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December 13, 2007

Stewards provide water-quality education

Dwane Hinson, left, district conservationist, U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, speaks with Dr. Greg Jennings, water quality coordinator for N.C. State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Water Education Network director, and Marjorie Rayburn, N.C. Cooperative Extension water quality specialist, at a Water Education Network site visit and demonstration in Edenton, N.C.(Art Latham photo)

EDENTON -- In 2005, Marjorie Rayburn heard a presentation about an Oregon "Watershed Stewards" program at an annual agricultural agents' conference in New York. The presentation sparked an idea.

"I always look for ways to improve homeowner awareness of water quality issues and how things they do in their yards can impact water quality," says Rayburn, North Carolina Cooperative Extension area-specialized agent for water quality in Gates, Chowan and Perquimans counties.

"Also, many of our residents in northeastern North Carolina are 'newcomers' who relocate here to enjoy the water resources such as fishing and boating, but have little knowledge about those resources," she says.

Back home, Rayburn met with her water quality advisory council: farmers, environmental community representatives, a forester, a wetland plant nursery owner and a Perquimans County Soil and Water Conservation District board member.

"They encouraged me to start a 'Water Quality Stewards' group," says Rayburn, who also covers commercial horticulture for Extension. The council also helped develop a mission statement and suggested topics and speakers.

That mission: to educate landowners, local government officials and others such as teachers, children, parents, boaters, and such about water quality issues and practical actions they can take to protect and improve water quality in their own backyard and community.

"From there," says Rayburn, "I went to work."

She set up a tentative schedule, contacted speakers, found a meeting location - usually the Albemarle Learning Center in Edenton - and coordinated numerous field trips. Recruiting through newsletters, word of mouth, Extension Master Gardener contact lists, newspapers and flyers, she attracted 10 dedicated participants who met weekly from March through June 2006.

To help initiate a class project, Rayburn arranged a "Let's Build a Rain Garden" session led by Charles Humphrey, Cooperative Extension area specialized agent in environmental education and Kelly Collins, a North Carolina State University Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) grad student.

After locating a potential site on Perquimans County property where water from a county building's roof was eroding the lawn and eventually running into a nearby creek, the group got to work.

Says Rayburn, "With cooperation from a lot of partners - the Town of Hertford, Perquimans County, Coastal Plain Conservation Nursery, Planters Ridge Garden Center, N.C. State's BAE Department, N.C. Cooperative Extension -- and our volunteers, the rain garden now provides an attractive alternative to manage roof runoff."

The project reduces erosion on the building's front lawn by holding water in a garden of wetland plants until it can soak in, rather than having water run off unfiltered into a nearby creek. The Perquimans county manager was so impressed, he has already suggested a county recreation site for the location of another rain garden.

In addition to the project and lectures and demonstrations by specialists, the group took field trips to water-quality-related sites all over Eastern North Carolina

Workshop and field trip topics included soils, geology, hydrology, drainage, fisheries, flora and fauna, stream classification, low-impact development, septic systems, estuary processes, water- quality monitoring and, of course, rain gardens. Speakers represented Cooperative Extension, the state Division of Water Quality and the state Wildlife Resources Commission, Merchant's Millpond State Park, a private wetland nursery, retired water quality experts and local government.

In addition to its educational aspects, the class resulted in other benefits to the community.

"The first Water Quality Stewards class donated more than 200 volunteer hours, not only in projects such as the rain garden, but in educating others about and monitoring water quality," Rayburn says. "I estimate those hours to be worth more than $3,800."

Rayburn was involved in water-quality work in northeastern North Carolina before "water quality agent" became part of her job title.

"Many farming practices promoted by Cooperative Extension are positives for water quality - conservation tillage, fertilizer amount, timing and placement to reduce runoff into streams and other water bodies, integrated pest management and more," notes Rayburn.

As an area Integrated Pest Management agent for a decade prior to being named a water-quality agent, she realized early on that "farmers did a pretty good job of managing their land to protect water quality for economic reasons, not just environmental reasons: they can't afford to spend money applying fertilizer that runs into the river!"

Rayburn also provided information for basin-wide management plans for the Chowan and Pasquotank river basins and chaired the former Chowan River Basin Council. She now serves on the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program's policy board and citizens' advisory committee.

With another Water Quality Stewards class set for January, Rayburn is incorporating feedback from her first class. Popular field trips to N.C. Estuarium in "Little Washington," the Coastal Plain Conservation Nursery near Edenton, and Merchants Millpond State Park near Gatesville were highly rated and will be a part of our next program.

And thanks to one Extension agent's open mind and willingness to experiment, in northeastern North Carolina, good water-quality-education-related ideas just keep on coming.

For information on the next Water Quality Stewards class, set for January 2008, call Rayburn at 252.357.1400 at the Gates County Cooperative Extension Center (cell: 252.333.7774), or email her at marjorie_rayburn@ncsu.edu.

Written by:
Art Latham, 919.513.3117 or art_latham@ncsu.edu

Posted by Dave at 03:33 PM

December 10, 2007

Priester call for presentations deadline extended

The Call for Presentations deadline for the 2008 Priester National Extension Health Conference has been extended to Dec. 14, 2007.

The conference is April 8-10, 2008 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel and Convention Center, which serves Raleigh and Durham. It is sponsored by the North Carolina State University Family and Consumer Sciences Program, North Carolina Cooperative Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (USDA-CSREES).

