We Grow Youth
Union County 4H "Popped-Up" at Tractor Supply for the annual Paper Clover Campaign. Donations received during this week long event are used to help send 4-H Members to leadership conferences, camps, and other opportunities.
4-H Agent Crystal Starkes held a 4-H Robotics workshop introducing young people to the robotics program and information on the upcoming SPIN club beginning in November for youth interested in robotics. Leah Joyner, 4-H Program Assistant led the partnership with the City of Monroe's Beyond the Bell program featuring the National 4-H Youth Science Day activity - Game Changer which involved lessons on coding and solving real-life problems in agriculture.
Speaking of robotics, Union County 4-H's partnership with the Cultivating Arrows Co-Op has concluded. Twenty-five middle and high school-aged youth learned how to build and program the LEGO EV3 robots. For many of the youth it was their first time ever coding, and they had a great time doing it. We are looking forward to working with the co-op again with future programs.
Union County 4-H joined an emergency food drive service project with Phoenix 4-H club, one of the clubs in Union County, to fill the shelf at the Union County Community Shelter. Together, we donated more than 100 pounds of items to the shelter. These items will help feed families who are in emergency need of food.
Union County 4-H celebrated a week-long of activities during National 4-H Week. On Monday, Union County 4-Hers Nikki Tuttle, Kendall Kennedy, and Taivon Sams were recognized at the Board of Commissioners meeting. Tuttle and Sams were elected and installed as district officers. All three of the members were recognized for their induction into the North Carolina 4-H Honor Club - one of the highest honors in the state's 4-H program.
We Grow Knowledge
Aaron Moore and Andrew Baucom partnered with Lomax Research & Education Farm in Concord, NC to work with staff on a scale appropriate no-till research trial. Union County agents provided equipment, labor and support for the plantings. Impacts from this trial will assist vegetable and small farmers with ideas for improving no-till practices on their farm. Lomax research and Education Farm is managed by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.
County Extension Staff partnered with DuPont Pioneer to harvest a corn variety trial in Marshville. The trial represented 26 different hybrids represented by 15 private industry companies. This is the 3rd trial harvested this year by Extension; providing data from multiple parts of Union County to agriculture producers.
A school garden training was co-hosted with NC State University Plants for Human Health Institute out of Kannapolis, NC. This event was attended by 14 educators from Union County Public Schools, representing Kindergarten through Middle School teachers.
Union County Coopeartive Extension has partnered with the Union County Beekeepers Association again this year to conduct Bee School for those interested in keeping or learning more about our state insect the Honey Bee. Students learn the basics of honey bee biology, nutrition and care in this seven week course. After completion of the course, those who would like to be recognized as certified beekeepers through the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association will have the opportunity to be tested.
Erin McDermott from NC State's Apiculture Program came to Union County October 21st to give research updates to Union County Beekeepers. The research being conducted by Erin and her colleagues at North Carolina State University will contribute to our understanding of honey bee production and viability.
Rachel Owens, Livestock Agent, spoke at the Union County Cattleman's Association monthly meeting. The presentation was about drought stressed pastures and winter forage management, a timely topic given the recent drought conditions experienced in Union County. Attendees learned about various methods to extend the grazing season as well as several resources available to help monitor drought conditions. For information on future Cattlemen's Association meetings, contact Rachel Owens at (704) 283-3739.
We Grow Citizens
Through a partnership with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Union County Cooperative Extension brought a group of small farmers together to provide a learning experience and accomplish a task too big for one farmer. Replacing plastic on a high tunnel can be a demanding and expensive obstacle. On Friday October 25th this obstacle was overcome at DabHar Farm where local farmers and agriculture professionals worked together to remove and replace the plastic cover on one of the two high tunnels at this farm. High tunnel production is an essential part of this farm and many others in the area. This partnership will continue to serve the needs of other small scale producers that rely on high tunnels for the success of their business.
Successful Gardener, Elsa Youngsteadt, NCSU Assistant Professor & Extension Urban Ecology Specialist, presented a program titled, "How to Operate a Successful Bee hotel". Folks attended and learned about bee hotels and how to attract and provide habitat for feeding and nesting pollinators.
Signage was installed and the Union County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Heritage Trail is now officially part of the Carolina Thread Trail. The Heritage Trail portion of the Carolina Thread Trail connects with Union County Parks & Recreation Jesse Helms Park trail. The signage was installed on Friday, October 17th.
Students participating in the City of Monroe Parks & Recreation afterschool program at the Winchester Center in Monroe, NC experienced cooking sweet potatoes in two very different ways, savory and sweet. In this course, taught by EFNEP Nutrition Educator, Cheri Bennett, the students learned the basics of cooking, including hand washing and food safety, using measuring spoons, distinguishing liquid measuring cups from dry ingredient measuring cups, using basic cooking utensils, and discovering the smell and taste of various spices and herbs.
The children prepared sweet potato corn cakes topped with salsa and sour cream to experience sweet potatoes with a savory flavor. They also prepared mini sweet potato pies with marshmallows for a sweet treat. In addition to cooking, the children learned about the nutritional value of sweet potatoes and completed a sweet potato themed activity sheet. According to the EFNEP Entry survey, completed by parents, less than 10 percent of families eat orange, or red vegetables during the week.
Local producers Scott Baucom and Chris Stegall participated in the Southeastern Hay contest this month. This contest was part of the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Georgia, and was open to participants across 15 states. Scott placed third in the Legume Balage category and Chris placed first in both the Grass Hay category and the Alfalfa Hay category. Congratulations to these producers!
We Grow Economy
We are getting a facelift here at the Union County Agricultural Center! For many years now we have not had a marquee sign along the road on HWY 74. Thanks to the generosity and assistance from Union County Government, we now have a brand new sign. Our new sign will have capabilities to advertise upcoming programs and events. Next time you drive by, make sure you check it out!
We had a beautiful day for the third and final plant sale of 2019 hosted by the Union County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers. Funds raised from the plant sales support the educational programming efforts provided in the county.
Several agents attended the Carolina Meat Conference, held in Charlotte this year. It was a great opportunity to network with industry professionals and gain new knowledge on this sector of the agriculture and food industries. Speakers covered a wide variety of topics, from cooking barbecue, to marketing opportunities for meat, and how to best manage animals for quality products.