2020 Swain County Plan of Work

Approved: January 8, 2020

I. County Background

Swain County is located in the southwestern mountains of North Carolina. It is the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is a rural mountain county with abundant natural resources, a mild, temperate, and diverse climate with some of the most scenic beauty of the southern Appalachian Mountains. The county is a desirable place to live for native residents and retirees from others areas, especially Florida. Swain County is a popular tourist destination located 65 miles from Asheville, 150 miles from Atlanta, 100 miles from Knoxville and three hours from Charlotte. One of the unique features of Swain County is the amount of federal ownership of land in the county. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Nantahala National Forest, Fontana Lake (TVA reservoir) and state game-lands amount to over 80% of the land area of Swain County, which creates challenges for tax base increase and economic development in some respects. Economically, tourism is king along with other industry such as timber, technology, secondary service, goverment, health care and shipping increasing (FEDEX). The tourism draw is the Smoky Mountain Railroad, Trout Fishing, Mountain Biking, Hiking, Rafting and Camping. Small businesses are the other economic mainstay of Swain county. One of the major small industries was Con-Met Electronics, which will officially leave the county in 2020.

The population of Swain County is currently estimated at approximately 14,234 in 2017. The recent economic development and growth of The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City and the Harrah's Cherokee Casino has lead to additional increases in tourism and residential population. The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the whitewater rafting industry in the Nantahala Gorge also have a great economic impact on the economy within the county. Unemployment in the county is 3.5% % as of August 2018, which down from 10.5% in 2015. Swain County is a Tier 1 county according the state of North Carolina, which means it is an impoverished county with an overall poverty rate of about 23.4% in 2018. Median Household Income is $33,598. This has created a demand on our office with additional programming and assistance in gardening, food preservation, local food systems, youth development, community development, health insurance assistance (SHIIP) and leadership.

An Needs Assessment (Delphi Test) was initiated in the winter and concluded in the spring of 2013. The assessment identified several issues that can be addressed by Cooperative Extension. This Needs Assessment utilized several methods to collect information. These methods included: mailed and direct surveys, personal interviews, focus groups, and results from available data. Information was gathered from the general public, clients, growers, farmers, youth, advisory groups and others. This Environmental Scanning - Delphi Method was used to identify the trends within the county in order to identify emerging trends and issues that extension can help address. We are still looking at this assessment even in 2017. We implemented a new NCSU Needs Assessment in April 2018 to help guide the future Swain Extension work from 2018 and beyond. The Swain County Extension Staff and all Advisory Leadership Council members participated in this needs assessment to determine future Swain County work.

The Needs Assessment asked Individuals to rank a number of issues according to their importance. The Extension staff analyzed the results and a ranking was developed based on the highest scoring issues/needs. Based on the final scores the Needs Assessment identified several major issues. These included: Environmental Stewardship, Improving Health and Nutrition, Youth Development Needs and Improving Agriculture Systems. These needs are addressed by Agent's IPOA and work is being done in these areas. More and more, we look for direction from the book "The People and the Profession-Selected Memories of Veteran Extension Agents" to guide our work. This means in 2020 that we are going to continue to "strive to revive" traditional extension programs in agriculture and food, because at our Christmas Staff Retreat in December 2016 we as a staff determined that Swain County has issues in apathy, drugs, poor parenting, lack of commitment and other social ills that we feel a formal gardening program could address work ethic and responsibility to youth and their families. This also fits well with the NC State Extension Strategic Plan.

Many requests come from the public through multiple communication avenues, which we always strive to address and solve. However there are rare occasions when we have to direct the public to another source for help like the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and close partner agencies with Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

Swain County Cooperative Extension will address these issues in numerous ways. In the area of Environmental Stewardship, programs will target environmental and conservation education primarily, along with work in natural resources management such as ponds and wildlife . Programs addressing health and nutrition will include healthy eating, physical activity and chronic disease. Community and Leadership development and Family and Consumer Science will focus on heritage tourism, hospitality and customer service and community pride. In the area of Youth Development, programs on life skills, school to career (youth and adults), leadership development, nature and science studies and critical thinking will be utilized. Needs related to Agriculture and Horticulture will be addressed with programs on cultural practices, master gardener (MG), farm and business management, economic/environmental sustainability, alternative crops, marketing, safety an security of food and farm and many other topics.

Cooperative Extension has the resources and expertise to address these issues in Swain County. Our educational programs address the needs and issues most important to local citizens. We provide relevant, responsive and inclusive programs that result in positive changes in the lives of our clientele. We utilize advanced information technology for educational program delivery, communications and accessing research-based information. Our staff is committed to lifelong learning, individual and community empowerment and inclusiveness. We strive to work by the "Extension Workers Professional Creed" of Epsilon Sigma Phi. We are also following the 4-H Girls Tomato Clubs of yesteryear where the youth learn leadership development through agriculture and food programs. The Educate, Demonstrate, Guide and Empower (EDGE) model adopted from the Boy Scouts of America organization is also practiced by Swain Extension, which will be the practice again in 2019.

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 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 natural resource and environmental programs conserve our precious natural resources and maintain a clean and healthy environment.

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

Swain County Government strives to have excellent schools, close-knit communities that emphasize family life, abundant recreational opportunities and beautiful surroundings. The Swain County Cooperative Extension Center has goals in the area of building strong communities through leadership, enhancing the economy in the capacity of tourism, agriculture and services. Conservation stewardship is another goal of Swain Cooperative Extension Center and this achieved through conservation education programs and environmental educational programs. Developing strong communities and youth development will be accomplished through family and parenting skill development through family and consumer science and 4-H and Youth Development educational programs. The goals of the Swain County Government and Swain County Cooperative Extension are one in the same, in which both are focusing their goals on building strong communities, economic development, heritage preservation, enhancing farmers market, building and preserving families and protecting the environmental and beautiful surroundings through conservation stewardship action such as land use planning and conservation education. CED will report to the Swain County Commissioners and County Manager in late October 2020 with an Annual Report.

