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June 30, 2006

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

July 4 holiday doesn't stop the timely distribution of ag e dispatch. Click below for the latest issue. and don't forget Small Farm Field Day on July 6 at the University Farm in Greensboro.


Posted by Natalie at 03:34 PM

June 28, 2006

Master Gardeners help students learn

Student with tomato plant
A student at Brunswick County's Supply Elementary School shows off the tomato plant he potted at a workshop, with help from local Master Gardeners. (Daniel Kim photo)

Brunswick County Master Gardeners helped teach youth at Supply Elementary School about growing things during a special education event held in April. Supply is the only Brunswick County school to receive a U.S. Department of Agriculture Fresh Fruits and Vegetables grant, designed to introduce students to fresh fruits and vegetables. Brunswick’s North Carolina Cooperative Extension center provided education for the program, combining the efforts of 4-H, family and consumer sciences and Master Gardeners.

“Extension has been involved from the beginning,” said Susan Morgan, family and consumer sciences agent in Brunswick County. “The success of this program has been that it involved students, parents, teachers and a number of volunteers who reinforced or enhanced the classroom activities and instruction.”

A total of 669 students, 55 teachers and staff members and more than 30 volunteers were involved in three outdoor workshops, led by Brunswick Master Gardeners. One session provided was a "hands on" opportunity for students to see a worm bin, where earthworms aerate soil. Students also learned about recycling kitchen wastes through composting, and everyone got to pot a tomato seedling to take home and plant.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 11:35 AM

June 27, 2006

Youth, leaders participate in SESAMM

Youth present plan
Two youth present a plan during a workshop at the SESAMM workshop in May. (Becky Kirkland photo)

About 100 youth and adults participated in a statewide summit on Students Eating Smart and Moving More, held May 5-7 in Greensboro. A total of 24 county groups were selected participated in this first-ever summit. Teens and adults worked together at the summit as advocates for healthy eating and physical activity in North Carolina's schools and communities. County groups returned home to implement a program to improve the health of citizens in their home communities. The program is a partnership of the State 4-H Project and 4-H’s 2005 TRY-IT! Obesity-Overweight initiative, the state Department of Public Instruction's Child Nutrition Services, and the state Department of Health and Human Services.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 11:34 AM

Aging network supports caregivers

As their parents age, many Baby Boomers eager to provide home care are finding themselves in the position of serving as their parents’ caregivers without the skills or support they really need to do the job. Often husbands and wives, siblings and other relatives face the same challenges of caring for a frail or dependent elder family member.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension agents and specialists are part of a statewide network to provide education to help caregivers take care of their family members as well as themselves. Family and consumer sciences agents like Evelyn Deloatch of Alamance County and Susan Garkalns of Randolph are among the group, and they each say the program is one of the most rewarding things she has done.

Deloatch and Garkalns are among nearly 40 North Carolina agents trained in Powerful Tools for Caregivers, now licensed by AARP in North Carolina. Deloatch and Rutherford County agent Tracy Davis participated in a special training program that qualifies them to train other agents.

Federal legislation during the Clinton era created the National Family Caregiver Support Act, which led to the funding of state and regional programs to assist family caregivers. Shortly after its inception, Dr. Luci Bearon, gerontologist and human development specialist in N.C. State University’s Family and Consumer Sciences Department, and colleagues organized a Caregiver Education Leadership Council to foster partnerships among N.C. AARP, Cooperative Extension, the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services and other agencies that serve senior adults.

The state Division of Aging sponsored Bearon and a Duke University colleague to attend a national training and to bring the Powerful Tools course to North Carolina. According to Bearon, “caregiving is one of the top issues among professionals who serve older adults.

“People are living longer, and they often rely on family members for care,” Bearon said. “This can sometimes present a burden on the family caregiver.” The Powerful Tools course gives caregivers skills to take care of themselves while caring for others, for example, how to handle emotions, locate community resources, make informed family decisions and more.

