2017 Wilkes County Program Impact Report

Approved: January 22, 2018

I. Executive Summary

Wilkes County Cooperative Extension staff used advisory councils such as the Wilkes County Advisory Council, Wilkes Master Gardeners, Cattlemens Association, 4-H volunteers, and key county stakeholders to identify priority areas in educational programs. Wilkes Extension also worked with the following agencies to develop and carry out programming efforts: Wilkes County Government, Wilkes County Schools, Wilkes Community College, Wilkes Economic Development Commission, Wilkes Health Department, Soil Conservation, and Wilkes Partnership for Children. Wilkes staff delivered programs both autonomously and in coordination with many of these agencies.

Wilkes County Extension staff served 28,306 clients through face-to-face contact.

One area identified as a priority by Wilkes Extension staff was to educate youth and adults on the strong agricultural community, the availability of local foods, and potential agricultural related jobs. In 2017, one of these efforts included Wilkes Ag Awareness Day. This event was organized by Wilkes Extension and educated over 600 third graders and their teachers on the diversity and importance of agriculture to the county. Our staff also organized the agricultural portion of the Wilkes Agricultural Fair, which is visited by a significant percentage of area residents.

In 2014, Wilkes Extension and the local Economic Development Cooperation office secured funding to purchase equipment that could be used by local cattlemen to assist with their operation. This equipment included portable corrals, squeeze chute, and scales. In 2017, this equipment was used to help cattlemen that did not originally have access to this equipment to process over 1,000 animals.

Wilkes Extension Service is responsible for organizing and managing the Cub Creek Community Garden for the town of Wilkesboro. In 2017, all of the 51 plots were rented to residents. Throughout the growing season, Wilkes Extension and the Wilkes Master Gardeners helped plot owners with gardening questions and pest related issues. As a result, over 6,000 pounds of produce were grown in the gardens, which is a record since the garden was established in 2011. Also, over 400 pounds of vegetables grown by Master Gardeners at the site were donated to local food banks.

In 2017, Wilkes 4-H concentrated on becoming more involved in the local public school system. Wilkes 4-H assisted teachers in educating youth on various issues related to the environment, including vermicomposting, pollinators, and weather. Wilkes 4-H secured funding to install a pollinator garden that is used in conjunction with the Cub Creek Community Garden. These programs will be expanded to more schools in 2018.

Wilkes Extension staff continue to base programming efforts based upon the needs of Wilkes residents. In 2018, as in past years, Extension staff will assess resident needs and will continue to try to expand programming efforts.

II. County Background

Wilkes County is the largest county in western North Carolina with a diverse business and agricultural climate. According to 2013 census data for North Carolina, the population of the county is 69,023, with the racial background as follows: 88.5% white, 4.4% African American, 5.7% is Hispanic, and 1.45% other. In 2015, the Wilkes County unemployment rate dropped slightly to 5.4% with approximately 23% of its residents living below the poverty line. The poverty rate is one of the highest in the area. In a 2011 USDA census, Wilkes County had two tracts that were considered food deserts, which are areas that residents have limited access to healthy, nutritious foods.

Agriculture is still the driving force in Wilkes. 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 $312 million in cash receipts in 2015. 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.

Wilkes County Extension 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 Wilkes Extension 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.

Many of the program areas identified as priorities will be addressed in conjunction with other agencies and institutions. It is the hope of Wilkes Extension that there will be a significant, positive impact on the residents of Wilkes County in 2017 and beyond.

