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July 29, 2008

National ag agents conference held in Greensboro

Fred Miller
Catawba Extension Director Fred Miller, right, is arrested by 'Barney Fife' during the barbecue dinner at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds in Winston-Salem. (Photo courtesy of Wick Wickliffe)

More than 1,500 participants from 46 U.S. states were in Greensboro as the North Carolina Association of County Agricultural Agents (NCACAA) hosted the 93rd Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference (AM/PIC) of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) from July 13-17.

The conference received high praises from participants, administrators and sponsors for its professional development opportunities, relevance of topics and speakers to the needs of county staffs, as well as the organization and hospitality the North Carolina agents shared with their co-workers from across the nation. Participants enjoyed and commented on many parts of the program.

Speakers included General Hugh Shelton on “Leadership that Leaves a Legacy” and Ralph Otto, USDA CSREES, on “Sustaining Agricultural Productivity,” Dr. James Johnson, director of Urban Investment Strategies Center, on “How the World is Changing.” Dr. Marshall Stewart served as Master of Ceremonies for the 4-H Talent Review which highlighted the great talents and accomplishments of 4-H'ers from several southern states. On Wednesday of the conference, 30 tour buses led by North Carolina agents crossed the state, highlighting the importance and diversity of the state’s agricultural industry, as well as numerous Cooperative Extension programs and projects.

The conference also recognized 66 agents from across the nation with the association’s top honor, the Distinguished Service Award. Five of these award winners were from North Carolina: Nelson Brownlee, Jeff Carpenter, Ron Hughes, Diana Rashash and Charles Young. The conference was lead by Fred Miller, Catawba County Extension director and NACAA president. Fred is the first ever North Carolinian to serve as NACAA president. He was praised during the conference for his personal character, engaging leadership style, deliberate and thorough examination of all view points on critical issues.

Pictures from the conference can be found at www.nacaa.com/ampic/2008 which has two selections for AMPIC pictures; one by conference participants and the other by the conference photographer, AT Industries.

Posted by Natalie at 10:24 AM

July 24, 2008

News from N.C. A&T State University

Family and Consumer Sciences has new chair
Dr. Valerie Giddings has assumed responsibility as chair of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. Giddings comes to the SAES from Winston-Salem State University, where her administrative experience included the position of associate vice chancellor for lifelong learning. Giddings' resume also includes experience in administration at Virginia Tech., where she served as an associate dean in the College of Human Resources. Her background also includes experience as a member of the art department faculty at Winston-Salem State, and as an associate professor in clothing and textiles at Virginia Tech.

Read more from ag-e dispatch

Posted by Natalie at 11:42 AM

July 14, 2008

N.C. State presenters well-represented

Jennings at Biltmore stream
Dr. Greg Jennings explains a stream restoration project on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville to tour participants.

Several North Carolina State University presenters were among the 300 engineers, city, county and federal officials who attended a university-sponsored Low Impact Development summit in Asheville June 23 - 24.

The summit addressed planning, policy and financial aspects of making Low Impact Development (LID) principles a reality.

LID is an alternative to traditional site design, incorporating water treatment structures into the landscape and a building’s “footprint,” the amount of earth it covers. LID features are research-based stormwater best management practices (BMPs) constructed to mimic pre-development hydrologic conditions. The BMPs improve water quality by reducing surface runoff, erosion and pollution not from specifically identifiable sources, such as waste treatment or industrial sites.

“With today’s economic benefits and available flexible designs, LID principles are becoming a more popular, attractive way to treat water quality on sites,” says Dr. Bill Hunt, of N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ (CALS) Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department (BAE), and North Carolina Cooperative Extension urban stormwater management specialist.

How popular?

Attentive attendees hailed from 24 states, 19 institutions of higher education, 41 municipalities, 17 counties, the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the Pentagon, as well as from more than 70 private businesses and 17 sponsors and exhibitors.