The 2008 Priester National Extension Health Conference theme, "Building Healthy Communities, One Person at a Time," celebrates Cooperative Extension's long history of promoting health and preventing disease for individuals of every age and background, in families of all types, living in rural, suburban, and urban communities. The conference showcases the successful programs of Extension professionals, their community and organizational partners, and their students.

Conference Tracks are:
- Successful Aging
- Global Health
- Growing Up Healthy IRL (in real life)

Presentations that share health-related educational programs and resources, applied research, collaborative strategies and integrated programming ideas are welcome.

More information about the Priester Conference, including presentation proposal submission information, is available on line at http://continuingeducation.ncsu.edu/PNEHC/index.html

Named in honor of retired CSREES National Program Leader Jeanne Priester, the conference has drawn participants from the Cooperative Extension System state and county offices, CSREES/USDA, departments of public health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office of Rural Health, Bureau of Primary Health Care, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. EPA, HUD Healthy Homes Program, National Cancer Institute, National 4H Council, National Rural Health Association, public school systems, local governments, non-profit and private organizations, faith-based organizations, and other university departments of health-related disciplines.

Priester Conference Coordinating Committee members are Dr. Sandy Wiggins, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Specialist for Environmental Health and Housing (sandy_wiggins@ncsu.edu); Dr. Robert Williamson, Extension Natural Resources Specialist (robertw@ncat.edu); and Ms. Julia Storm, agromedicine information specialist (julia_storm@ncsu.edu).

Posted by Dave at 11:24 AM

December 07, 2007

Long-time Henderson 4-H agents honored

The Henderson County 4-H Advisory Committee is honoring Joyce Armstrong and Earl Smith, former 4-H agents who worked with youth throughout the county during their careers. Smith began his career as a 4-H agent in the late 1950s and is remembered for his passion for 4-H camp and for leadership and citizenship development. He retired in the late 1980s with more than 30 years of service. Armstrong began her career as a 4-H agent in 1966 and later became a home economics agent. She is remembered for her belief in the 4-H demonstration and presentation program and project records. She helped many young people achieve state and national recognition. Both Armstrong and Smith have been strong 4-H supporters and were instrumental in creating the first community clubs in the 1960s when 4-H moved from the schools to a community-based program.

Read more in BlueRidgeNow.com

Posted by Dave at 09:16 AM

December 05, 2007

Commodity leaders tour research campus, nursery

Phyllis Beaver, right, director of marketing for Castle and Cooke Inc., describes the core lab to commodity leaders touring the building which is still under construction. (Natalie Hampton photo)

A group participating in the Commodity Leadership Development Program recently toured the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. The campus, which will house food and nutrition research programs of North Carolina universities, is being developed by entrepreneur David Murdock and the state of North Carolina. The commodity leaders are participating in a four-part workshop series dealing with negotiation, public policy and legal issues related to non-profits, as well as the research campus tour. The program is led by Lanny Hass and Eleanor Stell of Cooperative Extension's Personal and Organizational Development group. During the research campus tour, the leaders visited the core lab, under construction, that will house high-tech research equipment. The group also traveled to Mecklenburg County to visit Baucom Nursery, a large green industry operation.
-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 05:15 PM

ESP's Xi Chapter gives awards

The Xi Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Phi professional development organization presented awards at its recent annual meeting in Greensboro. Awards, recipients and their counties or departments are listed below.

For more information on the recipients, Cooperative Extension employees can visit the ESP Awards page on Intranet site.

Bernadette Watts ESP Professional Improvement Scholarship, Natalie Hampton, Communication Services
Early Career Service Award, Eve Honeycutt, Lenoir and Greene counties
Mid-Career Service Award, Debbie Bost, Cabarrus County
Diversity/Multicultural Award - Team, Randolph County staff
Diversity Award - Individual, Mark Blevins, Gaston County
Visionary Leadership Award, Christine Barrier, Cabarrus County
State Friend of Extension Award, UNC-TV
International Award, Pete Anderson, Pamlico County
State Meritorious Support Award, Carol Horne, Rutherford County
Distinguished Service Award, Lanny Hass, Personal and Organizational Development group
Administrative Leadership Award, Wanda Sykes, Northeast District director
Retiree Service Award, Billy Caldwell
Team Award, Northeast Ag Expo team: Tommy Grandy, Currituck; Paul Smith, Gates; Lewis Smith, Perquimans; Mark Powell, Camden; Dr. Carl Crozier, N.C. State; Dr. Ron Heiniger, N.C. State; and Al Wood, Pasquotank

County Performance Awards (by district)
Southwest District, Lincoln County
Southeast District, Wayne County
Northeast District, Perquimans County
Northwest District, Forsyth County
South Central District, Stanly County

Posted by Natalie at 03:55 PM

December 04, 2007

Person County workshops focus on local foods

Alex Rilko of Whole Foods, left, talks with a grower at the local foods workshop about getting produce into area Whole Foods stores. (Natalie Hampton photo)

Growers in north central North Carolina had a chance to learn tips on creating a local food system through a series of workshops sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Carl Cantaluppi, horticulture agent for Granville and Person counties, and Mike Lanier, area agribusiness agent based in Orange County, teamed up in October and November to present the workshop series. Participants met in Roxboro for five consecutive Wednesdays. Workshop topics included: Buying locally to promote the local food concept, How the energy outlook is raising the stakes for local and organic food production, Staggered planting and season extension techniques, Organic vegetable production, and Starting and managing your produce enterprise: Marketing, post-harvest handling, insect and disease identification and control. The first session drew about 25 participants who learned how to sell local foods to grocery stores from representatives of Whole Foods and Weaver Street Market in Carrboro.
-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 08:56 AM