Jones County Extension Success Stories: 2022

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Jones County Extension Success

Success Stories are organized by objective:

4-H Youth Development
How we have empowered the next generation.

Animal Production Systems
How we helped with livestock and pasture.

Family and Consumer Sciences
Undertakings in food safety and nutrition.

Plant Production Systems
Providing solutions to row crop problems.

4-H Youth Development

Cooking It Up 4-H Club

Jones County 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett

Jones County lacks many youth recreational opportunities outside of the school system. Many families seek engaging activities outside of the county which hurts positive youth relationship building within our communities in Jones County.

One teacher saw a need for a special kind of offering in Jones County. After leaving the school system to homeschool one of her children, she wanted to begin a 4-H Club that would appeal to kids who may want something to do besides sports or agricultural related opportunities. Cooking It Up 4-H Club was started in January 2022. This club would meet monthly and explore a different country at each meeting as well as cook a popular food from that country.

After only six months, there are nineteen members who have joined the club and meet regularly. Members have learned cooking skills, safety protocols, food safety and even completed a community service project where they cooked vegetable soup for the Jones County Sheriff’s Department. The club members ages range from five to sixteen and allows the older members to assist the younger ones in small groups. Officer positions for the business meetings rotate at each meeting allowing each youth to get a chance to learn more about the leadership positions. There has been an increase in youth involvement at home in their own kitchens and youth exhibiting knowledge gained at their club meetings when they help at home with cooking food for their families. The Cooking It Up 4-H Club has attracted many new 4-H members as well and continues to be a popular interest.

Jones County Pig Project

Jones County 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett and Livestock Agent, Katie Carter

North Carolina is the second largest hog production state nationally and pork production has an economic impact of $10 billion. North Carolina’s pork industry also supplies 44,000 full time jobs to its residents. There is no denying the importance the swine industry has in our state. It is our job to expose Jones County youth to the swine industry and all the hard work it takes to ethically raise a pig.

Jones County 4-H began a Pig Project in 2020. It was unfortunately cut short due to Covid-19 and we were unable to have our second year in 2021. In 2022, regulations were open enough for us to establish our second annual Jones County Pig Project which would run from January to April. We created a program that would allow 4-H youth to partner with a pig at a low cost to raise them, teach them to walk, care for them, show them at a local livestock show and then sale them to market. Youth and their families would cover the cost of the pig upfront and Jones County 4-H would cover all other costs for housing, medical, feed, grooming tools and transportation. Once the pigs were sold, all expenses would be paid out by Jones County 4-H and any extra money profited from the sale would be split between the youth owners.

The Jones County Pig Project supplied nine pigs and had eleven 4-H youth that practiced at least twice a week. Together, the participants logged over 650 hours of hard work with their pigs. Each formal practice consisted of cleaning the pigs pen, feeding the pigs, brushing and cleaning the pigs as well as exercising and walking the pigs. Participants also had educational activities to learn more about common swine industry practices such as reproduction, ear notching, biosecurity, necropsies, injections and medicine withdrawal times. All their hard work was showcased at the Coastal Plains Livestock Show and Sale where participants showed in showmanship and market classes with their pigs. After showing, youth sold their pigs for market price plus added sponsorship money they raised. This project taught participants responsibility, animal husbandry skills, compassion, time management, leadership and confidence. 4-H’ers involved made new friends, created community connections and worked very hard to reach their goals. One participant enjoyed the project so much, she bought a new pig to raise as show at the North Carolina State Fair!

Locally Delicious: Kids Edition

Jones County FCS Agent, Sarah Ware

The agent wanted to get into the school system in Jones County since they began this position, because according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 60% of children don’t eat enough fruit and 93% don’t eat enough vegetables. You often have to offer a new food to a toddler up to 10 times before that toddler will accept it as something they will eat. Unfortunately, COVID put a hold on everything. At the end of 2021, the agent sent a survey to the 6 schools in Jones County, listing things they could do for the school system and asking teachers to select what they wanted if anything. The agent had 32 responses with an overwhelming need for FCS in the schools.

In January, the agent was able to get into the Maysville Elementary school to teach 6 sessions of Locally Delicious in the classroom with 15 preschool children. In this class, the agent highlighted a fruit or vegetable that is growing in season, showed the children how it grows and then tried the produce raw, the taste test. Then they did a recipe with the produce, read a book about it while they ate, did a relatable craft and ended with moving and dancing.

