« November 2009 | Main | January 2010 »

December 18, 2009

Former NC 4-H'er reinacts historic ribbon cutting from 1959

Larry Dilda 2009
Larry Dilda of Pitt County, left, participates in a 50th anniversary re-enactment of the dedication of the National 4-H Conference Center. With him are Anita Hollmer Hodson, right, and Don Floyd, president and CEO, National 4-H Council.

Fifty years ago, North Carolina 4-H’er Larry Dilda of Pitt County stood with President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the steps of the National 4-H Conference Center in Washington, D.C. for the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the dedication of the center. Dilda was a 4-H Conference delegate that year, and president of the N.C. State College Collegiate 4-H Club, 1959-60. Dilda stood with Anita Hollmer Hodson, a New York 4-H’er, who was also on hand at the historic event, marking the opening of the center and the first-ever National 4-H Conference.

Dilda was on hand again to celebrate the conference center’s 50th birthday. On October 9, the National 4-H Heritage Club charter members gathered on the steps of JC Penney Hall (called Smith Hall in 1959) to witness the reenactment of the 1959 ribbon cutting. Hodson and Dilda were present to resume their historic roles. Don Floyd, National 4-H Council President and CEO played the role of President Eisenhower and cut the ribbon that marked the beginning of National 4-H Youth Conference Center’s next 50 years.

Delegates to the 1959 conference were the first to stay at center and eat meals in the cafeteria, which was completed during the first day of the conference. The center’s beds were delivered the day before Conference and the volunteers working late into the night to prepare the beds for the first visitors. Delegates rode buses with police escorts to conference programs and evening dinners held at USDA or at a downtown hotel. They also visited their U.S. senators and representatives on Capitol Hill.

Dilda 1959
This is the original photo taken at the 1959 dedication of the National 4-H Center. Dilda and Hodson appear with President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Today, the National 4-H Conference Center continues to serve 4-H’ers from around the country who are visiting the nation’s capital. Also, 4-H’ers earn the right attend the annual National 4-H Conference by competing in their state’s Application, Resume and Interview program. After a career in the U.S. Air Force, Dilda has returned to his hometown of Fountain in Pitt County, where he continues to advocate for 4-H.

Posted by Natalie at 02:58 PM

Retirement reception to honor Extension trio

Dr. Jean Baldwin, Extension family life and human development specialist, and Dr. Ellen Smoak, The Cooperative Extension at A&T’s regional coordinator for the western third of the state, both officially retire on Jan. 1, 2010. On Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, there will be a reception to honor Baldwin, Smoak, and Marcie Kirkpatrick from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Stallings Ballroom in the Memorial Student Union. Kirkpatrick was an Extension associate coordinating the Farmers Adopting Computer Training (FACT) Project until her retirement in October 2009. Smoak retires with 35 years of service to Cooperative Extension; Baldwin leaves with 32 years of service; and Kirkpatrick retired with 20 years of service.

Read more from ag e-dispatch

Posted by Natalie at 08:13 AM

December 15, 2009

New facility to reduce costs of salt-water aquaculture

n early December the College opened the new Marine Aquaculture Research Center in rural Carteret County. A gift from Dr. I.J. and Sue Won made the center possible. Pictured above, from left, are Sue Won, I.J. Won, Dean Johnny Wynne and Dr. Tom Losordo. (Dave Caldwell photo)

Location, location, location. That phrase that describes all things related to real estate is also a major impediment to the development of marine - or salt water - aquaculture in North Carolina.

But that may be about to change with the development by North Carolina State University of the Marine Aquaculture Research Center near Marshallberg in rural Carteret County on the North Carolina coast.

The center, which officially opened Dec. 11, was made possible by a $500,000 gift from Dr. I.J. and Sue Won of Williston, N.C. It is located on land owned by the Wons. The North Carolina Agricultural Foundation, the fund raising arm of N.C. State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is leasing the site from the Wons.

