We Grow Youth
Tree Planting Initiative
Mr. John Thomasson of Monroe is on a mission to plant 10,000 trees! He helped organize a program with Union County Public Schools 4th grade classes throughout five elementary schools that featured Bill Smith, Union County Arborist. Bill taught students how to plant and care for trees. All students then had a chance to actually plant trees on their school grounds. Students learned how trees take care of us: from providing shade, to absorbing pollutants from the air, to controlling erosion, to providing food for us and for wildlife. Five hundred children participated and many of their teachers have already made plans to incorporate this hands-on experience into their normal science curriculum. This program was made possible by a grant from Omnova Corporation and support from Providence Nursery. If you are interested in programs like this or would like more information on trees, please contact Bill Smith at (704) 283-3510.
New SPIN Club launched!
Two new SPIN (Special Interest) clubs were launched in November. SPIN clubs are a new concept that provide the opportunity for youth to learn about various subjects for a short period of time. Each club meets a minimum of six sessions. The Termi-Coders club will focus on the FIRST Lego League Jr.'s Boomtown theme where they will examine an imaginary community that is growing and in need of more building. They will look at the accessibility, efficiency, and durability of structures.
Beyond The Curve Latino Outreach Program
Nine students from various high schools across Union County participated in this program where they learned about career opportunities after graduation. Beyond the Curve is an initiative partnership with Union County Public Schools Latino Outreach program. Students were tasked with researching a career of interest and presented their findings to a group of their family and friends. The program concluded with the group going on college tours at two local community colleges and one university.
Learning by Doing: UCPS Schools and Robotics
Union County 4-H's partnerships with Union Elementary and New Salem Elementary are still well underway. Union Elementary concluded it's first six-session with Crystal Starkes, 4-H Agent, and will begin another round in December for third to fifth graders based on the basic foundations behind the LEGO WeDo 2.0 program and robot. They learned about teamwork, program planning and problem solving. New Salem Elementary's kindergarteners to second graders now have a chance to participate in robotics using the fabulous duo - Dash & Dot. Dash & Dot creates these experiences in real-time through its performance and various sensors.
We Grow Knowledge
Soybean Trials Wrap Up
Local Ag Agents Kinsey Everhart, Jenny Carleo, and Andrew Baucom wrapped up the last soybean variety research plot for the year in Ansonville, NC. This year we were able to plant and harvest five replicated variety trials totaling over 20 varieties across varying maturity groups for local producers. THANK YOU TO OUR COOPERATORS!!
Many producers planted the majority of their wheat in November and so did we! This year we are working with local producers on variety selection and seed type, fertility & disease management, as well as harvested grain quality. Many of these tests will provide economic impacts to local producers and allow our producers to maximize profitability. If you would like to participate in on-farm demonstrations and research trials please contact Andrew Baucom at (704)-283-3738.
Bee school ended with a 100% pass rate for all of the participants that took the certified beekeeper written exam! The next step for these students is to pass a practical exam where they must show competencies working in an actual beehive. If you would like to learn more about the Union County Beekeeper's Association please contact Aaron Moore, Small Farms Agent at (704) 283-3743.
School Garden Workshop
Aaron Moore, Small Farms Agent partnered with the NC Plants for Human Health Institute to provide a workshop on school gardens for local UCPS educators. This training helped Union County teachers learn about ways that they can get their students more hands on learning opportunities about agriculture and natural resources.
Union County Cattleman's Association
Livestock Agent Rachel Owens, spoke at the Union County Cattleman's Association this month on Farm Appeal and Preparing Your Farm for the Public. The presentation addressed considerations to make when bringing people onto the farms, such as proper signage and various agritourism opportunities to offer. For more information on future Cattleman's Meetings, contact Rachel at (704) 283-3739.
We Grow Citizens
EFNEP Exhibits at Wingate University Health Fair
NC Cooperative Extension EFNEP Nutrition Educators, Cheri Bennett from Union County and Hazel McPhatter from Scotland County partnered with Wingate University to prepare delicious healthy food samples for the 693 attendees at Wingate University's annual health fair held at Monroe Middle School. A special thank you to Ms. Elizabeth Griffin, Assistant Principal at Monroe Middle school and school staff, as well as, Wingate University staff and student volunteers for their assistance in ensuring that the community based health fair was a huge success. For more information about EFNEP programming please contact Cheri Bennett at (704) 283-3737.
