July 02, 2009

Extension responds to interest in home food preservation

canning workshop
Susan Condlin, right, Lee County Extension director, teaches participants how to can tomatoes at a recent workshop. (Marc Hall photo)

With a renewed interest in home gardening and purchasing local food across North Carolina comes renewed consumer interest in preserving food at home, through canning, freezing or drying North Carolina Cooperative Extension centers are responding to this interest by offering canning classes across the state.

Once a hallmark of extension programming through Tomato Clubs for girls, canning and other home food preservation techniques had largely fallen out of favor with consumers in recent years. But this year, Cooperative Extension centers are reporting enrollment in canning workshops is up, and many extension agents are adding classes to accommodate demand.

Cabarrus County has scheduled nine workshops, up from the usual four, and all filled quickly. Several television news groups taped the Cabarrus workshops to use as on-air instructional pieces. Five workshops will be offered in Lee County, including one focusing on canning green beans and two on canning tomatoes. In Buncombe County, workshops are scheduled throughout the summer produce season on canning strawberry jam, dill pickles and relish and tomatoes, along with several lectures on home canning.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, 14 participants crowded the kitchen of Lee County's Cooperative Extension center for a lesson on canning tomatoes. All participants went home with their own quart jars of fresh-packed tomatoes canned during the class.

Dr. Ben Chapman, food safety Extension specialist based in N.C. State University’s Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences, reports that about 20 percent of inquiries he receives have been about home food preservation. Chapman came to N.C. State from Canada in January.

removing jars
Two participants in the Lee County workshop remove processed jars of tomatoes from a pressure canner. (Marc Hall photo)

Earlier this year, he led a home food preservation workshop for Extension agents some of whom had never taught canning before. He believes that nearly every agent who has participated is offering community food preservation workshops this summer.

Chapman attributes this renewed interest in home food preservation to three factors: The rise in home gardeners, who want to preserve what they grow – home vegetable seed purchases are reportedly up by 40 percent around the country; the local foods movement, which has encouraged consumers to purchase and eat more local produce; and the economy, which is bringing out new tendencies toward thrift in many consumers.

“The resurgence of local foods and home food preservation is good news for both the health of North Carolinians, and the economic health of the state,” Chapman said. “However, there are areas of potential concern related to food safety.”

For Web-based canning information, consumers can visit www.homefoodpreservation.ncsu.edu, a site developed by Cooperative Extension agents and specialists. The site includes information on how to evaluate a pressure canning gauge, how to can various products and how to prevent illnesses caused by improper canning practices.

jars of canned tomatoes
The finished product. (Photo courtesy of Susan Condlin)

In addition to offering canning workshops, many Extension centers will check the gauge on pressure canners to determine if they are calibrated properly. An accurate gauge will assure a safe product if correct canning procedures are followed. A pressure canner is required for safely canning low-acid foods, and Condlin says the gauge should be checked each year prior to the canning season.

To locate your county Extension center, visit the Web site: www.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=countycenters or look in the government section of your phone book under “North Carolina Cooperative Extension.”

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 11:00 AM

June 16, 2009

Web site offers advice for coping with economic downturn

Take Control graphic

The country's economic downturn has left many families scrambling to deal with personal and financial crises. To help, North Carolina Cooperative Extension has developed a Web site, "Take Control," that provides peer-reviewed fact sheets offering a number of suggestions on how to cope with economic hardship.

The fact sheets, available on the Web site www.nctakecontrol.com, were developed by N.C. Cooperative Extension family and consumer sciences specialists in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at N.C. State University. The fact sheets include tips on saving money, talking to children about the economy, shopping for healthy foods on a tight budget, avoiding home foreclosure and many other timely topics.

"The state and national economic situation affects all aspects of our lives. Stressed finances often create stress for families, and job loss or decreased wages cause families to shift priorities," said Dr. Carolyn Dunn, nutrition specialist with family and consumer sciences. "The economy affects more than bank accounts. It also affects our health and well-being as well as educational opportunities."

"We are certain that this series will have a positive impact on the lives of thousands of North Carolinians," said Dr. Marshall Stewart, head of the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences.

