2018 Polk County Program Impact Report

Approved: January 24, 2019

I. Executive Summary

The Polk County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension is proud to serve the small but dynamic Polk County. We are a rapidly changing county with the introduction of the Tryon International Equestrian Center and a large influx of people choosing to make Polk County their home. As a small staff we work very hard to provide solutions and empower the people of this county.

The Cooperative Extension staff serves the citizens of Polk County by providing unbiased, research-based information through educational programming and personal consultation. In 2018, 242 volunteers contributed 2,088 hours extending the reach of the Polk Extension office through Master Gardener, ECA and 4-H. These volunteer hours are valued at nearly $52,000. The Polk County Center directly reached over 9,000 people either by face to face meeting, home visit or through phone/email and had a total impact on Polk County of nearly $6,000,000

During the past year, 21 adult women were actively involved in ECA, over 600 youth in the county participated in 4-H activities and there were 50 registered Master Gardener volunteers.

Below are some program highlights:

-35 pesticide applicators received continuing education credits in order to maintain their pesticide licenses. As a result, these applicators preserved over $700,000 in income generation.

-An Ag Options grant was applied for and awarded to a local vineyard to install a new wine making facility. This facility has allow him to expand his operation and to hire additional employees.

-Polk County extension developed a 1/4 acre research/demonstration vegetable garden to better "vet" vegetable varieties for our growers here in Polk County. This garden produced over $7,000 worth of produce that was utilized by our county meals on wheels program and through our senior center kitchen.

-Polk Extension partnered with a local CPA to deliver a course on farm taxation. This course was in great demand and the students reported gaining great knowledge for the class. They also plan to follow up with the CPA to start taking advantage of farm taxation benefits saving them many thousands of dollars.

-Polk Extension partnered with a local non-profit to conduct farm inspections as a requirement to become a vendor at our local farmers market. These inspections looked for proper pesticide use, potential product contamination and safe handling practices. Along with the inspection process Extension took time to educate farmers about safe production and handling practices. 10 farms were inspected and all of them reported a boost in sales due to their certification flag being displayed.

-The Polk County Cooperative Extension Conducted a "Men's cooking class" which typically serves recently widowed men with little to no cooking ability. Through this course the participants learned cooking basics. If these men cooked 2 meals a day instead of eating out they could save a total of nearly $55,000 per year as a group.

The Polk County Cooperative Extension conducted several Mediterranean Cooking classes. This type of cooking is considered very healthy and is in great demand. Each class filled within days of its offering. As a result 77% of participants increase their knowledge of preparing and eating the Mediterranean Way, 93% of participants plan to prepare healthier style meals and 93% of participants are committed to using food labels in planning healthy meals. These changes will help participants improve their overall health and hopefully reduce medical bills.

-NC Safe plates is a required program to ensure restaurants are utilizing healthy practices in their kitchens. The Polk County FCS agent offered this program in Polk County and reported that all participants passed the national exam and received their Certified Food Protection Manager certificate. Without this they can not operate their food business thereby protecting thousands of dollars in income.

-Through youth leadership training, hands on workshops and experience in multifaceted project areas over 600 youth have increased their STEM knowledge and gained employable skills which is a top need in our community as determined by our environmental scan.

-“Local foods” is extremely popular and needed. Extension offered many classes this issue such as vegetable gardening, soils, pesticides, IPM, small fruits, etc. As result of Polk County Extension programing 2,500 residents reported producing food at their home with a value of approximately $1600 per garden for a total county production value $4,000,000.

-The green industry is very sensitive to cost. As a result of extension programing on turf/ornamental best management practices and plant selection, nearly 3,000 local landscapers and clients saved nearly 2 million dollars in 2018.

-Polk County Extension's 4-H program partnered with Progressive Agriculture , Polk County Farm Bureau and Polk County Recreation Departments summer camp, to provide a day long safety event. In addition, we had volunteer instructors from Polk County Sheriff, Polk County EMS, Sunny View Fire Dept., Foothills Humane Society and local farmer, Bill Davis. Fifty seven children ranging in age from 8 - 14 participated in the day long event. Classes included animal safety, gun and knife safety, Helmet safety and a 911 simulation, how to proceed in the event of a fire through a smoke house, outdoor equipment safety, UV Safety and hearing safety.

-In addition to these programs highlights, Polk County Extension also worked with thousands of local citizens to solve programs in the homes, farms and businesses. Polk County Extension also conducted a environmental scan in 2018 identifying job skills, readiness and awareness as the top need in the county.

-These are just a few examples of how the Polk County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension improves the quality of citizens’ lives every day by providing unbiased, research-based information. Thank you for the opportunity to serve Polk County.