Since their training in the Powerful Tools program, Deloatch and Davis have conducted two training programs for agents and other class leaders. In Alamance and Guilford counties, Deloatch has provided the six-week program for about 60 caregivers.

What means so much to the participants is knowing that there are others who understand the joys, and challenges, of caring for someone they love. Some groups bond so closely over the class experience that members decide to continue meeting for support.

“The fact that the participants get to network and know they’re not alone means a lot,” Deloatch says. “Caregivers work in isolation, and this gives them the chance to meet other people and see how others are coping.”

The program focuses on coping with stress, communicating with family members and care receivers, decision making and arranging for caregiver down time. “This is one of the best programs that we’ve offered in terms of working with aging,” DeLoatch said.

Garkalns agrees. She was trained in Powerful Tools in 2001 and has offered two sessions each year since 2002. She partners with Mattie Deloney, an AARP volunteer.
Garkalns estimates that they have trained 80-90 people during that time.

With some funding from her regional Council of Governments, Garkalns has been able to offer the program at no cost to the participants. The $20 cost of each person’s material is covered, and the local hospital provides respite care for care receivers at no cost so that caregivers can attend the class.

Because self-care is the goal of the program, Garkalns and her training partner try to pamper the participants. They provide perks that reinforce messages learned in class: bottled water to encourage them to increase their intake, flowers to plant in the yard, a caregiver survival kit with small treats and a red rose on Valentine’s Day.

Randolph County is relatively rural, so caregivers often believe they are alone, until they come to the class, Garkalns said. They can become very emotional, sharing deep feelings about their role. Many want the class to go on beyond six weeks. At least one of the Randolph County groups continues meeting for dinner regularly.

In addition to the caregiver program, Randolph County offers a very successful program for grandparents raising grandchildren. The six-week program meets evenings, providing families with dinner, then separate into groups for youth and grandparents. Youth get time for tutoring and homework, while their grandparents participate in educational sessions dealing with their “not so new” role, including legal and school issues, stress management, and guidance and discipline.

The reasons these grandparents are raising their grandchildren vary, from parents’ abandonment to drug problems. Some grandparents are raising children whose parents are away at war. “There are lots of reasons why their grandparents have these kids, but the reasons are all sad,” Garkalns said.

These grandparents have many fears: that they can’t support children on a fixed income, that they won’t live to see them grow up or that they will fail these children. The program helps them learn to become a family, even providing participants with a scrapbook they can use to capture their own family memories.

The program has been rewarding, and Garkalns says she would like to extend it to eight weeks. Randolph County’s 4-H program has been involved, providing activities for youth while their grandparents participate in the program, along with some college-age mentors. “We all feel like we’re doing something good for somebody,” Garkalns said.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 11:30 AM

June 20, 2006

Ed Jones speaks in Washington

Ed Jones in Washington
Ed Jones, right, is pictured with Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. (Photo courtesy of Ed Jones)

Dr. Ed Jones, associate director for agricultural programs, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, spoke in Washington in May to the National Council for Food and Agricultural Research. Jones, who is chairman of the Extension Distaster Education Network, spoke about Extension disaster education.

Posted by Natalie at 11:12 AM

Cheryl Lloyd, Edgecombe team earn regional ESP recognition

Durham County Extension Director Cheryl Lloyd has received an Epsilon Sigma Phi Visionary Leadership Award for the Southern Region. And a team from Edgecombe County received ESP's Southern Region Team Award. Both Lloyd and the Edgecombe team were state ESP award winners.

Members of the Edgecombe County team are Addie Sugg, Lesa Walton, Ralph Blalock, James Pearce and Michelle Owens. The group was among 30 local groups that collaborated to raise $1.9 million to build the new East Carolina Agriculture and Education Center.

All these winners will be recognized in November at the national ESP conference in Annapolis, MD. More information on the state ESP winners is available at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/assn/esp/awards2005/winners2005.htm .

