Category Archives: Cooperative Extension

Duplin County Grower is Top Small Farmer in North Carolina

Most Small Farmers of the Year have spent decades in their fields. Not this year’s honoree.

2018 Small Farmer of the Year Ronald W. Simmons Jr. only started Master Blend Family Farms in 2012. But although Simmons may have less experience than many past winners, he already matches their passion for agriculture.

The Duplin County grower was honored by Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University during the Small Farmers’ Appreciation Luncheon on campus March 28.

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Small Farms Week promises big festivities

2017 Small Farms Week award recipients and speaker are flanked by Cooperative Extension, CAES and A&T.

With the theme “Small Farms, Big Impact,” the 32nd annual tribute to small-scale agriculture will feature workshops, tours and farming demonstrations.

Sponsored by Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T, the annual celebration is set for March 25-31 and kicks off with a discussion and farm tours March 26 in Robeson County, home of 2017 N.C. Small Farmer of the Year, Lucius Epps. Campus events are also scheduled on the March 26 opening date at Webb Hall. Small Farms Week activities continue March 27-28 at A&T, with educational workshops, demonstrations and a March 28 luncheon where the 2018 Small Farmer of the Year will be announced. Continue reading Small Farms Week promises big festivities

Dr. Misty Blue-Terry receives APLU Top Honor in Extension Excellence

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) has awarded Dr. Misty Blue-Terry, 4-H STEM specialist for Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T, the 2017 Excellence in Extension Regional Award at its annual meeting in November in Washington.

At A&T, Blue-Terry provides statewide direction for 4-H programs. She specializes in educational strategies for increasing the technical and soft skills to succeed in STEM careers for limited-resource and socially disadvantaged audiences. She delivers effective training and educational support materials for Extension field staff and their clientele.

Smith named Cooperative Extension associate administrator

Dr. Claudette Smith, who has more than 35 years of experience in program planning, development and implementation, has been appointed associate administrator of Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, effective Oct. 1.

As the Cooperative Extension associate administrator, Smith’s responsibilities include providing leadership to county operations and state programs. She will guide the development and maintenance of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, issue-based programming agenda that addresses the complexity of issues faced by North Carolina’s small, limited-resource farmers, communities, youth, families and individuals.

Continue reading Smith named Cooperative Extension associate administrator

Dale named associate dean and Cooperative Extension chief

Dr. Rosalind Dale has been appointed  associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, and administrator of The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. 160120Dale177PRF

Dale brings a wealth of experience to this position, including having served as interim Extension administrator since August 2015. In her interim capacity she led a major strategic planning initiative to guide the organization’s operation, planning and processes for a five-year period that ends in 2021.  As associate dean and administrator, Dale will continue to lead the Extension, outreach and engagement efforts with external communities. She will also extend and apply the organization’s expertise to engage business, industry, government, other universities, individuals and groups in addressing a wide range of issues and challenges facing communities, particularly those that are under-served.

Dale joined A&T in 2011 as one of Extension’s regional program coordinators. Her previous experience, at the University of Illinois, includes administrative and program oversight for a series of Extension programs that dealt with nutrition and wellness.

Dale has an Ed. D. in adult and continuing education from National Louis University, a master’s in human services administration from Spertus College, and bachelor’s degrees in both nutrition and home economics from Benedictine University and Western Illinois University, respectively.

Student cooking competition adds more spice to Small Farms Week

A live, Iron Chef-style cook-off between students in their mecca of munching, Williams Dining Hall, is featured as the closing event of a week set aside each March to celebrate agricultural  accomplishments in North Carolina. The cooking competition is also a fun way to involve students in Small Farms Week, N.C. A&T’s annual celebration of small-scale agriculture, held this year March 19-25. The cooking competition is from 4-6 p.m.  March 23.

“Even though agriculture is a foundation of our university, many of our students are not aware of, nor participate in, the variety of programs and resources in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences,” says Dr. Michelle Eley, community and economic development specialist for The Cooperative Extension Program. “For Small Farms Week, we wanted to do some things to engage students and make them aware of our depth and breadth.”

This year’s observance focuses on the ways North Carolina’s $84 billion agricultural industry can be made safer and more sustainable. Sponsored by The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T, the week will feature workshops, guest speakers and demonstrations. It will also highlight the fact that locally grown, sustainably managed foods are the best and healthiest choices.

“One clear way to make farming a sustainable enterprise is to have another generation that understands and values its importance, including eating fresh food,” Eley says.

