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October 30, 2006

Turfgrass exhibit features living room furniture

Turfgrass sofa
Fairgoers take a seat on a living sofa made of turfgrass at the N.C. State Fair in October. (Becky Kirkland photo)

A turfgrass-covered couch and chair were the centerpieces of the N.C. State University turfgrass program informational display at the 2006 North Carolina State Fair. Students and faculty from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences program invited fairgoers to check out the living room furniture and to learn about ways to improve their own lawns. Throughout fair week, visitors to the display on the veranda of the Exposition Building were directed to resources from the College’s Center for Turfgrass Environmental Research and Education (CENTERE), including the Web site www.TurfFiles.ncsu.edu. There, CENTERE offers turf tips and information on how to identify weeds, pest alerts and other turf-related news. On the final Friday of the fair, State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler stopped by for a special sitting on the turfgrass-covered furniture.
-T. Leith

Posted by Natalie at 01:50 PM

Plant Disease and Insect Clinic has new home

Tom Creswell
Tom Creswell, Plant Disease and Insect Clinic manager, examines a sample with the new Olympus microscope in the clinic.

An open house is planned Nov. 6, 2-4 p.m., for the new Plant Disease and Insect Clinic at North Carolina State University. The clinic, which identifies diseases and insect pests that threaten the state's crops and other plants, moved over the summer to renovated laboratories and office space in 1227 Gardner Hall on campus. Come enjoy refreshments and a brief program at 2:30 p.m. before the weekly Plant Pathology Seminar.

Posted by Natalie at 12:41 PM

October 27, 2006

Owen named head of POD

Mitch Owen

Dr. Mitch Owen has been named director of Personal and Organizational Development effective Nov. 1. Owen replaces Dr. Richard Liles, who retired earlier this year.

Owen joined the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in 1984 as assistant agricultural Extension agent for farm management and marketing. He also has held the positions of area specialized associate agent, Extension specialist and since 2000, he has served as innovation and organization development leader for POD.

Owen earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture and a master's degree in farm mechanization and business from Clemson University. He completed his doctorate of education at North Carolina State University in adult education, while focusing his research on technology and Jungian psychology.

In POD, his responsibilities include providing training and organizational development opportunities to Extension workers in North Carolina. His teaching and research interests include organizational development, technology, collaboration, cultural orientations and organizational change.

His work at NC State University has enabled him to work with a wide variety of groups, including universities, government agencies, volunteer groups, as well as business and industry both in the United States and internationally.

Owen has presented and published on a host of topics related to leadership development, organizational development, information technology, diversity, financial management, collaboration and adult education. He is professionally certified to administer and interpret a multitude of instruments for professional development, leadership training and team building.

"Dr. Owen brings a wealth of experience to this new position, and I know he will do great things for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service," said Dr. Jon Ort, director of North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in announcing the appointment. "Please join me in congratulating Mitch on his promotion as the new director of Personal and Organizational Development."

Posted by Natalie at 08:22 AM

October 26, 2006

Tobacco Associates referendum is Nov. 1

The Tobacco Associates Export Promotion Referendum will be held Wednesday, Nov. 1. County tobacco agents and county Extension agents can provide information on individual county voting sites.

The referendum will allow tobacco growers to decide if they wish to continue the self-assessment programs for promoting their leaf in the world market. State law requires that a referendum be held every three years.

The referendum is open to all tobacco farmers -- 18 years or older at the time of the referendum – who were engaged producing flue-cured tobacco during 2006 and were listed on the Farm Service Agency Form 578. “Eligibility to Vote” requirements will be posted at polling places.

A two-thirds favorable vote will allow the continuation of an assessment to support ongoing export promotion programs. The assessment is 20 cents per 100 pounds (1/5 of one cent per pound).

If approved, the funds will be collected at the marketing centers and buying stations. Tobacco Associates will use the collected funds for the ongoing educational and promotional activities aimed at stimulating export demand for tobacco.

