I am often asked in the community, “what do you do?” or “who do you work for?” When I answer North Carolina Cooperative Extension, I generally get the deer-in-headlights look. We often joke that Extension is the best kept secret in the county, but we don’t really like that joke. We want everyone to know who we are and what we do. This will be my attempt to let the secret out of the bag.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension is based at North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University. We are truly an “extension” of these universities, located in all 100 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. N.C. Cooperative Extension is a partnership of county, state and federal governments working together to provide the citizens of North Carolina with the knowledge needed to improve their lives.
Here in Robeson County, that knowledge is available in a variety of ways. We have seven agents, three program assistants and three support staff members who are figuratively at your fingertips. Not only are we available to assist you one on one, we are also available through email, our website, blogs, informational materials in a variety of formats, workshops, tours, Facebook, Twitter and through a good, old-fashioned phone call.
N.C. Cooperative Extension offers programming and research-based information in three main areas — agriculture, food and youth. Agriculture continues to be the greatest economic indicator in the county, but the average age of a farmer in Robeson County hovers around 58. This needs to change. If agriculture is to continue to be strong in our county, we have to get young people involved. They need to understand the importance of agriculture and local foods. That is why every agent in our office strives to have a youth component in their programming efforts to educate youth in the areas of agriculture and food. Whether we are teaching a person the importance of growing food, caring for livestock, cooking food, eating food or preserving food, food is essential. The healthier we can make it, the better.
There is also one other resource available that you may not be familiar with if you have not visited our website — the Ask an Expert feature. With this Extension resource, county residents can submit questions via the county Extension website at any time, day or night. Ask your questions to receive personalized answers from Extension experts. Our field faculty and specialists have expertise in agriculture, food, forestry, community and environmental issues, youth development, family and consumer sciences and gardening. Questions are answered via email (generally during business hours). Of course, residents who need information are still welcome to call or visit the Robeson County Center during business hours, which are Mondays to Fridays from 8:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. The online resource just adds another avenue to our information and provides convenient access to Extension experts.
To access Ask an Expert, our event calendar, recent articles, meet our staff and much more, visit the county Extension website at robeson.ces.ncsu.edu. For information, contact Christy Strickland, Extension director for North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Robeson County Center, at 910-671-3276 or by email at [email protected]
Christy Strickland is the Extension director for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s Robeson County Center.