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May 30, 2006

Correct plant use enhances environment

Cliff Ruth

The correct use of plants increases property values and provides natural filtration systems for water and air, says Cliff Ruth, North Carolina Cooperative Extension area specialized agent in commercial horticulture and turfgrass.

As our communities grow, the landscaping and nursery industries, unlike many other agricultural areas, are expanding exponentially and will continue to grow and thrive.

That's the expert opinion of Ruth, who works in the midst of such growth in Henderson County in Western North Carolina. The county's status recently changed from rural to smaller urban, he says.

Read more from Perspectives Magazine

Posted by Art at 01:04 PM

May 24, 2006

Denise Baker among top university honorees

Awards of Excellence winners
Winners of the top University Awards of Excellence pictured with Chancellor James Oblinger are, from left, Linda R. Daniel, Bridget V. Yarborough, Juan Francisco, Oblinger, Denise M. Baker and Krystal R. Pittman. (Becky Kirkland photo)

North Carolina Cooperative Extension's Denise Baker, family and consumer sciences area agent based in Mitchell County, was recognized as one of five top University Awards of Excellence winners for North Carolina State University at a luncheon May 22.

Baker was among seven honorees from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. About 50 honorees from across the university were recognized.

Another College employee, Linda R. Daniel, a research analyst in Poultry Science, also was among the university's top five winners.

The other top five winners were:
* Bridget V. Yarborough, recruiting ,anager, University Career Center
* Juan Francisco, administrator, University Housekeeping
* Krystal R. Pittman, business manager, Student Publications Office

Posted by Natalie at 10:24 AM

May 23, 2006

Franklin tour draws 250

Charles Gupton with poult
Franklin County grower Charles Gupton of Shiloh Farms holds a turkey poult for tour participants to see. (Natalie Hampton photo)

About 250 people turned out May 20-21 for the third annual Franklin County Farm Foods and Crafts Tour, co-sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension. This year's tour featured nine farms, as well as participation by the N.C. Meat Goat Producers and Franklin County Natural Beef Alliance. At several sites, visitors were treated to bluegrass music, crafts demonstrations and activities for children. Many participants purchased beef, goat meat, eggs, shiitake mushrooms and other products from participating growers. At Shiloh Farms, visitors saw organic crops in fields, laying chickens and broilers, an orchard, mushroom production, sheep and cattle.
-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 02:35 PM

May 19, 2006

Advisory cluster group meets in Guilford County

County Extension directors from Rockingham, Alamance and Guilford counties recently kicked off meetings of their advisory leaders’ cluster with a meeting and tour in Guilford County. Advisory councils in the Northwest District are divided into county clusters. The directors from this cluster met with Steva Allgood, a former Guilford advisory council member, who is now on the State Advisory Council, and Perry Graves, a citizens’ advisor for the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University.

The three county directors reported on a hot topic from their individual counties. Rett Davis of Alamance County talked about diminishing farmland in his county. Rockingham County Extension Director Scott Schoulars described efforts to develop a local equine center.

Two Guilford County 4-H’ers described their new “Pet Pals” program, in which youth bring companion animals to visit nursing home residents. The group also toured the Cam-Too Nursery, a large Guilford County camellia producer that works closely with Guilford agent Garry Bradley. The advisory cluster plans to meet again soon and bring in all county advisors.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 02:30 PM

May 18, 2006

Haywood County program helps participants 'Shake off the Holidays'

Jean Burton weighs participant
Jean Burton, left, helps weigh a particpant in Haywood County's 'Shake off the Holidays' program.

Most Americans find their pants fitting a little tighter after the holidays, resulting in those well-intentional New Year’s resolutions to lose a few pounds. Jean Burton, Haywood County family and consumer sciences agent, developed a nutrition education program called “Shake Off the Holidays,” to help people shake it off and keep it off longer.

In January, Burton began the 10-week program to help participants develop long-term healthy lifestyles to help with weight management. Many members of the original group of about 20 chose to participate in the program because of concern over serious weight-related health problems.

Out of the 20 original participants, only one or two had a normal body mass index, two were considered overweight, while most were extremely overweight or obese, Burton said, adding, “This is truly a health issue with them.”

Twelve participants completed the entire course, with an average weight loss of 8 pounds. The average was lower because a few participants did not have much to lose, Burton said. However one participate lost 20 pounds and another lost 17.