News media are invited to link to the Web site or refer audiences to these resources. For more information on these fact sheets, contact Dr. Carolyn Dunn, professor and nutrition specialist, family and consumer sciences, 919.515.9142 or carolyn_dunn@ncsu.edu.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 09:22 AM

September 12, 2008

Iredell agent's training will be featured in national Webcast

Iredell County Extension Agent Ann Simmons, family and consumer sciences, recently worked with the Thorlo Sock Co. of Statesville to pilot “Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families.” AARP wanted to see how the project would work in a 30-minute lunch time session. Many Thorlo workers only get 30 minutes for lunch, so their wellness workshops have to fit that time frame. Dr. Luci Bearon, aging specialist in family and consumer sciences and program coordinator, asked Simmons to participate in the pilot project.

A camera crew from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, a group working with AARP, came to Statesville after the workshop to interview Simmons, Suzanne Black of AARP-North Carolina, the Thorlo wellness coordinator and an employee who benefited from the workshop. The video will be featured during an online training program Sept. 17, 1-2 p.m. The link to the training site is:

“Prepare to Care” is a workplace-delivery program designed to help families prepare for the role of elder care. North Carolina is one of four states piloting the new program through a partnership between AARP-North Carolina and N.C. Cooperative Extension. For more information on the program, contact Bearon at luci_bearon@ncsu.edu.

Posted by Natalie at 01:50 PM

August 06, 2008

Extension agent helps people learn to live better lives

Janelle Kent is most definitely an educator, but she doesn't teach in a school.

In her 30 years as a nutritionist and now an extension agent, she has helped teach people how to eat better, cook more safely - and ultimately live better lives.

"I always was drawn to the area of public health and nutrition," she said.

Kent, 54, is the Stokes County agent for Family & Consumer Sciences at the N.C. Cooperative Extension Office, where she has worked since 2005.

Read more in the Winston-Salem Journal

Posted by Dave at 02:25 PM

June 17, 2008

ECA collar coolers help beat Middle East heat

women sewing
ECA President Georgine Armstrong and member Faye Meades assemble neckband coolers. (Photo courtesy of Yvonne Mullen)

U.S. soldiers serving in the Middle East may soon thank Pasquotank County for cooler collars. Pasquotank County’s Extension and Community Association teamed up to hand-sew 100 reusable neckbands that hold moisture-retaining crystals. When soaked in cool water and worn around the neck, the neckbands cool the wearer. Service members receive theirs for free, but similar models retail for up to $13.

In addition to the 100 bound for the Middle East, an additional 30 neckbands are destined for those fighting wildfires in Tyrrell County.

For more than 80 years, the N.C. Extension and Community Association has worked to strengthen families and improve the quality of life within our communities. Pasquotank ECA members range in age from 14 to 90 years.

Posted by Natalie at 11:40 AM

March 31, 2008

Youth win wool contest

Maria Mallner and Marisa Linton represented North Carolina 4-H well as specialty award winners in the 60th annual national Make It With Wool (MIWW) competition.

Mallner, a senior in nuclear engineering at N.C. State University, is a former 4-H'er from Wilmington who serves as a volunteer 4-H sewing teacher. She presented a 100 percent black wool knit formal gown embellished with embroidery and Swarovski crystals. She received the Embroidery Award of $500 from Creative Machine Embroidery Magazine and received Honorable Mention recognition.

Linton, a 4-H’er from Mt. Olive, is a high school sophomore. She competed in a 100 percent wool rust and black boucle fitted jacket and rust wool flannel slacks. She received a $250 award for Exemplary Construction by Claire Shaeffer for use of a Claire Shaeffer Pattern. She also received Honorable Mention recognition.

Mallner and Linton were winners in the senior and junior divisions respectively of the North Carolina MIWW competition held in September in Concord. This competition was sponsored by the North Carolina Sheep Producers Association Inc. and supported by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service. The purpose of the competition is to promote the use of wool fabric and yarns and encourage personal creativity in sewing, knitting, crocheting and spinning.

The national MIWW program, directed by the American Sheep Industry Women, provides scholarships, sewing equipment and a variety of specialty awards to participants. National awards were announced in January during the American Sheep Industry Convention in Las Vegas.

Posted by Natalie at 09:54 AM

March 06, 2008

Bearon named Gerontology and Geriatics Fellow

Dr. Lucille B. Bearon, adult development/aging specialist and associate professor in the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences is among seven 2007-2008 Fellows in Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, named by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE). The group was honored in February during the 34th annual AGHE meeting in Baltimore, Md.

