Extension TodayNews from and about the 1890 Land-Grant Extension System
Message from the Chair
Vonda Richardson Extension Administrator, Florida A&M University
May’s issue of Extension Today focuses on successful partnerships developed and flourishing among 1890 Extension and the communities we serve.
Cooperative Extension has long been known for the implementation of programs to deliver researched-based information that can innovate, educate and improve lives. 1890 Extension educators’ abilities to establish relationships have led to collaborations in communities that have enabled their work to be amplified by the available resources of the collaborators.
Collaborations are made through relationships and result in positive outcomes, including more innovative solutions to complex issues, less duplication of effort and the bringing together of resources for all involved. The established relationships lead to trust and buy-in and are essential in developing and building relationships. AEA celebrates this successful collaboration and partnerships all across the 1890 system.
Partnerships expand outreach
By Kimberly Sinclair-Holmes, Assistant Director
Cooperative Extension partnerships continued to thrive despite the turmoil of a global pandemic. Several examples of such growth and strength in partnerships sustained by Alabama Extension at Alabama A&M University are as follows:
- The grant-funded Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching and Engagement project, Alabama Voices for Vaccines, includes more than 20 partners from medical centers and faith-based and community service organizations. These partnerships enabled the project team to expand educational outreach to five additional counties.
- The Alabama 4-H team, in partnership with the National 4-H Council, worked with youths to deliver digital literacy training to more than 1,000 adults from limited-resource communities. Participants learned to protect their personal information online. The team also served more than 4,000 youths during a virtual STEM Day program due to partnerships with public and private schools, including home school groups and other youth service organizations.
- The community resource development team partnered with the Salvation Army and a private company to co-sponsor an entrepreneurship program. Six entrepreneurs completed the program and are now on their way to launching small businesses.
Partnerships provide many opportunities to expand both the capacity of Extension teams and resources available to the public, particularly limited-resource audiences.
Partnerships allow Central State University Extension to reach residents throughout Ohio
Strong and sustaining partnerships with Ohio community colleges allow Central State University Extension (CSU-Extension) to reach all residents with their unique programming targeted to their communities.
“Although our primary office location is housed at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio,” says CSUE Associate Director of Extension Siddhartha Dasgupta, “our regional and satellite offices allow regional educators the opportunities to connect with local leaders and residents to offer CSU-Extension services to all residents and to create new programs based on identified community need.”
As a result, says Dasgupta, each community can work with our educators to design new programs for that region. While there are signature CSU-Extension programs delivered statewide, regional and even local programs may differ. Educators --- Agriculture/Natural Resources, Family and Consumer Science, Community/Economic Development and 4-H/Youth Development --- are based in each region to design the programming needed specifically by their region.
“Ohio is a diverse county with rural, suburban and urban communities,” says Dasgupta. “Our Appalachian counties have different programming needs than our urban locations, such as Cleveland and Cincinnati. Regional offices can create custom programs requested and needed by those residents, businesses and communities.”
“As a relatively new 1890 Land-Grant Institution, CSUE is grateful for the partnerships in all areas of its programming,” Dasgupta adds. “Our partnerships allow the message of CSUE to reach new and additional audiences. Partnerships are vital to our continued success.”
For more information about CSU-Extension programs, contact Dasgupta at sdasgupta@CentralState.edu.
FAMU, UF/IFAS partner on COVID vaccine awareness
By Amelia Davis (FAMU) and J. Scott Angle (UF/IFAS)
Safety is and should always be a top priority, and vaccinations are the safest and easiest way to help build protection, especially against COVID-19.
The EXCITE 2, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded project, is the partnership between Florida A&M University (FAMU) and the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), aimed to make rural counties healthier places through science-based information. Many rural communities are often “overlooked” or receive delayed access that many Americans in bigger communities often take for granted.
For both Drs. Worthen and O’Neal, this partnership took on a personal tone. O’Neal saw how type 2 diabetes and hypertension limited the ability of the grandfather who raised her in rural Mississippi to enjoy his golden years. Because he lived in a rural community, her grandfather had limited access to medical care.
