We Grow Ashe County NC Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center

March 2020

We Grow Youth

On March 13, FCS Agent Amanda Butalla and 4-H Agent Caroline Goss visited the 4-H Early College Ag Club to demonstrate the steps it takes to get food on our plates through our food systems. They led a fun activity showing youth how Local Food Systems operate, how each component is dependent on another and the challenges that can happen along the way.

The Ashe County 4-H Shooting Sports Club raised over $1,200 through their Krispy Kreme Donut Fundraiser. 4-H Shooting Sports has over 60 members ages 8-18, and these funds will go towards equipment and supplies to help these young people develop their skills. The support of community members is vital to the success of this club and many other 4-H Clubs in Ashe County. We appreciate the efforts of our community to enrich the lives of our young people!

We Grow Nutrition

FCS Agent Amanda Butalla and EFNEP Associate Rhonda Church made videos proving having a foundation for your favorite dishes allows you to make the things you love several different ways. Sometimes, it’s about combining items creatively in order to avoid food waste. Other times, it’s simply about trying to use what you already have on hand. When trips to the grocery store are limited, or you just plain don’t have time, it’s comforting to be able to find alternatives to the dishes you love.

We Grow Community

On March 14, The High Country Seed Swap was Cooperative Extension’s last official event in Ashe County. At that time it was operating under social distancing protocols and less than 100 people directive. Ashe Extension Master Gardener volunteer’s were still able to share the fruits (or seeds) of their labor from 2019. All of the Ashe County heritage seeds grown at the Museum of Ashe County History’s Victory Garden were available for free that day. This seed project seems even more critical this year as gardens will become a critical part of our food system to take burdens off of our supply chains and provide food to our neighbors. At this event we encouraged attendees to “grow another row” this year.

Town of West Jefferson, Cooperative Extension and Barr Evergreens are already hard at work for a Hometown Holiday Christmas. This 17 foot Fraser fir will get lit up after Thanksgiving 2020.

We Grow Safety

Extension Agent Micah Orfield and Migrant Education Program Coordinator Michelle Pelayo provided Worker Protection Standard (WPS) training to farm workers on two different farms. Micah and Michelle ensure each worker understands the dangers of farming and how to minimize those risks in English and Spanish.

We Grow Agriculture

Justyna Jeziorska with NCSU Center for Geospatial Analytics made a trip to the High Country to begin collecting information on Christmas tree heights and shapes. This is funded by the NC Specialty Crop Block Grant led by Christmas Tree Production Specialist Jeff Owen. The goal is to create a program that can size and count Christmas trees using drone imagery. A research exemption was granted by NCSU for this project to continue during the Covid-19 emergency declaration restrictions.

We Grow Communication

Covid-19 has presented a new set of challenges for local governments to overcome. One of those is local leaders presenting a unified message to residents during this time of uncertainty. The Ashe County Manager contacted NC Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center and asked if it was possible to record public service announcements using their video equipment and skills as well as translate scripts into Spanish to reach Ashe County's diverse audiences. The same day, the scripts were translated and videos were recorded that included a county commissioner message, county manager message, and a community leader message. AppHealthcare, the regional health department, crafted the unified messaging and assisted with appropriate resources. These videos were shared through the county youtube page, and various social media platforms to reach as many county residences as possible. In three days the videos had been viewed over 2,500 times, reaching over 10% of the population while also being closed captioned in Spanish.

Migrant Education Coordinator Michelle Pelayo helped translate information into Spanish.

Employee Spotlight

Jessica Hart

Extension Finance Manager

Jessica is an Ashe County native and began her career with Cooperative Extension in April 2011.

As Extension Finance Manager, she processes all payments and makes sure all our bills are paid so we can bring quality programming to the citizens of Ashe County.

Jessica and her husband Chris live in Warrensville with their two daughters.

NC State University and N.C. A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination and harassment regardless of age, color, disability, family and marital status, genetic information, national origin, political beliefs, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), gender identity, sexual orientation and veteran status. NC State, N.C. A&T, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

Created By
Jessica Ham


John Lambeth, NC Farm Bureau and NC Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center Staff