AGHE confers Fellowship status in recognition of outstanding leadership in gerontology and geriatrics education by established scholars and educators. Fellowship status is open to individuals with well-established careers of achievement in gerontology/geriatrics education who are employed by an AGHE member institution.

Qualifications include outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship and research on educational issues, influential research publications or theoretical contributions used in gerontology/geriatric education and training, or leadership in administration and funding of gerontology/geriatrics educational programs, including development of new programs.

Posted by Natalie at 11:14 AM

November 19, 2007

Priester Conference issues call for presentations

A “call for presentations” has been issued for the 2008 Priester National Extension Health Conference to be held April 8-10 in Raleigh/Durham. The deadline for presentations submission is November 30. The presentations instructions and forms are attached are available at http://continuingeducation.ncsu.edu/PNEHC/presentations.html

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.

This year's conference tracks are:
* Successful Aging
* Global Health
* Growing Up Healthy IRL (in real life)

The conference focuses on programs that address today's challenges. Our communities, families and youth are facing challenges such as baby boomer retirement, caregiving for aging parents and other sandwich generation issues, new immigrant health, global consumer product safety, green living and growing up healthy in a world of unprecedented affluence and communication technology, yet growing disparities among rich and poor.

Please respond to the call for presentations for the opportunity to share your health-related educational programs and resources, applied research, collaborative strategies and integrated programming ideas with your colleagues. 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, Housing and Urban Development's Healthy Homes Program, Office of Rural Health, Bureau of Primary Health Care, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. EPA, National Cancer Institute, National 4-H Council, National Rural Health Association, public school systems, local governments, private non-profits, faith-based organizations and university departments of health-related disciplines.

Thank you! We look forward to hearing from you.
Dr. Sandy Wiggins
Dr. Robert Williamson
Julia Storm
North Carolina Cooperative Extension, N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University

Posted by Natalie at 10:45 AM

October 15, 2007

Onslow Extension employee receives honor

Carmen Blakewood, a Jacksonville resident born in Puerto Rico, said Hispanics are definitely a presence in Onslow County.

"There's a lot of Hispanics from everywhere here," she said, mentioning there are immigrants from places like Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico.

That presence was evident at the Infant of Prague Church's Parrish Hall on Sunday, where the Onslow Hispanic Latino Association hosted its fourth annual Dia de la Raza, or Day of the Race, a celebration of local Hispanic culture.

(Note: Ana Rosa Reyes, who provides administrative support for Cooperative Extension in Onslow County, was one of two recipients of the Amigo Award presented at this event.)

Read more from jdnews.com

Posted by Natalie at 08:41 AM

July 13, 2007

Parenting education program celebrates first graduate

Stephanie Jones
Stephanie Jones, left, first parent education graduate, is pictured with Karen DeBord. (Photo courtesy of Karen DeBord)

Just a year after it was officially approved and open to students, a joint parenting education program between N.C. State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro awarded its first degree this spring. Stephanie Jones is the first graduate to earn a master of science degree in human development and family studies, with a concentration in family life and parent education, from both universities.

Jones began work on the degree requirements in fall 2003 when the first class was offered, before the degree was formally approved. A former parent educator with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Brunswick County, she commuted three and four hours from her home to N.C. State and UNCG to complete the degree.

Faculty members in the program recognized Jones at the first graduate with a “Trailblazer Award” presented in April.

Jones is mother four daughters ages 15, 12, 10 and 2. Her youngest child was born after her first semester as a graduate student, and her mother helped Jones stay in school by driving mother and baby to classes while her daughter was an infant.

“We’ve all earned this degree,” Jones said of her family.

In addition to her duties as mother and graduate student, Jones served as a part-time teaching assistant for a human development and family studies class at N.C. State. She also has worked with Dr. Karen DeBord, professor and child development specialist in the Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences on a grant-sponsored program aimed at youth school success and workforce preparedness among youth in Wake and Brunswick counties.

Jones says she has a passion for parenting education and sharing her experiences and knowledge with others. “I do the best I can with my family and I like to use the knowledge I’ve gained to help other families,” she said.

In its first year, the joint master’s degree program enrolled 14 students. Students take courses at both N.C. State and UNCG, and their degree is awarded by both institutions. Though the program has not been widely marketed, DeBord said she receives about eight to 10 email inquiries about the program each month.

