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October 31, 2005

Soybean disease found in North Carolina

A plant disease that has heavily damaged soybean crops in other parts of the world has made its way for the first time to North Carolina, although it is too late in the growing season for the disease to damage soybeans this year, said an expert at North Carolina State University.

As a result of monitoring activities conducted by N.C. State University, Asiatic soybean rust was identified on soybean leaf samples collected from Brunswick, Columbus and Robeson counties on Oct. 25 and on soybean leaf samples collected in Beaufort and Craven counties on Oct. 26.

Dr. Steve Koenning, research assistant professor of plant pathology and North Carolina Cooperative Extension specialist at N.C. State, made a tentative diagnosis of Asiatic soybean rust. Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the presence of soybean rust.

Soybean rust is native to Asia but has spread to other parts of the world in recent years. Koenning said the disease was found in Africa in 2000 and in South America in 2001 and 2002. The disease, which is spread by wind-blown spores, has caused considerable damage to Brazilian soybean crops.

Koenning said the disease was found in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina in 2004. This is the first report of the disease in North Carolina, although already in 2005 it has been found in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.

Soybean rust will not impact North Carolina soybean production in the 2005 growing season because more than 80 percent of the crop is mature, Koenning said. The impact on the state's remaining soybeans will be minimal because of the late entry of the disease pathogen into the state. Koenning said soybean rust does not infect seed and will not contribute to seed rots.

The soybean rust pathogen is primarily tropical in distribution and will not survive the winter in North Carolina; however, models indicate the fungus would be able to survive over the winter in Southern Florida and Texas. Because wind-blown spores must move to North Carolina from southern regions of the U.S., Caribbean or Central America each year, the impact of the disease in North Carolina will be determined each year by how early in the growing season the disease arrives and environmental conditions at that time. If rust spores do not arrive until September, any yield impact would be minimal, whereas the arrival of rust spores in June could reduce yields considerably.

The disease can be managed with fungicides, but applying fungicides is costly. Koenning said the two to three fungicide applications that would probably be necessary to manage the disease would add $30 to $60 per acre to a farmer's production costs.

Working with the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Koenning and other N.C. State faculty members have launched a wide-ranging effort to help the state's farmers fight the disease.

That effort includes a network of monitoring plots for early detection of the disease. It was this effort that detected the disease. And at least 5,000 farmers and others involved in agriculture have attended training sessions designed to teach them to identify and manage soybean rust. A communications network was established to keep N.C. Cooperative Extension agents, NCDA&CS agronomists and agricultural consultants informed about the progress of soybean rust and other soybean diseases in North Carolina and the U.S. in 2005.

N.C. State scientists are also working to breed new soybean varieties that are resistant to the disease and to model spore movement. In addition, Koenning was instrumental in obtaining permission from the N.C. Pesticide Board for farmers to use additional fungicides to manage the disease.

--Dave Caldwell

Posted by Natalie at 02:03 PM

October 28, 2005

Virginia Hyatt, wife of former Extension director, dies

VIRGINIA SMITH HYATT, 89, passed away on Oct. 26 in Raleigh. Born in Detroit, Michigan on July 1, 1916, Virginia graduated from Michigan State University. She married George Hyatt Jr., on Sept. 17, 1938. In 1951 she moved with her family to Raleigh after her husband accepted a professorship at N.C. State University, where he later became director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Virginia is predeceased by her husband of 55 years.

She is survived by her three sons, Charles Hyatt of Lexington, SC, Martin Hyatt of Charleston, SC, and William Hyatt of Yorktown, VA; three daughters-in law, Patricia, Sarah, Pamela; six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren and a fifth one on the way. She is also survived by one of her three brothers, Howard Smith of Buffalo Grove, near Chicago.

Virginia was very active with N.C. State University as a faculty spouse. She was an avid sports fan and strong supporter of N.C. State athletics for more than 40 years. She loved to play golf and bridge and was a member of the 1st Church of Christ, Scientist of Raleigh. Mother also loved to travel and did extensive traveling both in the USA and overseas. She will be surely missed by her family and friends.

A service of remembrance will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Brown- Wynne Funeral Home, 300 St. Mary's Street in Raleigh.

