2019 Watauga County Program Impact Report

Approved: January 14, 2020

I. Executive Summary

In 2019, Watauga County Cooperative Extension continued to provide comprehensive service to our county and its citizens. Our staff continues to address Extension goals that align with the Citizens Plan for Watauga County (enacted in 2010): “provide a balance between managing change, preserving community traditions, protecting the natural environment, and enhancing quality of life.” Agents developed innovative and highly-attended programs to address these local and state objectives in the areas of: Profitable and Sustainable Plant and Animal Systems, Urban and Consumer Agriculture, Healthy Eating & Chronic Disease Reduction, Local Food Systems, 4-H, and Natural Resource Conservation and Environmental sustainability.

In 2019, Watauga Extension Agents held over 150 meetings, workshops, demonstrations, farm tours, and other programs providing 440 hours of formal training to almost 3,000 participants on ag production, gardening, marketing, nutrition, natural resources, livestock, and other applied science topics. Agents had over 8,000 direct contacts with clientele and over 200,000 cumulative digital or other media contacts. Additionally, Watauga Agents provided formal certification & recertification training to over 190 landscape contractors, Master Gardeners & licensed pesticide applicators. To market our county’s Extension services and programs, and to provide our community and clientele better access to information, our online presence and social media presence continued to grow in 2019. Watauga's Extension website received over 11,000 page views (a 20% increase over 2018) and agents created over 150 posts for our Facebook page which now has over 1,700 "friends" who are updated regularly on meetings, events, and other information on relevant topics. Watauga Extension connects with the public twice daily on 106.1 FM "the Highway", which has a listenership of 50,000 per week, through one-minute pre-recorded public service announcements. Our annual Report to the People luncheon and Farm City Banquet also communicated our impacts to over 300 community members and leaders.

Our agricultural & natural resource programming impacted over 900 acres of land in the county, and over 1,100 full & part-time farmers in the county increased their knowledge of best management practices in landscapes, turf, gardens, pest management, marketing, livestock, soil fertility, and other farm and land-use endeavors. Over 250 adults and children increased their knowledge of healthy food choices, home preservation & cooking techniques, food handling, and increased their vegetable consumption and physical activity.

A conservative value of the direct economic impact of Watauga County Extension's programming and services for 2019 is estimated at $140,000. To bolster Extension programming, Watauga County agents acquired over $95,000 in extramural funding from grants, sponsorships, and fees, which supported individual farmer/landowners and expanded our programming reach. Additionally, volunteers supporting Watauga County's Extension mission contributed over 900 hours of time in the community with a calculated value of over $23,000.

II. County Background

Watauga County, with a population of just over 55,000 is located in the northwest corner of the state and is home to Appalachian State University, the incorporated towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, and is a destination for skiing, adventure sports, and fall leaf-season tourists. Watauga County Cooperative Extension focuses on issues and develops programming priorities based on current trends and issues facing the county per feedback from the County Extension Advisory Committee, regular meetings with county leaders, and clientele needs. Watauga County has a wide variety of community-serving agencies and a strong collaborative atmosphere. Extension maintains contact and works directly (often serving on boards or as liaisons) with many of these agencies. In 2018, Watauga participated in the statewide Extension needs assessment and solicited input from its Extension Advisory Leadership Committee and other clientele groups. Additionally, Watauga Cooperative Extension's programming priorities align with the County's Comprehensive plan (the Citizens Plan for Watauga) http://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/Planning/Forms/WataugaPlan.pdf

Some of the major focus areas for 2019 continue to be:
*local food production and marketing, nutrition and consumer education for adults and youth,
*small farm diversification and specialty crop production,
*marketing and production issues for the county's Christmas tree industry,
*horticulture, including home horticulture consultation and problem identification and landscape industry issues
*added value and beef quality assurance programming for the county's cattle industry and small-scale livestock producers (estimated county beef cattle herd at 7,000 head),
*pesticide safety and outreach with farmers and farmworkers, and
*grant-writing to support programming with other area agencies and organizations.

Watauga County's Extension staff includes 5 agents (including the County Extension Director) and one administrative assistant. Agents have programming experience and expertise in agriculture & specialty crops, livestock, horticulture, natural resources, and local food & nutrition. The county's 4-H position has been vacant since 2015 due to Extension's Strategic Plan realignment and resulting county funding priorities. A 4-H program exploratory committee met in 2017 & 2018 to explore the possibilities of filling this position in the future. Additional conversations with county leadership will take place in 2019 to address this gap in Extension programming.