Three teams of four students, each equipped with blender, microwave, griddle and a cornucopia of fresh, local foods from which to choose, will take up a prominent place in the dining room to make one entrée and one dessert.

The contest will be timed and judged by a panel of faculty and students based on originality, taste, presentation and something else: the use of a secret ingredient, to be revealed only at the start of the competition. The evening event is timed to capture students’ attention when they are at their hungriest and slide a little education about healthy eating across their tables.


Planners are hoping the students will come to the cooking competition for the fun, but leave having heard the message that fresh, local, sustainable farm products are easy to incorporate into a lifestyle.  Even a collegiate one.

Just a few days are left to register for Small Farms Week activities: or for more informatio, nvisit:

Farming bests football and stresses a safe food system as 31st Small Farms Week arises

Registration is open for the 31st annual Small Farms Week, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University’s tribute to small–scale agriculture, which kicks off March 19 with a timely theme: growing a safe, sustainable food system.

Sptractor_icononsored by The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina A&T , Small Farms Week will be celebrated March 19-25 with workshops, tours, guest speakers, farming demonstrations and other events. This year’s observance focuses on the many ways North Carolina’s $84 billion agricultural industry can be made safer and more sustainable, including new techniques in season extension, pest management, pasturized livestock production, urban horticulture, pesticide and growth-hormone-free growing, and more.

The observance begins March 20 in Sampson County, home of the 2016 Small Farmers of the Year. Events continue March 21-23 on the A&T campus with a student cooking competition, educational workshops and the presentation of the 2017 Small Farmer of the Year award.

The capstone event of the week is a lunchtime talk on March 23 by former NFL star Jason Brown, now a small farmer in Franklin County. Brown made headlines when he left professional football, bought a 1,000-acre farm in Louisburg and learned to work it with the help of Franklin County Cooperative Extension,  neighboring farmers and the Internet. For the past four years, he has grown large crops of sweet potatoes and cucumbers for the purpose of donating the entire harvest to charitable organizations, helping to provide hunger relief in central North Carolina.

Individual counties are also hosting activities for the week. Those counties include, Ashe, Currituck, Duplin, Forsyth, Guilford, Madison, Martin, Mitchell, Robeson, Rowan, Scotland, Stanly, Stokes, Vance and Yancey.

To register for events, please visit:





Cooperative Extension & CEFS hosting workshops for farmers

CAES faculty members who work with farmers may want to inform them of two upcoming workshops in Charlotte and Raleigh, given by FreshPoint produce distributors and sponsored by N.C. Cooperative Extension and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) – N.C. Growing Together.

FreshPoint is offering an information session and tour of their Raleigh and Charlotte warehouses. Growers will have the chance to meet buyers, learn more about the company, tour the facility and learn about FreshPoint’s “Unusual but Usable” program, which buys and markets seconds. Participants should have GAP certification or the willingness to obtain it; $1 million in general liability insurance; and the ability to transport products to FreshPoint warehouses, or a location near a FreshPoint truck route for possible backhauling.

  • The first workshop will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 21 at 203 Trans Air Drive, Morrisville, near Raleigh. The session is limited to 15 participants. Registration is online at
  • The second workshop will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Feb. 23 at 2121-A Distribution Center Drive, Charlotte. This session is also limited to 15 participants. Registration is online at

For more information, contact Laura Lauffer, program coordinator, Local Farms and Food, The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T and N.C. Growing Together project, at 336- 285-4690 or .



Honors for Cooperative Extension

Dr. Rosalind Dale, interim administrator, The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T

Several staff members of The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T were honored at the awards ceremony of the 2016 North Carolina Cooperative Extension state conference. Faculty, staff and administrators of A&T Extension at N.C. State Extension convene annually to discuss policy and program updates, attend workshops and honor achievement. This year’s conference was held Nov. 14-17 in Raleigh, with the theme,  Empowering You = Empowering Others.

A&T Extension honorees are:

  • Susan Tyre, 4-H Youth Development agent in Martin County, who received two awards for her work. She is the recipient of the Carolyn Stanley Barnes and George Edward Barnes 4-H graduate education scholarship, and the Dr. R. Marshall and Jan Stewart   4-H Leadership Award.
  • Anassou Banna, Hertford County area agent, was also a two-time winner. He received the R.E. Jones Program Award, and the Dr. Russell C. King and Mrs. Connie H. King Extension Program Award.
  • Hayley Napier, Montgomery County family and consumer sciences agent, who won two awards as well. Napier received the Ort Family Scholarship for Outstanding Cooperative Extension Personnel, and the Dr. Sandra Zaslow Professional Development Award.

