We Grow Youth
Did someone say robotics? Union County 4-H started its 4-H Robotics initiative with local schools and homeschool co-ops. New Salem Elementary School and the Cultivating Arrows for Christ are participating in a six-week series focused on the LEGO WeDO and EV3 robots. Participants are learning how to code robots, work together as a team, and develop communication skills. Union Elementary will begin in October with LEGO WeDos during their club time. As a sneak peek, Union County 4-H will host a mini-workshop on October 10th during National 4-H Week.
Union County 4-H youth showed off their projects - livestock, poultry/rabbit/duck, creative arts, baked goods, and horse demonstrations. The program also featured its annual Safety Town demonstrations with local partners - Wingate University's Nursing Club, Monroe Fire Department, Union County Sheriff's Office, Ultimate Agriculture 4-H club at Union Academy, and Union County Farm Bureau.
Students in an undergraduate social work class at UNC Charlotte facilitated a workshop for Union County 4-Hers on diversity and building connections. During the workshop, the youth participated in team-building activities to demonstrate similarities amongst each other and left their handprint on a mural that will hang in the NC Cooperative Extension Office.
This month many young competitors participated in the Union County 4-H Livestock Show as part of the 4-H Expo and Heritage Festival. The youth demonstrated their ability to show their animals and showcased the hard work they have put into their animals. Sheep, goats, and cattle were all well represented and many ribbons were handed out.
We Grow Knowledge
This field day focused on hands on construction of a caterpillar tunnel kit. Participants got hands on experience constructing a tunnel from the ground up. Participants also learned how to choose a tunnel kit and received tips for growing and marketing produce in the “Off Season”. This experience helps a grower decide if season extension with caterpillar tunnels is right for their operation and if so they will have a better understanding of the labor and skill it takes to construct a tunnel for themselves.
With hemp being such a new crop and also being easily mistaken for marijuana it is critical that law enforcement be up to date on the current rules and regulations surrounding this crop. This workshop also informed law enforcement officers of the process that hemp growers must take to stay in compliance with the NC Department of Agriculture. Aaron Moore - Small Farms Agent and Local Hemp Pilot Program Liaison facilitated this training.
Continuing education classes for commercial and private pesticide applicators were held in September. Forty Five individuals were recertified for their NC Pesticide Applicator license.
NCSU is opening a brand new, state of the art facility for agri-business generation in North Carolina. Cooperative Extension, UC Farmers Market, UC Soil & Water, UC/Monroe Economic Development, and UC leadership all attended a private, pre-opening tour of the facility. We are looking at creating new partnerships with agri-business here in Union County and hope the new NCFIL will assist in providing those opportunities.
Plots are being harvested for corn and soybeans for grower recognition by local extension agents. Yield contest winners receive a free trip to the national commodity classic by their respective grower association if they have the highest yield in the state for individual crops. UC is always a competitor in yield contest competitions with the outstanding producers we have here in the county.
We Grow Citizens
On September 19th Union County celebrated agriculture and agribusiness with it's annual Farm City Banquet. This year's theme was Union County - Moving Forward. The Farm City Celebration Committee selects and honors several UC individuals, families, and businesses who excel in service to their communities, this county, and the state. This year's award recipients were: Farm Family of the Year - Frank Howey Family Farms, Small Farm of the Year - K&G Farms, Business of the Year - Commercial Pipe & Fabricating, Hall of Fame - Cox Brothers Farm & Cox & Watson Ag and finally the Conservation Farm Family of the Year - Philip Austin of Austin Grading and Farm Services.
This month Marcus McFarland, the Health and Wellness Agent taught the last canning class of the year to several participants in the community. During the month of September, the class learned about the food safety practices behind canning as well as did some hands-on food preservation with two methods: Water Bath and Pressure Canning. The end result was deliciously made canned green beans and apple butter right before fall! Thanks is given to our new Union County Farmer's Market Manager, Jessica Honeycutt and the vendors at the market for helping to procure produce for the series.
Union County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers hosted another Successful Gardener Meeting at the Piedmont Prairie Garden - Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. This event was hosted by Patrick Larkin and provided participants a look into what the prairie, which covered the land over 200 years ago, looked like.
The new class of Extension Master Gardener Volunteers began training in August. The ten students in this year's class are excited to learn and have already begun doing volunteer work. In one of their September classes they learned about insects from industry professionals.
On September 21st the Heritage Festival and Wild Turkey 5K Trail Run and Walk was held . With a new trail for the 5K this year, we welcomed over 90 participants to the Wild Turkey 5K Trail Run & Walk. The annual Heritage Festival drew 1300 people with music, food, arts & crafts, vendors, exhibitors, demonstrations, and lots of kids activities. Held in conjunction with the 4-H Expo we had a great turnout on a beautiful day.
Expanded Food and Nutrition Educator, Cheri Bennett spoke with a bilingual audience of Union County Community Action Head Start parents at the "Parent Cafe" or "Cafe de Padres" event titled "Health is on the Way/La Salud esta en Camino". Parents learned about the impact of sugary drinks on their family's health and sampled healthier beverage choices.
On September 17th, Cooperative Extension Staff once again hosted the annual Farm Tour. Approximately 75 members of the community as well as students from East Union Middle School attended this event. The event provided the opportunity to see several different types of agricultural operations in Union County. We hope you enjoy our video showcasing the highlights from our 2019 tour.
Staff came together for a hands-on workshop canning pickled okra, okra and tomatoes and peach jam led by Wellness and Nutrition Agent, Marcus McFarland. All staff enjoyed the time, working together and tasting the fruits of their labor!
Jessica King joins the staff as the new Union County Farmers Market Manager. Jessica brings years of experience with Extension volunteering in several groups from Union County Cattleman's Association, to serving on the Board of Directors for the 4-H Foundation, Leading the Sweet Union 4-H Livestock Club and managing her own farm, Fancy Farms where she raises cattle, poultry/eggs, grows produce and cut flowers.
The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Administrative Professionals Association held their state conference in Hickory, NC. This year the South Central District hosted the event. As President of the SCD for 2019, Dana Braswell led the organization of this event. Over 100 administrative professionals from around the state attending. Nancie Mandeville was the 2019 State Professional Development Chair and worked with her committee to provide two workshops for participants. Dr. Rhonda Sutton, Director of College Leadership Programs presented a session entitled "What's Your Why" where participants probed their motivations for their professional and personal lives. Sgt. Shilo Garner of the UCSO facilitated a session on Active Threat training. This timely and informative presentation provided participants with the life saving information necessary to respond during an active threat event.
Nancie Mandeville - Administrative Support Specialist for Union County was awarded the NCCEAPA Professional Development Scholarship for 2019.
After 22 years of dedicated service to Union County and NC Cooperative Extension, administrative assistant Dana Braswell has retired. Dana had a remarkable career with Cooperative Extension, achieving numerous awards and recognitions throughout her career. She impacted the lives of countless citizens of Union County, provided knowledge, insight & guidance to all her coworkers, and exuded her strong desire to help others in everything she did. Dana's last day was celebrated with current and past staff, highlighted with a celebratory lunch and gifts. Dana will be missed and we wish her well into her well deserved retirement.