Jones County Extension Success Stories: 2021

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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.

Community Development
Our impact throughout the community.

Family and Consumer Sciences
Undertakings in food safety and nutrition.

Plant Production Systems
Providing solutions to row crop problems.

4-H Youth Development

Southern Showmanship Classic

Jones County Livestock Agent, Katie Carter
Team Members: Samantha Bennett (Jones), Ashley Brooks (Craven), Thomas Glasgow (Craven), Stephanie Stevenson (Carteret)

Camps are a great way to expose youth to experiences that they may not have the ability do so any other times. The Southern Showmanship Classic is a summer horse camp that is put on in Craven County during the month of August. The Southern Showmanship Classic was held at Cottonwood Farm in Vanceboro, NC. Cottonwood also supplied the horses used during the camp. The cost to participate in the Southern Showmanship Classic was $60 and 15 youth participated.

Youth get the opportunity to work with a horse learning showmanship, grooming, and working with the horse on the ground. Practices were held every Tuesday and Saturday during the month of August with a lesson and a page that needed to be filled out in the record book that was due at the end of the camp. Lessons included horse safety, nutritional needs, hoof care, muscular system, breeds/colors, and making show halters to use in the show. The last Saturday of Southern Showmanship Classic was a horse showmanship show. Every participant got a ribbon and there were grand and reserve champion ribbons awarded to each age group. Awards were also awarded for record books.

Youth on the first day of Southern Showmanship Classic were intimidated by the horses and insecure with working with such big animals. By the end of Southern Showmanship Classic all participants had improved greatly with working with their horse as well as their confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Jones County Livestock Show

Jones County Livestock Agent, Katie Carter
Team Members: Samantha Bennett (Jones), Jacob Morgan (Jones), Margaret Ross (Jones), Stefani Sykes (Wayne), Sarah Ware (Jones)

Opportunities for youth to develop valuable life skills have become much less available since the COVID-19 pandemic. By providing a livestock show, youth have the opportunity to build life skills such as confidence, accountability, planning, and organization.

Jones County held its second annual Livestock Show for the Eastern Carolina Show Circuit. During this event N.C. Cooperative Extension of Jones County staff worked closely with county government and sponsors to provide the best quality show possible for youth.

There were 81 youth from over 10 counties that participated in the Jones County Livestock Show. Youth showed heifers, goats, and lambs during the duration of the show which lasted 2 days. Money, time, and work that youth put into these project animals did not go to waste. The Jones County Livestock Agent will continue to have the livestock show for the Community and youth.

Pollinator Habitat Camps and Community Event

Jones County 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett
Team Members: Danielle Riggs (Greene), Alex Sugg-Kennedy (Lenoir)

Pollinators in North Carolina are being threatened by habitat loss, disease and environmental changes yet, they are invaluable to all crop production in the state. It is important to teach youth the importance of pollinators and how to do their part to protect them.

National 4-H teamed up with Cortiva Agriscience to offer a grant program called Pollinator Habitat that would help teach youth about the importance of North Carolina Pollinators through 4-H curriculums. Lenoir, Jones and Greene County 4-H’s were awarded the grant and with the help of North Carolina 4-H, 4-H Agents created summer camps and a large community event to help spread education and awareness.

The grant of $12,500 allowed Lenoir, Jones and Greene County 4-H to reach over five hundred youth in five months through different educational opportunities. Ten 4-H’ers were trained to be Pollinator Ambassadors and teach National and North Carolina 4-H curriculums. These Ambassadors taught day camps through the 4-H Summer Fun series in all three counties. This leadership role also allowed them to help plan and execute a large weekend community event, Pollinator Party, at the Lenoir County Farmers Market. There were learning stations and games set up that the Ambassadors led, take home goodies, raffles, as well as an opportunity for youth to plant native plants to beautify the park. The grant was very successful and many youth who attended camp and the community event stated that they could identify North Carolina pollinators, describe their importance for the crop industry and planned to take home seeds to plant to promote pollinator habitats.

Growing Resilient 4-H’ers

Jones County 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett

Positive and adverse childhood experiences (PACEs) really mold a child into the adult they become later in life. 4-H is an organization that promotes positive experiences through learning and the supportive relationships from adult leaders and volunteers. North Carolina has been hit hard in the past years with natural disasters and a pandemic. 4-H youth need positive interactions now and 4-H Adult Volunteers need the training to be able to be the best role model they can be.

Jones and Pender County 4-H Agents, 4-H Adult Volunteer, Tamra Church, along with PACEs Connection, Carey Sipp, thought it would be great to share the importance of positive and adverse childhood experiences and how they affect a child. A presentation was created to be shared at North Carolina 4-H Volunteer Leaders Conference on February 6, 2021.

Although Volunteer Leaders Conference was a virtual event, a presentation on “Growing Resilient 4-H’ers” was sent out to all conference attendees. It was a well received topic and presenters were asked to present again on June 8, 2021 for a learning series. Through both workshops, 4-H adult volunteers learned the important role they play in shaping 4-H youth into adults. They also learned skills they can use to help youth stay in a resilient zone so that they can get the most out of their 4-H opportunities.

Jones/Lenoir AIRE

Jones County 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett
Team Members: Alex Sugg-Kennedy (Lenoir)

Many youth and young adults never have the opportunity to practice the interview process before their first job. This leaves them at a disadvantage to other applicants who may have more experience in this area. 4-H is the perfect safe space to gain these life skills.

Jones and Lenoir County Agents modeled the North Carolina 4-H program called AIRE (Application, Interview, Resume and Electronic Video) to create a scholarship program in their counties. They teamed together to create a program for 4-H and non 4-H teens to gain job application skills and practice those new life skills in a competition setting.