Read more from the Comm Serv news release

Posted by Natalie at 01:49 PM

December 10, 2009

Strnad honored for service

The Environmental Educators of North Carolina recently honored Renee Strnad, environmental educator for Extension Forestry, for outstanding service. Strnad was recognized for her efforts to support the group’s annual conference, assisting with conference logistics and providing professional development opportunities.

In addition to being the state coordinator for Project Learning Tree (a multidisciplinary environmental education program for educators and Pre-K to 12 students), Strnad supports 4-H natural resource programs statewide. She is also a liaison between the College of Natural Resources and environmental educators. She works with Wiley Elementary School in Raleigh, where students in grades 3-5 measure trees in classes facilitated by N.C. State forestry students.

Posted by Natalie at 10:13 AM

December 09, 2009

Will Allen says food system is broken

Will Allen and Eva Clayton
Former Congresswoman Eva Clayton greets Will Allen at a reception before his speech at McKimmon Center. (Marc Hall photos)

Will Allen, urban farmer, is a giant of a man at 6-feet, 7-inches and 300 lbs. Yet he has the rough hands of a farmer and the ability to relate to audiences ranging from elementary and high school students to academics and farmers like himself.

Allen, the CEO of Growing Power and MacArthur “genius award” winner, delivered this year’s Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ 2009 Sustainable Agriculture Lecture in November before a stand-room-only crowd of more than 700 at McKimmon Center. Earlier in the day, Allen spoke to a packed auditorium of 600 students and local citizens at Goldsboro High School, delivering the Urban Community Lecture there.

Growing Power has developed urban farms and community gardens in “food deserts” of Milwaukee and Chicago. The organization also engages inner city youth in learning farming skills and translating those lessons into academic achievement. For his efforts, he was recognized with a 2008 MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius award.” He was recently featured in the movie Fresh and has been the subject of numerous magazine articles, including one in the New York Times.

"It was an honor to have Will Allen come to North Carolina to share his vision for providing sustainably raised food for urban consumers," said Nancy Creamer, director for the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. "Urban farming is one of the solutions that CEFS is looking at as we seek to build local food economies in North Carolina."

Allen’s message was simple: It’s time to change the way we produce food. “I believe that the future is smaller scale, more intensive production because our current food system is not a sustainable food system. So that’s where we’re headed, and that’s what we’re working on,” he said.

“ We have to get people into action rather than just talking about it. We have to grow a lot more farmers, restore the earth by composting, and we’ve got to use renewable energy as a part of the formula to be able to grow that food year-round.”

In 1993, Allen purchased what he calls “the last remaining farm in Milwaukee” – a three-acre tract with six greenhouses and a small house. At the time, the former professional basketball player was working for Procter & Gamble, and the site seemed like a good place to sell produce from his family’s 100-acre farm nearby.

Two years into the effort, a group of kids from the local YMCA came to him with a plan for developing an organic garden and selling the produce. Allen offered the group a piece of land on his property that was not being used. The plot was rich from potting soil that had been dumped there years before.

After an article on the garden project ran in the local newspaper, other groups sought out Allen’s assistance connecting youth to food production. Within a few years, friends suggested that Allen consider starting a non-profit, but he protested that he came from a for-profit world and knew nothing about non-profits. So supporters took on the role of directors, and Growing Power was born.

The effort has helped change the way people eat in the inner-city neighborhoods near Growing Power’s farms. Early on, Allen began his market basket program, delivering boxes of fresh, local food to schools that families can purchase weekly. The program even accepts cards from government-assistance programs like Food Stamps and Women Infants Children (WIC).

Crowd for lecture
Allen spoke to a packed crowd at McKimmon Center.

“A lot of my friends had Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations, and they always said, ‘Will, I can’t get my food into your communities,’ and I said, ‘sure you can.’ In every community, there’s a school or a social service agency of some kind, and those can become drop centers. So we started our market basket program by delivering to schools.”