“Students are looking for this type of degree,” she said. “There’s nothing else like it in the state.”

DeBord recently announced a new graduate certificate in program development for family life education, which Jones will help administer next year. The 12-hour graduate certificate includes three required courses and one elective course. The certificate program is designed for those with an interest in developing family life education programs, and is also a good way to get a taste for graduate school, DeBord said.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 01:25 PM

June 18, 2007

New venue for pest control training

It looks at first glance as though the construction crew just left. Wood studs form walls but stand unadorned of siding or insulation. Foundation walls are half finished. Yet the construction crew is long gone and won't be coming back.

Welcome to one of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' newest "structures," the Structural Pest Control Training and Research Center at the College's Lake Wheeler Road Field Laboratory.

Read more in Perspectives magazine.

Posted by Dave at 10:51 AM

June 14, 2007

DeBord spreads parenting education via airways

Karen DeBord
Karen DeBord talks by phone with WPTF. (Photo by Suzanne Stanard)

How should parents handle a whining child? What can they do to make a smooth transition to home after picking a child up from day care? What safety advice should parents share with teens before the high school prom?

Dr. Karen DeBord, parenting specialist with North Carolina Cooperative Extension at North Carolina State University, helps answer these and other questions in eight-minute segments that air Mondays at 8:08 a.m. on WPTF radio in Raleigh.

Jack Boston, host of “North Carolina’s Morning News,” and DeBord discuss relevant issues on parenting children, from babies to teens. She has discussed topics ranging from when teens should get paid jobs to Internet use and children.

Staff at WPTF radio have mostly school-age children or teens, DeBord says. So it makes sense that they tend to focus on issues related to children of those ages.

In early April, DeBord did a segment on teens and grief, following the deaths of several teens from a local high school in a car accident. Later that Monday, the tragic shootings of 33 students at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University occurred, and DeBord felt she needed to address the issue again the following week.

It was a hard discussion for DeBord, who grew up in Blacksburg, Va., where Virginia Tech is located, earned her bachelor’s degree and doctorate at Virginia Tech and saw her parents retire from there. She talked about how students who commit such crimes are typically disengaged from their school communities and often from their families. But while keeping students engaged is important, it is not always possible to predict such tragedies, she said.

She and host Boston also have addressed multiple choice questions from an on-line quiz, “What’s the Risk?” The quiz helps parents become “emotion coaches” for their children by recognize their display of emotions, then helping them identify and name their problem, brainstorm solutions, then choose an appropriate action.

Other show topics have included understanding the stages of parenthood and parenting types, limiting television and media use, keeping lines of communication open, and understanding children’s sleep patterns.

DeBord is professor of child development in the College’s Department of 4-H Youth Development and Family & Consumer Sciences, with more than 28 years experience with Cooperative Extension. She is also the NC State director of a master’s degree program, in Family Life & Parenting Education jointly administered with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also hosts the program, “One-Minute Parent” on “Army Wife Talk Radio,” an on-line radio source.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 08:48 AM

June 06, 2007

Homemaker group provides scholarship

The Wilson County Extension and Community Association has established the Lois Rainwater Scholarship Endowment in memory of former Wilson County Home Demonstration Agent Lois Rainwater.

Rainwater was employed by the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Wilson County from 1934 to 1946.

Read more in the Wilson Daily Times.

Posted by Dave at 08:09 AM

April 24, 2007

Wayne County parenting class targets inmates

Sandra Head
Sandra Head of Wayne County teaches a parenting class to prison inmates.

The men come in quietly, signing the class register at the front of the room before finding a seat in one of the plastic chairs. Though they nod at one another, there’s not much conversation between them as they wait for class to start.

These men have some things in common: Each of them have made mistakes in life which have brought them to this place, the Neuse Correctional Facility in Wayne County.

And each of them is a parent.

It is this latter tie that brings them to this small room on a blustery cold winter night in late February, during their few hours of free time allotted them per day. Instead of watching television, shooting basketball hoops, hanging out with other inmates, or relaxing from their day job – many are in a work release program- these men have chosen to attend a parenting class.

The men come wanting to learn how to connect or re-connect with their children. "I haven’t seen my daughter since she was six months old," one man says sorrowfully. "And she’s 13 now."