Worthen, born in Franklin County, grew up in a historically Black neighborhood known as The Hill. She returns regularly through Extension programming, such as Family and Consumer Sciences and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), focusing on health, wellness and nutrition for low-income populations. Most recently, she has helped residents have a voice in land-use planning.
Along with Worthen and O’Neal, the team consists of Ciara Holloman (FAMU), Kimberly Davis (FAMU), Dr. Milanka Turner (FAMU/Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice), Dr. Saungaylia Randolph (FAMU/School of Allied Health) and Dr. Marcia Owens (FAMU/School of the Environment).
Extension scholarships help farmers attend workshops, conferences
With help from Fort Valley State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), small farmers can now attend seminars focused on improving production and costs.
Farmers attending events such as the Farmers Train-the-Trainer Annual Conference received scholarships through FVSU funded by the USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE). This office develops and provides solutions for problems facing rural and underserved farmers and communities.
Joy-Moten Thomas, assistant Extension administrator for community development and outreach, said, “This affords us the opportunity to remove financial barriers that keep many farmers from participating in professional development trainings that are designed to benefit them.”
Scholarship recipient Alfred Greenlee is a farmer from Albany, Georgia, and a member of the Southern Farmers Collaborative Group. With help from a scholarship, Greenlee recently attended the 60th annual convention of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association in Savannah, Georgia.
“It’s a real privilege to be able to receive a scholarship, especially for small farmers. Sometimes, we have challenges in getting into some of the conferences that they have. But to be able to have Fort Valley State University pay for small and disadvantaged farmers to attend such conferences speaks volumes. It gives us a chance to see the latest in technology, learn the latest in science and have some sort of understanding of marketing our animals. I’m just so thankful that assistance of this magnitude exists,” Greenlee said.
For more information about how FVSU’s Cooperative Extension Program is helping Georgia’s socially disadvantaged farmers, contact Moten-Thomas at (478) 825-6954 or Dr. James Brown, program leader for agriculture and natural resources, at (478) 825-6327.
Community and Resource Development Team partners with city of Frankfort for COVID grants
The Kentucky State University Community and Resource Development (CRD) Team joined the city of Frankfort to spread the word about its economic recovery grants.
The grants were made available to small businesses that fit certain criteria to help mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19. Ninety-seven grants were awarded for a total amount of $966,600.
State specialists Gill Finley Jr. and Chris Cribbs reached out to business owners they knew and knocked on the doors of those they didn’t. They reached people who often miss communications from the city of Frankfort, said Rebecca Hall, community engagement and grants manager. Without the efforts of Kentucky State’s CRD team, “we would have probably had half the amount of successful applicants that we had,” Hall said.
CRD team members not only told business owners about the grant but also helped them fill out the application. Quality Nutrition owner Leticia Pecina said Finley was like a “little angel” when he showed up, told her about the grant and helped her fill out the application.
“This is just the beginning of additional services and trying to build a partnership with (local businesses) that’s sustainable,” Finley said.
Sustainable community impacts through Children Youth Families at Risk Programming (CYFAR)
The United We Can: A Sustainable Community Entrepreneurship Project sponsored through Langston University School of Agriculture & Applied Science aims to introduce African American and other traditionally underserved youths to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) combined with agriculture and entrepreneurship.
The project offers the opportunity to build self-esteem and develop leadership and practical application skills transferable to all areas of an individual's life. Incorporating agriculture and STEM requires practical application of math and science while also offering a nutrition component.
Shar Carter, associate educator (LU-SAAS|CEOP) and principal investigator (CYFAR), extended an agriculture partnership geared toward the interest level of middle school students at Monroe Middle School Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Students participate in the Monroe Ag Education and have maintained produce gardens while learning the finer concepts of agriculture and biology.
LU-SAAS|CEOP partners with local nonprofit organizations: Food on The Move (FOTM) and The Oasis Project (TOP), to increase entrepreneurship and STEM experiences. The Monroe Ag Education assists the students in developing their marketing skills and successfully selling their locally grown produce to Oasis Fresh Market.