Participants reported a variety of behavior changes as a result of the class, including eating smaller portions, reading food labels, watching fats, drinking more water and increasing activity. One participant reported having less back pain as a result of weight loss.

After the first class, participants were encouraged to record everything they ate. The second class offered participants a chance to make observations about changes they could make in eating or exercise pattern changes. Other class topics included physical activity, facts about fat and cholesterol; water, fiber and sleep; grocery shopping, holidays, restaurant dining. They wrapped up with a class on “shaking it off: how to keep it up.”

Burton, who has a nursing and health education background, has decided to continue the class through 2006, meeting in the evening every other week. New members of the community continue to join the group.

“These classes have helped to support and encourage changes I had already started making,” one participant said. “I am very happy the classes will continue.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 10:50 AM

EDEN course continues to improve ag biosecurity awareness

A major attack or natural outbreak on American farms could cost the economy millions in control responses and billions in economic damages. Mismanaging a biosecurity outbreak by not detecting it or not communicating appropriate information could increase damages. To address this issue, the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) has an online course called “Plant Biosecurity Management.”

Now offering the 2006 edition, the course is geared toward Extension educators and specialists. However, it is readily usable by agricultural and horticultural producers, emergency managers, and public health officials who have a vested interest in plant biosecurity.

Developed for EDEN by the University of Missouri Extension with support from the USDA, the 2006 edition provides updated and timely resources, as well as preventative activities and current response efforts of Soybean Rust. The course is free of charge and designed to be taken at a user’s own pace. Completion time is approximately eight hours.

The six lessons focus on:
·the threat of both intentional and unintentional introduction of pests and pathogens to crops;
·how to mitigate plant biosecurity hazards and security risks to farm operations and agribusinesses;
·how to prepare for a rapid and appropriate response to a suspected plant biosecurity problem;
·what recovery activities to expect in the event a plant biosecurity problem is confirmed; and
·how to reduce the impact of a biosecurity event on humans, crops, property, and the environment.

Access to this course, as well as additional information, is available on the EDEN Web site at http://www.eden.lsu.edu/LearningOps. This course was created to be readily usable for a variety of Internet connections. Though recommended for 56K lines or higher, a lower connection speed of 24 K also has been successful.

Posted by Natalie at 10:46 AM

May 16, 2006

Franklin County Farms & Crafts Tour is May 20-21

The Third Annual Franklin County Farms & Crafts Tour will be held on Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21, 1-5 p.m. The cost for the tour is $5 per person; children 12 years and younger can visit the farms for free. To register for the tour in advance call the Franklin County Cooperative Extension Service at 919.496.3344. You will receive an informational brochure with a map and "Support Local Farms" buttons to wear on the day of the tour as an indication that you are registered.

Visitors also can participate the day of the tour by purchasing a tour button at one of the featured farms. There will also be farm tour caps for sale.

The stops on the tour include a cut flower and nursery greenhouse farm, pick-your-own strawberry farm, sustainable vegetable production and free-range livestock farm, a nursery featuring heirloom vegetables and plants, diversified beef cattle and purebred goat farm, and a 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century French and English antique supplier with furniture, art and accessories on display. The Franklin County Natural Beef Alliance and N.C. Meat Goat Producers will also be featured at various stops and marketing pasture-based, natural beef and chevon.

In addition, the Ridgeway Opry musicians will play bluegrass and folk music at four of the nine stops. Area heritage crafters will showcase their talents such as quilt making and wood turning. Local artists from the Art du Jour will be set up under pecan trees at one stop to showcase their painting. Several stops are "child friendly" with hay rides and petting of small animals.

Sponsors for the tour include the Franklin County Arts Council, Whole Foods, and North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Posted by Natalie at 11:33 AM

May 15, 2006

4-H WHEP contest winners announced

Chris Moorman at WHEP contest
Extension wildlife specialist Chris Moorman, center, works with participants in the 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program Contest held April 29.

The 2006 North Carolina 4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program (WHEP) Contest was held at Latta Plantation and Nature Preserve in Mecklenburg County April 29. Twelve teams and 10 individuals from 10 counties competed in the contest, which included recommended on-site habitat management practices, wildlife species identification, wildlife foods identification and interpreting wildlife habitat from aerial photographs.

The Alexander County senior team will represent North Carolina at the National 4-H WHEP Invitational during late July in Madison, Wis.

Members of the Alexander Senior Team are Michael Hill, Caiti Cranford, Vanessa Patterson. Coaches for this team are Lenny Rogers, Alexander County Extension director, and Dennis Wahlers, Alexander County forest ranger. Suzanne Rhinehart is the 4-H agent.