II. County Background

Polk County's population was 20,510 according to the 2010 US Census. In 2014 the population estimate increased to 20,740 and is projected in increase to nearly 22,000 by 2019 which represents an increase of over 9%. Development in Polk County was at an all time high beginning in 2002 and continuing to 2007. The average number of building permits from 2003 to 2007 was 170 per year (189 in 2006). The economic downturn of the country has effected the local construction situation. The annual number of permits for single family dwellings dropped way below the 2006 high down to 43 units in 2012 and 47 permits in 2013. In 2014, that number came back up to 68 permits and has increased though 2017. An Economic boom is on the way for Polk County due to the Tryon International Equestrian Center's hosting of the 2018 World Equestrian Games. Polk County will be on the world stage and will host a half a million people over a two week period during the games. This has already lead to increased interest in local land for homes and farms. I expect to see building permits rise dramatically over the next 10 years as well as prices.

There has been continued strong interest in preserving farms and forest land. Polk County Government enacted a Voluntary Agricultural District in 2002 and became the first in the state to adopt the Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural Districts in 2006. Polk County was also one of the first of two counties to prepare and adopt a farmland protection plan. In 2016 the county had 290 farms and 24,101 acres in the overall farmland with 5,829 acres harvested with a total value of nearly 11 million dollars.

Several factors changed in 2009 and continued through 2017. All four elementary schools in the county have over 50 percent of its students with free or reduced lunch. One positive of the local economy is the Polk County unemployment rate. In 2017 the county had a low unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. Unfortunately many of these jobs are low paying, part time jobs. This requires many residents to either work multiple jobs or to commute out of the county for work. On the bright side, the Tryon International Equestrian Center has brought Polk County to the forefront of equestrian activities in North Carolina. This center has brought many new faces to the county and adds a significant increase to the tax base though property taxes and tourism. Many of our local residents are finding work within the development. Another bright area has been the adoption of local foods. We now have several farmers markets throughout the county and our farmers are marketing their produce and meats locally and regionally. This success is enabling many young farmers to make a living from small acreage and build the local economy.

When Cooperative Extension conducted its 2012/13 Environmental Scan several issues were identified that do not fit Cooperative Extension's mission. Among them were College Affordability, Changing Job Market, Continuation of After School Programs, Low Wage Employment, Poverty in Polk County, Too Many Government Regulations, Farm Prices Not Increasing Enough and Supply of Fresh Water.

Fortunately there were several identified issues or needs that fit into the Extension programming to include, exposing young people to career options, healthy eating for all citizens, alternative leisure activities unrelated to sports, health issues related to poor nutrition, growing and preserving food, access to fresh local produce, aging farmers helping young farmers, GAP certification for farms, encourage "buy local" efforts, new ideas to improve tourism opportunities and protecting our farmland from development.

The Polk County Extension Center completed its environmental scan from 2013 to gauge the concerns and issues people have in the community. The most recent scan identified the following state major objectives for our local programming in 2016; 1)Local Food Systems, 2)Healthy Eating, Physical Activity and Chronic Disease Risk Reduction, 3)School to Career(youth & adults), and 4)Profitable and Sustainable Agriculture Systems.

A significant effort that started in 2010 and will continue into 2018 is the 10 percent buy local campaign. This effort will be promoted by the entire staff with the primary focus on the purchase and preparation of food grown on Polk County farms. This year the county FCS program will continue "Flavor of Polk" project, promoting a locally grown commodity while informing folks how to cook and preserve local produce. FCS is also planning teach "Safe Plate" in order to assist our restaurants to prevent food born illness. FCS will continue its' efforts in the SNAP Ed curriculum with two primary audiences, the seniors(60yrs & up) in the community and with all of the 2nd graders in the county's public schools.

In the 2013 WNC Healthy Impact Report, 24.3 percent of Polk County is 65 years old or older. This is the higher than the state average(12.9%) and the region(19%). The leading causes of death in Polk County are cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease. The 2013 Community Health Improvement Plan indicated that Diabetes health issue was an important priority. The Polk County rate is increasing. In order to address this FCS is teaching a diabetes support class which meets over several weeks to teach participants how to best manage their condition. This class was a complete success in 2016 and 2017 and will be continued in 2018 a no cost to the participant.

At the top of our environmental scan's issues for youth was our children's ability to compete in the 21st Century for the varying job skills market. 4-H plans to help educate young people on the various career options through stem and soft skills programming. Providing opportunities to practice critical thinking skills was also high on the list issues. Respondents also identified healthy eating and obesity as important issues. Others stated that families needed more opportunity to spend time outdoors and with more non-traditional activities available to them.

4-H Enrichment activities will include programs in the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM). Statistics show that there is currently a shortage of people to fill science and technology related careers. Polk County 4-H programming will be provided to encourage young people to explore careers in science related fields plus encourage young people to consider higher educational opportunities such as college.

Research indicates that youth who have participated in career exploration in a quality learning situation have greater confidence in their career search. Polk County 4-H plans to incorporate varied career options in the subject matter being taught. Among some of the special programs to be offered 4-H has financial literacy for middle and high school students, livestock judging for agricultural production, farm visitation for local foods and cooking or culinary classes to explore some life skills. 4-H is also exploring the options of starting a 4-H shooting sports program.