As a result, twelve teens from across Jones and Lenoir counties participated in the program. They completed applications for the program and then attended four learning workshops on professionalism, interviewing, resume writing and dress for success. Each workshop was taught by a community member in the participating counties and served as a professional network building opportunity. After the workshops, applicants submitted a professional resume and electronic video introducing themselves and some of their interests and hobbies. Lastly, applicants were interviewed virtually by business owners from the area and members of local government. Winners were awarded small scholarships and a trophy. It is hopeful that this program can continue to grow each year.

Lenoir County Agricultural Fair Rabbit Showmanship Show

Jones County 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett
Team Members: Danielle Riggs (Greene), Alex Sugg-Kennedy (Lenoir)

There was high interest from 4-H families about a short term rabbit project that concluded with a show. Youth and their families had enjoyed similar previous projects due to their short term commitment and ease in keeping a smaller animal in the home.

Lenoir, Jones and Greene County 4-H Agents implemented a rabbit project that would last six weeks and end with a rabbit show at the Lenoir County Agricultural Fair. A rabbit breeder was located to supply borrowed rabbits to youth that would be returned after the show and 4-H youth were also able to bring their own pet rabbits. The show was limited to only showmanship.

As a result of this initiative, there were five Cloverbud, eight Junior, four Intermediate, and eight Senior participants. Eleven youth borrowed a rabbit for the project and fourteen youth brought their own rabbit to show. Youth were able to complete record books, improve rabbit husbandry skills, gain responsibility and most importantly were able to see their hard work pay off as they competed against their peers.

Livestock and 4-H agents Scramble to Create an Egg-citing Learning Opportunity

Jones County 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett
Team Members: Laura Allen (Rowan), Tracy Blake (Montgomery), Beverly Bollenbecker (Cabarrus), Cathy Brown (Hoke), Katie Carter (Jones), Taylor Chavis (Robeson), Phyllis Creech-Greene (Columbus), Shea Ann DeJarnette (Robeson), Jessica Drake (Cumberland), J. Scott Enroughty (New Hanover), Richard Goforth (Harnett), Anthony Growe (Richmond), Mackenzie Hall (Cabarrus), Charmae Kendall (Duplin), Morgan King (New Hanover), Elizabeth Merrill (Sampson), Rachel Owens (Union), Margaret Ross (Jones), Catherine Shelley (Richmond), Becky Spearman (Bladen), Traci Spencer (Pender), Crystal Starkes (Union), Morgan Watts (Rowan)

The COVID-19 pandemic posed several challenges in how N.C. Cooperative Extension continued to provide interactive, educational programs for youth. Many youth in several counties have participated in projects in the past where they raised and showed laying hens. Due to social distancing restrictions, providing youth with alternative opportunities was essential in ensuring they remain engaged.

Livestock and 4-H agents from Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland, Hoke, Montgomery, New Hanover, Richmond, Robeson, and Sampson Counties and two poultry area specialized agents created the EGG-cellent Egg Contest. The contest included entering eggs into the different color and size categories, attending virtual training sessions, and completing a host of supplemental activities. A Google site was created to house all of the information needed to complete the contest. Some of the supplemental activities included: a virtual escape room based egg production and selection, multiple poster and video submissions, creating a chicken coop, applying egg economics scenario, identifying exterior egg defects, etc. Specialists in the NC State Poultry Science Department and NC Department of Agriculture egg inspectors served as judges for the contest. Youth were provided prizes sponsored by numerous agricultural businesses and organizations.

Forty-nine youth from 15 counties participated in the project. Because of the influx in participation from last year, youth were divided into eastern and western sections to increase the number of youth who were recognized for their achievements. Of those who completed the post-survey, 100% reported an increase in ability to select quality eggs and an increase in their verbal presentation skills. Ninety-percent reported they gained new insight on raising chickens and improved written communication skills. Overall, all participants said they would do the project again. The agents and youth look forward to doing the project again in 2022!

Animal Production Systems

Poultry Processing Unit

Jones County Livestock Agent, Katie Carter
Team Members: Samantha Bennett (Jones), Margaret Ross (Jones), Stefani Sykes (Wayne), Sarah Ware (Jones)

With the current COVID-19 situation, more and more people have been looking to be more self sufficient with food security. Backyard flocks have been an easy way to secure a quality source of protein from both eggs and meat. With the rise of backyard flocks people needed a way to process their chickens safely and humanly.

The Area Specialized Poultry Agent and the Jones County Livestock Agent were able to purchase a Mobile Processing Unit. The MPU is made up of kill cones and stand, scolder, and plucker that is transportable for easy at home processing. This MPU is the only unit on the eastern part of the state making it easily accessible for people in the coastal counties. On November 22 we had a processing demonstration where 3 local growers brought their birds to the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jones County Center and Agents helped them process their birds as well as show them how to use the equipment safely and correctly. In total we processes 30 hens and 3 turkeys.

By having the MPU in Jones County we are helping people in and around Jones County be self-sufficient. The MPU helps backyard flock owners to reach their flock’s full potential in providing all the protein possible.

Poultry Litter Management Plans

Area Specialized Agent – Poultry, Margaret Ross
Team Members: Jonas Asbill (Randolph), Richard Goforth (Harnett), Lauren Greene (Wilkes)

The North Carolina poultry industry has seen exponential growth in the past several years, meaning there have been many requests for poultry dry litter management plans. These plans are required by the poultry integrators, and loan officers as part of the farm loan agreement. Also known as nutrient management plans, these plans are also required when a farm changes hands.

Although it is not required to be a certified technical specialist to write these plans, having this background aids the area specialized poultry agents in knowledge of cropping rotations, field applications, and equipment calibrations to help properly write nutrient management plans for chicken and turkey farms. We are also able to assist growers in the process of applying for a compost permit with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. By partnering with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, NRCS, and FSA to procure aerial farm maps and soil maps in order to calculate the total amount of plant available nitrogen (PAN) produced by the farm, we can then gather the soil typing information to determine if they have enough land to apply their litter on or if they also need a third party applicator to help manage excess litter. This encourages growers to apply at agronomic rates, which means they are not overapplying litter that could become an environmental concern.