The Henderson County senior team, which placed first in the state, represented North Carolina in 2004. Teams may attend the National WHEP Invitational only once, so Alexander County, as second place team, was chosen to represent the state this year.

Though a competitive event, WHEP’s primary purpose is to increase participants' knowledge of wildlife management practices while building life skills including leadership and teamwork. The North Carolina State Council of Quail Unlimited and individual chapters currently sponsor the NC WHEP program.

Team rankings:
Senior Team Division (age 14-19):
1. Henderson: Katie McCraw, Kyle Stinnett, Lory McCraw, Patrick McCraw
2. Alexander: Caiti Crandford, Michael Hill, Vanessa Patterson

Junior Team Division (age 9-13):
1. Catawba: Adam Coto, Ben Huysman, Chris Moore, Mason Coto
2. Henderson: Bethany Hyde, Caleb Worrell, Drue Stinnett, Gideon Worrell
3. Stanly: Chris Almond, Jared Hatley, Nicholas Lambert, Timothy Hatley

Senior Highest Individual Score:
1. Lory McCraw, Henderson County
2. Katie McCraw, Henderson County
3. Andrew Kimball, Johnston County

Junior Highest Individual Score:
1. Adam Coto, Catawba County (contest highest score)
2. Gideon Worrell, Henderson County
3. Ben Huysmen, Catawba County

Posted by Natalie at 02:50 PM

Endowment established in Sanders' name

An endowment in Doug Sanders’ name is being established. Sanders, professor and Extension horticulture specialist, died last month after a brief illness.

Contributions may be mailed to:
North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc.
Box 7645, NCSU
Raleigh, NC 27695-7645

To contribute to this endowment, please make your check payable to the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., and write "Doug Sanders Endowment" on the memo line of checks. The Foundations Office will issue receipts.

Posted by Natalie at 02:47 PM

May 11, 2006

Extension helps seniors with Medicare drug benefit

Client gets help with Medicare drug benefit registration
A member of the Stanly County Extension staff, right, helps a client register for her Medicare Part D benefit. Registration will end May 15.(Photo by Daniel Kim)

Cooperative Extension has a history of involvement with North Carolina’s older adults, so it comes as no surprise that Extension agents and volunteers have been heavily involved in helping seniors in their counties register for the new federal Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Enrollment in the program began in November and continued through mid-May. Through a long-standing relationship with the state Department of Insurance’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP), several Extension agents, staff and local volunteers provided assistance and information on the new Medicare Part D plan.

The Medicare Part D enrollment, which ends May 15, is very complex, with more than 30 plans to choose from in North Carolina alone. SHIIP volunteers help enrollees examine their choices in relation to the prescription drugs they purchase regularly.

SHIIP provided counties with training, a laptop computer and $1,000 to counties participating in the program.

The effort in some counties has been overwhelming. Several agents reported spending as much as 95 percent of their time helping seniors enroll in the program.

In Stanly County, Extension Director Lori Ivey reported that her trained staff and volunteers worked one-on-one with nearly 700 seniors between November and mid-December. Candy Murray in Wilson County alone had registered about 175 seniors by mid-March, with two months yet to go.

Murray says that normally SHIIP offers a six-week training for volunteers, who then provide assistance. For the Medicare Part D, few volunteers felt they had the necessary computer skills to assist seniors with the program. So as the county’s SHIIP contact, Murray took on the program herself.

“I started making appointments, and I can honestly says that since Nov. 15, this program has consumed just about 95 percent of my time,” Murray said. “It has been both rewarding and stressful. I have learned something new about the program everyday.”

Each one-on-one enrollment session takes about one to two hours. In Wilson County, FCS agent Murray reports that seniors save an average of $2,000 each year under the prescription drug plan. She estimates that savings for those Extension has enrolled to be about $380,000 with two months enrollment yet to go.

Marilyn Gore, area specialized FCS agent in Gaston County, said the time required to do an enrollment depends on the number of prescriptions that have to be entered. One client she enrolled required 17 medications. Most clients in her county also save an average of $2,000.

In Lincoln County, FCS agent Melinda Houser said that a dedicated group of nine volunteers had been busy since December answering questions and helping seniors enroll in the new drug plan. Houser has been involved with the SHIIP program for many years, and the program helped train enrollment volunteers.

“We’ve reached individuals who never would have walked in the door of Extension. This is one of the most successful things we’ve done,” Houser said.