To celebrate their accomplishment, the students use the profits from their sales to host pizza parties while also being fiscally responsible. Additionally, each Friday, all attending students can create a meal using the produce they have grown in their classroom garden. Langston University SAAS/CEOP is committed to impacting underserved communities through CYFAR and similar programming.
Kansas City Urban Impact Center fosters partnerships to increase impact
Extension staff members are a special breed, but without connections to the larger community, they would be unable to make the impact that they would like to make.
Lincoln University Cooperative Extension’s Kansas City Urban Impact Center maintains a variety of connections with community partners to ensure that both Extension programs and programs run by partner organizations are able to thrive.
Some of the KC Urban Impact Center’s community partners include aSTEAM, The Nia Project, Bridging the Gap, KC Common Good, Communities Creating Opportunity, Fit 4U is 4U, Harvesters Food Bank, the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas City Health Department, Mattie Rhodes Counseling Center and Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church.
N.C. A&T Extension partners with Environmental Defense Fund on farming, climate change study
Climate-resilient agricultural practices can help small farms in North Carolina profit in a changing climate, according to new research by Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the Environmental Defense Fund, a nationwide nonprofit advocacy group.
A summary report and case studies of three small farms in North Carolina by N.C. A&T Cooperative Extension and EDF share insights for farmers and their advisers to inform their financial decision-making when considering whether to implement climate-smart agriculture practices.
“What we’ve found is way too important to keep to ourselves,” said Mark Blevins, Ed.D., assistant administrator for agricultural and natural resources for Extension at A&T.
Variable and extreme weather associated with a changing climate, including severe weather events and hotter summer nights, challenges small farms. The latest research by N.C. A&T Cooperative Extension and EDF summarizes the real-world financial and climate-resilience benefits that practices such as reduced tillage, cover cropping and high tunnel use are providing three small farms in diverse growing regions: the coastal plain, the Piedmont and the mountains.
Initiative benefits veterans
Prairie View A&M University's Cooperative Extension Program is accustomed to addressing health disparities across the state of Texas. While veteran housing isn't usually one of its top priorities, the unit is dedicated to helping the underserved.
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, veterans make up 11 percent of the homeless population in the United States. Traumatic experiences, Mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction (which can occur after being homeless), loss of employment, underemployment or inability to gain a new job and limited housing/rental stress contribute to homelessness.
PVAMU's Cooperative Extension Program's Community Economic Development unit seized the opportunity to help curb the growing problem with a unique solution. They helped to create “tiny homes” specifically for veterans. CED's program leader, Jimmy Henry, said his team was thrilled to assist with a program that benefited those who have served this country.
"Our goal was to assist Langetree Retreat & Eco Center with the development of a site plan that would serve as the foundation for outlining future tiny home development," he added. "As a result, partnerships have been formed with support organizations and school districts to construct and donate tiny homes."
The group teamed up with Kingwood Park High School and Summer Creek High School to develop the unit's Homeless Veteran Initiative. Henry added, "The program's vision is to work with homeless veterans and make available VA benefits addressing housing, mental health, medical benefits, hunger and job training."
SC Governor’s School for Agriculture students awarded up to $83,300 in scholarship funds
With a shared vision to advance agriculture in the Palmetto state, two South Carolina agencies celebrated their partnership to grow the next generation of leaders. SC State University 1890 Research & Extension awarded full-tuition scholarships to two seniors at the South Carolina Governor’s School for Agriculture at John De La Howe (JDLH) during a college acceptance signing ceremony on Wednesday, April 27, in McCormick, South Carolina.
Jake Simpson and Jaquez Perry, recipients of the 2022 SC State 1890 Agriculture Innovation Scholarship, will join the freshman class of 2026 as declared agribusiness majors in the newly established College of Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences at SC State University. The pair look to expand their knowledge of the management and business aspects of the agriculture industry and bring a fresh perspective to the state’s growing billion-dollar industry.
Pushing the envelope in research and innovation in agriculture, the two will have student employment opportunities at the new research and demonstration farm located in Olar, South Carolina, where they will work alongside the farm manager to receive professional development and research training.
