We Grow Durham County NC Cooperative Extension, Durham County Center

July 2020

We Grow Agriculture

We’re proud to serve our agricultural and horticultural community here in Durham County by adapting some of our traditional offerings and developing new resources and tools to keep farmers and landscapers productive and healthy.

As part of our ongoing efforts to make sure that Durham County farm products reach suitable markets, we’ve been working closely with the Durham County Food Security Task Force and the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District Board to survey farmers about potential losses due to COVID-19 and to find instances where food that would otherwise be wasted can be connected with local food pantries or alternative markets. We’ve surveyed 42 farmers so far and found ways to save sweet potatoes, eggs, and other local products that would otherwise be wasted.

Our COVID-19 related work has also included the distribution of cloth masks to farm and farmers market workers to make sure that folks can stay healthy while growing and selling local products. We’ve also offered three sessions of Pesticide Safety School online, with more to come. Through these courses, we’ve been able to help farmers and landscapers in Durham and beyond get the pesticide certification they need to take care of their business.

As busy as the Agriculture Program has been, we’re thrilled to share that the recently approved Durham County budget has allocated funds for an additional agriculture agent who will focus on small farms and local foods. This is a vital segment of Durham agriculture, and we’re excited to expand our offerings in the future to continue to serve our clients and cultivate new relationships.

We Grow Fruits & Veggies

We Grow Youth

We Grow Strong Families

Tiffany Wilson is not a stranger to the world of parenting. As a mother of three adult children, she has seen and dealt with a little bit of everything, from lost teeth to high school graduations. She's the kind of friend you'd go to when you needed parenting advice. Yet after almost 30 years of being a mother, Tiffany found herself in a new role when she gained custody of Marcie, her now a 5-year-old granddaughter.

There were little things that she needed help with as Marcie grew up. The Durham area is notorious for having many schools to choose from, and Tiffany wanted to find the best school for her granddaughter.

One day, a friend made a suggestion. It was a free 5-week workshop series called "Parent & Family Advocacy and Support Training," through Durham County Cooperative Extension. Tiffany decided to attend the series and was impressed with what she learned.

"One thing that I thought was really great was that they were teaching parents how to meet with teachers, and how to advocate for their kids," Tiffany said. "They would give us insight and specific resources for things like your kid had a disability or speech impairment.

But it wasn't just the workshop series itself that made Tiffany want to go back to the class every week; it was the sense of community.

"I'm so tickled about our comradery and the community that we've built," Tiffany said. "You can hear the stuff other parents are dealing with, and give them insight and vice versa."

Parents were understandably disappointed when safety precautions for the COVID-19 pandemic canceled their last in-person class. But, a program coordinator set up a Zoom meeting so the parents could finish the series.

"These classes are so great for parents whose kids are just started school or someone who just moved to town," Tiffany said. "They feed us and babysit for us, so they really care and do a lot to help us."

After going through the workshop, Tiffany now feels like she has the knowledge to navigate Marcie's school system with new confidence.

Volunteer Spotlight

Tanya Best

Member of Durham County’s Retired & Senior Volunteer Program

Tanya Best is a true Durhamite in every sense of the word. Born and bred here, she spent her career serving our community as an employee of the Durham County Department of Social Services. Upon retirement, that service hasn’t stopped. Beginning in 2017, Mrs. Best has come to the Durham County Cooperative Extension office almost every week to support the Welcome Baby Giving Closet by sorting clothes for expectant mothers and their little ones. Last year alone, Mrs. Best contributed 101 hours of service to Cooperative Extension.

She is an ordained Rev. Associate Pastor of Mission Support of Mount Calvary United Church of Christ. In addition to her support of our Giving Closet, Mrs. Best serves on the boards of several community organizations and provides monthly community connection outreach at her church. In early 2020 and since the COVID-19 pandemic began, she has led her congregation in delivering hygiene care packages to the homeless and providing meals and bottled water for those in need at Urban Ministries. Mrs. Best also spearheads her ministry in collecting pet food and preparing sandwiches for clients of Meals on Wheels.

Of her service she says, “Volunteering gives me a sense of purpose and an opportunity to help others. I am just grateful to be able to continue to serve in the community in various areas. We should do the best we can, while we can, as long as we can!”

We Grow Citizens

Kids Voting Durham, a non-partisan civic engagement program of the Durham County Cooperative Extension, is getting ready to involve our youth and families in the 2020 Elections! There are so many ways to take part:

Families, gear up for elections with Countdown to Election Day 2020, 8 weeks of activities, information, and tips to engage Durham's families and kids of all ages in this November's election https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5CJCW3W

Educators and youth group leaders can bring Kids Voting;s curriculum and voting opportunities to their youth with our free interactive resources. Sign up for KVD’s Election Programs at www.kidsvotingdurham.org/elections

And of course all youth 18 and under will have the opportunity to vote on the same candidates and issues as adults this fall at www.kidsvotingdurham.org.

As one of our KVD Summer 2020 Youth Leaders stated, “I believe all of us should feel more confident in their power as individual voters, and that we should recognize from a young age that voting is a privilege we should be excited to engage with.” We hope that you'll engage too!

Extension Employee Spotlight

Cate Elander, Early Childhood Coordinator

Cate Elander is an early childhood advocate who has called Durham County home since her family moved here in the mid-nineties. In her new role as Durham County’s Early Childhood Coordinator, she is excited to join and learn from her colleagues on Durham Cooperative Extension’s cross-disciplinary team.

Cate brings wide-ranging experience in promoting strong families and communities to her new position. As a former home visitor and community organizer, she understands the importance of working together with the community to build strong foundations. She shared her reflections with us about how this position has come at an important time both in her life and in our history:

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Durham parents, service providers, County government, and community leaders to create stronger systems to support and lift up our youngest children and their families. This position is well-aligned with where I am in my life right now, having adventures in raising a toddler with my partner in Durham. As a parent, I am deeply committed to helping shape an equitable early childhood system in Durham that honors the strengths and backgrounds of our diverse community. COVID and the ongoing national discussion about the persistent consequences of structural racism highlight alarming disparities in our community and emphasize the importance of reimagining the way our systems operate to create conditions for children and families to thrive.”

Before coming to Cooperative Extension, Cate spent four years at MDC, Inc. facilitating community planning and capacity-building efforts in family engagement, birth to eight alignment, care coordination, and informal child care for a funder-led early childhood initiative in Forsyth County. Prior to that, she worked as the Manager of Community Engagement at the East Durham Children’s Initiative, where she developed and implemented out-of-school and family engagement initiatives with East Durham families.

Cate lives in Durham with her partner and their son, who has a deep love for Wool E. Bull and remains hopeful that the baseball stadium will reopen one day. With resources from Durham Cooperative Extension’s Briggs Avenue Community Garden, they have planted their first garden this year, and count themselves very lucky to have access to colleagues who know a thing or two about growing vegetables.

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.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Durham County Center 721 Foster Street, Durham, NC 27701* (919) 560-0525

Thank you to UNC student Leah Maureen McGuirk for contributing the We Grow Strong Families Story above as part of her APPLES Service Learning coursework.