2020 Rutherford County Plan of Work

Approved: January 29, 2020

I. County Background

Rutherford County is located in the foothills of North Carolina within approximately one hour's drive of Asheville to the west, Charlotte to the east, and the Greenville Spartanburg metro area of South Carolina to the south. According to data estimates from the US Census, Rutherford County's population is 66,826. This population is 87% White, 10% Black, and 4.6% Latino or Hispanic, with the remainder of the population being American Indian, Asian, or bi-racial.

Educational achievement figures show that around 18% of the adult population have less than a high school education. 82% have earned a high school diploma or higher, with 17% of this group earning a Bachelor's Degree or higher.

Rutherford County's median household income is $40,347. 19.1% of individuals are listed below the poverty level. 19% of the population lack adequate access to food. According to a 2018 report, Rutherford County's child obesity/overweight rate is 30%, while the adult obesity/overweight rate is 49.8%. Current unemployment in Rutherford County is around 4.3%.

Around 60,000 acres are in production agriculture in Rutherford County. There are 620 farms according to the Census of Agriculture. Estimated farm cash receipts are $45,440,000 across the livestock and horticultural industries. Estimated revenue from the timber/wood products industry is 150,000,000. Average farm size is 97 acres, with 98% of farms being family owned.

By utilizing input from Advisory Council members, Specialized Committees, Extension client group leaders, community leaders, fellow agency personnel and county government partners, Rutherford County Cooperative Extension Agents were able to develop and implement programs to address needs/priorities identified by these groups. Agents then matched these priorities to the major state programs. While realizing we cannot fully address all aspects of these issues, agents have selected those aspects of the county priority issues which can best be addressed by educational programming in the following areas:

Animal Production Systems
Community Development
4-H Youth Development
Consumer Horticulture
Food Safety and Nutrition

Cooperative Extension Agents in Rutherford County will adjust these focus programs each year and mirror them in their individual plans of work. This process will provide research based educational programs that will address these county priority issues to improve the quality of life for citizens of Rutherford County.

II. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

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 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 in Rutherford County is proud to be a unit of county government, and to collaborate with the community in ways that further our mission.

Our plan links with the county strategic plan in several areas. Both are committed to maximizing agricultural income and improving economic opportunities for new and existing agribusiness. We also link with the county plan in emphasizing that youth develop their full potential and help them develop life skills. These life skills will help them meet critical goals such as graduating High School and continuing their education to become a productive citizen.

Wellness and healthy living are goals for citizens of all ages in Rutherford County, and Extension's nutrition education and parenting education roles will link very well with these initiatives in the Realize Rutherford Strategic Plan.

Conservation of natural resources and good water quality are also items that coincide in Extension's plan of work and the county strategic plan. Preserving farmland and open space resources, and being responsible stewards of our water and energy resources also link well in both plans.

In times of natural disaster, Extension will be a resource for the county in linking with the agricultural sector and rural communities. Our network of client groups and farmers throughout the county will help us spread information quickly, and the county's emergency management resources will help us link up with citizens who need our expertise in critical situations.

IV. Diversity Plan

Cooperative Extension in Rutherford County strives to serve all citizens without regard to ethnic, cultural, economic status or other divisions. To execute this idea we plan to advertise programming in a manner that reaches all intended audience members. Reasonable accommodations will be made to include any person with disabilities in programs they wish to attend.

All reasonable efforts will be made to reach under-served audiences such as Latino and African-American citizens by targeted advertising of programs in publications or areas where these audiences can be reached. All newsletters and program advertisements will carry the university approved diversity statement, and a welcoming atmosphere to all walk in clients will be maintained.

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 Rutherford 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. Extension educational methods are the specific ways by which research-based information is disseminated to 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. These variety of methods 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 Rutherford 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 Rutherford 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 financial impact and cost benefit analysis as our primary evaluation methods. 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

Consumer Horticulture
Ramona Howell
Diane Doll
Debbie Clark
Delores Mayo
Sandra Kissellburg
Rutherford County Advisory Leadership Council
Carole McDaniel
Jim Cowan - Chair
Jim Edwards
Jason Byrd
Lisa Higgins
Bob Young
Jill Miracle
Alan Toney
Wendy Shumaker
Kisha McDowell
Amanda Maishman
Barbara Mensch
Livestock and Forage Committee
Levi Ramsey
Kevin Jackson
Ronald Hawkins
Andy Moss
Donald Murray
Johnny Bradley
Danny Camp
Jerry Smith
Ken Ramsey
Nancy Littlejohn
Jerry Brantley
Stuart Beam
Doug Nethaway
Community Development Board
Kay Carswell - Chair
Harry Deaton
Karen Laughter
Lewis Gordon
Betty Owens
Rita Hollifield
Family & Consumer Sciences Committee
Cathy Holmes
Candy Ash
Wilma Holmes
Ruby Ham
Karen Laughter
Ramona Howell
Janice Byers
Nettie Monteith
Kay Dalton
Suzanne Gibson
Susan Radford
Dixie Lovelace
4-H Leaders Committee
Ginger Ruppe
Suzanne Gibson
Sherry Corbett
Jay Corbett
Nicki Hudson
Michelle Garcia
Suzy Mobley
Dixie Lovelace
Kim Snyder
Heather McEnnerney
Melissa Tenpenny
Janice Byers
Yanna Fishman
Candi Lovelace
Barbara Mensch
Cindy Dotson
Misty Yelton
Hillary Beam
Kim Swafford
Amanda Maishman
Jayne Arrowood
Tammy Owens
Heather Church
Amanda McBrayer
Ivey Taylor
Wynne Queen

VII. Staff Membership

Jeff Bradley
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 287-6010
Email: jeff_bradley@ncsu.edu

Hannah Bundy
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Consumer and Commercial Hort
Phone: (828) 287-6015
Email: hannah_bundy@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.

Tracy Davis
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 287-6020
Email: tracy_davis@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Responsible for the development and implementation of relevant family and consumer educational programs for Rutherford County citizens. Program areas include nutrition, active lifestyles, wellness and self-management, food safety, home food preservation, local food systems, meal planning, shopping, and cooking.

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

Flores Fuentes
Email: smflores@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.

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.)

Currey Nobles
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-9520
Email: canobles@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!

Cynthia Robbins
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (828) 287-6190
Email: cynthia_robbins@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Youth development programs to build life skills Volunteer development

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.

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.

Terry Walker
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 287-6432
Email: tkwalker@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

Rutherford County Center
193 Callahan-Koon Rd
Suite 164
Spindale, NC 28160

Phone: (828) 287-6010
Fax: (828) 288-4036
URL: http://rutherford.ces.ncsu.edu