The family will receive friends from 1-2 p.m. Oct. 29 at the funeral home, prior to the service. Burial is at Raleigh Memorial Park, 7501 Glenwood Ave., US 70 immediately after the memorial.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the George and Virginia Hyatt Extension Award Endowment, NC Agricultural Foundation, Inc. Box 7645, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7645.

Condolences and tributes may be made to the family at brownwynne.com

Posted by Natalie at 01:50 PM

October 27, 2005

4-H agent raises champion state pumpkins

Simmons with prize pumpkin
4-H Agent Wallace Simmons poses at the N.C. State Fair with his champion pumpkin, weighing in at 854 lbs. (Mark Dearmon photo)

The pumpkin patch at Wallace Simmons’ Canton home only has a few pumpkins, but he keeps it that way on purpose. Simmons’ pumpkins weigh from about 500 to 850 lbs., and he has grown North Carolina’s largest pumpkin for the past five years.

A 4-H agent from Haywood County, Simmons won first place at the State Fair this year with a whopping 854-pound pumpkin. It is still not the largest ever grown in the state – that one weighed 860 lbs., and Simmons grew it as well.

Even North Carolina’s largest pumpkins don’t stand a chance in international competition. The longer daylight and cooler nights of more northern climates provide the best growing conditions. This year’s world champion, grown in Pennsylvania, tipped the scales at 1,469 lbs., enough to feed pumpkin pie to a small rural town.

Raising a giant pumpkin is no small feat, especially for a 4-H agent with a busy summer schedule of camp, 4-H Congress and activity days. When he’s away, Simmons relies on his family to care for the burgeoning pumpkins. “It’s hard to get them this big without rotting. You have to treat them like a baby the whole summer,” Simmons said.

Simmons got started growing big pumpkins when he offered to bring one from Haywood County to the State Fair for a local grower. After the fair, he dumped the pumpkin in his compost pile, which yielded a 375-pound volunteer pumpkin the next year. Simmons was hooked. At that time, the state record for pumpkins was about 600 lbs., a record that Simmons has since smashed.

Simmons says there are three key factors to growing a large pumpkin: good seed, good soil and good luck. Water management is also important, and Simmons says his water bill during pumpkin season will increase by $20 to $120 per month.

“You have to manage the water carefully or your pumpkin will split. Then your pumpkin will be gone for the year,” he said.

Canton was struck in fall 2004 by two major hurricanes that dumped 12.5 inches of rain. The roots of Simmons’ pumpkin vines drowned, and the largest pumpkin stopped growing at 852 pounds.

Simmons starts seeds in a greenhouse in May and transplants them at the perimeter of his yard after the treat of frost is past. As he identifies the most promising pumpkins on each vine, he removes others to allow all the plant’s energy and nutrition to flow to the giant-pumpkins-to-be.

Once the pumpkins get large, Simmons keeps them covered because the sun can harden the skim and may cause cracking before the pumpkin reaches it’s full size. Other threats to pumpkin health are insect and rodent damage, disease and vine damage.

Moving the 850-pound pumpkins takes power. With a lifting tarp, eight to 10 people can lift one. Simmons uses a modified engine hoister to lift his pumpkins on a pallet into the back of his pickup truck.

After the State Fair, Simmons delivers his prize pumpkin to a buyer in Winston-Salem who carves it into a giant jack-o-lantern for a Halloween party. The buyer cleans and saves the pumpkin seeds so Simmons will have a start for next year

Simmons shares his skill with other would-be large pumpkin growers, sharing lessons on seed germination with Haywood school children. He will send seed free to those who request it and provide a stamped, addressed bubble pack for shipping.

And he shares the experience with his 4-H’ers. “I tell my 4-H’ers to do their very best in everything they do, just as I give this (raising pumpkins) my very best,” he says.

--Natalie Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 02:05 PM

October 25, 2005

North Carolina schools recognized for safer pest management

Godfrey Nalyanya, left, and Mike Linker of N.C. State's School IPM Program, discuss award winners at Monday's event. (Daniel Kim photo)

School systems that have implemented Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs were recognized for their efforts by North Carolina State University’s School IPM Program Oct. 24 at N.C. State’s McKimmon Center. The School IPM Program honored the leaders from 21 North Carolina school districts during the program’s first-ever awards ceremony.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a common-sense approach to pest control that dramatically reduces the risk of exposure to pesticides for students, teachers and staff in public schools. There is a growing national movement to safeguard children’s health using IPM.