For 11 years, Sandra Head, Family and Consumer Science agent with the Wayne County Cooperative Extension Department has offered this unique parenting education opportunity to male inmates at Neuse Correctional Center.

During this time, 372 inmates have participated in a parenting series consisting of six one-hour sessions.

"I conducted a parenting class in 1996, and someone at Neuse Correctional saw something about the class in the newspaper," she said. "They called me and asked me to come teach a parenting class. I had never been in a correctional facility before"

Slightly apprehensive, Head nonetheless agreed to teach one class here. "It wasn’t like what I thought it would be at all," she said. "I had the most appreciative and gracious audience."

Not only did she agree to teach classes on a continual basis, Head also used her misconceptions regarding the facility to develop a teaching lesson for the men.

"One of the things we work on during this class is writing a letter to their kids," she said. "The only impression they may have about what life is like in a correctional facility is based on what they’ve seen on television or in the movies. When these men write letters to their children about their life, it eases their (the children's) fear of the unknown."

Tonight, during this first class, the class is working on brainstorming a mission statement. A mission statement, Head explains, is a guiding tool, like a map, and can help parents stay on track.

"What do you value – what’s important as a father?" she asks.

The men list a variety of values including being successful, being a role model, a provider, healthy and sober.

"Spending time with them is real important," says one man. "I know that means a lot to my son."

By the end of the first class, the men have come up with the following mission statement: "My family will be safe and well provided for. I will be understanding, supportive and a positive role model for my children. Honesty, hard work, and education will be valued. Children will be taught correct behavior and to show respect for others. My home will be a place of love and happiness."

Over the years, Head has received encouraging feedbacks from the men that have gone through the class, including the following comment: "There is a desperate need for me to be in my children’s life. This class really presented the reality of that."

--This article, written by Wayne County Communications Director Barbara Arntsen, is reprinted with permission from the "Wayne County News."

Posted by Natalie at 11:31 AM

February 09, 2007

N.C. Cooperative Extension declares 'Year of Financial Fitness'

Family and Consumer Sciences agents with North Carolina Cooperative Extension in the seven westernmost counties of North Carolina and the Qualla Boundary are declaring 2007 the "Year of Financial Fitness."
Read more in the Smoky Mountain Sentinel

Posted by Dave at 08:59 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

August 22, 2006

Crossing Over: NC LOT tours Mexico

In Oaxaca, N.C. LOT visited people affected by emigration from Mexico. (Photo by Jean-Marie Luginbuhl)

Faced with an unprecedented boom in potential clients due to continuing waves of immigrants, especially from Mexico and Central America, North Carolina Cooperative Extension is gearing up to better serve Latino and other underserved clients. A recent fact-finding mission to Mexico has provided some valuable perspective and insight for the effort.

Read more in Perspectives

Posted by Art at 10:16 AM

August 21, 2006

Marshall speaks to FCS professionals

Growing personal debt and society’s failure to manage its effects on families are the biggest challenges for the state and nation today, said Elaine Marshall, N.C. Secretary of State.

“Personal debt is eating our society up like moths on a forgotten wool coat,” Marshall told the 139 family and consumer science agents attending a three-day conference of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences’ North Carolina affiliate chapter in New Bern.

Read more from The Sun-Journal

Posted by Natalie at 10:07 AM

July 13, 2006

NC State, UNCG to offer joint master's degree for parent education

This fall, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro will join forces to offer a Master of Science degree in human development and family studies with a concentration in family life and parent education. The degree program will be offered jointly in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in NC State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and UNCG's Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the School of Human Environmental Sciences.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors recently approved establishment of the joint 34-hour degree program, which will begin in August.

Students in the program will be dually enrolled in both institutions and will participate in the benefits offered to students at both. The program will be open to students with a variety of undergraduate majors - including early childhood education, psychology, sociology and human development - who also have an interest in parenting education.

Dr. Karen DeBord, professor and child development specialist in NC State's Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, said there is a growing need for professionals trained as parent and family educators. Courts, local governments, community agencies and schools increasingly refer clients to parenting education programs.

"We need to help build capacity in this field," DeBord said. "This will help give professionals in the field a place to get the knowledge they need to teach parents and be supportive of families based on best practices in the field."