This year there were 86 grower participants across the state. These plans range in cost from $350-$2,500 each when written by a private consultant, meaning NC State Extension saved growers between $30,100-$215,000. Composting permits also cost several hundred dollars as an out of pocket expense to growers, meaning NC State Extension has saved growers over $2,500 per plan.

Crabgrass Pastures

Jones County Livestock Agent, Katie Carter

A producer bought a crop field in Jones County that he wanted to convert into pastures for his cow-calf operation. The crop field had been out of crop rotation for 1 growing season. Weeds such as sicklepod, morning glory, thistle, and native grasses were the only things actively growing. After discussing different warm season forage options, the producer decided on crabgrass to plant for summer grazing.

A soil sample was the first action taken followed by soil analysis recommendations. The actively growing weeds were treated with a herbicide and the soil was prepared for planting. Forage management is a major part of livestock production. Getting a good stand can be tricky due to factors such as management, weather, and soil fertility. Crabgrass is an acceptable forage for grazing livestock with nutritional values similar to Bermudagrass. Crabgrass is a summer annual and needs at least 6-8 weeks (in ideal weather conditions) to reach a grazing height of about 6-10 inches. Crabgrass is a hardy forage that can withstand drought periods, heavy amounts of rain in a short amount of time, and high foot traffic. All these things, plus its nutritional values makes Crabgrass an excellent summer forage for grazing livestock. Crabgrass prices are also similar to Bermudagrass prices ranging from $200-$250/50lb bag. Stocking ratio is 1 cow/acer of crabgrass, similar to other warm season grasses.

The crabgrass stand was successfully established by the end of July and the producer was able to graze his cow-calf pairs through the summer. By having the stand established, the producer did not have to feed hay which saved him roughly $2,000 in hay cost. At the end of September, ryegrass was over seeded for winter grazing.

Aquaculture Research Collaborations

Area Specialized Agent – Aquaculture, Mike Frinsko

Aquaculture is a diverse industry that requires research based information to enhance production efficiency. Approximately 50% of the cost to produce fish goes to feed use. Specialized feeds are created that are formulated using ingredients that are both nutritious and cost efficient. Feed use also is increasingly scrutinized to ensure sustainable practices are followed as much as possible to minimize the environmental impact of the industry on a global scale.

The Area Aquaculture Agent, specializing in fish nutrition, has been asked to collaborate on two research projects related to innovative fish feed development. The first project, is sponsored by the U.S. Soy Board and is designed to investigate the use of high oleic oil soy bean meal in feeds for striped bass. It is proposed that this fatty acid will result in some demonstrable growth performance of use to industry. Collaborations will be with colleagues from NCSU Poultry Science and Bio and Agricultural Engineering. The second project involves the utilization of fish processing waste from an in-State salmon smoking facility. The goal is to increase the sustainability of processing the fish by extracting the oil and protein parts from the waste and using these byproducts as nutritional ingredients in fish feeds. This project is a collaboration with colleagues from the NCSU Seafood Lab, Poultry Science and Bio and Agr. Engineering.

Both grants were funded with the Area Aquaculture Agent as Co-PI on each project. The total value of funding is over $290,000. Results will be disseminated to the scientific community and demonstrated at our Marine Aquaculture Research Center (MARC).

Summer and Fall Reports to Industry

Area Specialized Agent – Aquaculture, Mike Frinsko

It is important to keep our aquaculture industry partners appraised of our research and Extension activities. Each year, the Se District Aquaculture Area Agent presents research and Extension related activities to both the Tilapia industry and Striped Bass industry members, respectively. These two meetings are coordinated with other institutional partners from NCSU, NCDA, Farm Bureau, Sea-Grant, etc. to provide timely updates of relevance to our producers.

Due to the occurance of the COVID pandemic, the summer and fall meetings were postponed to early and late October. My presentations represented focused research pertaining to feed, hatchery, larviculture and other husbandry practices. Information on the upcoming 2022 NC Aquaculture Conference was also shared.

Each meeting had about 40 producer/ allied industry attendees from throughout our region with speakers from N.C. Cooperative Extension, NCSU Applied Ecology, NCSU Bio and Agr. Engineering, Farm Bureau, NCDA and NC Sea Grant. Due to the overwhelming positive feedback, we will continue this programming again in 2022.

NC Aquaculture Development Conference goes Virtual

Area Specialized Agent – Aquaculture, Mike Frinsko
Team Members: Steve Gabel (Chowan)

North Carolina is host to one of the oldest and most successful state sponsored aquaculture conferences in the U.S. This past year, the 33rd North Carolina Aquaculture Development Conference (NCADC) couldn’t meet as usual, due to the COVID pandemic. This office Chaired the program planning committee and along with member colleague Steve Gabel and others on the overall conference planning team (NCSU, NCDA, NC-Sea Grant, NC Farm Bureau, etc.), moved forward to make the conference available as a virtual event.

The planning committee enlisted expertise from our Extension IT group that provided outstanding assistance in the coordination of speakers and meeting events. This included pre-conference training and testing of speakers connectivity to our system, ensuring the highest quality transmission possible.

The conference presentations occurred without any significant flaw. All speakers were able to participate and we retained the normal 300+ attendees during this 3 day event. We have developed an increase capability to reach our audience and for the 2022 conference, intend to reach a greater, international audience.