“Every opportunity we get, we should reduce kids’ exposures to toxic chemicals,” stated James Reuter, an award winner from Nash-Rocky Mount Schools and past president of the N.C. Public Schools Maintenance Association.

Children spend six to eight hours a day in school for 185-200 days each year. Because children are more vulnerable than adults to pests and the pesticides that many schools districts rely on for pest control, it is important for schools to adopt safer pest management methods that do not rely on toxic pesticides.

Here in North Carolina, local school districts have taken the lead in implementing creative, cost-effective programs that ensure clean, safe learning environments for children. The Integrated Pest Management Program at N.C. State University works with these districts to provide trainings and technical resources on pest management. The program also has the support of state agencies, professional associations, local schools and community groups in implementing IPM programs across the state.

On the surface of it, IPM just seems like a common sense idea, said Rep. Grier Martin, addressing the award winners. “You have taken a great idea and turned it into real results on the ground – and that is not easy,” he said. Martin, along with Representatives McLawhorn (Pitt County) and Lucas (Cumberland County) has sponsored legislation that would phase in IPM for all public school districts in North Carolina.

Dr. Jack Cherry, president of the N.C. School Boards Association, and a school board member from Beaufort County, another award winner, had a challenge for the group. “Let’s make sure that all 115 local school districts can be recognized for this high achievement,” he stated. The School Boards Association plays an important role in policy development and promotion for local boards.

Awards were presented to the following school districts. Each district’s school IPM coordinator is listed.

Leadership awards (for long-standing, model IPM programs):
1. Wake County Public Schools, Buddy McCarty
2. Catawba County Schools, Jane Williams
3. Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Schools, Jack Ward
4. Buncombe County Schools, Clark Wyatt
5. Pitt County Schools, Douglas Price Jr.

Program Awards (for strong new IPM programs):
6. Elkin City Schools (Yadkin Co.), Ron Mack
7. Granville County Schools, Sydney Moody
8. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Chip Irby
9. Nash-Rocky Mount Schools, James Reuter
10. Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools, Steve Cutright
11. Orange County Schools, William Crabtree

Initiative Awards (for school systems that are in the process of implementing an IPM program):
1. Haywood County Schools, Ray Hipps
2. Yancey County Schools, Niles Howell
3. McDowell County Schools, Gavin Trinks
4. Rowan-Salisbury County Schools, Tim Pharar
5. Durham County Schools, Randy Tant
6. Cumberland County Schools, Robert Kelly
7. Robeson County Schools, Earney Hammonds
8. Vance County Schools, Claiborne Woods
9. Beaufort County Schools, Phillip Boyd
10. Yadkin County Schools, Donald Hawks

Posted by Natalie at 04:08 PM

October 19, 2005

Director named for N.C. State's JC Raulston Arboretum

Dr. Dennis J. Werner has been named director of the JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University, an eight-acre working research and teaching garden maintained by the Horticultural Science Department in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The JC Raulston Arboretum is a nationally acclaimed garden with the most diverse collection of cold-hardy temperate zone plants in the southeastern United States. As a part of N.C. State's Department of Horticultural Science, the arboretum has been largely built and maintained by N.C. State students, faculty, volunteers and staff. Plant collections include more than 5,000 species of annuals, perennials, bulbs, vines, groundcovers, shrubs and trees from more than 50 different countries.

Werner joined N.C. State in 1979 as an assistant professor of horticultural science, rising to the rank of professor in 1988. He also served as the Horticultural Science Graduate Program Director for 11 years. A long-time collaborator and member of the arboretum, Werner will begin his new duties as director on Dec. 1.

His efforts in peach breeding have led to the development of numerous peach varieties that are highly regarded and widely grown in the Southeast. Werner's most recent research efforts have shifted to ornamental plant breeding and genetics.

Werner has twice received the N.C. State University Outstanding Teacher Award and was named the Outstanding Academic Advisor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1999. He is a member of the American Society of Horticultural Science, the American Horticultural Society, the International Plant Propagator's Society, the Perennial Plant Association and the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

He earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture from Pennsylvania State University and master's and doctoral degrees in horticulture from Michigan State University.

"We look forward to Dr. Werner's leadership and continued strengthening of the JC Raulston Arboretum as a major botanical research, teaching and extension institution," said Julia Kornegay, head of the Department of Horticultural Science.