Since Growing Power began, it has incorporated different initiatives that Allen had started on his own farm, such as large-scale composting, picking up food waste around the city and turning it into high-quality soil for farms and gardens. In addition, there are vermicomposting bins, where about 5,000 lbs. of worms per farm devour food waste and convert to high-nutrient fertilizer that is sold and incorporated into the farm soils.

He also partnered with Heifer International to incorporate small-scale aquaculture projects into the greenhouses – raising 50 lbs. of tilapia in barrels over a three-month period. Today, much of Growing Power’s urban farms are under plastic to provide year-round food production, including tanks where 20,000 tilapia are grown. Some operations even incorporate outdoor livestock like chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats and bees.

With his hands in many different food-related projects, Allen himself says he likes to cook and eat the food that he grows, “because I know it’s safe. I like a lot of different foods. I like seafood; I could probably eat fish every day. I eat a lot of different salad greens. Okra is probably my favorite vegetable. I eat okra all different ways: steamed, fried, rolled in olive oil and baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I like okra chopped and stir-fried with corn, just okra and corn cut off the cob – that’s delicious.”

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 11:00 AM

N.C. MarketReady lauches blackberry, raspberry portal


Farmers in North Carolina have a new online resource to help them grow their blackberry and raspberry operations. The Blackberry & Raspberry Growers Information Portal was launched recently by N.C. MarketReady, a program of N.C. State University, with a grant from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. N.C. MarketReady developed the Blackberry & Raspberry Growers Information Portal as a one-stop shop to bring together on one Web site all the resources pertaining to business management and production of blackberries and raspberries in North Carolina.

Farmers, N.C. Cooperative Extension agents and home gardeners can find research-based information specific to North Carolina blackberry and raspberry production on the site. A selection of available resource topics includes marketing, food safety, integrated pest management, industry events and risk management.

New growers will find resources specific to business start-up. Home gardeners can learn the berry basics. All growers will recognize the convenience of the weather and climate links. The portal can be accessed by visiting N.C. MarketReady online at www.ncmarketready.org and clicking the tab on the left menu bar.

The Blackberry & Raspberry Growers Information Portal is a compilation of materials developed by multiple departments, programs and organizations associated with N.C. State University, as well as from other academic and agricultural sources.

The goal in designing information portals is to save growers and Extension agents time and effort by creating a one-stop shop for a specific agricultural commodity; in this case, blackberries and raspberries. The two fruits are combined because both crops are “brambles” and produced similarly. Development of portals for other crops, including tomatoes, is under way.

N.C. MarketReady, formerly known as the Program for Value-Added & Alternative Agriculture, is a program of N.C. Cooperative Extension, which is an educational outreach of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University. N.C. MarketReady’s multidisciplinary team builds partnerships and educational resources to help North Carolina agriculture be more profitable. N.C. MarketReady is a partner of the Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis. Learn more at www.ncmarketready.org or www.ces.ncsu.edu.

Posted by Natalie at 09:04 AM

December 08, 2009

EFNEP Hunger Forum a success

Maureen Berner
Dr. Maureen Berner of the University of North Carolina describes hunger in North Carolina during the Hunger Forum.(Becky Kirkland photos)

With hunger in the United States at a 14-year high, a Hunger Issues Forum was held at N.C. State University's McKimmon Center on Dec. 4. The event was also a celebration of 40 years of N.C. Cooperative Extension's Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). Started in 1969, EFNEP's mission is to help limited-resource families and youth make good nutrition decisions with their limited food dollars.

Keynote speakers for the forum were Dr. Maureen Berner, associate professor in the University of North Carolina School of Government, and Dr. Sharon Paynter, assistant professor of political science at East Carolina University. The two spoke on "A True Portrait of Hunger in North Carolina: How Local Governments and Non-Profits Coordinate and Energize to Address Hunger." Their presentation included photos by Donn Young of Chapel Hill, who is helping capture images of hunger today in North Carolina at the state's food pantries.