Posted by Natalie at 11:00 AM

June 16, 2006

Workshop helps agents create business opportunities

Wick Wickliffe with client
Guilford County agent Wick Wickliffe, left, looks over shiitake mushrooms grown by Deborah Bettini. Wickliffe and his group helped create a business plan for Bettini's operation. (Becky Kirkland photo)

With the tobacco buyout and a competitive market for agricultural products, North Carolina producers are turning to North Carolina Cooperative Extension agents to help identify new opportunities to make money. But armed only with production knowledge, agents often find it difficult to help producers make informed business decisions.

To help agents obtain the skills and resources they need to assist these clients, Gary Bullen, Extension associate in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, and a group of six colleagues developed the workshop "Creating Business Opportunities (CBO)." The workshop was funded by Golden LEAF and involved partnerships with the N.C. Farm Bureau, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Agricultural Marketing Division and the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center.

Bullen said the workshop was an effort at capacity building in the area of business opportunities. The idea was to bring together professionals from Cooperative Extension, community colleges, NCDA&CS, small businesses and non-government organizations to form regional groups that could help entrepreneurs develop successful businesses. It is one way the university, and its partners, can get involved in helping achieve economic development for North Carolina, a priority of Chancellor James Oblinger and Dean Johnny Wynne.

"This was not just for Extension, but to establish a network of people who could work on business-development ideas," Bullen said.

The program helped participants, 70 percent of whom were Extension professionals, expand their knowledge of business development and provide them with business-development tools to use with clients. The training was held in four two-day sessions from February to September 2005 and included about 90 participants.

"We approached the training with the idea if someone walks into the office with a business idea, how do you help that individual get started?" Bullen said.

The first session covered evaluating business ideas. The group heard from several farmers with successful enterprises who described how they got started. The second and third sessions dealt with finance and legal issues, and market research and strategies.

Through the summer months, the regional groups were charged with evaluating a real business idea from their geographic area and developing a real market plan for that business. In September, all the groups presented their business plans.

The business ideas were very diverse, ranging from a bed and breakfast for riders and their horses to a greenhouse for raising hydroponic greens. Other business ideas included an ecotourism site at a farm on the New River, a community market, a vineyard and businesses for raising and selling freshwater prawns, organic produce and shiitake mushrooms, and an African-American farm co-op for selling roasted peanuts at sports events of historically black college and universities.

Each group had to conduct appropriate market research to evaluate the business proposals. "For the most part, they did a really good job," Bullen said.

Wick Wickliffe, Guilford County agricultural Extension agent, and his group developed a market plan for the shiitake mushroom business. The group members discussed area businesses they know of and decided to work with the Guilford County enterprise that raises mushrooms and organic produce.

The project was important for another group member, marketing specialist Theresa Nartea of N.C. A&T State University. Nartea helped establish a new statewide association for mushroom growers.

Wickliffe said the family that owns the business is already doing many of the things recommended in the market plan. "They’re actually moving ahead," he said. "They’re doing some value-added products, as suggested in the business plan," he said.

The CBO group approached the market plan by examining the product and how to market it, Nartea said. They analyzed the potential customers for shiitake, who they were and where they were most likely to buy mushrooms. And they explored competitors and potential markets as well.

Based on their findings, the group recommended selling mushrooms three ways: through a roadside stand, to targeted groups and at local farmers markets.

"Extension agents are called on to help stimulate business," Nartea said. "Gary’s class provided the tools necessary to do that."

Wickliffe said the class made him aware of the tremendous resources -– some within the regional team -- available to help small businesses.

"Ag agents are production-oriented and can get out of our comfort zone real fast," he said. "I probably won’t write a business plan -– I’m not totally qualified. But through the CBO course, I now I know one of my team members that I can refer new entrepreneurs to: Lonnie Hamm at Randolph Community College-Small Business Center."