50% of the children’s parents reported their child was more likely to try a new food at home after this class, calling it a ‘taste test’, and giving a thumbs up or thumbs down of their preference. 75% of the children were also more likely to ask their caretakers if they could help in the kitchen. The teacher has asked the agent to come back in the next school year to continue the partnership.

SE District Teen Retreat-Building Momentum

Jones County 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett
Team Members: Shea Ann DeJarnette (Robeson), Kenyatta Dixon (Wilson), Jessica Drake (Cumberland), J. Scott Enroughty (New Hanover), Jessica Hamilton (Wayne), Bridget Huffman (Duplin), Elizabeth Merrill (Sampson), Toni Newby (Bladen), Traci Spencer (Pender), Courtney Stanley (Johnston), Meredith Wood (Johnston)

Due to the pandemic, youth had not had a face-to-face district teen retreat in two years. During that time, many teens were not as engaged in our programs. The 4-H program lost family and youth participation due to virtual overload, lost family members, or their way of life due to COVID.

4-H Youth officers decided to hold a face-to-face, in-person, one day teen retreat. The youth planned leadership and community service workshops, coordinated with the state officers to offer education on teen officer roles and played games.

This activity offered time for youth to catch up, meet each other and make new friends, and just get comfortable with 4-H events again. In a written follow-up evaluation, 28% of youth from all participating counties in the district gave us their thoughts about teen retreat. For almost half the respondents, this was the first district event they had ever attended. Youth had an opportunity to list what they learned as a result and many listed multiple things including leadership, electing officers, and what goes on in a business meeting. When asked what they liked, one respondent stated,”The Leadership workshop was well designed and entertaining. Additionally the amount of time presented for attendees to catch up with one another was definitely enough and a great opportunity for everybody to catch up.” Allowing youth the opportunity to socialize in safe and nurturing environments is more important now than every before. We will continue to offer opportunities for youth to gain those skills and confidence that make them outgoing, successful 4-H members.

Chicken Raising and Harvest

Jones County 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett
Team Members: Jacob Barber (Bladen), Anthony Growe (Richmond), Jessica Hall (Duplin), Krista Johnson (Bladen), Liz Joseph (Cumberland), Jamie Lester (Brunswick), Elizabeth Merrill (Sampson), Toni Newby (Bladen), Becky Spearman (Bladen), Matthew Strickland (Bladen)

A county environmental scan showed there is a need for agricultural literacy especially among youth. Bladen County 4-H and middle schools, high schools, and college agriculture education classes have partnered for 7 of the last 8 years to provide broiler chicks for the students to raise to learn more about the chickens and the agriculture industry.

N.C. Cooperative Extension  – Bladen County provided a hands-on learning opportunity with chickens for high school and college animal science classes and 4-Hers. The youth raised 60 broiler chickens. Chickens were harvested and over 250 pounds of meat was donated to two food banks. There was a poultry processing demonstration for the college students including their final exam for their animal science class.

Over 50 agricultural education students at 2 schools, 10 college students, and 16 4-Hers raised the chickens. 15 volunteers and N.C. Cooperative Extension Agents processed the chickens. 10 college students participated in the poultry processing. When asked about the experience, one college student said “the poultry harvest was an exceptional event! As a homesteader, it gave me an excellent chance to learn new information about small scale processing in a sanitary way. The information provided by the NC State added immensely to the program.” A high school student said “I learned how to do many things that I didn’t know were necessary to maintain the proper environment for chickens… I enjoyed the time that the chickens were here because I got to see them grow and mature into the big chickens that they were when they left.” The college instructor said “Hatching and then raising the chicks allowed students in Animal science courses at BCC to have hands on experience useful in the poultry industry. They were able to monitor the growth of the chicks throughout the process. They fed, watered, and collected weights each week and finished with the processing for a full circle experience.” Comments from a high school teacher “I believe that this is a very effective method of teaching as there are multiple reasons on how this could impact students. First off, it allows me to have a living and breathing teaching aid as I can connect what we are learning in lectures to the animals we have. Along with this, many students have little to no experience working with livestock, and this allows them that opportunity. Not only this, it shows them what it takes to raise chickens, which in turn helps with building responsibility and good management practices. Lastly, it can help to motivate students to pursue a career in the ag field or help them decide if they want to do something else…Overall I feel that this is a great experience for students to have.” 