Posted by Natalie at 02:23 PM

Parenting program recognized by specialists association

Dr. Jean Baldwin, family and human development specialist for The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina A&T State University, has been honored with an award from the N.C. Association of Cooperative Extension Specialists (NCACES) for the "Parenting Matters" curriculum.

"Parenting Matters" is an eight-session program that Cooperative Extension field staff are using to help parents better understand child development, and to learn communications, stress management and other strategies for improving parent-child relations. The curriculum has been especially effective in meeting the needs for parents mandated by the courts, or referred by the Department of Social Services or other agencies.

Read more news in ag e-dispatch

Posted by Natalie at 02:15 PM

October 20, 2006

Prawn culture to be featured on NC Now!

North Carolina Cooperative Extension will be featured on UNC-TV's NC Now! Area Specialized Agent Mike Frinsko is working area farmers who want to raise freshwater prawn as an alternative crop. This story produced by the video team in Communication Services shows how Frinsko is working with former tobacco farmers Doug and Johnny Barbee and their partner Gene Wiseman to put North Carolina on the map as a prawn-producing state.

Barring any last-minute changes due to fair coverage, the feature will air Friday, Oct. 20, at 7:30 p.m. on UNC-TV.

Look for more Extension stories on UNC-TV in the coming months. If you have a story idea, please contact Sonya Williams Harris at sonya_harris@ncsu.edu.

Posted by Natalie at 08:36 AM

October 18, 2006

NJHA participants capture awards

NJHA delegates
North Carolina's NJHA delegates. Top row, from left, Will Houston and Dakota Starr; middle row, Ashley Kirby and Caitlin Davis; and bottom row, Ann Margaret Dietrich, Alex Hammerberg and Mary Kathryn Hardison. (Photo courtesy of Liz Driscoll)

North Carolina's participants in the National Junior Horticultural Association's annual convention in Omaha, Nebraska, returned safely in October, bringing with them numerous honors. The contingent of 13 included seven youth from Cleveland, Harnett, Stokes and Wake county and six adults to support them. They gave brilliant demonstrations, speeches, essays and competed in the horticulture contest.

All their efforts enabled them to gain the following awards:

Demonstration, Horticulture Uses
Grand National Champion, Mary Kathryn Hardison, Harnett County
National Champion, Will Houston, Cleveland County

Extemporaneous Speech
National Champion, Alex Hammerberg, Wake County

Illustrated Talk
Grand National Champion, Caitlin Davis, Stokes County

Horticulture Essay Contest
Grand National Champion, Dakota Starr, Wake County

Horticulture Contest, 4-H Team
3rd place, Ann Margaret Dietrich, Alex Hammerberg, Dakota Starr, Wake County

4-H Individual, Horticulture Contest
9th Place, Alex Hammerberg, Wake County
11th Place, Ann Margaret Dietrich, Wake County

Open Individual, Horticulture Contest
9th Place, Caitlin Davis, Stokes County

Many of the youth participated in multiple events, beyond what they had competed in at state 4-H Congress.

"The most amazing part of the experience is the chance for the youth to connect with others that share a passion for plants and learning," said Liz Driscoll, 4-H youth Extension specialist. "They formed a marvelous, supportive, enthusiastic, laid-back group of young people that represented North Carolina tremendously."

The group visited the Arbor Day Foundation Farm, got lost in the world's largest corn maze and learned swing dancing from award winner Will Houston of Cleveland County.

Posted by Natalie at 09:04 AM

October 16, 2006

State Fair judge excels at spotting miniscule flaws

For more than three decades, retired Extension Specialist Nadine Tope has helped judge the canning contests at the State Fair.