"We are excited about this opportunity to collaborate with NC State on this program that will help improve the lives of North Carolina families," said Dr. Anne Fletcher, Family Life and Parent Education Program adviser at UNCG.

Although the deadline to apply to the program for the fall semester has passed, interested students may be able to enroll in classes as non-degree-seeking students and apply the credit toward the degree. New applications to the graduate program will be reviewed in the coming academic year. Application may be made directly to the graduate schools at either NC State or UNCG. For more information on the family life and parent education degree program, visit
www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/fcs/masters or www.uncg.edu/hdf.

- 30 -

Posted by Natalie at 01:26 PM

June 27, 2006

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

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

March 15, 2006

Extension economist launches daily podcast

Mike Walden photo

Looking for the latest scoop on gas prices, mortgage rates, job forecasts or tax trends? N.C. State University’s Mike Walden has launched a new “Economic Perspective” Web site to bring daily analysis and insight on these and other economic issues straight to people’s desktops.

Walden’s new site, at http://waldenradio.ncsu.edu/, approaches the national economic headlines from a North Carolina angle. The site incorporates text transcriptions and audio files based on his long-running 1- to 2-minute “Economic Perspective” radio shows, which are made available Monday to Friday to radio stations across the state.

With the enhanced Web site, North Carolinians can access the segments whenever they want, as long as they have a computer and an Internet connection. The site offers visitors the chance to get the information through a text transcript or an audio file. The site also features a podcast, allowing listeners to subscribe and download the shows from the Web to their computers, iPods or other mp3 players.

Walden, widely known for his ability to relate larger economic trends to individual consumers, is a professor with the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and a North Carolina Cooperative Extension specialist.

He produces “Economic Perspective” with host Sonya Williams, a video producer and broadcast specialist with N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Designed to help North Carolinians better understand the economy, how it operates and how it affects their day-to-day lives, “Economic Perspective” has been a North Carolina Cooperative Extension fixture since 1980.

Recent show topics included recommended savings rates, emerging industries in North Carolina and a trend toward “home-shoring” -– that is, businesses hiring people who work from their homes.

Posted by deeshore at 12:24 PM

February 17, 2006

4-H, FCS departments to merge July 1

In keeping with the spirit of Cooperative Extension’s change management and marketing initiative, the departments of 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences will become one department within N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on July 1.

The merger was announced Feb. 16 by Dr. Jon Ort, director of North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. (Dr. Ort's message -- opens in PDF) Dr. Marshall Stewart, head of the 4-H Youth Development Department, and Dr. Sandy Zaslow, head of the Family and Consumer Sciences Department, announced the change to their staffs that morning. County agents in both programs received the announcement by email.

Stewart and Zaslow said their faculty and staff members had reacted well to the news. Stewart will head the new department, which will retain both department names. Zaslow, who also announced on Feb. 16 her intention of retiring from the university in October, will serve as Extension’s associate director of family and youth programs. When she retires, the title will be added to the title of department head and state program leader for the combined department.

“We began strategic dialogue about the future of CALS departments at the dean’s retreat in October 2005,” Ort said in his announcement to Extension. “When Dr. Sandy Zaslow notified me of her retirement this fall, it made sense strategically to think about how we might move ahead with bringing these two departments under one administrative umbrella.”

Stewart read Ort’s prepared statement to his faculty and staff. “They were positive,” he said. “This had been in some people’s minds for a number years and so seeing it was not a total surprise.”

Zaslow and Stewart praised Ort and Dean Johnny Wynne for their efforts to move the merger along and address concerns that employees would likely have, including leadership, department name and titles. Employees of both departments will retain their rank and titles. And both disciplines will continue to have their distinct identities on campus and in county centers.

Zaslow said the merger news, coupled with the news of her retirement, came as a double
surprize for campus and field faculty and staffs. She shared with them that “when they wake up on July 2, their world will seem very much like it was on July 1 – and that was the intent of both department heads.

“Marshall and I have a very strong commitment to making this a positive transition for all our employees. We are very aware of the strong program identities and brands that agents, their associations and their foundations have worked to develop. Each program has many assets and resources to bring to the table,” Zaslow said.

“We believe there will be a synergistic effect that will occur from new opportunities to collaborate and be advocates for youth and family issues,” she said.