-Suzanne Stanard

Posted by Natalie at 11:20 AM

2006 National Urban Extension Conference set for Kansas City

The 2006 Urban Extension Conference will take place November 6-9, 2006, in Kansas City, MO. Participants will learn about and share extension programs, leadership and issues related to urban areas.

The conference is for extension educators, faculty, and staff who work in urban, suburban, and highly populated areas, who provide administrative and program leadership on the local, state, and federal level, or have responsibilities for urban programming.

The 12 North Central States are planning the conference, which will be hosted by University of Missouri Extension. Co-chairs for the conference are Jim Lindquist, assistant director, Extension Field Operations, Kansas State Research and Extension, Manhattan, KS, and Al Black, regional director, West Central Region, University of Missouri Extension, Blue Springs, MO.

More information will be available as the planning progresses. If you would like to join the mailing list for the conference, please send your contact information to Al Black at blacka@missouri.edu.

-- Excerpted from USDA CSREES Update


Posted by deeshore at 09:42 AM

October 14, 2005

Johnston County's ag center incorporates water-quality methods

Photo of Bill Lord and Ken Bateman
Art Latham photo

North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Johnston County staff is proud of the water-quality-enhancing efforts incorporated into the new $5 million Johnston County Agricultural Center, which includes Extension’s county offices.

Continue reading 'Johnston County's ag center incorporates water-quality methods'

Posted by Natalie at 03:40 PM

Department heads named for food science, sociology

Kick named head of Sociology and Anthropology Department at N.C. State

Ward named head of Food Science Department at N.C. State

Posted by Natalie at 03:38 PM

Hagler named assistant director of N.C. Agricultural Research Service

Dr. Winston M. Hagler, a poultry science professor with 26 years of service to North Carolina State University, has been named assistant director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The research service is the research arm of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Hagler has served as interim assistant director since July 2003, when Dr. Steven Leath, then the assistant director, was named interim director. Leath now is director of the research service.

Since 1979, Hagler has held a number of positions in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, rising to the rank of professor of poultry science in 1990. He also is an associate member of the faculties of plant pathology, animal science and nutrition. As director of the Mycotoxin Laboratory, Hagler has led a diverse program that includes regional, national, and international collaborations in Extension, analytical chemistry, plant and animal physiology, veterinary medicine, agricultural engineering, nutrition, toxicology and plant breeding.

In 2003, Hagler was named interim assistant director of the N.C. Agricultural Research Service when Leath became interim director.

Hagler holds a bachelor’s degree in general biology and a master’s degree in microbiology from Auburn University and a doctoral degree in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the N.C. State faculty, Hagler was a visiting scientist for a year at the Veterinary Medical Research Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest.

The N.C. Agricultural Research Service has an annual budget of approximately $52 million, with an additional $50 million of expenditures in extramural grants and contracts. Approximately 350 research faculty fall under research service administration, along with 270 graduate students, other researchers and research assistants, 400 technicians and 90 support staff.

-Suzanne Stanard

Posted by Natalie at 03:29 PM

Latest news from N.C. A&T State University

Visit ag e-dispatch for the latest news from N.C. A&T State University.

Posted by Natalie at 03:15 PM

October 07, 2005

Dr. Ort and Dr. McKinnie on change management and marketing initiative

After evaluating the marketing and change management research we have determined how to strengthen North Carolina Cooperative Extension and position this great organization so that it continues to remain vital and strong and plays a critical role in our state’s future.

To post questions or comments on the initiative, visit the 'Comments' section below.

We believe that Cooperative Extension’s strength is its people. Our hallmark is our statewide educational network that provides citizens with the knowledge, information and skills they need to enhance economic prosperity and preserve our natural resource base. Our core focus will be to use our educational network to disseminate unbiased, research-based information from our universities related to the food and fiber system in the areas of agriculture, food and nutrition, biotechnology, environmental science, and our natural resource base. This focus includes both our unique work with communities, as well as our expertise in working with youth and families to improve their quality of life.

What has been going on for the past 18 months? For a year and half, Extension has been conducting market research and an internal dialogue led by our consultants Carolina PR/Marketing, Inc. to determine our strategic focus for the future. Reaching consensus about the future of Extension is essential to our marketing effort because it ultimately clarifies our identity with the public. But this conversation has also been essential to those of us inside Extension. We have not had a unified strategic view so it has been difficult to move forward together effectively to make a truly powerful impact on key issues facing the state. We now have clarity about strategic direction. We have committed to this direction, and we are ready to move forward. We are adopting the marketing recommendations and are working with Carolina PR to set priorities.