Nartea agrees and said, "Most North Carolina community colleges have a small business center. In Extension, we strive to work together as a team with other community agencies in all things related to helping the people of North Carolina. Extension is strongest when we make the right connections and when we collaborate to provide resources to help clients reach success."

Taylor Williams, Moore County agricultural agent, worked with the team that developed a market plan for Oak Bluff Farm, a hydroponic greenhouse operation that produces mixed greens. He said the course has given him the tools necessary to help guide entrepreneurs.

"The class has already helped quite a bit," Williams said. "There probably isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t talk with someone who needs help starting a business."

Williams now knows where to point people for help with those decisions, he said. He has even talked people out of starting things. And he has a better understanding of regulations, business plans and small business resources.

"I started out as an area alternative agriculture agent, with lots of production information," he said. "But to get someone started in a new business, you probably need an master’s degree in business administration."

Bullen said all the groups worked well together in developing their market plans. Now they have a group of peers they can turn to in their region to help new small businesses get off the ground. The groups also have been asked to host business development workshops in their regions. Several hosted workshops in the fall and winter.

"Extension agents recognize that we need to help businesses develop by following the economic-development direction of our state’s land-grant universities," Bullen said.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 08:10 AM

Survey to gauge Extension's response to Latinos

Due to the burgeoning Latino population in the state, Cooperative Cooperative Extension’s Latino Initiative has developed a quick survey to gauge how we are doing and where we should go as a state in serving this population. In order to get a complete picture of how we can best serve North Carolinians, we would like to gather this information from all agents and county Extension directors in North Carolina (we will aggregate data per county and report this back to you).

The survey asks 15 questions and should take less than three to five minutes to complete. Personal information will be coded and will remain confidential. Please follow the following link to the survey or paste it in your browser.


Posted by Natalie at 08:08 AM

Publications update from Communication Services

The following free publication is available through Communication Services. To order, contact JeanneMarie_Wallace@ncsu.edu:

Using Polyacrylamide (PAM) to Reduce Erosion on Construction Sites, AG-439-61. This new three-page fact sheet describes a method that reduces construction site erosion. Sediment and turbidity have the widest impact on water quality of any pollutants. PAM is a chemical treatment used to augment seeding and mulching.

The following new publications are free and available through Communication Services:
* Using Polyacrylamide (PAM) to Control Erosion on Construction Sites, AG-439-61, by Richard McLaughlin, four pages
* Impact of Increasing Fertilizer Prices on Optimum Nitrogen Rates, AG-439-60, by John Havlin and Geoff Benson, four pages
* Permeable Pavements, Green Roofs, and Cisterns, AG-588-6, an eight-page publication by Bill Hunt and Laura Szpir, describes structural stormwater practices that filter and reduce stormwater runoff. It is also online at http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/stormwater/PublicationFiles/BMPs4LID.pdf.
* The Small Hive Beetle: A Pest of Honey Bee Colonies, AG-663, by David Tarpy, 4 pages. It is also online at http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/apiculture/PDF%20files/2.05.pdf.
* The Best Pet for You, AG-668, by Kimberly Ange, four pages
* Learning to Handle Cat Behaviors, AG-669, by Kimberly Ange and Brynn Seabolt, four pages

Posted by Natalie at 08:00 AM

June 15, 2006

Six FCS agents participate in 'Move More Scholarship Institute'

Move More Institute participatns
Extension's participants in the Move More Institute are pictured, front row, from left, Sandi Sox and Margaret Allsbrook; back row, from left, Robin Taylor, Arthenia Booth, Ann Simmons and Phyllis Smith. (Photo courtesy of Margaret Allsbrook)

Six family and consumer sciences agents with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, along with 22 other health educator/wellness coordinators from across the state, recently participated in the Inaugural Move More Scholars Institute: North Carolina’s Course for Physical Activity Professionals. The course was held May 8–11 at the O. Henry Hotel in Greensboro.