Zaslow was pleased that an associate director’s position had been created for youth and family programs and that she will help set the direction for that position to benefit youth and family programs. In the Cooperative Extension Service at N.C. State, there has been an associate director’s position for agricultural programs.

“Adding an associate director’s position truly indicates the value that Dr. Ort and Dean Wynne place on youth and families and their relationship within agricultural programs,” Zaslow said.

She looks forward to working with Stewart in merging the two departments. “I really want Marshall to be successful and for the programs to be successful,” Zaslow said. “Our intent is to look for the best environment to support and sustain the programs.”

Both programs have traditionally shared some programming initiatives. The Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program includes youth and adult components and has faculty in both the 4-H and FCS departments. And with growing concern over the issue of child overweight/obesity, the two departments have discussed collaborating on the issue, bringing together their strengths in youth programming and nutrition education.

“This puts Extension, the college and the university in the strongest position to address families and youth,” Stewart said. “Statewide, no one has the network of paid staff and volunteers focused on these issues that Extension has.”

The combined department also will have a stronger academic component, Ort said in making the announcement. FCS and the Department of Human Environmental Science at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro are creating a master’s degree program in parenting education. Dr. Karen DeBord, FCS associate professor of child development, has been active in the initiative and serves as the department’s director of graduate programs.

In addition, 4-H Youth Development has created a youth development leadership specialization within N.C. State’s College of Education. Courses are taught by faculty in 4-H Youth Development.

“The degree programs that we bring to the table and the one that 4-H offers bring new opportunities for our agents to earn advanced degrees,” Zaslow said.

Stewart and Zaslow praised each other, as well as Extension and college administrators for creating a smooth plan for the merger. “Sandy has been a champion for this,” Stewart said. “She sold me on it. She wanted to create a structure that will endure, and this will endure.”

“Marshall is a perfect match, with his energy, enthusiasm and genuine commitment to both programs,” Zaslow said. “Our vision has been the same from the beginning.

“This is a very bold step forward, and I salute Dr. Ort’s leadership to support us and for the vision to create an associate director’s position for youth and families,” she added.

“I wanted to credit Jon (Ort) and administration for having the courage and foresight to put us in a stronger position,” Stewart said. “They led the charge, and I appreciate their vision.”

Questions or comments? Scroll down to post your response. Online News will work with Stewart and Zaslow to answer your questions.

--N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 01:20 PM

January 12, 2006

Libraries to digitize 4-H, home demonstration records

The NCSU Libraries' Special Collections Research Center is involved in a new digitization project called "'Green 'N' Growing': The History of Home Demonstration and 4-H Youth Development in North Carolina." To read more, visit the libraries' Focus newsletter and select the article, "Digitizing 4-H and Home Demonstration."

Posted by Natalie at 09:26 AM

November 14, 2005

Columbus County second graders are nuts about pecans

Kids watch pecan demonstration
Pecan grower Rossie Ward demonstrates a neat way to pick up pecans without bending over. (Daniel Kim photos)

Horticulture Specialist Mike Parker held the attention of Columbus County second graders as he explained how pecans are grown and harvested. But for some of the students, it wasn’t so much what he said as how he said it.

“PEE-cans!” they shouted, correcting Parker’s pronunciation of “pi-KAHNS.” Parker, who’s not from around here, also threw them a curve by pronouncing “roots” as “rutts.”

In spite of those few slips of the tongue, the third annual pecan education event for second graders in Columbus County was a big hit. The county is the state’s leading pecan producer (that’s PEE-can), and many students reported having a tree in their yards.

Many counties host education events that focus on agriculture. What makes this one unusual is its focus on one commodity that is important to the local economy. Partners in the effort include North Carolina Cooperative Extension campus and county faculty, the N.C. Pecan Growers Association, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the N.C. Museum of Forestry in Whiteville, a satellite of Raleigh’s N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

Parker says the event gives the children an appreciation for agriculture in general and what it takes to grow pecans. “It’s part of their history, part of their heritage,” he says.

The two-day event, held at the Museum of Forestry, involves 1,100 second graders. Over two days, more than 50 classes attended the event. Classes rotate through five educational stations related to pecans. This year, the Museum of Natural Sciences provided a sixth education station from its popular fall “Bugfest” event.

Mike Parker talks pecans
N.C. State Horticulture Specialist Mike Parker tells a class about the pests that can invade pecans. Kids teased Parker about his pronunciation of 'pi-KAHNS.'