Winners of the 2016 North Carolina State Grange for Excellence Awards included:

  • Kenyatta Lanier, a 4-H Youth Development agent who is a member of  Wilson County Cooperative Extension, which won the District Team Award for the Southeast District.
  • Der Xiong Holcomb, Catawba County Extension agent, who was a program area winner.
  • Adam McCurry, Yancey County Extension program assistant, who was recognized in the administrative professional category.

UNC System President Margaret Spellings was the keynote speaker at the opening day luncheon that also included A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. and N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson. Click on the link below to hear Spellings discuss why Cooperative Extension is valuable to North Carolina:

Specialist lauded for outstanding outreach

Dr. Misty Blue-Terry, 4-H specialist in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), for The Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&TDr. Misty Blue-Terry, 4-H specialist in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), for The Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T, is one of two outstanding Extension specialists in the state for 2016.

Blue-Terry is recognized by the North Carolina Association of Cooperative Extension Specialists for exceptional work and partnership with county Extension agents. The award, which includes a $100 gift and a plaque, will be formally presented at the Association’s next meeting, May 6, at A&T’s Coltrane Hall, where Blue-Terry and Cooperative Extension at A&T have offices.

An award for top specialist will also be presented to Joanna Lelekacs, a specialist with NC State Extension. The North Carolina Association of Cooperative Extension Specialists is the professional development organization for specialists at both North Carolina land-grant universities, A&T and NC State.

Blue-Terry was heralded for: “The amazing work you are doing across North Carolina. “This award recognizes truly outstanding individuals working in Extension,” says Susan Jakes, committee chairperson of the Association’s awards committee.

A specialist at A&T since 2010, Blue-Terry’s work focuses on 4-H robotics, 4-H science practices, engineering principles, readying youth for STEM careers, and general STEM education. Terry’s overall goals are to help broaden the reach of 4-H and STEM in underrepresented communities and to target girls for science programs. She is well-known for her outreach in training and guiding agents across the state in 4-H Youth Development.  

Blue-Terry has bachelor and master’s degrees in industrial and systems engineering, and a doctorate in human factors engineering, all from A&T. Previously, she served as assistant professor of industrial and human factors engineering at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.

Sampson County couple are top small farmers in North Carolina

Greensboro – Sampson County growers Donnie and Alease Williams were named the 2016 North Carolina Small Farmers of the Year by The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University during ceremonies Wednesday on the campus. The couple and their D&A Farm were lauded for more than 50 years of farm production, including pastured hogs.

The Williamses attributed part of their success to guidance from Sampson County Cooperative Extension, whose staff nominated D&A for the farming award, and to Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T, which produces the award and hosts the annual Small Farms Week ceremonies.

Located in Autryville, the Williams have about 150 pigs that are bred in a natural free-range operation and are fed without growth hormones or chemicals. D&A Farm includes more than 140 acres in active production, including 12 acres for the hog operation, and nearly 100 acres in corn, soybeans and wheat which are used for animal feed. The couple and their family also raise goats and sheep.

Small Farms Week recognizes the small-scale producers in North Carolina who generate $250,000 or less, annually, in agricultural gross sales. The Williamses were presented with gifts of a plaque, monogrammed jackets and $1,500 during a Small Farmers’ Appreciation Day program, which was the culmination of the 30th annual observance of Small Farms Week. Workshops, farm tours, demonstrations and panel discussions were also part of the series of events.

Alease Williams thanked an audience of about 300 at the awards program, also celebrating under the banner of the 125th anniversary of N.C. A&T’s founding in 1891, saying: “Right now, I’d have to say I’m feeling that Aggie pride.”

Comments from Donnie Williams, in an interview, summed up the passion that he—at 72—has for his work: “I always wanted to be a farmer. I just like it.”

NC Growing Together to Bring Local Food Supply Chain Together at N.C. A&T

For Immediate Release: February 18, 2016

Media Contact: JJ Richardson, NC Growing Together Website and Communications Coordinator, or 919-889-8219

The annual meeting of the North Carolina Growing Together project is hosted this year by The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. The program begins at noon, Wednesday, Feb. 24 at Coltrane Hall.

NC Growing Together is a five-year (2013-2017) USDA-funded project that works to bring more locally grown foods – produce, meat, dairy and seafood – into mainstream retail and food-service supply chains.

