2020 Wilkes County Plan of Work

Approved: January 28, 2020

I. County Background

Wilkes County is the largest county in western North Carolina with a diverse business and agricultural climate. Wilkes County North Carolina is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. According to 2020 census data for North Carolina, the population of the county is 69,340, with the racial background as follows: 88.5% white, 4.4% African American, 5.7% is Hispanic, and 1.45% other.

Agriculture is still the driving force in Wilkes County. Of the 483,420 acres in Wilkes County, nearly 111,000 acres (23%) are in farming. According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, Wilkes County agriculture accounted for over $282 million in cash receipts in 2018. Wilkes County ranks seventh in the state in farm cash receipts and 3rd in broiler and cattle production. Agriculture agribusiness industries provide employment for 30% of the county workforce. On the negative side, the number of Wilkes farms has declined from 1,273 to 972 since 2002; a 24% reduction in that time period.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Wilkes County Center, uses county and program area advisory councils to determine programming needs. Extension works with key county stakeholders to identify priority areas in educational programs. Some of these stakeholders include: Wilkes County government, Wilkes County Schools, Wilkes Community College, Wilkes Economic Development Commission, Wilkes Health Department, Soil Conservation, and Wilkes Partnership for Children. Wilkes Extension staff also works with these agencies to carry out programming efforts that address issues in the county.

The programming areas that were identified for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Wilkes County, programming include:
- Encouraging youth to explore opportunities in science related fields, which is the fastest growing job market in North Carolina.
- Educate residents on the availability of locally grown food and where to access these foods.
- Educate residents on how to grow their own food.
- Help improve agricultural production by working with growers to adopt best management practices and educating them on how to adapt new technology to their operation.
- Educate and assist residents interested in getting into an agricultural enterprises.
- Educate existing producers on time saving best management practices that could potentially increase profits.

Many of the program areas identified as priorities will be addressed in conjunction with other agencies and institutions. It is the hope of NC Cooperative Extension, Wilkes County Center, that there will be a significant and positive impact on the residents of Wilkes County in 2020 and beyond.

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 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

Wilkes County government is an equal partner with North Carolina State University in support Wilkes County Extension Center. This partnership is through their direct funding of the local center and a shared vision and mission for the Wilkes County Extension Center. Extension is recognized as an integral part of county economic well-being and is valued in decision making for future directions for the county. Extension showcases how Economic Development and Agriculture can work hand in hand to better the overall economy of the county. Wilkes County Extension Center works with other County agencies to address county health issues or to identify producers that have been affected by natural disasters. The Wilkes County Extension Center will work closely with the county government in times of emergencies and natural disasters, but more importantly help the residents prepare with educational programs before an issue or emergency arises. Wilkes Extension also works with local town managers to establish and improve local farmers' markets and community gardens.

IV. Diversity Plan

Wilkes County Extension seeks to offer programming to all underserved audiences in our county. We do programming in community settings such as public housing and family resource centers to try and reach out to all economic sectors of our community. We attempt to serve a diverse cultural/ethnic population in programming efforts. We make all reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of anyone who wishes to attend our programs and events. We, also, make efforts to inform key leaders in underserved areas about our program opportunities.

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 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, that allow learners to fully engage in the learning process, test new knowledge and/or practice new skills. Equally important, this plan will also include educational methods such as seminars, client visits, fact sheets, newsletters, emails and home study kits that serve to support and reinforce learning. Another key feature of Extension program delivery is our commitment to being customer driven and customer focus. As such, in addition to the County Extension Center, Extension educational programs are delivered online, in schools, on farms, and other locations in order for our programs to be available and accessible to citizens of Wilkes County. Extension information can also be accessed on the county web site at http://wilkes.ces.ncsu.edu/ and our Facebook page at Wilkes County Extension.

In Extension, success is defined as the extent to which our educational programs have made a difference in the lives of the citizens of Wilkes County. Evaluation methods, both formal and informal, are the way we make those observations about 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 evaluation methods that 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. 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

Wilkes County Extension Advisory Council
Susan Cogdill
Donna Edsel
Armit Tevepaugh
Bobby Nichols
Jason Roehrig
Fay Kennedy
Jinny Brown
Martha Townes
Greta Ferguson / Tiffany Sink
Terry Church
Luke Mathis
Wilkes County 4-H Advisory Board
Jenny Brown
Martha Towns
Teana Compeau
Jenn Wages
Tiffany Snik
Leslie Barnes
Sharon Underwood
Scott Graham
Wilkes County Row Crop Advisory Board
Talmadge Mathis
Luke Mathis
Don Sparks
Josh Brown
David Hanks
Wilkes Master Gardeners
Fay Kennedy
Gloria Watson
Ray Rich
Diane Stephens
Russell Golds
Sharron Underwood
Bobby Nichols
Wilkes Farmers Market
Roger Owens
Don Owens
Debbie Lowe
Garrett Griffin
Wilkes Livestock Advisory Board
Shelmer Blackburn Jr.
Seth Church
Terry Church
John Dyer
Brian Parker
Clayton Yates
ECA Advisory Board
Susan Cogdill
Donna Edsel
Nila Johnston
Nancy Eller
Joanne Gryder
Wilkes Horticulture Advisory Board
Ty Lowe / Perry Lowe
Armit Tevepaugh
Jason Roehrig
Brenda Blake
Garrett Griffin
Ken Noland -

VII. Staff Membership

John Cothren
Title: County Extension Director and Ext Agent, Agriculture - Livestock and Field Crops
Phone: (336) 651-7348
Email: john_cothren@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

Whitney Greene
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (336) 651-7336
Email: whitney_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.

Sam Lusk
Title: COSS Administrative Assistant
Phone: (336) 651-7335
Email: salusk@ncsu.edu

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.

Eli Snyder
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Commercial and Consumer Hort.
Phone: (336) 651-7333
Email: elina_snyder@ncsu.edu

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.

Courtney Tevepaugh
Title: Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Phone: (336) 651-7331
Email: courtney_tevepaugh@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Nutrition and Foods Education - Local Foods Coordinator

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

Wilkes County Center
416 Executive Dr
Wilkesboro, NC 28697

Phone: (336) 651-7330
Fax: (336) 651-7516
URL: http://wilkes.ces.ncsu.edu