Animal Production Systems

Coastal Plains Chicken Project Show and Processing

Area Specialized Agent – Poultry, Margaret Ross
Team Members: Jonas Asbill (Randolph), Abbigail Barber (Lenoir), Samantha Bennett (Jones), Andy Burlingham (Pitt), Katie Carter (Jones), Melissa Huffman (Onslow), Charmae Kendall (Duplin), Steve Killette (Lenoir), Coleman Killinger (Carteret), Kaelyn Mohrfeld (Lenoir), Paige Petticrew (Lenoir), Danielle Riggs (Greene), Stephanie Stevenson (Carteret), Stefani Sykes (Wayne), Tara Taylor (Onslow), Kelly Tyndall (Lenoir), Sarah Ware (Jones), Dan Wells (Johnston), Meredith Wood (Johnston)

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021, we saw a shift of folks wanting to learn how to raise and grow their own food, which carried over into 2022. This project is aimed at giving youth a chance to raise chickens from start to finish. On-farm poultry processing interest also skyrocketed during 2020-2021, making this processing demonstration a strong educational need in eastern NC.

N.C. Cooperative Extension agents from Craven, Pamlico, Jones, Duplin, Lenoir, Greene, Johnston, Onslow, Pitt, Wayne, Pender and Carteret counties offered a comprehensive chicken project combined with 4-H embryology. 4-H agents set broiler eggs in local schools where youth turned the eggs, cared for the incubator, and watched the birds hatch. The layers were ordered through a hatchery. Both types of birds went to 4-Hers and FFAers, who cared for the birds and worked with them to prepare for the show. Due to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, we were not able to show the broilers (we were able to show the hens) and were not able to hold our annual farmer training. The broilers were processed with the teamwork of livestock agents, family and consumer sciences agents, and 4-H agents.

Youth participants were able to raise chickens from start to finish–from the three-day old chicks they received to the eight-week old large meat birds. Meat from the birds was donated to three local food banks – 85 birds total were provided to families in need in local communities. Although we were not able to have our annual farmer training, we worked with NCDA to figure out the best and safest way to proceed and that was to have the chicken harvest but not open it to the public. We hope to be back to “normal” next year where we can offer our annual poultry processing farmer training again.

Family and Consumer Sciences

Hooked On Seafood

Jones County FCS Agent, Sarah Ware
Team Members: Stephanie Stevenson (Carteret)

We live on the North Carolina coast and have access to fresh seafood, whether caught by ourselves or bought locally. According to the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP), 90% of Americans fall short of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation to eat seafood at least twice a week. Most of the fat in seafood is a polyunsaturated fat, called omega-3 fatty acids. There is a significant amount of scientific evidence that suggests that omega-3s may play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in most Western countries.

We wanted to teach our local population how easy, safe, and fun it was to catch, prepare and consume local seafood. We decided to create a 1.5 hour program, over the span of 4 days, as a basic introduction to seafood. Partnering with NC Marine Fisheries, we were able to provide specialized education on our local laws pertaining to catching fish, with an in depth lesson on how to filet as well. We included overall seafood nutrition education, food safety, how to select seafood from markets or groceries. We charged thirty dollars for the whole class, where we educated via powerpoint and then turned towards the kitchen to get hands on with seafood recipes. We finished the class at lunchtime, just in time to enjoy the seafood recipe we prepared together.

We had 9 women and 3 men attend the class. Every single one of them said they would like to do the class again, but this time an “advanced version” of Hooked on Seafood. They would like to learn even more about other species of seafood and how to prepare it. Specifically, one participant stated, “..appreciate the emphasis on cleanliness….washing hands, table top etc. I found that this was not always the case with the culinary class I took. Liked how you incorporated instruction with cooking. This was a good introduction. Would love to take another more advanced class.” The pre and post survey provided valuable information: 75% Increase in knowledge of comfortability of filleting fish. 80% Increase in knowledge of temperature to cook fish. 100% Increase in knowledge of health benefits of seafood. 75% Increase in knowledge on how to prepare seafood to cook. 75% Increase in knowledge on local laws and how to catch their own seafood. We only allowed 12 participants for this class, but we had a waitlist of people who wished they could attend it. It looks as though we are set for another round of our pilot seafood program, and possibly even creating an advanced version for our previous participants.

