The Full Circle Project

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In a year filled with diverse programs and individual projects, finding moments for our staff to collaborate on a collective initiative is a rarity. However, this year, we successfully united various individual projects and programs under the umbrella of The Full Circle Project. The success of this endeavor was made possible through a carefully orchestrated step-by-step process. Join us as we unveil the journey that led to the success of this collaborative and impactful project.

Part 1 – The Jones County 4-H Chicken Project + 4-H Internship

The 4-H Chicken Project serves as an immersive educational experience, imparting fundamental production methods within the poultry industry. This comprehensive initiative empowers youth to delve into the realms of animal husbandry, livestock selection and evaluation, health management, and meat science.

Encompassing the exhibition poultry aspect, participants engage in breeding and raising birds with specific characteristics, fostering an understanding of egg production. Throughout this project, youth have the opportunity to:

Raise Chicks: Participants will experience the entire lifecycle, starting from raising chicks.

Educational Workshops: Engage in informative workshops designed to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Showmanship: Showcase their poultry at exhibitions, demonstrating their expertise and commitment.

Project Record Book: Complete a comprehensive project record book, documenting their journey and achievements.

Tailored for participants aged 5-18, this program offers a holistic learning experience, covering everything from late brooding to egg development and bird anatomy. The 4-H Chicken Project not only imparts practical skills but fosters a deep appreciation for the intricacies of poultry science.

Our high school 4-H members, armed with the insights gained from the chicken project, seamlessly transitioned into mentors for elementary students as part of an enriching embryology project. This initiative was thoughtfully integrated into our high school internship program, skillfully curated by our dedicated 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett. Notably, some of the chickens raised during this endeavor have been earmarked for our office project this year.

Part 2 – Chicken Processing

 Our dedicated Area Specialized Poultry Agent, Margaret Ross, orchestrated a highly successful poultry processing day to skillfully handle the meat birds cultivated during the 4-H Chicken Project. The processed chickens, a testament to our commitment to community welfare, are generously donated to local food banks across various counties within the Southeast District. This special processing day extends an invitation to the public, offering an invaluable opportunity to learn the proper techniques of chicken processing and the correct utilization of the associated equipment.

Recognizing a burgeoning interest in poultry processing within Jones County, Margaret, through careful consideration prompted by Needs Assessments in the area, spearheaded an initiative to acquire a Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (MPU) for our office. This visionary effort culminated in the successful acquisition of an MPU, complete with essential components such as kill cones, a scalder, a dunker, and a plucker. Now, Jones County residents have the convenience of renting this MPU, enabling them to process their own chickens at their own pace. This initiative has garnered widespread success, with over 40 rentals recorded since its inception last year. Renters consistently express their satisfaction, noting the indispensable role the MPU plays in facilitating efficient bird processing.

Part 3 – The Jones County Food Drive

From October 2nd to October 31st, 2023, our community united to gather food donations in support of Jones County. Our focus centered on essential Thanksgiving items, including canned vegetables, stuffing, brownie mixes, cranberry sauce, and more. Our deepest gratitude goes to Joe & Dianne Bell, Ford of Jones County, and Teffiney Maready & Jones County Senior Services, whose unwavering support not only met but exceeded our collection target.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of the Jones County community, we accumulated a wealth of donated items. These, along with locally-sourced whole chickens from our Jones County 4-H Chicken Project, were meticulously packaged for distribution at our free Holiday Food Safety Class on November 15th, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Any surplus donations found a meaningful purpose as they were shared with the Trenton Methodist Church Food Pantry in Trenton, NC, and The Filling Station in Pollocksville, NC. This effort aimed to support families in need within Jones County, NC.

Part 4  – Holiday Food Safety Class + Food Box Giveaway

With a target of 25 participants, we successfully enlisted 21 enthusiastic Jones County residents, with 16 actively participating. Prior to commencing the Holiday Food Safety class, our esteemed Area Specialized Poultry Agent, Margaret Ross, provided valuable insights into the origin of the chickens and elucidated the intricacies of poultry processing.

Following this, our dedicated 4-H Agent, Samantha Bennett, shed light on the integral role of Jones County 4-H in the upbringing of the birds during the 4-H Chicken Project. To cap off our informative session, Family & Consumer Science Agent, Sarah Ware, initiated the Holiday Food Safety Class. Sarah’s comprehensive presentation delved into crucial aspects such as proper food storage, handling techniques, and temperature control.

The engagement from our attendees was exceptional. Post the food safety presentation, Pamela Forrester, the coordinator at Trenton Methodist Church Food Pantry, provided valuable information about the food pantry’s operational hours and the range of services they offer. Every participant departed with newfound knowledge about our Jones County 4-H program, poultry processing, food safety practices, awareness of local food resources, a fresh whole chicken, and a box of groceries.

To gauge the effectiveness of our session, we distributed a survey among our attendees. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with participants expressing their appreciation for the class and a keen interest in future projects of a similar nature. In essence, The Full Circle Project has not only united our staff in a rare collaborative endeavor but has also woven together the diverse threads of our individual projects into a tapestry of education, community support, and hands-on learning. As we conclude this narrative, we look forward to future chapters, confident in our ability to continue making a meaningful impact on the lives of those we serve.

Jones Extension staff posing behind Food Boxes during the Holiday Food Safety Class. (Left to right) Emoni Burgess, Jacob Morgan, Samantha Bennett, Sarah Ware, and Margaret Ross