Investigating Noval Feeds for Fish Larviculture

Area Specialized Agent – Aquaculture, Mike Frinsko

Most marine fish species raised in aquaculture, require the use of live feeds during the larval rearing stage, especially as a “first-feed”. Live feeds generally are different types of zooplankton that meet the size and nutritional needs required of the fish being cultured. The most common of which are the brine shrimp, also referred to by their scientific name, Artemia. Numerous feed companies have made feeds, called microdiets, to replace or augment the use of Artemia. Unfortunately, many of the most valuable fish species do not accept microdiets, especially as a first-feed, resulting the the need to provide live Artemia, multiple times daily, throughout the month long larval phase. This is an expensive and labor intensive process.

Our lab investigated the use of more than 15 commercial diets as a first-feed with striped bass; a commercially significant NC species. While all feeds attracted the fish larvae, non ingested it. However, we noticed that uneaten Artemia cysts were consumed. This observation provided us significant insight on the feeding behavior and feed acceptance by striped bass.

We have now developed a novel microdiet formulation which we will use during the upcoming hatchery season. This formulation and corresponding unique manufacturing techniques will focus on texture as the limiting factor in striped bass (and other marine species) larvaeculture and feed acceptance. Creating an alternative to live feeds will change the nature and scope of larvaeculture globally.

Automated Artemia Feeder

Area Specialized Agent – Aquaculture, Mike Frinsko

Soon after hatching, fish larvae begin to feed. Most often, they require living zooplankton as a “first feed”. In aquaculture settings, hatchery facilities commonly use a live feed, referred to as “brine shrimp” (aka Artemia), as this first feed. Artemia are hatched from cysts and then collected/fed following standard methods. On of the biggest challenges is feeding the correct amount of Artemia, consistently, throughout the day/night for the duration of the larval cycle which is normally 35-45 days. This practice is usually done manually, by hand. From experience, we have witnessed the complete loss (mortality) of larval fish during a critical growth phase when feeding was missed by less than 4 hours. This practice is labor intensive and logistically very challenging and prone to inaccuracies.

This office led the development of an innovative automatic feeding system with an Aquaculture Specialist colleague from the NCSU Dept of Bio. and Agr. Engineering (BAE). We enlisted 2 groups of BAE students that used this topic during a multiyear effort to create a usable feeding system to assist in our research. The design is a prototype from which we are now building upon to create a system for commercial applications.

This past spring, the system was put in use. It contained a fully functional pumping system that would provide specific amounts of Artemia to each of 20 experimental tanks, using 4 test diets. The system is controlled with PC-tablet containing a GUI specifically designed for this system. The unit is capable of back flushing, adjusting the number/volume of Artemia being fed, specific interval of feeding and total number of feedings per day. The precision of feeding can ensure feedings are done correctly, dependably, and consistently to avoid the mortalities commonly found in both industry and research settings. This coming year, we plan to incorporate a “real time” counting mechanism to enhance our precision even more

Advancing Larval Fish Culture with an Innovative Oil Skimmer

Area Specialized Agent – Aquaculture, Mike Frinsko

Most fish have an organ called a swimbladder (SB) that is used for buoyancy control. During the larval stage, striped bass (and many other species) have a short, 3-5 day time period in which to activate the SB. To do this, they must gulp a micro-bubble of surface air and force it into the SB where it becomes inflated and can begin functioning. Failure to inflate the SB will result in the development of skeletal deformities, reduced growth, and numerous other conditions detrimental to production. Research indicates that oils from larval feeds float to the culture tanks where they cover the entire surface. The resulting oil film increases the water surface-tension, such that the small larvae cannot penetrate to reach the surface air. To date, a number of methods have been tried to remedy this situation with limited results. In commercial settings, it is not uncommon for only 2-10% of all larvae to succeed in SB inflation. Low SB inflation results in inefficient production.

This year, a novel method of removing surface oil was developed. A PVC “ring” of about 6″x 8″ using 3/4″ pipe was constructed to float within the larval culture tanks. On one end, the device had an inlet hole drilled, allowing a 1/2″ pipe to be placed through it, at the water surface. While floating, surface water enters the ring as air from an attached airline draws water into the ring. Oil collects within the ring on the surface where it can be removed periodically (3-4 hour intervals) by scooping with a plastic container.

Use of this ring oil skimmer has allowed for the highly efficient removal of surface oil. We found SB inflation to exceed 95% in a triplicate trial. This noval technique is a very simple method which effectively removes a major and significant bottleneck to marine fish larvaculture. Research and Extension publications are planned to disseminate this information.

Coastal Plains Chicken Project Show and Processing

Area Specialized Agent – Poultry, Margaret Ross
Team Members: Jonas Asbill (Randolph), Samantha Bennett (Jones), Ashley Brooks (Craven), Andy Burlingham (Pitt), Katie Carter (Jones), Richard Goforth (Harnett), Lauren Greene (Wilkes), Eve Honeycutt (Lenoir), Bridget Huffman (Duplin), Melissa Huffman (Onslow), Charmae Kendall (Duplin), Coleman Killinger (Carteret), Laura Pilkington (Johnston), Danielle Riggs (Greene), Alex Sugg-Kennedy (Lenoir), Stefani Sykes (Wayne), Kelly Tyndall (Lenoir), Sarah Ware (Jones), Dan Wells (Johnston)

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we saw a shift to folks wanting to learn how to raise and grow their own food, which carried over in 2021. Although we have been doing the chicken project for many years, this year seemed like an excellent year to provide youth the opportunity to learn how to care for livestock and poultry. 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, making this processing demonstration a strong educational need in eastern NC.

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. The broilers were processed the next day, in conjunction with a farmer demonstration training class. Extension agents partnered with NCDA&CS, the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, NC Choices, and local farming families to hold an educational and hands-on demonstration of how to properly process poultry on-farm. Participants were given the opportunity to practice processing chickens that day on-site with help from agents and provided information on the current poultry exemption rules.

