We Want You To Tell The World
By: Shea Ann DeJarnette
When you are at the fair you may see the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Logo scattered around the fair grounds, and you might have heard of the organization before but do you know what it is? North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service (NCCES) is actually around every corner in Robeson County and involved in some of your favorite events, and you may have never known it. You see North Carolina Cooperative Extension is the outreach of the land grant universities in the state; N.C. State University and A&T University. In a partnership between the state and county governments there is an Extension office in every county in North Carolina and one on the Cherokee Reservation. The purpose of your local Extension office is to bring the research of the Universities to you to help improve your daily life. Extension does this in three primary areas, agriculture, families and youth.
Many local farmers are aware of many of the different opportunities Extension offers. There is training on new farming techniques, record keeping workshops, pesticide license training and much more. Many of the things Extension Agents pass along to their clients allow them to increase their yields and decrease their costs. Mac Malloy is our Agriculture Extension Agent who works with traditional crop farmers. You can find him many days out in the fields helping farmers with pest and disease issues, or checking on yields. Many of our farmers this year have had record corn yields which translate into a better overall economy for our county. Nelson Brownlee is and Extension Agent that work with limited resource and small farmers. He also advises the Robeson County Bee Keepers association. The bee keepers are an essential volunteer group that works within our community to remove nuisance hives and swarms, and often rent bee hives to farmers to help pollinate their crops, as well as cultivated honey for sale from their hives. Nelson also works with farmers who are transitioning from traditional row crops such as corn, cotton and tobacco to alternative crops such as persimmons, strawberries and peppers. As traditional row crops such as tobacco decline other sources of income are becoming available and Nelson is helping farmers learn about and implement those opportunities. Michelle Shooter works with livestock producers in the county. Did you know that we have about 7,000 head of cattle in our county? Or that chickens and hogs are providing an economic boost for our farmers? Also we have many goat farmers in our county. Goats can be useful for a variety of things and there is a growing market for meat goats in our state. Working with traditional row crop farmers, livestock producers, and alternative crop farmers is just scratching the surface when you talk about Extension clientele. For example Mac Johnson, the Extension Horticulture Agent, works with the Robeson County Master Gardener Association to help deal with horticulture issues that face residents and businesses in the county. With his leadership questions about plant disease, pests, and soil nutrition are answered daily. He helps commercial horticulture businesses increase their crops, market their products and find resources to make their businesses as profitable as possible. To create a new niche market for our agriculture products, Tahnea Locklear helps agritourism and tourism efforts in the county. By coordinating all the incredible opportunities and marketing them not only in the county but outside, Tahnea is helping bring tourism dollars right here to Robeson County.
Agriculture is just one facet of Extension work, families and the issues they face are of extreme importance to Robeson County’s two Family and Consumer Science Agents. Christy Strickland works with families to address issues of stress, financial management, and support. She offers workshops to the public such as “Strengthening Families” which offers parents and youth tools to talk about the tough subjects such as peer pressure, drugs, and sex. Janice Fields addresses health and nutrition issues within the county addressing the high diabetes rate within the county. Not only does she offer nutrition workshops, she travel to schools to work with youth and with groups in the community. Janice also offers workshops of food preservation, such as canning, and healthy cooking classes. Wendy Maynor and Tamika McLean work with our Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). They work through the community teaching adults, youth, and families about healthy eating habits on a budget.
One of the most recognized of the Extension programs is its youth component, 4-H. Although people are familiar with the clover they are not as familiar with the fact that it is part of Cooperative Extension. Celebrating 103 years in North Carolina 4-H was actually created to address the difficulty extension agents had working with farmers in the early 1900’s. When adults did not want to try new research based methods to increase crop yields, extension agents worked with youth who in turn passed the lessons along to their parents. The boys corn club and girls tomato clubs taught adults how to grow more and better corn and can fruits and vegetables in a healthy way. Today 4-H is about more than cows and cooking. Shea Ann DeJarnette is our 4-H Extension Agent in Robeson County and works with volunteers and youth to implement hands on projects in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The youth compete in public speaking competitions, hold leadership positions and work with adults in partnerships to better the community. 4-H youth gain the skills they need to be successful adults in our ever changing global society. The great thing about 4-H is that it doesn’t cost anything to be a member and thanks to the financial support of United Way many of the programs that have a cost are offered to members at a reduced rate.
With all the different programs and expertise that Extension offers our community it is fitting that we have such a close relationship with the Robeson Regional Fair. The fair is about fun, community involvement, and education and so is Extension. Both organizations offer the public opportunities to enhance our lives and our community. Don’t you want to be part of it? If you would like to know more about our Extension Programs you can contact any of the Extension Agents at (910) 671-3276.
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