N.C. State presenters and their topics included Hunt (bioretention, permeable pavement, water harvesting); Dr. Lee-Anne Milburn, of CALS’ Landscape Architecture Department, who told an approving crowd that North Carolina’s LID manual should be ready by Jan. 1, 2009; Matthew Jones, BAE (LID coldwater stream considerations); and Dr. Rich McLaughlin of CALS’ Soil Sciences Department (construction BMPs).

Five concurrent “hands-on” sessions included workshops on permeable pavement by Dr. Bruce Ferguson, University of Georgia; water harvesting by Hunt; and LID site assessment by Milburn and Christy Perrin, of Cooperative Extension’s Watershed Education for Communities and Officials, in CALS' Agricultural and Resource Economics Department.

Dr. Greg Jennings (BAE Professor and Extension specialist) hosted a tour of several stream restoration sites in Buncombe County, including on the French Broad River and a stream that feeds it through the Biltmore Estate. Landscape architect Jon Calabria, of N.C. State’s Water Quality Group and French Broad Training Center coordinator, hosted a stormwater BMP tour at the North Carolina Arboretum near Asheville.

Summit hosts included CALS’ BAE, N.C. State’s Water Quality Group and College of Design and Cooperative Extension. Also hosting: U.S. Agriculture Department Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service’s Southern Regional Water Program, the N.C. Environmental and Natural Resources Department’s Division of Water Quality, the Low Impact Development Center and the Center for Watershed Protection.

Posted by Art at 01:17 PM

Sherman helps reduce waste at Eno Festival

recycling station

Festival-goers, volunteers and vendors worked together to make this year's Eno Festival trash-free, and their efforts paid off. Of the 5,300 pounds of trash generated over the three-day event, 93 percent will never see a landfill. Instead, it will be composted or recycled.

The secret, according to Cooperative Extension's composting specialist, Rhonda Sherman, is for "everyone - vendors, event organizers and festival goers" to work together with a common goal in mind. Vendors signed a contract stipulating they would use compostable plates, cutlery and even straws and that they would avoid single condiment servings (those little foil packets)."

Festival organizers erected 12 trash recovery stations and staffed them with volunteers to help festival goers sort their trash into items they could compost or recycle and those that had to go into the trash. Those who attend the festival did their part by using the trash stations and even bringing litter they'd found on the way to the station.

Of the 5,300 pounds of waste generated, 93 percent or 4,929 pounds will not be thrown away. Instead, 70 percent will be composted and 23 percent recycled. Because of plastics and other items brought by attendees the event was not 100 percent trash-free, but 93 percent is, "an excellent recovery rate, especially when you consider that each North Carolina resident generates 1.34 tons each in a year," according to Ellen Lorscheider, in the state's Solid Waste Planning & Program Management Branch. Landfills are difficult to site, and construction costs are rising.

Sherman also states, "We've been getting calls from other event planners, asking how they can duplicate the Eno Festival's success. Composting is a wonderful way for large events and individuals to reduce the amount of waste they generate." This is the Festival for the Eno's 17th year of recycling waste.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension partners with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land and economy of North Carolinians.

Posted by Natalie at 08:20 AM

July 11, 2008

Dock of the Bay event celebrates fifth successful year

4-H'ers at Dock event
4-H'ers proudly perform opening ceremonies at the Fifth Annual 'On the Dock of the Bay.'

North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s annual 4-H “On the Dock of the Bay” waterside soiree at the Eastern 4-H Environmental Education Conference Center turned five years old this spring.

On May 3, celebrating with a tropical theme and “Carolina beach music” by the high-energy Craig Woolard Band, dance fans filled the center’s boardwalk on the shore of Bulls Bay. Woolard sang lead with the Embers for 27 years.

Earlier in the day 4-H’ers and others also celebrated the opening of three cabins – the BB&T One and Two and the Walter Davis – as well as the County of Dare Dockside Dining Room and the Embarq and East Carolina Bank Executive Dining Room.