Selection to the course was highly competitive because it was open to all North Carolina health promotion coordinators, physical activity and nutrition coordinators, and FCS Extension agents. Agents attending were Margaret Allsbrook, Halifax County; Arthenia Booth, Bertie County; Ann Simmons, Iredell County; Phyllis Smith, Chatham County; Sandi Sox, Polk County; and Robin Taylor, Onslow County.

The institute was coordinated by the N.C. Division of Public Health and sponsored by Get Kids in Action, a partnership between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The Gatorade Company, which aims to increase physical activity among children to reduce and prevent obesity.

The institute featured state- and national-level speakers who focused on taking a multi-level approach to creating communities that promote and support physical activity for North Carolina families.

All participants learned to collect data, bring together interested parties, conduct needs assessments and evaluations within a community, educate the public and advocate for specific policy and environmental change strategies. A cornerstone of this course was the opportunity for networking and small-group interaction with other participants and faculty.

Posted by Natalie at 02:06 PM

Pamlico County 4-H agent auctions 'pride' to send kids to camp

An article in today's New Bern Sun Journal highlights the efforts of Extension 4-H agent Pete Anderson to raise money for children to attend Camp BJP in Reidsville. Dubbed "Shameless Pete," Anderson is auctioning off the opportunity to pick his outfit for the Croaker Festival parade in Oriental on July 1.

As he says in the article, "If they are an individual, or a local business, their name will be promoted on the float as buying my pride to raise money for kids for camp. I will wear that outfit all around Oriental. And, the donations are tax deductible."

Among the most popular costume ideas floating around town: cheerleader outfit, tutu, tropical dress and clown suit.

Read more from the Sun Journal

Posted by Suzanne at 02:00 PM

June 08, 2006

'In the Garden' featured in newspaper article

'In the Garden,' the UNC-TV gardening show featuring N.C. State University horticultural scientist Dr. Bryce Lane, is featured in an article in The Fayetteville Observer. The show is produced by the Communication Services Department, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Read more

Posted by Natalie at 02:37 PM

June 01, 2006

'Nickels for Know-How' referendum passes with landmark vote

Nickels image

Described as a self-help program for farmers, “Nickels for Know-How” is a 55-year-old voluntary assessment on feed and fertilizer produced and purchased in North Carolina. On May 25, the 13th “Nickels” referendum passed with a whopping 94 percent of the vote. This was the referendum’s second-highest passing rate in 50 years.

“Nickels” raises about $1.2 million annually to support research, teaching and extension programs in the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture collects “Nickels” funds from the manufacturers of feed and fertilizer. The manufacturers build the extra cost—three nickels per ton—into the price of their products. The funds are then deposited with the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, Inc., based in the college.

“Since Nickels for Know-How began in 1951, most of the state’s research-based agricultural advances have at some point shared ‘Nickels’ funds,” said college dean Johnny C. Wynne. “The college and the university are deeply grateful to the citizens who make these opportunities possible by voting for the statewide ‘Nickels’ referendum.”

All users of feed and fertilizer in North Carolina, along with their families, are eligible to vote. This year’s vote, which will extend the program for another six years, passed overwhelmingly in all 100 North Carolina counties and the Cherokee Reservation.

“Nickels” funds have supported a range of faculty-based projects in the college, from research on alternative fuel production to avian flu education programs. These funds also provide operating support for entities such as the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service Foundation and the North Carolina 4-H Development Fund.

The “Nickels” program creates opportunities for students by helping raise funds for more than 475 endowments that provide $800,000 in scholarships each year. These endowments also bolster faculty efforts, county extension programs and commodity research efforts.

“Nickels” also supports college fundraising efforts by generating more than $30 million annually in private contributions.

“These are just a few of the ways ‘Nickels for Know-How’ has helped advance efforts in the college and the university that, in turn, support North Carolina farmers and bolster agribusiness in our state,” Wynne said. “By passing this referendum, the state’s voters have played a key role in creating opportunities that will benefit all North Carolina citizens.”

-S. Stanard

Posted by Suzanne at 04:36 PM