Paynter and Berner described how they are trying to develop a picture of hunger in North Carolina by looking at records maintained by food pantries across the state. The goal of their project is trying to understand hunger through solid research and to generate dialogue on the issue.

Both speakers have found that food pantry clients often defy stereotypes of hunger. Many of those receiving assistance are employed, and often they are older and have some health issues. Many times they live in a comfortable home – they simply don't earn enough to make ends meet. Many of those served by food pantries are in need of long-term assistance.

The Hunger Issues Forum comes on the heels of a recent announcement by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that "food insecurity" in the United States had reached the 14-year high in 2009. As a result of the poor economy, job losses and higher food prices, the group that tracks hunger reported that 13 million additional Americans experienced some form of food insecurity this year, and food stamp rolls have swelled to a record 36 million Americans.

Breakout session topics and presenters included "Hunger, Nutrition and Obesity," Heather Hartline-Grafton, senior nutrition policy analyst, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC); "Connecting People to Food," David Reese, chief operating officer, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Raleigh; and "Mobilizing Community Resources to Reduce Hunger," Earline Middleton, vice president of programs, Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Raleigh.

Forum participants
Participants in the EFNEP Hunger Forum listen to the keynote presenation.

In the breakout session on obesity, Hartline-Grafton described the link between obesity and hunger. Those in poverty often have little access to fresh, healthy food choices or safe and inviting places for recreation. And binge eating, followed by hunger, is often the norm for those who struggle with food security.

In addition to new information from speakers, forum participants returned home with toolkits to help them conduct hunger data surveys in their own communities. The toolkits also included photos from the Portrait of Hunger project.

The theme of the forum already had inspired EFNEP educators to take action. In Lee County, the EFNEP unit decided to forgo their annual holiday party in favor of volunteering in Raleigh at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

Also as part of the forum, EFNEP Champion Awards were presented to EFNEP volunteers, Extension employees and partners for outstanding service to their communities.

When EFNEP began in North Carolina, the program was mainly conducted through home visits to participants. Today most of EFNEP’s educational workshops are delivered in group settings, often in collaboration with agencies serving limited-resource populations, such as the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program or Work First.

EFNEP seeks to give participants knowledge to help them make improvements in their diets and physical activity levels. In North Carolina, last year more than 4,500 families participated in EFNEP's adult program. In addition, more than 200 pregnant or parenting teens participated, along with more than 14,000 youth who participated in 4-H EFNEP.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 03:26 PM

Hold the date: Agritourism workshop is March 10

An additional session of the workshop, "The Business Side of Agritourism," will be offered on March 10, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Harnett County Extension Center.

This workshop is a follow up to the agritourism workshop conducted
in April 2009. During this workshop, Extension agents will get practical answers that will help you address your clients' questions on agritourism. Successful farmers as well as Extension specialists covering topics to help you facilitate successful agritourism ventures.

We have travel funds for the first 40 Extension personnel. Space is
limited. There will be a fee of $20/person to partially defray the costs of breaks and lunch. We will be sending additional registration information later.

For information on the "Business Side of Agritourism Workshop,"
contact Gary Bullen at gary_bullen@ncsu.edu.

Posted by Natalie at 01:15 PM

December 03, 2009

Members of A&T Extension staff make headlines

The Nov. 24 Greensboro News & Record headlined a story "Children make a turkey offer to the Obamas" that went on to describe an idealistic quest by two Browns Summit children, Mariama and Anwar Ibrahim, to donate a turkey from their family's small farm to the president's family for Thanksgiving dinner.

According to the News & Record, "The Ibrahim children … are active in 4-H and have competed in turkey-raising at the State Fair for four years," and also that their father, who assisted them in getting their offer to President Obama, is Dr. Jimo Ibrahim, farm safety, energy and environmental specialist for The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T."