In addition to the information seminar, Houser got word out through radio programs, newspaper announcements and speaking engagements.

“The volunteers are busy and they are dedicated,” she said. “They’ve saved clients thousands of dollars (in prescription drug costs).”

Chowan County’s Shari Farless enrolled about 200 people by mid-March, in addition to presenting information to groups totaling about 500. She estimates average savings at about $1,200. Most importantly, the program has made a difference.

“This has been one of the most high-impact efforts I have done in a long time, and it is getting me a lot of mileage. I have met some wonderful people during this process and have reached an audience I may not of had before,” Farless said.

Georgia Kight of Currituck County had the help of three volunteers, an Extension program assistant and an intern from Elizabeth City State University for enrolling seniors in Medicare Part D. She estimates the average savings per individual to be about $2,000, though clients have saved as much as $20,000.

“I had one example of a disabled individual on Medicaid, who was auto-assigned a plan,” Kight said. “When I did his individual assessment, he was enrolled in a plan that would have cost him $21,916, and the plan that I enrolled him in only cost about $168 for the year. Now that is a success story!”

In Stanly County, Ivey said volunteers and Extension staff members were busy throughout November and December, sometimes enrolling as many as 35 to 40 people a day.

“Extension is the only source in the county for information,” Ivey said. “We’re the resource in the community. Even some pharmacists have called us for information.”

Stanly County clients have generally saved some money – usually hundreds of dollars, Ivey said. She knew of a man who had saved $9,000 on an expensive medication, though some saved as little as $100 or less.

The system is complicated, Ivey said, and enrollment can only be done by computer or by telephone. She believes the program should have been test-piloted to avoid some of the glitches that have occurred.

Yet, she and the others involved in the effort are glad to be of help.

“This is good for Extension because people don’t traditionally see us involved in Medicare,” Ivey said. “We’ve seen lots of new faces.”

Greene County FCS agent Shenile Rothwell said the experience gave her new appreciation for what seniors are paying for prescription drugs. “It was astronomical -- I honestly do not see how they were paying for their medications,” she said.

“I feel that this was the most rewarding work that Extension could do and see firsthand how putting knowledge to work can improve the lives of citizens,” Rothwell said. “There are still some glitches in the system, but it has saved seniors a lot of money in prescription drug costs.”

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 04:00 PM

Linda Gore honored by Moore Advisory Council

Linda Gore

Moore County 4-H agent Linda Gore was honored recently at a recently at a reception hosted by the Moore County Extension Advisory Council. The reception was to honor volunteers across all program areas for their service.

Advisory Council Chairman Mike Thamm thanked Gore for expertly managing a growing 4-H program, while also serving as interim county Extension director last year. The Advisory Council presented Gore with a gift certificate to show appreciation for all she has done for the local Extension program.

Council Vice Chairman Vern Pike served as master of ceremonies and highlighted the different types of volunteer efforts in the county. One Extension and Community Association club contributed 4,010 hours of community service. To achieve such a feat would require one person to work 24 hours a day from January 1 to June 16.

Posted by Natalie at 02:32 PM

Publications update from Communication Services

2006 Agricultural Chemicals Manual Spring Updates CD is available. The CD costs $12 per copy. To order, contact Rhonda_Thrower@ncsu.edu.

The following free publications are available through Communication Services. To order, contact JeanneMarie_Wallace@ncsu.edu,
· Your Checkbook for Drug Safety, FCS-423, revised
· Sprayer Calibration, AG-601-3, reprint
· 128th Acre Calibration Method, AG-601-2, reprint
· Management of Varroa Mites in Honey Bee Colonies, AG-662, new
· North Carolina Organic Grain Production Guide, AG-660, new, http://www.cropsci.ncsu.edu/organicgrains/production/productionguide/NCorgprodguide.htm