We will work to build a network of relevant programs around this core so that we can have a significant impact -- and wide recognition and support as an essential partner in North Carolina’s progress. Now that the core has been set, our work continues. All of us must be committed to working together to move our organization forward. Extension will build whatever capacity is needed to deliver in our core areas of expertise. Extension Administration will clearly communicate our expectations to you, and we will advocate internally and externally for support as we work together to strengthen this great organization.

Some of you may see this as business as usual. Let us assure you that change is imminent. We are working to create a marketing infrastructure, establish consistent use of the Extension brand in all of our marketing materials, and bundle programs and services around the issues that affect North Carolinians every day. By taking this approach, we will ensure that this state and its citizens recognize and appreciate the value of Cooperative Extension.

Employee Action Teams, involving approximately 100 employees from throughout the organization, are making recommendations that will further define these changes and how they will impact your work. These Action Teams are working to help us define how we:
· measure our performance and impacts
· plan and prioritize our resources
· assign, train and motivate employees
· design and evaluate programs
· communicate and market Extension, internally and externally.

In November, we will review all of the Action Team recommendations. Shortly afterward, we will provide more details about the changes we expect to implement first.

This is an exciting time to be part of Cooperative Extension. All of us have an important role in moving our organization forward. We must do this, and we must do this together. By revitalizing how we do business, we will continue our 91-year tradition of serving as a vital and indispensable partner in providing knowledge and solutions for individuals, families, communities, governmental agencies and businesses across the state.

Extension has a reputation for helping North Carolina weather change. But the future promises to bring more change than we have ever seen before. We must embrace the opportunities that change will bring and let go of the things that hold us back. The work ahead of us will keep us on the road to success.

As your administrators, we look forward to traveling with you on this journey. Only by working together with one mission, one vision and one Cooperative Extension will we be able to ensure a bright future for both Cooperative Extension and North Carolina.

For more information, go to http://intra.ces.ncsu.edu/marketing/

Jon F. Ort, Director
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
N.C. State University

M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Program
N.C. A&T State University

Posted by Natalie at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2005

School IPM offers workshops

Workshops to train pest management professionals on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for controlling insect pests in schools will be held across North Carolina in November. These workshops are highly recommended for owners, managers and employees of pest control companies that service schools or intent to bid on schools in North Carolina.

IPM is a strategy for safely and effectively controlling pests by addressing conditions that can lead to and favor pest infestations and using pesticides only when necessary.

At this year’s half-day workshops, participants will:
· Learn to successfully implement school IPM programs
· Learn about the School Children’s Health Act of 2005.
· Receive 3 CCUs (Certification Credit Units) in the P-Phase.
· Receive a training certificate.

You will learn from dynamic speakers from North Carolina State University, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Structural Pest Control Division, pest control industry and more. Training sessions will run from 8:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Below are the dates and locations for each session:
Nov. 4, Greenville
Nov. 8, Winston-Salem
Nov. 10, Wilmington
Nov. 14, Clinton
Nov. 17, Asheville
Nov. 18, Raleigh

The workshops are sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension and N.C. State University, and each workshop is free of charge. Participants are urged to register in advance. To register download registration material from http://schoolipm.ncsu.edu or contact Dr. Godfrey Nalyanya, godfrey_nalyanya@ncsu.edu, by phone at 919.515.5650 or by fax, 919.515.5315.

Posted by Natalie at 03:13 PM

Project Learning Tree plans fall workshops

It must be the impending leaf color change that has brought on all these October Project Learning Tree workshops! For a current listing of PLT workshops statewide, visit the NC PLT web site at www.ces.ncsu.edu/plt. Download literature lists, activity materials, and discover NC PLT online.

We will also be out and about this fall at the North Carolina Charter Schools' Conference, the North Carolina Science Teachers' Professional Development Institute, and other local events. All workshops below, and the materials, are provided free of charge to participants.

