Cooperative Extension at N.C. A&T Helps North Carolinians Weather COVID-19

05/06/2020 College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (May 6, 2020) – COVID-19 has left many North Carolinians hunkered down at home wondering when life will return to normal. But for Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the pandemic has been a call to action - a call that Extension has answered with a full-throttle effort to help limited-resource families and farmers withstand an unprecedented crisis.

“We have relationships with organizations all across the state, and we’ve used that network to make sure North Carolinians have research-based information and resources to help them cope,” said Rosalind Dale, Ed.D., Extension administrator and associate dean in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. “Our work focuses on audiences with limited resources and in underserved communities, and throughout this pandemic, Extension at N.C. A&T will be there for them. It is vital that we don’t let our most vulnerable populations fall through the cracks.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Extension programs have become virtual, and volunteers, staff, 4-H youth and community organizations have come together to serve communities in a variety of ways:

  • 4-H Youth Development Specialist Shannon Wiley, Ph.D., launched a Hands to Service face mask sewing project involving 4-H members, volunteers and Extension agents. By April 30, volunteers provided 212 masks to grocery store employees in Forsyth, Harnett and Herford counties, bus drivers and cafeteria workers in Gates County, senior citizens in Harnett, Herford and Mitchell counties and food bank employees in Mecklenburg County.
  • In Wilson County, the 4-H Teen Council launched an initiative to deliver video messages and write cards to older adults at the local senior center to lift their spirits and help them feel connected.
  • Several county Extension offices launched food drives as part of their Small Farms Week 2020 activities. When Small Farms Week live events were canceled, county Extension agents teamed up with 4-H youth and Extension volunteers to see that the donated food did not go to waste. Food items were given to needy families in Warren and Bladen counties and to charitable organizations, including Anson Crisis Ministry (Anson County), Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry at Holy Comforter Episcopal Church (Mecklenburg County) and Mitchell County Senior Center Food Pantry.
  • 4-H’ers in Swain County assembled care packages containing toothpaste and toothbrushes, combs, face wipes, canned goods, spoons, face tissue and snacks. The packages were donated to Restoration House, a nonprofit in Bryson City.
  • In Mecklenburg County, about 400 4-H youth participated in a 4-H Starter Garden The 4-H’ers assembled 410 starter garden kits, which will be distributed to Spanish-speaking and limited-resource families in the county along with an activity book to help them learn to grow their own food. The project was a true collaboration, involving Extension staff in 4-H/youth development, community gardening, horticulture, and family and consumer science as well as 4-H volunteers and Mecklenburg County Master Gardeners.
  • The University Farm on the A&T campus has donated about 800 pounds of vegetables grown in high tunnels to Greensboro area nonprofits Share the Harvest, the Interactive Resource Center, Food Not Bombs, Industries for the Blind and the Out of the Garden Project.
  • With so many people in need, Extension at A&T made a concerted effort to share its expertise quickly and easily. The result is the webpage – COVID-19 Resources for the Public – with practical advice for individuals, families and farmers. More than 30 resources cover topics such as avoiding coronavirus financial scams, safely storing and reheating leftovers, building a portable handwashing station, maintaining a routine for children, and planting a garden. The page is a work in progress, with updates and new information added regularly.
  • Extension Extended (#ExtensionExtended) provides educational resources and activities for kids and families through Facebook and Twitter. Social media has been used to spread the word about Extension’s online coronavirus resources, present 4-H Mystery Challenges on topics ranging from healthy eating to career exploration, share recipes and food safety tips, and offer MyPlate at Home, an online version of the MyPlate healthy eating program.
  • William Landis, an agriculture and natural resources agent in Warren and Franklin counties, is serving with the Army National Guard designing and building mobile, modular hospitals. The facilities, he said, are part of a contingency plan to alleviate strain on North Carolina hospitals if they become overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
  • Members of the Extension at A&T Strategic Planning Council (SPC) have been busy in their communities too:
    • SPC member Marion Booth and her husband William donated more than 300 COVID-19 health packages to healthcare agencies in Beaufort County and served hot meals to healthcare workers and first responders at Vidant Hospital in Washington.
    • In Scotland County, SPC member Dorothy Tyson delivered cards of thanks and encouragement to the directors and employees of the county health department, emergency services, the fire chief, and members of city, county and volunteer fire departments.
    • SPC State Chair Josie Williams launched a fundraising campaign to support community members at risk of homelessness because of the pandemic.
    • Edward Olive, an SPC member in Mt. Olive, provided eggs and strawberries from the Mt. Olive University Farm to students who have been unable to leave the campus.


Media Contact Information: jmhowse@ncat.edu