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 two local food banks – 57 birds total were provided to families in need in local communities. Farmer participants learned how to process chickens and familiarized themselves with rules and regulations. Evaluation results show 100% of participants were either “Satisfied” or “Very Satisfied” with the overall quality of the training workshop. There were a range of responses from “Very Low” – “High” in the Before the Workshop section, but 80% of participants responded their knowledge After the Workshop was from “Moderate” – “Very High.” Of the 11 participants who answered the question, four said they thought the workshop would save them $1-$500, six said the workshop would save them $500-$1,000, and one said the workshop would save them $1,000+.

Commercial Ventilation Seminars

Area Specialized Agent – Poultry, Margaret Ross
Team Members: Jonas Asbill (Randolph), Richard Goforth (Harnett), Lauren Greene (Wilkes)

Broilers (chickens grown for meat) are the top agricultural commodity in NC. That means there are a lot of birds grown in the state and their care is in the hands of multiple contract growers, employees, and integrators. There are a number of companies that reside in NC and this story involves 3 of them who collectively process over 300 million birds per year. Building on some introductory seminars from 2020, N.C. Cooperative Extension provided 2 Summer Ventilation Seminars and 2 Winter Ventilation Seminars to live production staff in 2021. The transition from summer to fall and then winter to spring is typically one of the hardest to navigate when it comes to regulating the environment within a poultry production house. These seminars were an opportunity to review some of the basics with less experienced flock supervisors to ensure a developing set of skills that these employees could pass along to their producers for the upcoming change in seasons.

All four of NC’s Area Specialized Agents for Poultry and specialists from NCSU department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering partnered with HogSlat to provide 4 no-cost trainings to live production staff from 3 different broiler companies and complexes. By training these 63 members of the live production staff, we were able to indirectly reach over 600 contract growers in their complexes as they take their knowledge to the field.

By providing this training, we positively impacted the environment of more than 300 million broilers annually in nearly 3,000 commercial houses in Central and Eastern North Carolina. Improving the environment in which the birds are raised increases livability, average daily weight gains, and feed conversion, thus increasing the growers’ production levels and pay. Improved bird husbandry practices also provide higher quality products to the end consumers.

Improving Access to Poultry Processing for Small Flock Growers

Area Specialized Agent – Poultry, Margaret Ross
Team Members: Jonas Asbill (Randolph), Richard Goforth (Harnett), Lauren Greene (Wilkes), Deidre Harmon (Animal Science), Jon Holt (Animal Science), Brian Parrish (Harnett), Matt Poore (Animal Science), Stefani Sykes (Wayne)

An ever growing number of small flock producers are growing poultry as part of their integrated agriculture production system to feed their families or to create income. North Carolina currently has no small independent poultry processors to provide this service to producers as a result growers must learn and process their own birds or book limited space at out of state processors adding the expense of long distance travel to the profit margin.

The poultry work group conducted a survey with the niche meat work group to identify ares of the state with a need for poultry processing and worked with local county offices that agreed to house Mobile Processing Units to rent to growers. We utilize poultry work group funds to support the purchase of two new MPUs for Jones and Rutherford Counties. In addition replacement supplies for the Harnett unit and a trailer for transport and storage of a MPU in Wayne County were secured from expiring funds reimbursed during response to the Avian Influenza outbreak in Union and Anson Counties in 2020.

Processing field days were held in Jones and Madison counties to educate local growers on how to operate the MPUs and process birds for safe and proper intrastate sales if desired. An additional training was conducted at the fall livestock agent hands-on field day at the Butner Field Lab using the Harnett unit to train livestock agents on how to use and conduct field days utilizing the MPUs for their local growers. Rental of these units has been increasing steadily and allows growers to greatly decrease the cost of processing to improve profit margins.

Backyard Flock Series Provides Virtual Education for Small Flock Owners

Area Specialized Agent – Poultry, Margaret Ross
Team Members: Ken Anderson (Poultry Science), Jonas Asbill (Randolph), Richard Goforth (Harnett), Lauren Greene (Wilkes), Jesse Grimes (Poultry Science)

In 2020, we saw an increase in the number of people who were keeping small flocks of chickens. In response, Extension hosted five virtual workshops, the Home Flock Series, to educate first-time producers on best management practices and proper animal husbandry. Due to the demand and feedback from that series, the Area Specialized Poultry Agents began the Backyard Flock Series in 2021 as a way to provide virtual education on more specific topics for small flock producers.

When planning the Backyard Flock Series, it was decided to host a webinar every 6-8 weeks, deciding the topic(s) based on feedback from the previous webinar(s). In 2021, webinars were held in January, March, April, June, August, and October. Based on the feedback of the participants, topics covered throughout the year included best management practices and animal husbandry, poultry health and diseases, poultry processing how-tos, NCDA&CS regulations and marketing, best management practices for raising turkeys including brooding and rearing as well as predator protection, guineas and game birds, and how to winterize your flock. Guest speakers included Dr. Ken Anderson and Dr. Jesse Grimes from the Prestage Department of Poultry Science and Dr. Michael Martin from NCDA&CS. In total, there were 420 people from 70 North Carolina counties, 9 states, and one person from Latvia who participated in the Backyard Flock Series.

The participants showed an increased knowledge of each subject taught in the Backyard Flock Series. 90% of participants planned to implement learned feeding practices, 69% planned to implement Extension recommendations to improve biosecurity on their farms, 87% showed an improvement of understanding brooding practices, 18% of participants planned to improve vaccination measures in their flocks, and 36% planned to become NPIP certified. All of this data is reflective of the impact this series had on North Carolinians with small flocks. The topics covered, with knowledge gained and practices implemented, will positively impact the health and welfare of small flocks of those who participated. No matter the size of someone’s operation, our goal is to have healthy flocks to enter into the food supply, and implementing the things learned during this series will do just that.