10 Complete NC Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Training
The NC Extension Master Gardener program trains volunteers in basic horticulture. The training for the Union County Extension Master Gardener program began in the Spring of 2019 with six basic classes and continued in the fall with eleven core classes. The volunteers are trained so they can assist with the Extension Horticulture Agent in providing educational programming across the county and in helping residents with plant, insect, disease, and weed identification and management.
Emphasis throughout the training is on using best management practices and integrated pest management to reduce pesticide use and encourage beneficial insects. The volunteers receive 50 hours of training and are then required to return 50 hours of volunteer service within a year of completing their classes. Classes for 2020 will begin in late February. If you may be interested in becoming a NC Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, give Debbie a call or email at 704-283-3720 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We Grow Economy
Agents Prepare for Union County Bull Sale
Rachel Owens, along with Extension Agents and Specialists from across the state evaluated and screened bulls that potentially are to be entered into the upcoming Union County Performance Tested Bull Sale. This screening served to ensure all animals being offered in the sale meet certain standards of quality. The agents and specialists visited with six different farms and reviewed over 20 bulls that day. For more information on the sale, check out the website: http://ucperformancebulls.com
November Pesticide School Trains 57
Pesticide school is a 2 day training that reviews pesticide safety rules and regulations so that attendees may be better prepared to take the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) pesticide exams. Participants learn how to safely select, mix, transport, apply, store, and dispose of pesticides. The training includes instruction in integrated pest management in order to reduce the amount of pesticides used and instruction in best management practices that can be used to protect themselves, their clients, and the environment. Both fall and spring pesticide schools are hosted by the NC State Pesticide Safety Education Program with the help of local NC Cooperative Extension Agents and the NCDA&CS. If you have questions about becoming a licensed pesticide applicator in North Carolina, visit the NCDA&CS Pesticide Section.
Union County Farmers Market hosts 5th Annual Craft Fair
Despite the gusty winds, customer turnout for this annual event was a huge success! With over 50 vendors plus food trucks, the community came out and supported the local farmers and artisans that helped make this event happen. Most of these items can be found weekly at the farmers market located at 805 Skyway Drive in Monroe. Currently open on Saturdays from 10am - 1pm, and Thursdays inside the Union County Health & Human Services building on the first floor from 8am - 1pm. The Human Services building is located at 2330 Concord Ave. Monroe. If you would like more information please contact Jessica King, Market Manager at 704-564-2883.
Coming Together for Racial Understanding
Union County Extension hosts and participated in a regional pilot training program entitled "Coming Together for Racial Understanding". Approximately 40 Extension personnel attended this two day workshop that led participants through creating safe spaces for dialogue and understanding racial and socioeconomic differences that will assist staff members in create stronger communities here in Union County.
Agriculture Agents Farm Tour
This past month your Union County Ag Agents toured Montgomery Sheep Farm in Biscoe, NC to learn more about alternative agriculture opportunities. We were able to debunk myths on solar energy farming and explore value-added agriculture opportunities such as sheep production on solar energy lands. Following the tour of the farm, we were able to network with other agents across our Extension district and share a meal with Joel Olsen, owner and operator of the farm.
Crystal Starkes Receives National Award
Union County 4-H Agent, Crystal Starkes was recognized at the National 4-H Agents Conference in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Crystal was recognized with the Achievement in Service Award. She was one of fifteen North Carolina agents and state staff recognized for various awards at the conference.
Meet Our Staff
Starting this month we want to begin sharing a little more about ourselves here at the UC Extension office. This month's edition features Cheri Bennett, EFNEP Educator. Cheri is our longest-tenured staff member and has been teaching food safety, menu planning, food budgeting, nutrition and wellness in the Union County Cooperative Extension office for 8 years. We hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about our AMAZING STAFF!