The two seniors will each receive up to $83,300 in scholarship monies that will cover their expenses throughout their four-year academic careers. To learn more about the Agriculture Innovation Scholarship, contact Dr. Derrick Wise, state program leader for education innovation and support, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partnership with Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana-Opelousas Unit
The Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana-Opelousas Unit has been in partnership with the Southern University Ag Center for over 10 years through the Sustainable Agricultural Research and Development Institute (SARDI).
While dozens of topics have been presented at the unit, youths have particularly enjoyed participating in physical activities, nutritional sessions, cooking demonstrations and Creating Healthy Enjoyable Foods (C.H.E.F.) Camps.
SARDI’s Angell C. Jordan, Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) assistant area agent in St. Landry Parish, has conducted numerous programs year-round for countless years. She continues to involve youths with new and positive activities by encouraging them to prepare healthy meals and snacks and to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. She has seen kids sprout from first grade to high school age while continuing to reach out to youths of today. The summer is gearing up at the Boys and Girls Club and so is the Southern University Ag Center.
SARDI is a satellite campus of the Southern University Ag Center. The institute focuses on improving the socio-economic well-being of citizens in rural communities within a 10-parish region of St. Landry, Acadia, Allen, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Evangeline, Lafayette, Pointe Coupee, St. Martin and Vermillion Parishes.
TSU Extension breaking economic, cultural barriers with international delegation
By Janiece M. Pigg
The United States Heartland China Association (USHCA) recently visited with the Tennessee State University (TSU) College of Agriculture and TSU Cooperative Extension to discuss collaborative partnerships and innovative Extension programs in the 1890 land-grant system.
The United States Heartland China Association is a nonprofit, bipartisan organization devoted to building and fostering greater economic and socio-cultural connections between the middle-United States region and the People’s Republic of China.
The USHCA delegation included Jason Conley, USHCA program associate; Dr. Xiaopeng Pang, a visiting scholar at Colorado State University and professor in the School of Agriculture and Rural Development at Renmin University of China; and Dr. Louis “Lou” Swanson, emeritus professor in Rural and Agricultural Policy and Rural Development in the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State University.
Throughout the visit, USHCA delegates spoke with Extension leadership, individual program leaders and specialists regarding the immense impact of Extension across the urban and rural regions of Tennessee. To learn more about this enlightening dialogue between USHCA and TSU Cooperative Extension, contact Dr. Latif Lighari, associate dean of Extension, at (615) 963-5000.
CISC initiatives continue Carver's mission to increase minority participation
Keeping in the vision and tradition of its namesake, the Carver Integrative Sustainability Center (CISC) works to continue Dr. George Washington Carver’s mission of increasing the participation of minority groups in rural communities in local, state and government processes that govern their growth, maintenance and ultimately their quality of life. In doing so, the CISC dedicates itself to various projects focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) while also encompassing necessary concepts, such as mattering and belonging.
Dr. Lindsey Lunsford, assistant research and Extension professor for food systems, education and policy for Tuskegee University, leads initiatives for the university’s CISC. Lunsford’s aims have garnered both state-specific and national outcomes.
Lunsford helped target the CISC’s focus on two distinct and novel populations: Cooperative Extension professionals and high school-aged youths. To target Cooperative Extension professionals nationwide, Lunsford authored the Extension Foundation’s second edition of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion eFieldbook.
The publication provides information and resources about DEI to Cooperative Extension professionals. It contains links to expert presentations, videos, frameworks, websites and other resources that will prove to be of value to those wishing to learn more about DEI and how to incorporate best practices in their work. Lunsford co-chaired, along with Dr. Shatomi Luster Edwards (University of Missouri-Urban County director), the eXtension Organizing Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in production of the DEI eFieldbook. Through Lunsford’s leadership, the CISC also focuses on developing the next generation of youth leadership.
