Cooperative Extension showcases programs

May. 14, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Highlighting its successes within the year, the Lee County Cooperative Extension presented its annual Report to The People Monday night.

"It's a way to showcase the programs and people we have worked with in the past year," said Lee County Extension Director Susan Condlin.

The report is tradition, said Lee County Extension Advisory Council Chairman Jim Foster, and it's important to highlight the various offerings of the Extension. The event featured a variety of speakers about Extension's programs and a meal at the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center.

"Once a year in May, we offer a report to the people, to the county commissioners, county manager and the various stakeholders who are interested in what we have done in the past year," Foster said.

The dinner, broken up into three sections, focused on local foods, food safety and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

Sheila Stevens, one of the hundreds of Sandhills Farms to Table members, spoke about her family's experience participating in the cooperative, which delivers a box of locally grown food every week, within the past year. 

"We've had some unique things show up in our boxes," Stevens said. "And, you know, they are all grown right here."

Crystal McIver, founder of the Peace and Unity Community Garden, said the local Extension office provided essential training and education during the beginning stages of establishing her community garden.

Lee County Environmental Health Director Roy Warren updated the group on the success of the ServSafe Managers Course, which provides food safety training for restaurant managers.

Switching to STEM, education footed in science, technology, engineering and math prepares students for a fast-paced economy that is developing rapidly, said Central Carolina Community College Career and Technical Education Liaison Patrick Kelly.

"To prepare young people with STEM skills, they need to be successful in the changing workforce, Lee County 4-H began to offer programs programs in the area of robotics, biofuels and architecture," Kelly said.

To emphasize the skills taught by a STEM curriculum, the Tyger Bootron 4-H Robotics Team provided a demonstration in their robotic construction and programing skills.

Engaging the county's youth in agriculture and the sciences are extremely important, said Lee County Commissioner Chairman Charlie Parks, because the future will depend on their abilities.

"If you haven't noticed, there are a few of us gray hairs here," Parks said. "We need them to take over for us."