East Carolina Bank, Embarq and the North Carolina Farm Bureau were among the event’s first signature ($5,000) sponsors, said Sara Lilley Phelps, the center’s marketing director.

Guests also previewed newly decorated rooms in the executive lodge, including the Iberia Roach Tunnel, Colonial Edenton, Chowan County and Pasquotank County rooms.

The 300 or more beach music enthusiasts helped 4-H net more than $50,000 through sponsorships, ticket sales, a silent auction, a John Deere lawnmower raffle and a sunset “dockside diamond champagne toast,” with a champagne diamond donated by Tim Crank, owner of Natural Creations of Kitty Hawk,

The event’s signature dessert, a “s’mores” chocolate fountain, was also sponsored by East Carolina Bank.

Dock of the Bay supports camping scholarships for 4-H youth from Cooperative Extension’s Northeastern region, as well as the center’s building fund, Phelps said.

A few sponsors included:
Gold ($2,500): Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Cahoon, N .C. Farm Bureau and the N.C. 4-H Development Fund.

Silver ($1,000): Chowan Hospital and the Tyrrell County Farm Bureau.

Bronze ($500): Seventeen sponsors, for $8,500.

Green ($250): Twenty-eight sponsors, for more than $7,000.

Also, numerous businesses and individuals donated as in-kind sponsors or silent auction donors, Phelps said.

Dock of the Bay was also supported regionally by Cooperative Extension colleagues and 4-H programs through publicity, event donations and ticket sales.

The Eastern 4-H Environmental Education Conference Center is operated through the N.C. 4-H Youth Development & Family and Consumer Sciences Department, Cooperative Extension and North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Posted by Art at 03:13 PM

Horticulture students win design scholarships

horticulture students
From left: Dr. Pat Lindsey and some of her horticulture class -- Chris Reid, Erica Pineiro, Chase Erwin -- at the Wakefield 'Renaissance' site.

Christopher Reid and Chase Erwin, recent North Carolina State University graduates, this spring were each awarded a $1,500 Wakefield Development Co. scholarship for a drought-tolerant landscape design for a public village green at Renaissance Park community near Raleigh.

Reid’s and Erwin’s winning design, “Olio Trace,” which combines elements of historic Tryon Palace architecture and an appeal to Generation X lifestyles, includes drought-tolerant ornamental grasses, trees and perennials, as well as open-space pockets.

On-site work began on implementing the design in mid-June, Erwin said.

Reed, Erwin and other students in Dr. Pat Lindsey’s principles in plant design course (HS 416) in the College’s Horticultural Science Department created and presented drought-tolerant design plans. The class visited the site early in the semester.

In the first project of this kind in the department, Lindsey asked the class to incorporate both low-maintenance “hardscapes,” which include structural elements and produce a strong sense of design; and “softscapes,” which include a plant and grass selection attractive to birds and butterflies. They also had to include an educational component for homeowners.

”This project was huge,” said Erwin. “It took two months and probably a couple hundred hours collectively between us to complete. But the opportunity was too great not to put everything into it.

“Money is always motivation for a college student,” he said, “but for us, the idea of seeing a real design come into fruition was the ultimate push. We do countless designs in school that never get implemented so the appeal starts to wear off towards your senior year. You find yourself saying, ‘Oh, just another design that vanishes into thin air.’ So when we were selected, the excitement and relief were immeasurable. It was the icing on the cake for our senior year.”

The winning team was chosen by a panel of industry experts, with input from Renaissance Park residents.

“We were thrilled with the professional quality of work we received from the students,” said John Myers, Wakefield Development Co. president, in a press release. “All three projects were outstanding, and made our decision difficult. With ‘Olio Trace,’ specifically, there is a true sense of human scale and intimacy. We look forward to implementing this design into the community.”
-A. Latham

Posted by Art at 02:15 PM