Drug court clients transform their eating, nutrition habits through UAPB program
A University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) program is equipping clients of the Jefferson County Drug Court Program with healthier nutrition habits, said Marcie Johnson, drug court adviser/counselor for Pine Bluff Adult Probation. The program’s clients, first-time offenders convicted of nonviolent crimes, attend nutrition and cooking classes hosted by the UAPB 1890 Cooperative Extension Program.
UAPB Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP) program aides teach participants how to read food labels, make healthier choices at restaurants and decrease sedentary behavior through physical activity. They also learn about the importance of food safety practices, portion control, the reduction of sodium and sugar in daily eating and ways to stretch their food dollar.
Johnson said her program’s clientele attends interactive cooking sessions once a week. They are able to interact with the EFNEP aides and ask questions about cooking, see firsthand how healthy meals are prepared and sample the dishes. Johnson said one participant started regularly cooking meals she learned to make at the sessions for her grandmother, who had been on medicine for high cholesterol for years.
“Imagine their surprise when they showed up for one of the grandmother’s regular checkups at the doctor’s office, and it turned out her cholesterol drastically decreased,” she said. “The doctor even took her off the medications.”
UMES Extension partners with CTE program to teach horticulture students about healthful algae
Through a UMES Extension cooperative project, horticulture students at Parkside High School are learning how to grow an ancient plant in a new way that could someday help feed the ever-growing world population with safe and nutritious food products.
Student groups set up an experiment May 16 to grow the blue-green algae, Spirulina, in photobioreactors. The cyano-bacteria is nutrient-dense, having protein equivalent to that of eggs. It is a good source of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, copper and iron and is high in antioxidants. The budding horticulturists will use different parameters that they deem most beneficial to see which team can produce the highest yield after two weeks.
A horticulture teacher at the schools’ Career and Technology Education program agreed to implement the project imagined by UMES Extension specialists Dr. Melinda Schwarz (Food Safety) and Brad Hartle (4-H STEM) and a local farmer. The school previously partnered with UMES Extension’s specialty herbs consultant Henriette den Ouden on an herbal tea project.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Schwarz said. “Students will have a hands-on lesson in new technologies and emerging products in horticulture, and experiment results may provide some insight that could be incorporated in the processing systems for the farmer.”
VSU Extension spearheads efforts to establish local urban agriculture policies
The Harding St. Urban Ag Center in Petersburg, Virginia, is a flurry of activity this spring. For Arbor Day in April, Virginia State University (VSU) Urban Forestry Specialist Joel Koci gave a presentation on caring for orchards.
The community came together to plant trees from the Arbor Day Foundation. On Earth Day, VSU Food System Specialist Dr. Marcus Comer partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Virginia Turf Grass Association to lead a cleanup event with the community.
As they’re clearing the row beds in the community garden in preparation for planting, they are also preparing for an exciting initiative: creating land-use policies for the city of Petersburg. The mission of the Urban Ag Center is to address existing food deserts in the city of Petersburg by building a sustainable food production system and distribution hub that includes educating the community about indoor food production operations, marketing and entrepreneurship. Creating urban land-use policies would expand VSU’s Extension’s ability to impact the community in terms of providing greater access to food in Petersburg.
Virginia Cooperative Extension extends the resources of Virginia's two land-grant universities, Virginia State University and Virginia Tech, to solve problems facing Virginians every day.
Montgomery history mural unifies community members
West Virginia State University (WVSU) and BridgeValley CTC have partnered up to design a historic art mural that allows people to participate in its creation by using a “paint-by-numbers” format.
“We decided to construct an art project that showcased Montgomery’s past on the side of the “GRID” (Generate, Renew, Innovate, Design) building,” WVSU Extension Agent Adam Hodges said. “I teamed up with a committee of people from the city to decide what images would be used in the mural. We decided on black and white pictures for the painting to give it an old cinema feel arranged in a vintage film strip layout. I took old photos and rendered them into different shapes with monochromatic shades, then sketched them on the building. It provided a simplistic way for people to just grab a brush and paint a section.”
Hodges hopes that the mural will serve as an opportunity to help people connect with one another and learn about the city’s roots. With the decline of population in Montgomery, it excites past and current residents to see new projects being constructed in the city and inspires people to come back and visit.