Extension Program Update

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Burke County Cooperative Extension continues to provide educational information, resources, and training to Burke County citizens to improve the quality of their lives, land and economy. 

How are we doing this?  Following are a few ways we are making a difference in Burke County:

An increased interest in organic gardening brought a large group of 40 people to an organic gardening workshop. The agent covered basic principles and talked about resources for those who wanted to try this type of gardening. By attending this workshop, participants received information on where to purchase plants, fertilizers, pesticides and other materials needed as well as basic growing information. Local sources were included as to help these gardeners in their search for organic plants, etc. No matter which method of gardening people choose, the choice to grow your own is always a good one.

In Burke County, persons 65 years old and over make up at least 15% of the total population. Young people are moving out and older people are moving in. Leading causes of diet-related morbidity and mortality include heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Nutrition programming has been targeted to senior citizens, including organized senior program in the recreation program, seniors who are legally blind, and seniors volunteering in the community with children. Through the USDA MyPyramid lessons, seniors have participated in sessions resulting in changing their behaviors to include better eating habits and increase in physical activity. Following a presentation on healthy cooking, a senior group planned a cooking activity at a future meeting to make stir fry and substituted tofu as the protein in the meal.

Hemlock woolly adelgid continues to decimate hemlock stands in Western North Carolina. Many landowners have been taken by private companies who claim they can cure the problem for an inordinate amount of money. Recognizing the problem, Cooperative Extension coordinated a workshop for homeowners and landowners to teach them how to treat their own trees, or to educate them about the process so they could ask the right questions to the companies they may hire. Dr. Jill Sidebottom, NCSU Christmas Tree Specialist was utilized to impart a greater knowledge of this pest and how to treat them. 20 participants indicated that they would easily save $300.00 by treating their own trees, and 3 who will hire someone will be better prepared to objectively ask questions of companies that they may deal with, which was worth $50.00 to them. In all this equates to a savings of $6150.

Agriculture is as important today as it was fifty years ago, yet many youth do not realize its importance to our economy or our security. The Cooperative Extension Livestock Agent, took part in a Career Day at WA Young Elementary School. Students learned the importance of agriculture to our society and gained and understanding of the broad array of careers in agriculture. The agent provided tools of the trade and let children participate in checking moisture in grain, putting an ear tag in cattle and gave the children an understanding about agriculture they had not previously had. Teachers and Administrators indicated that 12 participants had inquired about careers in agriculture following the presentation, and that 9 of these have set goals and made decisions that will carry them forward toward an agricultural career. 92 students indicated that they achieved a better understanding of our present food production chain.

In June, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Burke County 4-H held Youth Entrepreneurship Camp in collaboration with NC REAL and Western Piedmont Community College. The focus of this day camp was to introduce entrepreneurship principles to middle school youth in Burke County. Programs focused on assessing community need, designing a business plan, loan applications, creating marketing/promotions materials, and how to find resources in the community. Of the 20 youth participants, all reported a gain in knowledge of entrepreneurship as well as a change in aspirations of what they would like to concentrate on for a career in the future through small business ownership. All twenty participants also reported being eager to share what they learned with family and friends.

These are just a few of the ways Burke County Cooperative Extension staff members are working throughout Burke County.  If you are interested in learning more contact our office at (828) 439-4460 or via the web at burke.ces.ncsu.edu.

Also, watch for information on upcoming programs including:

Cook Smart / Eat Smart Workshops

Pesticide Recycling and Education

Forage and Grazing Demonstrations

National 4-H Week Activities &

Sustainable Agriculture Workshops and Information

Spring Williams-Byrd
County Extension Director