We Grow Ashe County NC Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center

May 2020

We Grow Youth

In the world of 4-H, summer is typically the busiest time of year with the onset of 4-H summer camps and other programs conducted at local and state levels. This year, however, 4-H summer programs will be held virtually due to Covid-19. In the Coolest Corner, we are working in conjunction with agents, specialists, and volunteers across the state to develop virtual programs for youth in North Carolina while simultaneously creating programs designed specifically for young people in Ashe County. We are excited about the opportunity to reach more audiences through these unique programs, but we will also miss seeing youth in person as we typically would in a normal year.

4-H Agent Caroline Goss sets up a camera trap for a statewide environmental science program that will be offered to youth across NC, including those here in the Coolest Corner.
Rhonda Church was featured in the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Weekly Digest Bulletin.

EFNEP Educator Rhonda Church graduated the 2nd grade students at Mountain View Elementary. She delivered the lessons through video links to stay engaged with students. Graduation certificates and water bottles were delivered to each student.

We Grow Agriculture

No one is immune to the effects of COVID-19, this includes our largest economic industry, Christmas trees. Christmas tree growers attended a zoom meeting hosted by Ashe County Cooperative Extension and AppHealthCare to learn about available resources and how to protect their farms. These agencies, with supply support from the AgriMedicine Institute and NC Farmworker Health Program, organized a distribution of supplies. In May, there have been 749 thermometers, 1300 face coverings, 179 bottles of hand sanitizer, 1181 gallons of bleach, and 1800 gloves given out to help keep farms, farmworkers, and our communities safe and working.

Extension Agent Micah Orfield was able to enjoy a socially distant farm visit when she was called out for a shearing demonstration. The first time sheep farmer was looking forward to learning how to shear sheep both for the comfort of the animal and use of the wool. While there are still a few wool sheep in the county, many sheep farmers in Ashe County now raise Katahdins and Dorpers which are hair sheep and shed their hair naturally.

It’s time to update your Visit NC Farms App! A lot of exciting changes have been made behind the scenes to give you the best experience. If you are unfamiliar with the app, download it today to discover farms and local foods and goods near you. Farmers and local businesses who are interested in being included on the app can call our office for more information. The app has played a role in connecting community members to food and necessities, and has helped support local economy in the time of COVID-19.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Ashe County Center began a vaccine disposal program and will provide a container to place at your farm to dispose of used, expired, or empty vaccine and antibiotic bottles. Once you are ready to exchange the container for an empty one, please bring it to the Cooperative Extension Office. From there, Cooperative Extension will take the containers to Stericycle, a company specializing in medical waste and disposal.

We Grow Nutrition

During May, Ashe County Cooperative Extension continued in its role as Emergency Operations Feeding Coordinator. There were over 75,000 pounds of food procured and $8,000 raised to continue supporting the food pantries of Ashe County. This was possible because of the partnership with Musicians Mission of Mercy and Ashe County Government. These efforts have enabled the Creston and Lansing mobile pantries to continue operating with volunteers building 240 food boxes. Volunteers also broke down over 3,000 pounds of beans and rice from 50 pound bags into quart bags for distribution. The community donated all the bags to complete this project.

Instant Ramen is a common pantry item because it is quick and easy to throw together. Did you know, there are simple ways to add nutrition to this fast meal without compromising time? FCS Agent, Amanda Butalla, shares how you can enrich your instant ramen with nutrition additions from your pantry or freezer in her article: Fixed-Up Instant Ramen, the new addition to Pantry Possibilities series.

Michael Sexton, Ashe County Sharing Center Executive Director sent in these kind words about Migrant Education Program Coordinator Michelle Pelayo: Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, Michelle was a tremendous help, often times picking up food to make home deliveries to the migrant workers. She offered her advice on special items the pantry could purchase to better serve the Hispanic community. Since Covid-19, Michelle has worked first to encourage the Hispanic community to come to the Sharing Center to avail themselves of the food staples, meat, eggs and produce offered. Also, she has been a tremendous asset as she is bilingual and has been able to check in our Hispanic clients and to inform them in their language of the Sharing Center’s policies. Thank you for sharing her with us as she is truly a Godsend!

Employee Spotlight

Michelle Pelayo

Migrant Education Program (MEP) Coordinator

Michelle was born and raised in Miami, Florida. Both of her parents came from Cuba when they were very young.

Michelle started her careeer as a M.H.T. (Mental Health Technician) on a Crisis unit in Miami first working with adults and then working with children. She then was a Social worker in the Miami Foster Care system for over 10 years working with severely physically and sexually abused children ages 12-18.

In 2007, Michelle moved to the High Country with her husband and two daughters to make their home. In 2008 she was hired by Cooperative Extension as the Migrant Education Program Coordinator for Ashe County.

As the Migrant Education Program Coordinator for the entire county, Michelle works with and helps with any and all needs that the migrant worker might have while in Ashe County. She works with all of the migrant families and H2A workers (under the age of 22) that come to the county for our different harvest seasons. She also helps all of the schools in Ashe county with interpreting and translating for meetings, Parent Teacher conferences, Parent Nights at all the schools and any other needs that the Schools, Administration or Teachers might have. She also helps the counties growers with required trainings that they and the workers need to have in order to be compliant and any other help that they might have while the migrant workers are present for harvest. If the migrant workers needs help in other agencies or office in the county she helps them with setting up appointments and accompanying them to the different appointments.

Michelle's passion has always been and always will be helping others

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