Parker and Extension Associate Allan Thornton, based in Sampson County, conducted a 30-minute overview of pecan production. Betty Thompson and Carolyn McCain, Columbus County family and consumer sciences agents, used pecans to talk with students about healthy snacks versus unhealthy, or “sometimes” snacks. Nuts, like pecans, can be a part of a healthy snack, Thompson said.

Thompson showed students how to make their own healthy snack at home with nuts, cereal, crackers and dried fruit. The Pecan Growers’ even provided funds so each student could taste a sample of a snack prepared with those ingredients.

Betty Ezzell of the Pecan Growers Association provided additional information on uses for pecan shells in filtration and crafts. She also described how wood from pecan trees is used for making furniture and crafts. She showed them a variety of small nutcrackers used to crack pecans at home.

Students also learned how pecans are cracked and shelled by commercial processors. At one of two outside stations, Columbus County pecan grower and processor Rossie Ward, demonstrated a high-speed machine that cracks and shells pecans one at a time. Ward processes 15,000 pounds of pecans for local growers. His business also sells a honey-roasted pecan, popular in retail outlets.

Don Ezzell, executive director of the Pecan Growers Association, demonstrated several tools for harvesting pecans without bending over, including a wire box on a pole that collects pecans as you press down on them. At Ezzell’s station, students also saw how a mechanical tree shaker clamps onto a tree and vibrates mature nuts right off the branches. Those that are not ready to fall will hang on a little longer, he said.

Bill Bunn of Bailey, president of the N.C. Pecan Growers Association, says that Columbus County growers produce about 100,000 pounds of pecans each year, more than any other county in the state. The popular education event falls two days before Whiteville’s Pecan Festival, held downtown.

Museum Director Harry Warren commented on how nice the weather has been for the event each year. “It’s clear that God’s favorite nut is a pecan,” he said.

-N. Hampton

Posted by Natalie at 02:32 PM

September 22, 2005

Karen DeBord to be interviewed on 'Science Friday'

Dr. Karen DeBord, child development specialist in N.C. State University's Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, will be interviewed on National Public Radio's 'Science Friday' Sept. 23. DeBord will discuss child stress related to Hurricane Katrina. The show airs on NPR stations from 2-4 p.m. For more information, or to listen on the Web, visit sciencefriday.com.

Posted by Natalie at 09:40 AM

August 30, 2005

Extension professionals receive honors

Photo of James Parsons, Steve Troxler
James Parsons, left, receives a “Got to be NC Agriculture” truck from state Agricultural Commissioner Steve Troxler at the N.C. Poultry Federation's annual meeting.

A number of Cooperative Extension employees have recently received state and national honors.

James Parsons, area specialized poultry agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, received the North Carolina Poultry Federation’s 2005 Distinguished Service Award during the Poultry Federation’s 38th Annual Meeting held in Greensboro.

Parsons was recognized and honored for his dedicated service to North Carolina’s poultry industry and for his work with poultry integrators and producers in the counties he serves -- Duplin, Sampson, Wayne and Onslow. These counties are among the largest poultry-producing counties in North Carolina, with a gross farm income from poultry exceeding $500 million.

Throughout his career, Parsons has been active in working with integrators and growers in the areas of water quality and waste management, and he is also active in keeping integrators and growers informed about current and changing environmental regulations.

National Award Winners
Sue Counts, Watauga County Extension director, received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.

National Association of County Agricultural Agents Distinguished Service Award winners from North Carolina are Craig Adkins, Caldwell County; Ray Harris, Carteret County; William Little, Wilson County; Richard Rhodes, Bertie County; and David Morrison, Scotland County. National Communication Award winners are Linda Blue, Bumcombe County, in the categories of video and publication; and Karen Neill, Guilford County, in the home page category

Posted by Natalie at 10:07 AM

June 19, 2005

Library gets grant to create 4-H and home demonstration history site

The NCSU Libraries' Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) recently won a grant to create a resource-based research and educational Web site entitled "'Green ‘N’ Growing': The History of Home Demonstration and 4-H Youth Development in North Carolina." The goal is to enable teaching, learning, and research by providing access to primary resource materials. Read more in the NCSU Libraries News story.

Posted by deeshore at 07:12 PM | Comments (0)