Cooperative Extension Serves to Meet Community Needs

— Written By

The N.C. Cooperative Extension State Advisory Council recently met in Wilmington, NC. The following article appeared in the StarNews Online.

The plaque hanging over my desk dated Dec. 7, 1950, was awarded to O.V. Singleton as a Distinguished Service Award by the Missouri County Agents Association for his “outstanding service to the people of his county, his fellow-workers and the entire Cooperative Extension Program.” My grandfather was the first Extension Agent for Benton County, Missouri and was a godsend to the small farmers and home gardeners facing the challenge to grow livestock and produce on the rocky Ozark soil. His horticulture skills produced the most flavorful tomatoes, okra and blackberries I have ever experienced. Summer evenings spent with him hoeing, inspecting, seeking and finding the summer squash, zucchini and onions piqued my budding horticultural interest; I’m happy to have followed in his footsteps as one of your county agents.

The Extension Service county agents, home economics agents, and agents who worked with children in 4-H made information available to people who previously had little access to the state’s institutions of higher learning. They helped meet the emergencies of two world wars, the Great Depression, and numerous agricultural and financial hard times.

Cooperative Extension still serves as a front door of our nation’s land-grant universities in our counties. With offices in every county of North Carolina and the Eastern Band of Cherokee, the staff and volunteers work with local government to support agriculture, horticulture, conservation and environmental protection, nutrition and health, as well as a variety of consumer, youth, and economic concerns. The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service is part of a national organization funded by federal, state, and local governments as well as private sources.

New Hanover County served as host last week to the State Extension Advisory Council, a group of 30 dedicated volunteers representing Cooperative Extension Centers throughout the state. Serving as the eyes and ears of citizens, the council brings vision and direction to our extension efforts. The representatives were greeted by New Hanover County Commission Chairman Jonathan Barfield, and delved into their work on county council development, advocacy and government relations, and marketing strategies.

As Cooperative Extension seeks to remain ahead of issues offering relevant, research-based solutions for our communities, we value the input of our volunteer citizen councils. N.C. Cooperative Extension in New Hanover County has an advisory council made up of sixteen members, appointed by the commission. Representing a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives, these volunteers meet quarterly to provide input and direction for our educational programming. They serve as an advocate for Cooperative Extension in our community. The folks are good to participate in and support programs and events, and willingly partner with the New Hanover County Friends of the Arboretum, the Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer Association of New Hanover County, and other agencies to improve and expand facilities and services.

A memorable portrayal of a county agent is Henry Wadsworth “Hank” Kimball from the 1965–71 American television comedy, ‘Green Acres’. A rich Manhattan couple, Oliver and Lisa Douglas, decide to buy and run a farm in the wacky rural town of Hooterville. County Agriculture Agent Hank Kimball (played by Alvy Moore) is friendly and eager to help the city folk learn how to farm but is not particularly effective. His unusual self-correcting manner is described by the Encyclopedia of Television “where every empirical statement branches into multiple statements that in turn preclude it, spiraling each new observation back and away from itself like an inductive Ecsherism.”

I suspect my grandfather was more useful to his farming clients than Hank Kimball, and we hope to serve our citizens well as N.C. Cooperative Extension works to transform science into everyday solutions for North Carolinians through programs and partnerships focused on agriculture and food, health and nutrition, and 4-H youth development.

Read the full article.

Lloyd Singleton is director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Center, New Hanover County located at the Arboretum, 6206 Oleander Drive. Reach him at lsingleton@nhcgov.com or 910-798-7660. The Arboretum is free and open every day for daylight hours.