Landscaper education will be emphasized in 2018 with multiple pesticide classes/landscape contractor classes and consultations with local landscapers on how we can best help to educate the local green industry. The Extension office will also expand demonstrations of landscape plants, lawn grasses and vegetable crops. Local food production is an annual focus and 2018 will be no different. Polk County Extension will be at the forefront of helping new and and experience farmers increase revenue though high value crops on small acreage. This will include working on demonstrations and research at our Extension office. We will also teach many classes to focus our farmers on profitable crops and environmental stewardship.

III. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

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.

Futures that Work: School to Career Pathways

Value* Outcome Description
13Number of teachers trained in 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum
287Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
335Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge of career/employability skills
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
13Number of teachers using 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum in their classrooms
287Number of youth (students) gaining knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
335Number of youth (students) gaining career / employability skills
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Outcome Description
3481Number of participants improving knowledge, attitude, skills and aspirations regarding gardening and landscape practices including plant selection and placement, turfgrass management, soil management, growing food, water conservation and water quality preservation, storm water and erosion management, green waste management, pest and wildlife management
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
2785Number of participants who use extension-recommended best management practices in landscapes, turf, and gardens, including pest (insect, weed, disease) management, fertility management, water conservation, water quality preservation and pruning techniques
1114000Total cost savings from the use of extension-recommended best management practices in landscapes, turf, and gardens, including pest (insect, weed, disease) management, fertility management, water conservation, water quality preservation and pruning techniques
56Number of participants who use extension-recommended pest management practices in homes, public facilities, businesses or in community pest management programs
2800Cost savings from using extension-recommended pest management practices in homes, public facilities, businesses or in community pest management programs
1741Number of participants selecting appropriate landscape plants (adapted, drought tolerant, appropriate size, etc.)
870500Cost savings from the appropriate selection of landscape plants
2507Number of participants growing food for home consumption
3760500Value of produce grown for home consumption
44Number of participants adopting composting
8000Reduced tonnage of greenwaste as a result of Extension-recommended practices including composting and proper plant selection
14Number of participants implementing extension-recommended practices to conserve water use and protect water qualty
700Costs savings from implementing extension-recommended practices to conserve water use and protect water qualtiy
21Number of participants implementing extension-recommended practices to conserve water use and protect water qualtiy
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Impact Description
250Number of adults increasing their fruit and vegetables consumption
25Number of youth increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption
373Number 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* 4,520
Non face-to-face** 4,565
Total by Extension staff in 2018 9,085
* 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 $0.00
Gifts/Donations $6,127.26
In-Kind Grants/Donations $13,000.00
United Way/Foundations $0.00
User Fees $8,061.00
Total $27,188.26

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: 40 114 281 $ 2,899.00
Advisory Leadership System: 8 20 0 $ 509.00
Extension Community Association: 21 50 150 $ 1,272.00
Extension Master Gardener: 172 1,859 338 $ 47,274.00
Other: 1 45 11 $ 1,144.00
Total: 242 2088 780 $ 53,098.00
* The number of volunteers reflects the overall number of volunteers for multiple events.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

County Advisory Council
Brian Griffin
Marche Pittman
Terry Lynch
Erin Thompson
Jesse Navaro
Cathy Ruth
Polk County 4-H Foundation
Sarah Edwards
Ann Arledge
Wally Hughes
John vining
Dot McClintock
Bob Chromer
Jackie Weedon
Jesse Navaro
Extension Associates County Council
Anita Summey
Aurelia Mayer
Millie Granger
Betty Graham
Camille Alexander
Nancy Johnson
Sue Mathers

VIII. Staff Membership

Scott Welborn
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 894-8218
Email: scott_welborn@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Lead the dynamic Polk County Extension office through Administration and Horticultural programming

Helen Blackwell
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 894-8218
Email: helen_clark@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.

Jimmi Buell
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 894-8218
Email: jimmi_buell@ncsu.edu

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: (704) 283-3801
Email: richard_goforth@ncsu.edu

Noah Henson
Title: Area Agent, Agriculture - Livestock, Dairy, Equine, Forages
Phone: (828) 255-5522
Email: nbhenson@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.

Kerry Jones
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 894-8218
Email: kjones24@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: With a long background in marketing and administration, including helping farmers and agri-business owners improve their marketing efforts, Kerry has joined the Polk County office with the expectation of increasing awareness of the N.C. Cooperative Extension's offerings and events to county farmers, gardeners, homeowners, and residents.

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 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.

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.

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.

IX. Contact Information

Polk County Center
79 Carmel Lane
Columbus, NC 28722

Phone: (828) 894-8218
Fax: (828) 894-5693
URL: http://polk.ces.ncsu.edu