The project is led by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, a partnership of N.C. A&T, North Carolina State University, and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  The project has more than 25 partners across the state, including Lowes Foods and N.C. Cooperative Extension.

“Hosting this meeting is another opportunity for Cooperative Extension at A&T to provide innovative leadership and collaboration on local foods, a priority issue for us as we serve our communities locally, statewide and beyond,” said Dr. Shirley Hymon-Parker, interim dean of the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at A&T.

Nearly 80 people are expected to attend the meeting, representing the entire local food supply chain from farmers and fishermen, to processors and distributors, to food hubs and food retailers, to Extension agents, non-profit partners, students and researchers.  The goal of the meeting is to collaborate, network, celebrate successes, and brainstorm solutions to challenges in scaling up local foods for mainstream markets.

For more information about NC Growing Together, please visit

The Center for Environmental Food Systems develops and promotes just and equitable food and farming systems that conserve natural resources, strengthen communities and provide economic opportunities in North Carolina and beyond. For more information, please visit

The Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T helps people across the state lead better lives by finding solutions to their problems, delivering educational programs and technology that enrich the lives, land and economy of limited-resource individuals, families and communities. Visit us at

Sustainable Ag apprenticeships available

leaf_iconThe Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) near Goldsboro is now accepting applicants for six- to nine-month apprenticeship programs in a variety of sustainable agriculture topics. The application deadline is January 15.

This is a hands-on work and study program that trains highly motivated participants in many aspects of sustainable agricultural production and research. The majority of each apprentices’ work will focus on a particular production system at CEFS. A wide array of topics to study are available, including: organic grain and vegetable production; small farm production; agroecological production techniques; long-term comparative farming systems; beef, dairy and swine production, and agroforestry. Apprenticeship appointments six- to-nine months long, and may be located in Greensboro, Goldsboro and/or Raleigh.

Other aspects of the program that apprentices can expect include:
• Immerse oneself in agricultural production and field research, spending up to forty hours a week as an integral part of a team;
• Work with a highly diverse team of educators from North Carolina State University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services;
• Interact with otherapprentices at various research units and sites;
• Weekly lecture(s) on various topics of sustainable agriculture;
• Participate in field trips to local farms;
• Prepare a written research paper, suitable for publication;
• Give an oral presentation on your research at the conclusion of the program;
• A weekly stipend of $200 per week.
Applicants are required to apply through the North Carolina State University Jobs Website  Required information includes: A completed online application; a cover letter stating your interest in the CEFS apprenticeship program that includes a ranking of your interest in the different research programs offered, and a letter of recommendation.

Interested applicants may contact Lisa Forehand, internship coordinator, for more information at 919-513-0954 or

Cooperative Extension experts get awards at State Conference

Specialists and county agents of The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T were lauded for excellence and service awards at the N.C. Cooperative Extension 2015 State Conference, Dec. 7-10, in Raleigh. Recognized for program outreach or service are:

  • Mary Jac Brennan, agriculture and commercial horticulture agent for Forsyth County Cooperative Extension, and Danelle Cutting, agriculture and local foods agent for Rowan County Cooperative Extension. Both were among several recipients of the Grange Search for Excellence, North Central District Team. They were honored for their work with the Piedmont Farm School, an Extension outreach of the N.C. Farm School that integrates business principles and production practices through training sessions for new and transitioning farmers.
  • Traci Dixon of Nash County Cooperative Extension and Jamilla Hawkins of Edgecombe County Cooperative Extension, dual recipients of the R.E. Jones Program Award. Dixon is a community and rural development agent. Hawkins is a community resource development agent. The two agents helped develop and conduct a Teen Entrepreneurial Summer Boot Camp to engage youth in business ideas, focus on career paths and prepare for job readiness. One of their successes includes a youth group in the Conetoe community that has developed their own honey bee enterprise.
  • Erin Massie, a 4-H Youth Development Extension agent in Beaufort County who was an award winner in the Grange Search for Excellence for 4-H Youth Development category. Massie was cited for general excellence in her program area, for boundless support of 4-H youth, particularly her ability to engage limited-resource audiences; and for her unselfish support, encouragement and motivation of other 4-H agents in other counties.
  • Morgan McKnight, a family and consumer sciences agent with Brunswick County Cooperative Extension, who received one of two awards from the Grange Search for Excellence in Family and Consumer Sciences. McKnight brings broad perspective to Extension outreach in nutrition, having helped coordinate a local farmers market, working with 4-H programs, teaching youth and senior citizens about healthy eating, and organizing volunteers to help man the Speedway to Healthy interactive exhibit during its Brunswick County schools residency.
  • Der Xiong, agricultural agent for Catawba County Cooperative Extension who was also one of several winners for outstanding team work, cited through the Grange Search for Excellence, West District Team Award. Xiong was honored for her outreach with the Foothills Farm School, an Extension outreach of the N.C. Farm School that integrates business principles and production practices by training new and transitioning farmers. Xiong also recently won the Outstanding Extension Educator award at the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Conference in November.