Read more from The News & Observer

Posted by Dave at 09:34 AM

School IPM workshops offered

North Carolina State University’s School Integrated Pest Management Program announces its winter training workshops to be held in across the state in November. The recent passage of the state’s School Children’s Health Act, requiring school districts to implement IPM, creates an urgent need for training. Owners, managers and technicians of pest control companies that serve or intend to serve schools are encouraged to attend.

At the half-day workshops, participants will:
· Learn about the School Children’s Health Act passed by the General Assembly in June.
· Learn to successfully implement school IPM programs in schools.
· Receive three CCUs in the P-Phase.
· Receive a training certificate.

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a proactive and common-sense approach to pest control that reduces the risk of exposure to pesticides for students, teachers and staff in public schools.

Training sessions conducted at county centers of North Carolina Cooperative Extension and will run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The following are dates and locations for each session:
· Nov. 3, Winston-Salem
· Nov. 7, Raleigh
· Nov. 8, Wilmington
· Nov. 13, Clinton
· Nov. 15, Asheville
· Nov. 22, Greenville

The workshops are sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension, N.C. State University. Each workshop is free of charge, but participants are urged to register in advance. Registration materials can be downloaded from http://schoolipm.ncsu.edu. For more information contact Dr. Godfrey Nalyanya, godfrey_nalyanya@ncsu.edu, by phone at 919.515.5650 or by fax, 919.515.5315.

Posted by Natalie at 09:20 AM

October 13, 2006

ESP annual meeting is Nov. 8

Extension professionals are invited to register for the upcoming Epsilon Sigma Phi XI Chapter State meeting to be held Nov. 8 at the Johnston County center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Smithfield.

The annual meeting will include professional development, award recognition of our Extension peers, a silent auction and installation of new ESP members.

Morning educational panels will focus on viticulture, agritourism, Extension and Engagement Grants, and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.

The ESP Web site includes meeting details, location and registration information: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/assn/esp/annualmeeting.htm

Registration information, as well as dues for 2007 can be mailed to Art Bradley, ESP Treasurer at the following address:
Art Bradley, Treasurer
Xi Chapter, Epsilon Sigma Phi
P.O. Box 129
Tarboro, NC 27886

Posted by Natalie at 10:10 AM

New director appointed for 4-H Development Fund

Dr. Michael Martin has been hired as the new executive director of the North Carolina 4-H Development Fund. Martin has most recently served as director for the Pennsylvania 4-H Foundation at Penn State University. He is a former 4-H member, agent and county director. He will start his tenure on Nov. 7.

"Michael brings a wealth of experience to us, and we are excited to have him joining us in North Carolina," said Dr. Marshall Stewart, head of the 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences Department.

Posted by Natalie at 09:15 AM

October 12, 2006

'World of Agriculture' is success at Cumberland County Fair

ABCs of agriculture exhibit
A Cumberland County Master Gardener volunteer explains the ABCs of agriculture to preschoolers visiting the county fair. (Photo courtesy of Emily Revels)

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Cumberland County office, sponsored the “World of Agriculture” during the 2006 Cumberland County Fair, held Sept. 14-24. Created by Emily Revels, consumer horticulture agent, and the Cumberland County Master Gardener volunteers, this educational element of the fair was well received and visited by fair goers.

More than 400 community children, ranging in age from 3 to 18, colored 48 large tractor posters for the exhibit. The tractors were displayed from the ceiling in the Civic Center Expo, making a showcase entrance into the “World of Agriculture.” Farm equipment, new farm tractors and antique farm tractors were also included in the display.

In addition, four educational backdrops were created that promoted the “ABC’s of Agriculture,” “Animals and Agriculture,” “Agriculture in Our Lives,” and “North Carolina Agriculture.” Informational handouts promoting the value of agriculture in our daily lives were developed to correlate with each backdrop. In addition, three display board developed for the exhibit promoted US farm facts, the life cycle of butterflies, chickens, plants and frogs, and included a board for “counting critters.”

