Builders and Shapers: N.C. Cooperative Extension

Builders and Shapers: N.C. Cooperative Extension

May 9th, 2023

For more than a century, an agency that spans from Manteo to Murphy has been providing North Carolinians with learning opportunities that allow them to benefit from research-based knowledge.

In this week’s Builders and Shapers series, we learn about the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, which has offices in all 100 counties. Dare County Extension Director Tanya Lamo details what they do to help make a Greater Outer Banks.

Who do you serve, and how?

The mission of N.C. Cooperative Extension is to extend research-based knowledge to all North Carolinians, helping them transform science into everyday solutions that improve their lives and grow our state.

What that looks like for Dare County Cooperative Extension is program areas focused on Horticulture, Family Consumer Sciences, and 4-H Positive Youth Development.

Dare County Extension Director Tanya Lamo

We offer workshops and education about home gardening, food preservation and nutrition, and leadership development for young people.

Our services are available to all Dare County residents, who we enjoy teaching and training. We love our volunteers who are essentially an “extension” of the work we do. Our program reach and impact would not be nearly as great without their time, dedication and commitment.

When and why was your nonprofit created?

Extension was founded in 1914 through the Smith-Lever Act Legislation. On May 8 we turned 109 years old! This legislation created a Cooperative Extension Service associated with each land-grant institution (N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University).

This partnership between agricultural colleges and USDA enables the dissemination of information produced by the experiment stations’ research. North Carolina is unique as there is an Extension office serving each of the 100 counties and the Cherokee Tribe.

What are some of the benefits of your organization’s work?
We provide the opportunity to be a life-long learner. From the ages of 5 to 108, there are many ways individuals can continue to learn and grow.

Interestingly, Dare County has many residents who move here and have questions about growing, gardening and landscaping. Our Master Gardeners are a great resource to provide information to help with the challenges of coastal gardening.

They have designed many workshops to assist with those questions. There are programs and resources such as Firescaping, The Plants that Survive and Thrive on the OBX, Xeriscaping, Vegetable Gardening and more.

Family Consumer Science program has classes that cover topics such as food preservation, Mediterranean cooking, artisan breads, and cooking for a crowd.

Youth have the opportunity to join a 4-H club, attend camp, hatch a chick, learn culinary basics, or learn how to sew. In addition, there are many regional and state level leadership opportunities that work towards growing young leaders in our community.

[courtesy Cooperative Extension Dare]
Do you think the issues you address will ever go away? Why or why not?
The beauty of Cooperative Extension services is that we are always sharing out the newest research and education. This provides us the chance to continue to grow and adapt our programming and design it to our area. We are always innovating to ensure we are meeting the needs of Dare County residents.

What else would you like readers to know (perhaps an interesting insight or heartwarming story)?
Along with sharing our education and resources with the Dare County residents, we greatly value our community partnerships.

These connections help bolster our work. These organizations serve as connecting points and allow us to glean feedback and create new opportunities to build greater impacts.

One example of this is the Outer Banks Community Foundation who has recently provided support for the newly launched Therapeutic Horticulture program that works to connect people to the benefits of plants.

Because of this funding, we are able to reach a greater audience and provide more robust services and education.

[courtesy Cooperative Extension Dare]
What’s new? What are your upcoming events or initiatives?
We have some exciting events coming up this spring and summer. We just celebrated with the first graduating Med Instead of Meds class in the end of April!

This class of 12 students worked through 6 weeks of Mediterranean cooking classes to learn about the health benefits and lifestyle of Mediterranean cuisine.

The Extension Master Gardener Association has the Coastal Gardening Festival coming up on May 20, which is an opportunity for visitors and residents to purchase plants and art, and learn more about the Master Gardener program.

The 4-H Summer Adventure series begins in early June! There are opportunities for youth to cook, sew, garden, tie-dye, and more. It’s a wonderful introduction to the 4-H program.

For more information on N.C. Cooperative Extension Dare County:

In conjunction with the Outer Banks Community Foundation and the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, WOBX has launched “Builders and Shapers: Nonprofits for a Greater Outer Banks” a weekly series featuring the nonprofits that serve our area. They share details about how they are working to make northeastern North Carolina and the Outer Banks a better place to live, work and play.

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