III. Objectives to Address the Cooperative Extension Long Range Plan

North Carolina's plant production systems will become more profitable and sustainable.
North Carolina's agricultural crops industry makes major contributions to local communities and the state’s economy. In 2014, the estimated farm gate value of crops was $4.72 billion, placing NC as the 17th largest in the nation. North Carolina is one of the most diversified agriculture states in the nation. The state's 50,200 farmers grow over 80 different commodities, utilizing 8.4 million of the state's 31 million acres to furnish consumers a dependable and affordable supply of food and fiber. Tobacco remains one of the state's most predominant farm commodities. North Carolina produces more tobacco and sweet potatoes than any other state and ranks second in Christmas tree cash receipts. The state also produces a significant amount of cucumbers for pickles, lima beans, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens, strawberries, bell peppers, blueberries, chili peppers, fresh market cucumbers, snap beans, cabbage, eggplant, watermelons, pecans, peaches, squash, apples, sweet corn, tomatoes, and grapes. There is continual technological change and the relative profitability of individual farm enterprises changes over time; therefore, farmers must respond by modifying their farming operations. Changes in consumer demand create new opportunities for producers. Growth in alternative forms of agriculture will include, among others, organic and niche market production. Educational and training programs for producers of plant agricultural products and services will enhance their ability to achieve financial and lifestyle goals and to enhance economic development locally, regionally and statewide.
North Carolina's animal production systems will become more profitable and sustainable.
North Carolina's livestock industry makes major contributions to local communities and the state’s economy. In 2014, the estimated farm gate value of livestock, dairy, and poultry was $8.85 billion, placing NC as the 7th largest in the nation. Hogs & pigs have historically been an important part of North Carolina agriculture. The industry has changed dramatically since the 1980s from the small farm raising a few hogs to large confinement type operations. North Carolina's number of cattle & calves on farms has remained relatively stable throughout time. Milk cow inventory and milk production have continued to decline in the state. Unlike other commodities, broiler production in North Carolina is increasing throughout the state. There is continual technological change and the relative profitability of individual farm enterprises changes over time; therefore, farmers must respond by modifying their farming operations. Changes in consumer demand create new opportunities for producers. Growth in alternative forms of agriculture will include, among others, organic, niche market production, and pasture-raised livestock. Educational and training programs for producers of animal agricultural products and services will enhance their ability to achieve financial and lifestyle goals and to enhance economic development locally, regionally and statewide.
Value* Outcome Description
249Number of animal 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
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
249Number of animal producers adopting Extension-recommended best management practices, including those practices related to husbandry, improved planning, marketing, and financial practices
245000Net income gains by producers adopting Extension-recommended best management practices, including those practices related to husbandry, improved planning, marketing, and financial practices
2Number of animal producers implementing Extension-recommended best management practices for animal waste management
983Tons of livestock organic by-products utilized (nutrients from waste, compost, etc)
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
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.
Farmers will increase their capacity to supply product for local food sales through market planning efforts, producer and consumer education, beginning farmer training programs and local market infrastructure development. The fastest growing area of consumer demand in agriculture continues to be organic. Farmers' markets continue to expand as do multiple efforts in local sustainable agriculture. Nationally, "Buy Local, Buy Fresh" movements have emerged in the face of concerns about the risks involved in long distance transportation of industrialized food production. Increasingly, public officials and business leaders see promotion of local farm products as good public policy and local economic development. Additionally, individuals will learn to supplement their current diet by growing their own fruits and vegetables as individuals or as community groups.
Futures that Work: School to Career Pathways
We are living in a new economy powered by technology, fueled by information and driven by knowledge. Extension programs provide opportunities for youth and adults to improve their level of education and increase their skills that enable them to be competitive in our global society and workforce.
Value* Outcome Description
17Number of teachers trained in 4-H STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum
1812Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
989Total number of female participants in STEM program
7Number of high school age youth (students) participating as members of 4-H clubs
27Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge of career/employability skills
23Number of youth (students) increasing knowledge of entrepreneurship
* Note: Values may include numbers from multi-county efforts.
Value* Impact Description
1812Number of youth (students) gaining knowledge in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
27Number of youth (students) gaining career / employability skills
23Number of youth (students) gaining entrepreneurship 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.
Residential, commercial and public entities will make decisions regarding plant selection, placement and management that will decrease water consumption, preserve and improve water quality, mitigate storm water contaminants, reduce erosion, energy consumption, and greenwaste, expand wildlife habitat, improve real estate value, and improve diet and nutrition of consumers. The horse and "farmer lifestyle" industry will continue to grow and have an increasing impact on North Carolina's economy, while protecting the environment. The NCDA&CS reports that 65,000 horse producers own over 225,000 horses which annually generates over $704 million of gross revenue from training, showing, boarding and breeding establishments in addition to agri-business sales of horse-related products. The total economic impact of the NC green industry is $8.6 billion, involving 151,982 employees, and 120,741 acres of production (Green Industry Council, 2006). North Carolina residential consumers spend $5.9 billion dollars per year on garden and landscape related expenses (Green Industry Council, 2006). For 2007, North Carolina's population is estimated to be 8,968,800 (LINC). The population grew by 1,323,288 (15%), between 1997 and 2007 and it is projected to grow by another 1,330,055 (13%), over the next ten years (LINC). Over 50% of the population now lives in urban areas. Despite evidence of the ecological and financial benefits, environmentally responsible landscaping strategies are not being implemented widely. Renovating a landscape to incorporate water conserving strategies may result in using 36% less water. Urban water run-off accounts for the majority of water pollution, mostly pesticides and fertilizers, that does not come from a specific industrial source. Selection of well-adapted plants, effective pest management, and appropriate care and feeding of plants will greatly reduce dependence on fertilizers and pesticides. Rain water that is not absorbed by the soil becomes erosive storm water runoff, which transports pollutants such as fertilizer, pesticides, sediment, motor oil, litter, and animal waste to local streams and rivers. Landscape designs will include rain gardens and other runoff catchment facilities (underground cisterns, etc.) that are attractive and easy to maintain in residential areas. Homeowners will learn that proper plant selection and placement can reduce winter heating bills by as much as 15% and summer cooling bills by as much as 50 percent, while reducing the need to prune over-sized plants. Wild habitat areas are rapidly being converted into housing and commercial properties, displacing native plants and animals. Choosing native or adapted plants that provide food and shelter creates a haven for butterflies, birds, lizards, and other animals. Edible landscaping can increase the amount and expand the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables consumed.