Over 1,200 pre-K and kindergarten children visited the fair. Master Gardeners entertained the children in the “World of Agriculture,” with the “Animals and Agriculture” and the “ABC’s of Agriculture” exhibits. Volunteers said that performing for children with puppets and being rewarded with the ABC song by the children was a highlight.

Educational booths were set up around the “World of Agriculture” and included displays promoting agricultural topics by local FFA groups, 4-H clubs, Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Soil and Water Conservation, City of Fayetteville Stormwater Department, the Fayetteville Water Action Committee, Extension Beekeepers, and Extension Forestry.

The “World of Agriculture” exhibit helped explain the value of agriculture to more than 11,000 residents of Cumberland County and North Carolina.

-E. Revels

Posted by Natalie at 09:35 AM

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

To read the latest issue of ag e-dispatch, visit http://www.ag.ncat.edu/agedispatch/.

Posted by Natalie at 09:30 AM

October 10, 2006

Demon drain

Demon drainage project
Devilish fix: We slightly enhanced this aerial photo of the ‘Demon BMP’ by adding a touch of green. (Original photo by Seth Nagy)

Alamance high school uses mascot image in drainage project

Halloween’s edging closer, and an Alamance County school is ready. That is, if the spooky holiday ushers in a rainy season this year.

That’s because at Graham High School, the Trollinger Road home of the “red devils,” North Carolina State University researchers are proving that science can help boost school spirit, while helping keep our drinking water clean.

Here’s how science and spookiness mix.

Graham High officials last year asked Dr. Bill Hunt, of NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, for an innovative best management practice to catch and clean up petroleum residue, lawn chemicals and soil draining from school property. Hunt turned to designer Ryan Smith.

Smith, a BAE Extension research associate, designed and helped install a bioretention area on the downhill side of one of the school’s parking lots: a water catchment and filtration best management practice.

And keeping GHS’s fiendish mascot in mind, he designed the research and demonstration BMP in the shape of a cartoon-like devil’s head.

The BMP hadn’t filled in sufficiently with vegetation since its spring construction for a definitive photo in late August when N.C. Cooperative Extension personnel overflew the site with a model plane fitted with a small camera. But with a little image enhancement on our part (see slightly retouched photo), you can see Smith’s design concept emerge from the rolling grassy area into which it’s dug.
The BMP works like this: polluted water from the parking lot flows into a central area, the forebay – a pre-filtration holding area – then splits equally into two “eyes” – other holding areas. Water flows around the eyes’ “irises.”

“If it rains a ton, the eyes will cry, the thing fills up and tears come out the tear ducts,” Hunt says. But most importantly, the filtered water then flows to a storm drain, which drains to Haw River, then to Jordan Lake.

The groundbreaking project is the first grassed bioretention area under study in this hemisphere.

“Sometimes landscape aesthetics dictate a grassed area,” Hunt says. Because no study had been done on grassed cells, this and other states had been very reluctant to permit the use of grassed areas, and if they did, didn’t give them the same pollutant removal credit as their tree, shrub or grass mulch counterparts.”

The Graham site also is testing an innovative BMP soil medium. “This is the first time we’ve used a expanded slate in a bioretention area,” he says. “Previously, it had been used just for plants in boxes or garden beds. The slate collects more pollutants than traditional media.

“Early indications show the bioretention areas are both doing a very good job of removing nitrogen (the numbers are out-of-this-world good) and a good job of removing phosphorus,” says Hunt. Both nutrients, used in agriculture and lawn care, can pollute drinking water.

There’s a practical reason for the demonstration and research BMP’s location in Jordan Lake’s upper watershed.

“Water quality regulations are coming soon to Jordan Lake just as they did earlier to the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins,” says Mitch Woodward, a Wake County Cooperative Extension area specialized agriculture agent who spent many hours helping install the BMP.

And, he says, “Nitrogen and phosphorus will both be of interest in the Jordan Lake watershed and this study looks at both of them.”