Lifelong Improvements through Fitness Together: Southeast LIFT 2022

Jones County FCS Agent, Sarah Ware
Team Members: Rachel Bland (Brunswick), Taylor Cabaniss (Wilson), Michelle Estrada (Wayne), Peggie Garner (Onslow), Krista Johnson (Bladen), Morgan King (New Hanover), Sydney Knowles (Sampson), Meghan Lassiter (Brunswick), Stephanie Stevenson (Carteret)

Chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke, and heart diseases are among the leading causes of death in North Carolina. The state ranks 13th in the nation for obesity and 18th and 11th highest for diabetes and hypertension, respectively. Through a healthy diet and physical activity, many of these chronic conditions are preventable. In North Carolina, less than half of adults meet the minimum recommendations for physical activity, 42.3% consume fruit less than one time daily, and 22.4% consume vegetables less than once a day. Among adults with an annual household income under $15,000, only 33.9% meet physical activity recommendations and only 15.2% consume the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.

In response to this issue, the Family and Consumer Sciences agents in the Southeast District hosted a Lifelong Improvements through Fitness Together (LIFT) strength training program. This program spans 8 weeks. During this time, participants meet for 60 minute sessions twice a week to engage in a strength training exercise program. Participants are encouraged to keep track of their physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake outside of the course sessions as well. To further elaborate on the importance of fruits and vegetables and include other relevant information, the team distributed a virtual newsletter to participants each week. Through N.C. Cooperative Extension’s response, 50 participants were reached through LIFT classes and/or the weekly newsletters spanning 13 different counties.

Ten of the participants completed both the pre and post workshop evaluation. Based on these evaluations, 50% of participants indicated their confidence in doing strength training exercises increased as a result of their participation in the LIFT program. 70% of participants noticed their ability to perform daily activities had become easier, 90% indicated they will continue to make physical activity a habit, and 100% would recommend the program to others. A few other responses from participants included, “It is a great way to get people motivated with group activity” and they appreciated “the ease of the exercises and the pace.” Since it was offered in a virtual format, others included that one benefit was “being able to work out at home and [knowing] if [they] missed a class [they] could access it later.” Participants shared successes such as their ability to move cases of paper at their office with more ease, play with their grandchildren and have the strength to pull a wagon full of kids and toys in the sand at the beach, and lift and play with their children/grandchildren with more ease. According to the Center For Disease Control, the most common injury among people over 65 is falls. Southeast District FCS Agents are proud to partner together and offer a strength-training program that was successful at meeting the needs of our communities.

Plant Production Systems

Diamondback Moth Trapping Project

Area Agent Agriculture – Commercial Horticulture, Lisa Rayburn

Several growers in the region had expressed concerns about damaging levels of diamondback moth (DBM) caterpillars in their brassica crops. This insect develops insecticide resistance quickly, is difficult to control and is causing economically damaging losses.

Dr. Jim Walgenbach provided traps and pheromone lures for agents to track DBM populations in their regions. Two growers (Onslow and Lenoir counties) were very eager to be part of this project. Traps were established and are checked routinely allowing us to build a better understanding of how populations fluctuate throughout the season and how they can best be controlled.

Traps were established and are checked routinely allowing us to build a better understanding of how populations fluctuate throughout the season and how they can best be controlled. The growers and agent are learning more about the population of these damaging pests and how it fluctuates through the season empowering them to make better management decisions.

High Tunnel Workshop

Area Agent Agriculture – Commercial Horticulture, Lisa Rayburn
Team Members: Matt Collogan (New Hanover)

There is growing interest in high tunnel production. These structures allow growers to capture higher market prices by providing produce earlier or later than field growers. High tunnels also provide some protection from wind and inclement weather.

To meet this interest, N.C. Cooperative Extension partnered with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and local growers to provide practical information on resources available to help cost-share tunnel construction as well as the new NC A&T High Tunnel Production Guide. Information was presented on selecting and managing a high tunnel and then the group toured two local farms with various high tunnels in production. They were able to see the working high tunnels and ask growers questions.

Response was overwhelming with the session filling quickly. Attendees provided positive feedback both verbally and on their evaluations indicating that they intended to put this knowledge gained to work on their farms.

View more of our success stories