Poultry Industry Newsletter

Area Specialized Agent – Poultry, Margaret Ross
Team Members: Ken Anderson (Poultry Science), Jonas Asbill (Randolph), Marissa Cohen (Poultry Science), Mary Fosnaught (Poultry Science), Richard Goforth (Harnett), Lauren Greene (Wilkes), Jesse Grimes (Poultry Science), Steph Kulesza (Crop & Soil Sciences), Edgar Oviedo (Poultry Science), Sanjay Shah (Biological & Agricultural Engineering)

As Extension agents, it is our job to pass information from the campus level down to the producer level. Area Specialized Agents tend to be an in-between for county agents and campus specialists. The Area Specialized Poultry Agents have a unique role, in that they work with the poultry industry, which has contract growers through the vertically integrated business model. Due to this structure, it can be hard to disseminate information to the people who need it. To combat this, the Poultry ASAs decided to bring back the Poultry Industry Newsletter as a way to get information to growers, integrators, and the allied industry.

It was decided that the newsletter would be published quarterly. Articles were curated each quarter by the Poultry ASAs. By collaborating with partners in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, the Bio & Ag Engineering and Crop & Soil Sciences departments at NC State, and UNC Charlotte, these articles covered a wide range of topics, from programs and incentives available to contract growers, to new hires in relevant departments at NC State.

When distributed, the Poultry Industry Newsletter reached 18 vertically integrated poultry complexes in North Carolina, consisting of approximately 2200 producers per quarter. The newsletter is distributed electronically via email and hard copies are printed and distributed when requested by the companies. In 2022, we hope to shift to ActiveCampaign as our format for distribution of the Poultry Industry Newsletter.

Eastern Carolina Showmanship Circuit provides opportunities in Ag & Leadership

Jones County Livestock Agent, Katie Carter
Team Members: Jessica Anderson (Greene), Beth Burchell (Halifax), Andy Burlingham (Pitt), Eileen Coite (Sampson), Paul Gonzalez (Sampson), Tanya Heath (Edgecombe), Charmae Kendall (Duplin), Max Knowles (Sampson), Kelsey Lichtenwalner (Edgecombe), Dan Wells (Johnston)

The agricultural industry strives to introduce young, motivated, skilled employees into the workforce which will continue to supply food for our nation and our world, as population continues to grow, while the number of farms and farmland decreases. In addition, young people are faced with many opportunities and choices in life, some of which may not be positive. The more choices we can offer that will provide opportunities for leadership and responsibility, the better.

Extension agents, parents and volunteer leaders, as well as organizers of fairs and livestock shows in Halifax, Edgecombe, Duplin, Lenoir, Wilson, Wayne, Sampson, Johnston, Craven and the Albemarle area joined forces to offer the Eastern Carolina Showmanship Circuit. This circuit provides a means for young people interested in growing and caring for sheep, swine, cattle and goats to sharpen their animal husbandry, showmanship, and sportsmanship skills. Partners for the circuit included each show’s sponsoring organization, along with overall circuit sponsorship support from Smithfield Foods, North Carolina Pork Council, NC Polled Hereford Association, Ag Carolina Farm Credit of North Carolina, Quality Equipment and other local farms.

Youth involved, parents and leaders, as well as industry supporters find value in the program. These youth develop valuable life skills and build relationships that will continue to grow in coming years. These youth have an interest in the agriculture industry with our hopes to increase their exposure to various agricultural opportunities that may lead them to a career in this field.

Community Development

Food Distribution

Jones County FCS Agent, Sarah Ware
Team Members: Samantha Bennett (Jones), Katie Carter (Jones), Jacob Morgan (Jones), Lisa Rayburn (Onslow)

According to the USDA, in America 14% of families with children are food-insecure before Coronavirus. 46% of children in Jones County live below the poverty line.

The agent accepted the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program offer. She agreed to receive 1,380 boxes to be delivered to Jones County Civic Center every Monday. The agent then made flyers in English and Spanish and dispersed them around the county. Volunteers included, Jones County EMS; director and employees, DSS; director and employees, her extension co workers and director, Partnership for Children, Jones County RISE, county maintenance workers, a local food pantry, Lenoir Community College and high school students. These were 32-40 pound boxes, each containing: 5-6 pounds of cooked protein, 5-6 pounds of dairy items, 1 gallon of milk, hard cooked eggs, and an assortment of fruits and vegetables.

13 distributions In order to collect sufficient data, the agent had 2 volunteers stationed at the main entrance. They would ask the participant how many boxes they needed, write that number on a post it note, and stick it to their windshield. The volunteer would then ask, how many people would each box feed? They would write that number down on a separate sheet. For all 13 food distribution days we were able to distribute every single box. We were able to successfully distribute 468,468 lbs of produce. We served 3,500 people weekly in our community. There was a total of 46+ hours of volunteering. She was able to continue making connections and establish relationships that she would not have been able to do otherwise, stepping up as the Food Coordinator for Jones County, and accepting these produce boxes. This builds trust as she proceeds to deliver classes in the future for her county.

Sustainable Living Series

Jones County FCS Agent, Sarah Ware
Team Members: Casey Shotton (New Hanover)

The planet needs our love. Whether it be reducing food waste, composting, recycling, protecting pollinators in the garden, or harvesting rainwater – education is needed to maintain a more fruitful life. The Environmental and Water Quality Program Assistant, Casey, brought the Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, Consumer Horticulture Agent, Commercial Horticulture Agent, Recycling and Community Coordinator, Water Quality & Waste Management Agent together to discuss different topics in their specialized fields. 30-40% of all food produced is wasted. This is like throwing your money down the drain, so the agent taught a session on Food Waste.

The agent taught a session on Food Waste, including: food storage, prep and preservation. Twenty eight people, 19 female and 9 male, attended the Food Waste session via Zoom.

11 participants said they would use the methods taught to reduce food waste in their kitchen. 8 participants had a low level of knowledge on this topic before the webinar. 16 participants had a high level of knowledge on this topic after the webinar.