Research projects such as the “demon” BMP are critical, says Woodward, who like Hunt, is a member of NC Cooperative Extension’s Water Education Network and was active in recent Neuse River basin cleanup research and projects.

“If pollution sources are not managed properly in the Jordan Lake watershed in coming decades,” he says, “the lake won’t support its designated uses as a major regional drinking agent water supply, recreational resource and aquatic habitat.”

That could mean polluted tap water, no jet skis and no fish.

And wouldn’t that be another devil of a fix?

A Piedmont Triad Council of Governments $10,000 grant funded the project’s design work; a 319 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources helped with construction, as did Rett Davis, Alamance County Cooperative Extension director, and cooperators with the Alamance County Schools and the City of Graham.

-A. Latham

Posted by Art at 11:13 AM

October 05, 2006

Farmers ridin' high on the prawns

Erika Harris thought she'd never see the day her parents would be selling seafood -- freshwater prawns -- under a tent in front of their Piedmont home in northern Orange County.

"This is all new," said Harris, standing near a baby pool filled with baskets of the chilled translucent-looking crustaceans with peach tails and bright blue claws.

Read more from the Raleigh News & Observer about Extension's role in new prawn farms.

Posted by Suzanne at 09:35 AM

CEFS publications available

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) has six new Web-only publications in its Web site at http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu. Titles in the new Organic Production series (AG-659-W) include:
· Composting on Organic Farms by Keith Baldwin
· Cover Crops for Organic Farms by Keith R. Baldwin and Nancy G. Creamer
· Crop Rotations on Organic Farms by Keith Baldwin
· Conservation Tillage on Organic Farms by Keith Baldwin
· Soil Quality Considerations by Keith Baldwin
· Soil Fertility on Organic Farms by Keith Baldwin

Each publication discusses recommended practices as they relate to National Organic Program standards.

You can reach titles in the series by visiting the CEFS Web site at http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu. Click on the link for resources and publications. Or go directly to the resources page at http://www.cefs.ncsu.edu/resources.htm.

Posted by Natalie at 09:22 AM

October 03, 2006

Ag agents association announces awards

Awards were presented at this summer's meeting of the North Carolina Association of Agricultural Agents. Winners are listed below:

Distinguished Service Award
Kathy Bunton, Iredell County
Mac Gibbs, Hyde County
Kathryn Holmes, Rockingham County

Achievement Award
Eileen Coite, Wayne County
Tyrone Fisher, Harnett County
Tommy Grandy, Currituck County

Young Agent Scholarship
Eve Honeycutt

Service to Agriculture
Deborah Johnson, Executive Director, North Carolina Pork Council

Posted by Natalie at 01:41 PM

October 02, 2006

FCS association presents awards

The following individuals were honored at the state meeting of the North Carolina Association of Family and Consumer Sciences:

New Professional: Yvonne Mullen, Pasquotank County

Food Safety: Margaret Allsbrook, Halifax County

Mary W. Wells Diversity:

Susan Morgan (team), Brunswick County
Maria Veselinovich
Pat Burgess (non-members)

Newsletters: Candy Underwood, Cumberland County

Community Partnership:
Carolyn Shepherd (team), Ashe County
Vicki Moore, Ashe County; Bobby Reed, Darrell Hamilton, Max Yates, Teresa Spencer, Yadkin Valley Bank, Alan Cockerham, Brad Lovin, Marty Gambill, Mike Burgess
Scott Eggers (non-members)
Sarah Kirby, 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences Department

Distingished Service:
Geissler Baker, Guilford County
Cheryl Beck, Jackson County
Marsha Smith, Sampson County

Florence Hall:
Carmen Long (team), Surry County
Judy West, Wilkes County and Marilyn Wells, Yadkin County (members)

Paraprofessional: Carolyn Warner, CMAST, Morehead City

Educational Publications: Marsha Smith, Sampson County

Posted by Natalie at 02:24 PM