Watauga County has a large clientele base of non-resident landowners (summer & vacation homes). Our Horticulture Agent focuses programming primarily on home-horticulture and landscaping while providing technical support to our Christmas tree growers and landscaping industry professionals. Our Livestock Agent offers programming to members of the Watauga County Cattlemen’s Association and to many of the county’s small-scale livestock, poultry, and other meat animal producers. With a high percentage of the population below the poverty line (around 30%) Our Family & Consumer Science and Local Food Agent works within the rural school systems in Watauga and Caldwell counties to provide nutrition education via Snap-Ed. She also works with several non-profits and local food council for promotion of our “High Country Grown” marketing initiative with producers and restaurants. With a high clientele interest in small-fruits and other specialty crops, our Area Specialized agent provides support to our regional (Watauga, Ashe, and surrounding counties) specialty crops growers who support the burgeoning local food movement. The County Extension Director administers operations at the county office and also provides support and programming to the Christmas tree industry, forest landowners, and a growing cadre of ginseng producers.

III. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

Our plant production programs improve production, profitability, and sustainability of the agriculture sector.

Value* Outcome Description
1112Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
1121Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
170Number of pesticide applicators receiving continuing education credits
15Number of pesticide credit hours provided
1112Number of crop (all plant systems) 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, bioenergy, and value-added enterprises
1Number of Extension initiated and controlled county demonstration test sites
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
1112Number of producers who diversified their marketing strategies into local markets (direct, intermediated/food service, institutional).
1112Number of producers (and other members of the local food supply chain) who have increased revenue
48Number of new farms (beginning farmers) selling into local markets for local consumption (in this reporting period)
270Number of participants that have adopted farm safety practices
1115Number of producers reporting reduction in fertilizer used per acre
543Number of acres in conservation tillage or other Best Management Practice
1112Number of crop (all plant systems) producers adopting best management practices, including those practices related to nutrient management, conservation, production, cultivars, pest management (weeds, diseases, insects), business management, and marketing
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

Our animal production programs improve production, profitability, and sustainability of the agriculture sector.

Value* Outcome Description
18Number of producers who improve local food marketing skills or knowledge.
12Number of producers who gain skills or knowledge to increase production for local markets.
56Number of animal producers who increased knowledge of farm business management, business planning, financial management, marketing, or estate planning.
36Number of animal producers who learned how to develop a management plan (i.e. grazing plan, feeding plan, drought plan, business plan, disaster plan, etc.)
64Number 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.)
45Number of producers who increased knowledge of nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplements, breeding, and reproduction
48Number 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
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
4Number of producers who diversified their marketing strategies into local markets (direct, intermediated/food service, institutional).
6Number of new farms (beginning farmers) selling into local markets for local consumption (in this reporting period)
18Number of producers (and other members of the local food supply chain) who have increased revenue
8Number of producers adopting extension-recommended practices related to planning, marketing, and financial management
2Number of producers implementing Extension-recommended best management practices for animal waste management
340Number of acres where Extension-recommended nutrient applications were used
12Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to quality assurance (vaccinations, castration, culling techniques, etc.)
23Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to genetic improvement (AI, heifer/bull selection)
12Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to nutrition (mineral, feed rations)
4Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to internal parasite management (fecals, deworming)
14Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices related to pasture management
24Number of producers who adopted Extension-recommended best management practices and production changes related to nutrition, ration balancing, mineral supplement, breeding, and reproduction
2Number of producers using improved biosecurity practices
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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

Value* Outcome Description
156Number of participants willing to participate in conservation actions (such as rain gardens, wildlife management, conservation easements, land trusts, generational planning, etc.)
156Number of participants increasing their knowledge about best management practices (including storm water systems, septic system maintenance, erosion control, rain gardens, forestry, etc.)
20Number of child and youth educators aspiring to implement quality outdoor learning environments for children
8Number of adults demonstrating increased knowledge of natural resources and environmental issues
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
8Number of participants implementing extension-recommended practices to conserve water use and protect water quality
8Number of participants that adopted recommended agroecosystem adaption strategies for production agriculture or natural resource management, including for invasive species, pest management, pollutant loads, and wetlands.
50Number of acres under recommended agroecosystem adaption strategies for production agriculture or natural resource management, including for invasive species, pest management, pollutant loads, and wetlands.
8Number of participants that adopted recommended agroecosystem mitigation practices such as water-use efficiency, livestock production feeding practices, carbon sequestration, reducing carbon or energy footprint.
50Number of acres under recommended agroecosystem mitigation practices such as water-use efficiency, livestock production feeding practices, carbon sequestration, reducing carbon or energy footprint.
* 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.

