hours Known client contacts by volunteers Dollar Value at 25.43
4-H 385 4981 4762 $ 126,667.00
EFNEP 46 46 46 $ 1,170.00
Other: Agriculture 4 16 16 $ 407.00
Total: 435 5043 4824 $ 128,243.00
* The number of volunteers reflects the overall number of volunteers for multiple events.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Advisory Leadership Council
Hal Campbell
Bill Carson
Kathy Garland
Doug Harrell
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
Jim Saylor
Christmas Tree Advisory Committee
John Wilson
Rodney Buchanan
David Yeater
Charles Turybyfill
4-H Advisory Committee
Sally Woody
Roycene Jones
Sarah Hughes
Brandon Pitman
Emily Jordan

N.C. A&T 4-H Specialized Committee
Angie Atkins
Misti Silver
Robyn Street
Mark Byrd
Tamara Rousseau

VIII. Staff Membership

Eve Kindley
Title: County Extension Director and Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 688-4811
Email: eve_kindley@ncsu.edu

Shane Biddix
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture
Phone: (828) 688-4811
Email: sabiddix@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.

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

Jennifer Guerrero
Title: Program Coordinator - A.L.I.V.E
Phone: (828) 688-4811
Email: jaguerr2@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.

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.)

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.

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 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.

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) 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.

IX. 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