IV. Number of Contacts Made by Extension

Type of ContactNumber
Face-to-face* 15,542
Non face-to-face** 12,769
Total by Extension staff in 2017 28,311
* 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 $2,600.00
In-Kind Grants/Donations $0.00
United Way/Foundations $0.00
User Fees $0.00
Total $2,600.00

VI. Volunteer Involvement in Extension Programs

Number of Volunteers* Number of Volunteer Hours Known client contacts by volunteers Dollar Value at 24.14
4-H: 192 1,617 1,479 $ 39,034.00
Advisory Leadership System: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Extension Community Association: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Extension Master Gardener: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Other: 0 0 0 $ 0.00
Total: 192 1617 1479 $ 39,034.00
* The number of volunteers reflects the overall number of volunteers for multiple events.

VII. Membership of Advisory Leadership System

Wilkes County Extension Advisory Council
Beth Graf
Bob Hege
Nila Johnston
Betty Knight
Gwen Minton
Sharon Underwood
Martha Townes
Ray Rich
Julie Colglazier
Rodney Shepherd
Henry Church
Nelda Church
Wilkes County 4-H Advisory Board
Arbie Allison
Martha Townes
Brenda Dobbins
Barbara VanMeter
Teana Compeau
Jenn Wages
Greta Ferguson
Leshe Barnes
Julia Turpin
Sharon Underwood
Scott Graham
Wilkes Area Feeder Cattle Sales Committee
Shelmer Blackburn Jr.
Jimmy Church
Phillip LaPrad
Seth Church
Matt Eller
Eric Bumgarner
Glenn Weston
Don Parker
Neil Eller
Wilkes County Row Crop Advisory Board
Talmadge Mathis
John Mathis
Garrett Mathis
Josh Brown
David Hanks
Wilkes Voluntary Agricultural District Advisory Board
Benny Alexander
Dan Bumgarner
Dennis McGrady
Kirk Mathis
Toby Speaks
Claude Shew Jr.
Wilkes Master Gardeners
Fay Kennedy
Gloria Watson
Ray Rich
Diane Stephens
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 Yanks
ECA Executive Board
Ruth Greer
Nila Johnston
Patsy Phillips
Sharon Burkenbine
Freda Perry
Nancy Eller

VIII. 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

MaryMorgan Arrington
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture
Phone: (336) 651-7333
Email: marymorgan_arrington@ncsu.edu

Brent Buchanan
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Dairy
Phone: (315) 212-1277
Email: brent_buchanan@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.

Donna Bumgarner
Title: County Extension Administrative Assistant
Phone: (336) 651-7331
Email: donna_bumgarner@ncsu.edu

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

Whitney Greene
Title: Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development
Phone: (336) 651-7331
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.

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: Extension Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture - Commercial Vegetables & 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.

Rachel McDowell
Title: Area Specialized Agent, Consumer & Retail Food Safety
Phone: (919) 515-9155
Email: romcdowe@ncsu.edu
Brief Job Description: Support FCS Agents in delivering timely and evidence-based food safety education and information to stakeholders in 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.

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

Wilkes County Center
416 Executive Dr
Wilkesboro, NC 28697

Phone: (336) 651-7331
Fax: (336) 651-7516
URL: http://wilkes.ces.ncsu.edu