Family and Consumer Sciences

One Dish Wonders

Jones County FCS Agent, Sarah Ware
Team Members: Shelina Bonner (Greene), Kelly Tyndall (Lenoir)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants were closed in North Carolina. Families had the need to cook at home and many individuals requested easy, quick, and budget-friendly recipes. Face to face programming was suspended because face to face contact was prohibited.

Jones, Onslow, Lenoir, and Greene County Family and Consumer Sciences Agents partnered to develop a six-week food and nutrition program. The program was delivered via Zoom with information about nutrition, food safety, and cooking skills. Every week, participants received electronic handouts, recipes, and cooking videos. We had an average of 20 participants in each class. They completed five challenges to practice the skills learned during class.

We matched sixteen pre and post surveys, and collected the following information: Before the program, 31% of the participants were reading labels, after the program 56%. Before the program, 31% of the participants chose foods with less sodium post-survey showed 56%. 50% reported eating small portions before the program and post-survey showed 81%. Participants not only learn food and nutrition education but also how to use an online platform to access N.C. Cooperative Extension Resources. Agents feel more confident to provide more distance education that can impact their communities and beyond. They are planning to develop more on-line programs that can mimic the hands-on experience that normally is offered by N.C. Cooperative Extension.

Chopped: Kids Edition

Jones County FCS Agent, Sarah Ware
Team Members: Samantha Bennett (Jones), Jacob Morgan (Jones), Stephanie Stevenson (Carteret)

Healthy living starts in adolescence and kitchen skills are a must. The Family and Consumer Science Agent put a spin on a popular TV show called Chopped, to get kids interested in food safety and nutrition. One of the top four issues self-reported by Jones County residents in the Community Health Opinion survey, was obesity.

The Agent partnered with 4-H to provide a 3-day class, with 11 children ages 9-12. The first two days we taught the children about kitchen safety, proper knife skills, cooking temperatures, and MyPlate.

The agents were able to educate 85% of the children on how to safely and efficiently use cutting techniques, 95% of the children on proper portion sizes, and all 11 participants learned about cross contamination. The skills are important for children to grow into healthy adults that can spread their knowledge to others.

Locally Delicious Video Recipes

Jones County FCS Agent, Sarah Ware
Team Members: Michelle Estrada (Wayne), Kelly Tyndall (Lenoir)

Many Family and Consumer Sciences Agents provide recipes, posters, and cooking demos to promote local foods at the Farmers Markets. However, agents can’t be at the Farmers Market all the time and having videos of seasonal local foods can be another resource to educate people on how to cook local produce in a healthy way. Jones, Onslow, Lenoir, and Wayne County Family and Consumer Sciences Agents partnered to create 1-2 minutes cooking videos to show at the Farmers Market.

The first videos were produced and ready to be shown at Farmers Markets but the virus came and some of the Markets were close or change their policies to access the market. Agents decided to use the videos to promote local foods posting them on social media to encourage people to eat healthy and local.

36 videos were produced that included recipes using: strawberries, cabbage, peppers, peaches, zucchini, broccoli, apples, brussel sprout, winter squash, collards and sweet potatoes. This project had a total of 12,896 views on Facebook. Videos were share at the Local Foods Conference and other agents are planning to use them in their counties to promote local foods. The top three videos with most views were: Strawberry Chocolate Pretzel Frozen Yogurt (1552), Oatmeal Strawberry Muffins (1539), and Black Beans and Peppers Salad (955). Posting these videos on Facebook gave agents an opportunity to interact with new audiences, and to have resources ready for the season of different fruits and vegetables. Our next goal is to write a grant to be able to purchase a TV for the farmers market and a display for printable recipes that people can take when they watch a recipe that they liked.

Reaching New Audiences with Virtual Programs

Jones County FCS Agent, Sarah Ware
Team Members: Michelle Estrada (Wayne), Kelly Tyndall (Lenoir)

Families were cooking at home because restaurants were close, parents were finding ways to entertain/teach their children because they were out of school, teachers were ask to teach virtually and create resources to educate their students. Many people is trying to do their best by using online resources.

Jones, Onslow, Lenoir, and Wayne County Family and Consumer Sciences Agents partnered to create and delivered several online programs to reach different audiences: Adults programs (Cyber Cooking in the Kitchen, Locally Delicious Videos, One Dish Wonders, and DIY Foodie Gifts). Children programs (Kicking Nutrition TV, Locally Delicious: Kids Edition, Stir it Up: Baking Series, Stir it Up: Holiday Edition, and Holiday Bites for Kids).

Many local families participated in our programs but we also reached people from different parts of the United States, Canada, India, England, and Switzerland. The quality of our programs and the fact that they are free have been well accepted and reported in several evaluations. A volunteer from InterNations in Switzerland enjoyed the class so much that is planning to do a cooking class with her group using our One Dish Wonders Recipes. A Program Specialist from the Arizona Department of Education shared our Cyber Cooking Videos and other N.C. Cooperative Extension Resources with 250 Arizona Family and Consumer Sciences Educators, and with the FCS State Administrators thorough the organization LEAD FCS. A parent that manages a community Facebook page with thousands of followers participated in many of our classes and promotes our programs with very kind comments. An adult participant reported that using our recipes and a tracking app helped her to lose 15 pounds this year.

Holiday Food Safety

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

Each year in the United States, food-borne disease causes an estimated 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, 3,000 deaths and over 1,000 outbreaks. Simple food handling skills is the best way to prevent food-borne disease.

Carteret, Craven, Jones, and Onslow FCS agents created a virtual, “Holiday Food Safety” program that was designed as a lunch and learn. The programs were presented around Thanksgiving and December holidays. The objectives of the program were to discus holiday baking, food gifts, cooking food safely, handling leftovers, gatherings and potluck safety.