Read more from ag e-dispatch

Posted by Natalie at 08:33 AM

December 02, 2009

James Hamilton named Extension director in Watauga County

photo of James Hamilton

James Hamilton, forestry instructor at Haywood Community College, has been named county Extension director for the Watauga County center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

His appointment, which is effective Jan. 4, 2010, was approved and announced by Robert Nelson, Watauga County manager, and Dr. Jon Ort, director, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Hamilton succeeds Sue Counts, who retired from Extension Nov. 1, 2008.

Hamilton served as an Extension agent in Watauga County from October 2002 to February 2005, when he became assistant professor of forestry outreach for the Alabama A&M University Center for Forestry and Ecology, where he served until February 2006. He has worked at Haywood Community College since March 2006.

Prior to joining Cooperative Extension in 2002, Hamilton worked as an environmental scientist for TRC Garrow and Associates, an extension trainer for CHP International and a regional campus recruiter for the U.S. Peace Corps.

He holds a doctorate in forestry from N.C. State University, a master’s degree in forestry from Auburn University and a bachelor's degree in natural resources and anthropology from the University of the South.

"We are pleased that Jim will be returning to Watauga County to lead Cooperative Extension and continue the progress of our agricultural and natural resources community," said Harvey Fouts, district Extension director for the West District, which includes Watauga County. "Jim is very innovative and shows his passion to help all people advance themselves through better living, better farming and better communities."

Posted by Natalie at 11:00 AM

Dockery named Columbus Extension director

Dalton Dockery, Bladen County Cooperative Extension director since 2007, is leaving Bladen County and will become the Extension director in Columbus County.

Dockery's appointment as Columbus County director was announced by Dr. Jon Ort, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service director, and William Clark, Columbus County manager. Dockery succeeds Howard Wallace, who served as interim county director since the retirement of Jacqueline Roseboro. Roseboro retired earlier this year after serving as county director for 14 years.

Dockery joined Cooperative Extension in 1995 as an agricultural agent serving both Bladen and Sampson counties. He moved to Columbus County a year later, where he served as the county's agricultural agent for 11 years before moving to Bladen County as Extension director.

Dockery holds two degrees from North Carolina State University, a bachelor's degree in agriculture education and a master's degree in agriculture and extension education.

"Dalton will be a great asset to the Columbus County extension team," said Clinton McRae, director for Cooperative Extension's south central district, which includes Columbus County. "Many of the leadership traits that Dalton consistently demonstrates were first cultivated in Columbus County."

McRae added, "I have worked closely with Dalton for the past two years, and I have found him to be an excellent team player. However, Dalton's greatest assets are his genuine concern for people and his ability to create a pleasant work environment. Columbus County has a bright future under Dalton's leadership."

-D. Caldwell

Posted by Dave at 09:40 AM

December 01, 2009

Registration now open for popular turfgrass course

The 2010 N.C. State University Turfgrass Short Course is scheduled for the week of Feb. 22, so mark your calendars. This event provides four days of comprehensive turfgrass education and is appropriate for anyone interested in turf, including homeowners, career-changers and professionals needing a refresher.

Lectures are presented by faculty in N.C. State's award-winning turfgrass program, who will cover all aspects of turfgrass management. Successful completion prepares attendees for the Turfgrass Professional Certification program.

The McKimmon Center state-of-the-art classroom settings are intimately sized to allow focused instruction and maximize individual and group learning success. Turf and weed samples, fertilizers, insect identification and control methods are closely examined in the hands-on sessions.

The N.C. State Turfgrass Short Course program is a key building block to any turfgrass or lawn care professional's career. Covering topics from turfgrass selection, weed identification, best management practices to protect available resources and much more. Whether you're just starting out in the lawn care profession or you're a homeowner who is tired of looking at that straggly patch of mud you call a lawn, the Turfgrass Short Course is the best practical how-to education you can get in a one-week study program.

This program is held only once a year and sells out quickly. Contact Dr. Dan Bowman (919.515.2085) to reserve your seat now.

Posted by Natalie at 08:50 AM