Value* Outcome Description
189Number of individuals who gain knowledge or acquire skills related to vegetable/fruit gardening
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
33Number of individuals who grow food in community gardens.
72Number of individuals who begin home food production by starting a vegetable and/or fruit garden
211Number of participants who use extension-recommended best management practices in landscapes, turf, and gardens, including pest (insect, weed, disease, wildlife) and soil management
43Number of participants selecting appropriate landscape plants (adapted, drought tolerant, appropriate size, etc.)
127Number of participants growing food for home consumption
21Number of participants adopting composting
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.

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* Outcome Description
52Number of participants who increase their knowledge of safe home food handling, preservation, or preparation practices
15Number of food handlers who increase their knowledge and skills in safe food handling practices
119Number of individuals who learn how to prepare local foods, including through use of home food preservation techniques.
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
31Number of adults increasing their fruit and vegetables consumption
46Number 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* 8,074
Non face-to-face** 242,723
Total by Extension staff in 2019 250,797
* 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 $847,870.00
Gifts/Donations $10,850.00
In-Kind Grants/Donations $0.00
United Way/Foundations $0.00
User Fees $6,024.00
Total $864,744.00

VI. Volunteer Involvement in Extension Programs

Number of Volunteers* Number of Volunteer Hours Known client contacts by volunteers Dollar Value at 25.43
Extension Master Gardener 27 770 0 $ 19,581.00
Other: Agriculture 8 40 12 $ 1,017.00
Other: Food & Nutrition 2 125 87 $ 3,179.00
Total: 37 935 99 $ 23,777.00
* The number of volunteers reflects the overall number of volunteers for multiple events.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Watauga County Advisory Leadership Council
Alayon, Marcia
Alford, La Rue
Bryan, Jim
Cimino, Laurie
Coulter, Carol
Hodges, Tim
Henson, Rusty
Moretz, Mary
Moretz, Bill
Taylor, Thad
Yates, Perry
Eugene Walker
Livestock & Field Crops Committee
Rusty Henson
Doug Jones
BW Miller
Jeff Winkler
Lee Rankin
Eugene Walker
Denny Norris
Alternative Ag. Advisory Council
Rose, Ann
Thomas, Jeff
Thomas, Will
Fiedler, Amy
Joyner, Ron
Wild, Hollis
den Biggelaar, Christof
Sengel, David
Walworth, Scott
Baldridge, Deborah
Shiloh Avery
Deb Fishel
Sanford Fishel
Michael Lewis

VIII. Staff Membership

Jim Hamilton
Title: County Extension Director
Phone: (828) 264-3061
Email: jim_hamilton@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Administration, Forestry & Christmas trees, ginseng production, bilingual pesticide education, safety, & training.

Richard Boylan
Title: Area Agent, Small Farm Management
Phone: (828) 264-3061
Email: richard_boylan@ncsu.edu

Kirsten Dillman
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (828) 264-3061
Email: kirsten_dillman@ncsu.edu

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

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.

Eddy Labus
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Field Crops and Livestock
Phone: (828) 264-3061
Email: eddy_labus@ncsu.edu

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

Margie Mansure
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences - Nutrition and Foods
Phone: (828) 264-3061
Email: margie_mansure@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Teach children and general public good nutrition and health practices through a variety of methods, including cooking skill development, gardening and food preservation. Promote consumption of locally grown food by working with many community partners.

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

Paige Patterson
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Consumer Horticulture
Phone: (828) 264-3061
Email: paige_patterson@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) 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

Watauga County Center
971 W King St
Boone, NC 28607

Phone: (828) 264-3061
Fax: (828) 264-3067
URL: http://watauga.ces.ncsu.edu