Agents were able to reach 23 participants nationwide. Many participants stated that the program was a good refresher and that they needed reminders before the holidays.

Plant Production Systems

Crop Sense Podcast

Jones County Extension Director & Field Crops Agent, Jacob Morgan
Team Members: Jenny Carleo (Iredell), Guy Collins (Crop & Soil Sciences), Wesley Everman (Crop & Soil Sciences), Luke Gatiboni (Crop & Soil Sciences), Ron Heiniger (Crop & Soil Sciences), Jacob Morgan (Jones), Wesley Stallings (Onslow), Scott Tilley (Washington), Matthew Vann (Crop & Soil Sciences), Rachel Vann (Crop & Soil Sciences)

The timeliness of crop production information can make a big difference in the value of that information. Historically, crop production information from N.C. Cooperative Extension has come in two forms. Winter production meetings and monthly newsletters. While very useful, information shared in winter meetings can be forgotten when the growing season rolls around and newsletters require specific time and attention to read. Farmers spend a vast amount of time driving equipment and vehicles. Podcast have emerged as an audio experience that is easily consumed while doing other tasks such as operating equipment or driving a vehicle.

The Agent began a podcast to help provide very timely information to growers across North Carolina. This format allows 15-25 minute discussions with Specialists discussing current issues, considerations, and corrective measures.

The agent produced 18 episodes with a total downloads of 2,165 downloads. This means 2,165 clients have received research based information to help them make better decisions with regard to crop production to help them be more efficient with their time, be more profitable, and more environmentally sustainable.

Applying Pesticides Safely and Legally

Jones County Extension Director & Field Crops Agent, Jacob Morgan

Insect and weed pests cause major economic loss to field crops. Pesticides, particularly restricted-use pesticides, which require a pesticide applicator’s license to purchase, are a very cost effective means of control. The applicators must pass a very rigorous test and attend trainings to be able to renew their licenses.

The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Jones County Center Agriculture Agent held 9 training sessions for 48 private applicators whose license expires in 2021. The courses covered both common and new herbicide problems found in field crops. (IPM). This assists the applicators in becoming more cost effective in their operations while also ensuring that the pesticides are being applied by properly trained and knowledgeable people; which also helps to protect the environment. This training teaches them to apply only what is required to control the pest. They also learn to apply the pesticide at the appropriate time and with the proper method improving results with fewer chemicals.

All 48 Private Pesticide Applicator license holders were able to receive the needed credits to renew their license.

Certified Crop Adviser Training

Jones County Livestock Agent, Katie Carter
Team Members: Jessica Anderson (Greene), Tim Britton (Johnston), Mike Carroll (Craven), Katie Carter (Jones), Brad Hardison (Sampson), Amanda Hatcher (Duplin), Tom Hroza (Duplin), Melissa Huffman (Onslow), Charmae Kendall (Duplin), Steve Killette (Lenoir), Della King (Duplin), Cyndi Lauderdale (Wilson), Jacob Morgan (Jones), Brandon Parker (Johnston), Lisa Rayburn (Onslow), Hunter Rhodes (Sampson), Margaret Ross (Jones), Daniel Simpson (Pamlico), Bryant Spivey (Johnston), Stefani Sykes (Wayne), Allan Thornton (Sampson), Scott Tilley (Washington), Dan Wells (Johnston) 

The Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) program is an American Society of Agronomy certification program. To maintain certification, CCA’s must receive 40 best management practices educational credits every two years. Since 2000, the Agricultural Agents in the Southeast Extension District have planned and hosted an annual CCA Training to offer continuing education credits.

A 2.5-day CCA training was conducted and offered 20 continuing educational units. Fifty CCA’s, consisting primarily of North Carolina, agricultural dealers, pesticide/seed sales representatives, and other agencies from throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, attended the CCA training.

In the post-evaluation, 100% of participants noted the training information was relevant to their needs and exceeded their expectations, and stated they would recommend this training to others. By offering this opportunity ever year, CCA’s are able to keep their certification and save $500, which is the average cost of 20 hours of continuing education online. In addition to the savings, using the data from, the average salary for a CCA in North Carolina is $5,000 higher than the aver salary for an uncertified crop advisor. This salary was calculated using the average salary for all jobs with the term “certified crop advisor” or “crop advisor” anywhere in the job listing. Based on the increase in salary and the educational savings, fifty CCA’s could potentially increase earnings by $467,500 this year.

2021 Farm Tour and On-Farm Demonstrations

Jones County Livestock Agent, Katie Carter
Team Members: Mike Carroll (Craven), Melissa Huffman (Onslow), Daniel Simpson (Pamlico)

Agriculture is a $22 million-dollar industry in Pamlico County that has been challenged with increasing input prices and fluctuating commodity prices over the past several years. As growers attempt to navigate these challenges, the need to remain sustainable and profitable has increased as profit margins have begun to shrink.

To address this issue, N.C. Cooperative Extension Pamlico County partnered with local growers, Agricultural Industry personnel, and Extension Commodity Specialists to conduct a Farm Tour program that highlighted on-farm research trials and demonstrations. These trials and demonstrations focused on efficient field water and corn fertilizer management, and profitable corn variety selection. More than twenty local growers, crop consultants, and agriculture industry personnel attended this event, which highlighted on-farm research projects spread across Craven and Pamlico County.

As a result of this event, attendees were provided with information about reducing or utilizing alternative fertilizer applications to save production cost, and learned about the importance of water management and its influence on plant growth. Growers and Industry personnel expressed their appreciation for this event and the issues it addressed within their operation. The research data and recommendations that were generated from these on-farm projects will be presented to growers during production meetings in 2022. Extension will monitor the implementation of these recommendations during the 2022 crop year to determine the impact this program had on grower adoption and crop impact.

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