Other State Conference recognition was bestowed on Cooperative Extension employees for years of service to the organization, beginning with five years’ experience and increasing in five-year increments to as many as 40 years. Honorees from Extension at A&T are:

  • Michelle Eley, community and economic development specialist,10 years.
  • Joshua Idassi, natural resources specialist, five years.
  • Michael Lanier, Orange County Cooperative Extension area agent, who specializes in agribusiness and local foods.

NC State Extension Program Awards

Cooperative Extension 2015 Service Awards

N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson congratulates each employee with 30 years, or more, of service during the North Carolina Cooperative Extension 2015 State Conference.

Extension’s 2015 Grassroots Conference set for Saturday before Thanksgiving

calendar_iconThe registration deadline is Monday, Nov. 2 for The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T’s 2015 Grassroots Leadership Conference, which will be Saturday, Nov. 21, at Montgomery Community College in Troy. The conference, which will begin at 9 a.m. and wind up at 4:30 p.m., will include information sessions and policy updates of timely relevance for Extension stakeholders, representatives from partner agencies and members of county Extension staffs. The focus for the 2015 Grassroots Conference will be on family and community well-being through supportive programs and resources provided by Cooperative Extension and other agencies. Representatives from A&T will also be on hand to discuss academic programs and financial assistance with aspiring college students.

A $25 registration fee is required for Cooperative Extension staff attending the Grassroots Leadership Conference. The program is open without registration fees to the general public.

Deadline Dec. 1 for organic certification reimbursements from N.C. Dept. of Ag.

Farmers who received organic certification (or recertification) between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014 may be eligible for reimbursement up to $750 from an N.C. Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services program that has received funding from USDA. The program provides 75 percent of certification costs (up to $750) for farmers with livestock, crops or processing enterprises that were contingent on organic certification in the 2013-2014 growing seasons. The application deadline is Dec. 1.

Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T hosts community-needs conference

Greensboro – Solving family, farm and community challenges is the focus of the upcoming Grassroots Leadership Conference, hosted by The Cooperative Extension Program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and its advisory group, the Strategic Planning Council.

The free conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Nov. 21, at Montgomery Community College, Building 200, 1011 Page St. in Troy, and is designed for youth and families, farmers, small business owners, civic and community leaders, and elected officials.

This year’s conference theme is Strong Families, Strong Communities: Building Pathways to a Brighter Future. With more than 100 years as a trusted organization throughout the country, Cooperative Extension has myriad programs and resources to help community members address their issues, including expertise in money management, youth development, land stewardship, land management, farming and business enterprise, and community development. Those attending the conference can learn more about Cooperative Extension resources and its partnering organizations and affiliated decision makers.

Prospective college students are also encouraged to attend and meet with N.C. A&T representatives to learn about the university’s application process, academic majors and financial assistance.
The conference begins with a panel discussion followed by concurrent breakout sessions on topics that include strategies to develop: an estate plan, philanthropy, youth and community engagement, community leadership, and land stewardship and management. Registration is suggested.

A $25 registration fee is required for Cooperative Extension staff attending the Grassroots Leadership Conference. The program is open without registration fees to the general public

To register or for more information, please contact Crystal Headen or Vivian Smith at 336.334.7956 or visit .

SAES to be major stop on USDA official’s “Next Generation Ag Tour”

A&T will be a major stop on USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden’s upcoming “Next Generation Ag Tour“. Harden will arrive in North Carolina on Oct. 1, and her tentative itinerary for that morning includes a look at the “Discover Ag” youth education program at the University Farm and a “Women of Color in Agriculture” roundtable discussion at Coltrane Hall. Harden will also make a presentation open to all SAES students before she departs Greensboro.

Harden, who hales from a southwest Georgia farm family, has held a number of leadership positions at USDA. She is a staunch advocate of mentoring programs for beginning farmers, and is placing and emphasis on ensuring that farmers in generations to come have business acumen and access to land and capital.