October 10
9am - 4pm
PreK-8 Workshop
Holmes Educational State Forest
To Register: Holmes ESF Rangers 828-692-0100 or holmesesf@ncmail.net

October 18
9am - 4pm
PreK-8 Workshop
Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest
To Register: Turnbull Creek ESF Rangers 910-588-4161 or tcesf@intrstar.net

October 18
9am - 4pm
PreK-8 Workshop
Jordan Lake Educational State Forest
Chapel Hill (near Pittsboro)
To Register: Jordan Lake ESF Rangers 919-542-1154 or ncdfrjordanlake@mindspring.com

October 19
9am - 4pm
PreK-12 Workshop (includes the PreK-8 Activity Guide and two High School modules)
Woodmen Camp
To Register: Mark Case 336-498-7750 or WoodmenCamp@aol.com

October 22
9am - 4pm
PreK-8 Workshop
Bur-Mil Park, Frank A Sharpe, Jr. Wildlife Education Center
To Register: Tracy Pegram 336-373-3813 or tracy.pegram@greensboro-nc.gov

And in November....

November 7, Stevens Nature Center at Hemlock Bluffs, Cary
November 17, Blue Jay Point County Park, Raleigh
And to wrap up the year.....
November 19, Duke University

All the above workshops are six contact hours. To receive 1.0 CEU renewal credits or EE Certification in Criteria I, participants will need to complete a super simple homework assignment for the additional four contact hours.

November 4 & 5, 2005
8am - 4pm both days
PreK-8 Workshop
W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir
To Register: Miriam Fleming 336-921-3390 or miriam.j.fleming@saw02.usace.army.mil
**This workshop will be counted as a 10-hour PLT workshop for EE certification and CEU renewal credits. W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir is a North Carolina Environmental Education Center, with many unique features. Tours will be given, as well as time to explore the area individually.

Posted by Natalie at 02:51 PM

October 04, 2005

Take bold steps to address Latino immigrant needs, expert advises

North Carolina Cooperative Extension “must be bold” in meeting the needs of its ever-growing Latino constituency, the state’s former Hispanic/Latino Affairs director told a group of Extension personnel at a recent three-day training session at the Brownstone Hotel in Raleigh.

Dr. Nolo Martinez addresses training session
Dr. Nolo Martinez addresses training session. Art Latham photo

“Extension is practiced in this kind of work, and is the best showcase for democracy we have,” Dr. Nolo Martinez said to 49 agents and specialists from around the state at the Creating an Understanding of the Latino Community Conference. “Extension is the gatekeeper, but some agents are like the Border Patrol, protecting the extreme positions. We need to act as bridges, not protectors.”

The N.C. Cooperative Extension Service’s internal reporting system indicates 23 of our state’s 100 counties engaged in some sort of Latino/Hispanic programming in 2004.

These numbers do not necessarily reflect all ongoing programs, however.

For instance, Extension and the Migrant Education Program partner with Ashe County schools to identify and serve migrant families. And in 2003-2004, there were 46 MEP sites in more than 40 counties statewide.

“Extension could start as it has in other states,” Martinez said, “first with bicultural, Spanish-speaking volunteers, then by hiring Spanish-speaking paraprofessionals.” Martinez, a former Extension specialist, is now assistant director of outreach and research at the Center for New North Carolinians at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and teaches classes at UNC-G and North Carolina State University.

Another speaker, discussing the wave of Latino immigration into our state, specifically from Mexico, said Extension needs to make up for lost time.

While NAFTA was implemented 11 years ago, U.S. Census data indicates that the Mexican immigration wave started more than 30 years ago, said Dr. Jim Johnston, Kenan Distinguished Professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Business School.

Rogelio Valencia, Hispanic ombudsman for the state Health and Human Services Department, pointed to an on-the-ground challenge of the sort Extension might be able to address.

Axel Lluch, left, and Rogelio Valencia, both standing
Axel Lluch, left, and Rogelio Valencia, both standing. Art Latham photo

“In Mexico, the custom is to leave the kids at home while the parents work,” he said. “Here, Social Services will come and take them.”

Said Dr. Wanda Sykes, Extension Southeast District Director and one of the training’s organizers: “Cultural differences, perceived or not, and the apparent lack of understanding of the Hispanic/Latino culture and identification of specific needs has created a challenge for Extension faculty.

“Cooperative Extension employees have a tremendous opportunity to program for this new and expanding audience,” she said.

Also speaking, in chronological order:

The conference was sponsored by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service and the Center for International Understanding.

-- Art Latham

Posted by Art at 10:58 AM