The County Manager of Board of County Commissioners is still seeking assistance in 2020 with several downtown Bryson City projects especially with a new Butterfly Garden (4-H Garden Club will help develop), Island Park project connecting key points in town with the start of a new Greenway Trail System to make Bryson City more walk-able. This closely parallels our most recent development of the "Smokies Skiwalking School" that is designed to help people move more in the mountains by ski-walking, however more accessible trails are needed in the more populated areas. The county has purchased (2017) about 12 acres for fairgrounds and this is where the September 2018 and August 2019 Swain County Fair took place. The 2020 County Fair will also be a major parnternship between Extension and County Government in late Summer or Fall. Swain Extension took co-leadership of the "Swain County Fair Committee" along with Soil and Water Conservation and Chamber of Commerce. As always, we strive to meet the requests of the county government and build positive relationships with these projects and programs.

IV. Diversity Plan

The Swain County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension values the diversity of our county as a very rich and positive attribute. We value all people and feel the differences among us should be accepted and embraced as a great strength of our population. These differences are the basis for our values, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions that allow us to work together for the betterment of our world. The Swain County Extension Staff and all the Swain Extension Advisory Leadership Council members became officially trained in the Civil Rights and Diversity/Inclusion Training in April 2018.

We continue to welcome and acknowledge the positive impact related to differences in age, culture, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental abilities, race, sexual orientation, political beliefs, marital or family status, spiritual practice, and all dimensions of human diversity.

The Swain County Extension Center is committed to the provision of equal employment opportunity for all staff, the value of diversity, and the elimination of discrimination on the basis of irrelevant characteristics such as race, nationality, religious beliefs, ethnicity, family and marital status, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability. We will ensure equal employment for all qualified people and will seek to employ a diverse work force. Further, the organization will strive for equality of opportunities in the workplace.

We will strive to be inclusive and responsive in planning, designing, implementing and evaluating all educational programs. Additionally, we will work to target new or under-served audiences, recognizing the value of all people. We will continue to seek out new and alternative methods to reach under-served audiences in the county. We want all people in the county to know they are always welcome to be part of any program or activity conducted by Swain County Cooperative Extension.

In summary, we will help anyone that seeks and requests help and assistance in our areas of extension work. We will not turn anyone away unless they are exhibiting unlawful and/or dangerous behavior. We are willingly helpful to anyone regardless to age, sex, gender, religious status or income status.

V. Primary Delivery and Evaluation Methods

Delivering timely, relevant educational programs that meet critical local needs is the cornerstone of Extension’s mission with Swain Extension being no exception. Extension educational programs are designed to equip the citizens of Swain 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 mixture of educational methods used during an educational program. Extension educational 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, which 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, social media; websites, radio and other methods that serve to support and reinforce learning as well as provide motivation for continued learning. Utilizing 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 focus. As such, in addition to the County Extension Center, Extension educational programs are delivered 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 Swain 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 Swain 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 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. We plan to measure these impacts in both the long and short-term.

VI. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Swain County Extension Advisory Leadership Council
Jean Brady
Kate Welch- CHAIR
Wayne Cope
Alison Woodard
Ken Mills
Clarence Wiggins
Mike Glover
Boyd Wright
Renee Winchester
Terry Swaim
Beverly English
Family and Consumer Science Advisory Leadership Committee
Patti Jo Taylor
Jean Brady
Marlene Vinson
Edith Dingle
Shaylina Cochran

4-H Advisory Leadership Committee
Susan Sale
Heidi Woodard
Jeff Marley
Neil Holden
Urban Horticulture Advisory Leadership Committee
Beverly English – Swain
Boyd Wright – Swain
Johnny Sue Henderson – Jackson
Virginia Milligan – Jackson

Commercial Horticulture Advisory Leadership Committee
Mike Glover – Swain
Bill Williams – Swain
Kelley Penn – Swain
Nan Balliot - Jackson
Diane Ammons – Jackson

Swain Extension Livestock Advisory Leadership Council
Creeden Kowal
Pattie Jo Taylor
Clarence Wiggins
Patrick Breedlove

VII. Staff Membership

Rob Hawk
Title: County Extension Director, Jackson and Swain Counties
Phone: (828) 586-4009
Email: robert_hawk@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: I provide educational opportunities and technical assistance to the citizens in my area to bring about change for better communities and individuals through community and leadership development, livestock and conservation education. I provide administration and leadership for the extension staff of Jackson and Swain Counties as the County Extension Director.

Katie Ashley
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture
Phone: (828) 586-4009
Email: kaashley@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.

Dee Decker
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (828) 488-3848
Email: dee_decker@ncsu.edu

April Dillon
Title: Area Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (704) 482-4365
Email: april_dillon@ncsu.edu

Lisa Gonzalez
Title: Regional Area Specialized Agent - Local Foods
Phone: (828) 359-6927
Email: lcgonzal@ncsu.edu

Lauren Greene
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Poultry
Phone: (336) 651-7347
Email: lauren_greene@ncsu.edu

Adam Griffith
Title: Area Agent, CRD
Phone: (828) 359-6935
Email: adgriff5@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

Kendra Norton
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Livestock
Phone: (828) 586-4009
Email: kendra_norton@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!

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.

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.

Melissa Vaughn
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 488-3848
Email: melissa_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.

VIII. Contact Information

Swain County Center
60 Almond School Rd
Bryson City, NC 28713

Phone: (828) 488-3848
Fax: (828) 488-3575
URL: http://swain.ces.ncsu.edu