The following publications are new or revised and are available only on the Web:
· Agricultural Riparian Buffers, AG-439-38, http://www.soil.ncsu.edu/publications/Soilfacts/Riparian.pdf
· Eat Right For Life - How Heart Healthy Are You? FCS 384-1 http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/food/pubs/fcs3841.pdf.
· Become More Healthy in the Foods You Eat...Sodium, FCS-384-2 http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/food/pubs/fcs3842.pdf
· Become More Healthy in the Foods You Eat...Fat, FCS-384-3 http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/food/pubs/fcs3843.pdf,
· Become More Heaflthy in the Foods You Eat...Saturated Fats, FCS-384-4 http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/food/pubs/fcs3844.pdf,
· Become More Healthy in the Foods You Eat...Cholesterol, FCS-384-5 http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/food/pubs/fcs3845.pdf,
· Become More Healthy in the Foods You Eat...Fiber, FCS-384-6 http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/food/pubs/fcs3846.pdf,
· Become More Healthy...Be At Your Best Weight, FCS 384-7 http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/food/pubs/fcs3847.pdf, FCS-384-8
· Become More Healthy...Exercise http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/food/pubs/fcs3848.pdf
· Poultry Litter Amendments, AG-657, http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/programs/extension/publicat/wqwm/poultry/factsheet_agw-657short.pdf
· 2006 Southeast Regional Strawberry Integrated Management and Cultural Guide, http://www.smallfruits.org/SmallFruitsRegGuide/Guides/2006/StrawberryIntegMgmtGuidefina12Jan06.pdf

Posted by Natalie at 02:12 PM

May 10, 2006

Hammond wins William L. Turner Award

photo of Leigh Hammond receiving the Turner Award
Celebrating Dr. Leigh Hammond at the April reception were (left to right): Dr. James Zuiches, Vice Chancellor for Extension, Engagement and Economic Development; Mrs. Marjorie Turner, wife of William L. Turner; and Dr. Denis Jackson, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Extension, Engagement and Economic Development.

Dr. Leigh H. Hammond, retired N.C. State professor of economics and former assistant vice chancellor for extension and public service, has received the William L. Turner Award for Outstanding Contributions to Extension and Continuing Education. The university honored Hammond in a recent ceremony for demonstrating an exceptional spirit of service for more than four decades.

The Turner Award recognizes an individual whose significant contributions and accomplishments have enhanced and reinforced extension and continuing education as being an integral component of engagement at N.C. State. One award is presented annually.

Hammond has been a faculty member at several universities, including N.C. State, where he was a colleague of Dr. W.L. Turner in the late 1960s. He joined Turner as a key advisor in Governor Robert Scott’s Department of Administration from 1969-1973. He has served on the Coastal Plains Regional Commission and on the N.C. Utilities Commission. For four years, he served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Extension and Public Service at N.C. State. During that same four-year period of time, he was also the Director of the Center for Urban Affairs and Community Services as well as the Coordinator for Sea Grant Advisory Services.

Hammond retired from the N.C. Community College System in 1990 after having served as the Vice President for Research and Information for six years. A lifetime of public service pulled him out of retirement in 1991 when he was named Executive Director of the N.C. Retired Governmental Employees’ Association, a position he held until he retired again in 2003.

“Through all of these years of service, Leigh has been a role model for his students, fellow faculty members, administrators and support staff,” said Alice Warren, associate to the assistant vice chancellor for Extension and Engagement, during the award presentation. “His undying loyalty, professionalism and warm and caring personality are attributes for which he is so well respected.”

-S. Stanard

Posted by Suzanne at 02:04 PM

A&T will host sign-making workshop May 26

Theresa Nartea, agribusiness and farm marketing specialist with the Cooperative Extension Program at A&T, has a sign-making workshop for farmers selling their produce at farmer’s markets and roadside stands that she will be offering at the Davidson County Extension Center in Lexington from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, May 26.

Signage students will all take home 10 small signs that can be used to indicate the price of produce or other merchandise. Nartea also has lettering tools and painting supplies for participants who want to bring along material for larger signs for roadside advertising. There is a $10 registration fee, and class size is limited to 30. Amy-Lynn Albertson, a Davidson County Extension agent, is coordinating registration. She can be reached at amy_albertson@ncsu.edu or 336.242.2080.

Keep up with all the information you need about SAES activities, click below for the latest edition of ag e-dispatch:

Posted by Natalie at 02:00 PM

Extension helps with water-quality lessons for Western NC

Water Education Network logo

Water quality has deteriorated so much in Western North Carolina that Buncombe County’s erosion control officer received almost 250 complaints between July and October last year, says a January story in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Experts say the two reasons for water quality’s decline, erosion and stormwater runoff, both apparently due to increased development, are getting worse. Three major mountain watersheds – the French Broad, Watauga and New – are in the grips of major development.

But communities can learn how to improve water quality. North Carolina Cooperative Extension, partnering with North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, have produced and presented water-quality related education programs for years.

Read more from The Water Shed

Posted by Natalie at 09:29 AM