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April 13, 2007

Guilford County program wins statewide award

Summer Salsa Sizzle
A lucky salsa contest winner celebrates at Guilford County's Summer Salsa Sizzle held in August.

An educational initiative to help Guilford’s growing Latino population has earned the county a statewide award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. "Summer Salsa Sizzle" was one of nine county programs from around the state to win a 2006 Outstanding County Program Award from the NCACC.

Latinos make up the fastest-growing segment of the population in Guilford County. More than 5 percent of all county citizens are Latino in origin, and county Cooperative Extension Center officials saw a need to reach out to these citizens to build a base of trust and allow other citizens to learn more diversity about Latino culture.

The result was an event called “Summer Salsa Sizzle,” a one-night event in August 2006. Roughly 250 individuals attended, including 112 Latinos. Activities were offered free of charge, with expenses paid by Cooperative Extension.

Activities included a salsa cooking contest, and a free salsa tasting kicked off the evening. Mini-sessions that boasted topics such as ethnic vegetable gardening and Spanish 101 followed, and volunteers from the 4-H Club and Americorps Youth provided games and activities for children. At the event finale, participants learned to Salsa
Dance while listening to a host of local Latino bands.

Organizers attribute the event’s success to the partnership between Cooperative Extension and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Center for New North Carolinians. The center provided translators for the event, aided in marketing efforts, and secured Latino vendors and entertainment. The center’s staff continues to refer clients to Cooperative Extension and has helped translate several of the service’s publications to Spanish.

"The purpose of this awards program is to highlight some of the outstanding work that is going on in North Carolina counties," said NCACC Executive Director David F. Thompson. "As the demands being placed on county governments become more complex, counties are forced to find new solutions to old problems. This awards program is a way to bring attention to excellent programs that other counties might want to emulate."

For more information, contact County Extension Director Brenda Morris at 336.375.5876 or brenda_morris@ncsu.edu.

Posted by Natalie at April 13, 2007 01:35 PM