Around The South

Compiling SRDC and national news, recent publications, upcoming conferences and events, and job opportunities, this monthly newsletter furnishes a brief overview of announcements from the Southern region.

Recent Issues
March 2018 Main Topics

Rural America Counts: A Blueprint for Reinvesting in Rural America

Vibrant, resilient, and sustainable rural communities are the focus of the President’s Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity Report and resulted in five priority areas: e-connectivity, quality of life, workforce development, technological innovation, and rural economic development. All of these priorities are being addressed at various land grant universities through the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and Experiment Stations and many of these activities are coordinated by the four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs). At the suggestion of CES leadership, the RRDCs developed Rural America Counts, which serves as a blueprint for reinvesting in rural America, using the above priorities as a framework for mobilizing the resources of the land grant system.

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The North Carolina Farmworkers Health and Safety Education Program - North Carolina State University

Farming and agriculture workforce constitute an important core of North Carolina’s economy as about 17% of its income comes from the agriculture and agribusiness industry. The state is recognized as the number one tobacco and sweet potato producer in the country, and the second in Christmas tree production. In 2016, there were 83,723 total farmworkers in the state and North Carolina ranks second in the number of H2A workers. Because of the sheer size of this population and the critical role they play in our agriculture system, facilitating this group’s health and safety is imperative.

The agriculture workforce also constitutes a vulnerable group as they face risk factors such low socioeconomic status, i.e. average income is $10-12,499.00 and limited access to health care; health risk factor, i.e. exposure to pesticide, harmful weather, and nicotine and mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety. Farmworkers suffer from the highest rate of toxic chemical injuries. In one day, workers can absorb the amount of nicotine found in 36 cigarettes. One in four farmworkers report having been injured on the job in their lifetime. Farmworkers have a 20% increased risk of developing symptoms of Heat Stress.

Furthermore, farmers and their families are also exposed to stressors that may affect their life. Harvest and planting seasons may add tension to the family’s dynamic as well as stressors related to farming, such as, uncontrollable weather, exposure to pesticides, variable crop prices, and machinery breakdowns.

Consequently, there is a need to provide educational programs to promote preventive behaviors among farmworkers, farmworkers' employers, and their families to improve agriculture workforce health and safety. This is essential for the farm economy, but also the quality of life of much of our rural community.

The Farmworkers Health and Safety Comprehensive Program addresses the need by developing a program model where the farmworker, his/her family, growers, crew leaders, Cooperative Extension, Philip Morris International, and the community work together to enhance the quality of life of the farm community. Furthermore, the program has offered NCCE an effective mechanism to connect and engage with the farmworkers community.

The Farmworkers Health and Safety Education Program is based on the belief that everyone involved in the agriculture industry, which includes farmers/producers, crew leaders/contractors (“farmworkers’ employers”), farmworkers, and their families are exposed to risk factors, stressors, and educational needs that call for an education program that recognizes and includes all of them. The program builds and strengthens relationships between all parties involved as well as community partners in order to enhance the well-being of the Farm Working Community. The program has six primary components:

  1. Improve communication between farmers, farmworkers, crew leaders, contractors, and Extension agents about important safety and health practices on the farm.
  2. Provide health and safety training on pesticide, heat stress, green tobacco illness to farmers, crew leaders, contractors, farmworkers and their families.
  3. Serve as a resource to growers as they work to provide a healthy work environment on their farm.
  4. Promote the development of a stakeholders’ network to identify educational needs and opportunities for farmworkers and their families.
  5. Connect farmworkers and their families with other Extension resources such as youth development, nutrition and food safety programs, as well as with other community resources.
  6. Serve as a resource to farmworkers' employers to meet EPA Workers Protection Standard and U.S. Tobacco Agriculture Practice farmworkers training requirements, i.e. annual mandatory training for workers and record keeping of worker training.
NC Cooperative Extension has successfully implemented this model for educating farmworkers’ employers, farmworkers, and their families through grant funding. In 2012, through a partnership with AmeriCorps SAFE Program and Pender County Extension, 892 farmworkers were training on pesticide training, 295 received training on heat stress, and 20 José Aprende trainings were conducted. In 2015, through a partnership with the NC Farmworkers Health Program, 192 workers were trained on WPS, Heat Stress, and Green Tobacco Illness in Ashe and Alleghany counties. Since 2014, through an ongoing partnership with Philip Morris International, 2133 workers have been trained on WPS, Heat Stress, and Green Tobacco Illness in Wayne County, 475 community members including the families of farmworkers were educated on pesticide safety through community events, and 500+ participants attended the First Farmworkers Health and Safety Festival. Additionally, 115 workers were trained on WPS, Heat Stress, and Green Tobacco Illness through a partnership with Universal Leaf, 205 workers were training on WPS through a partnership with GAP Connections, and 275 workers were trained on WPS through collaboration with Ashe and Alleghany Farmworkers Safety Day.

In addition to on-farm training, our bilingual educators have become integral members of the local extension offices and are essential team members in the work to find innovative solutions and approaches to improving the lives of NC Farmworkers.
February 2018 Main Topics

Bonnie Teater Award Nominations Due March 20, 2018

Each year, the SRDC honors someone who has excelled in community development work within Extension Service in the South. On even numbered years, we seek to honor a person with the Bonnie Teater Community Development Lifetime Achievement award. We need your help! Nominations are now open, so please consider nominating someone that has excelled in this arena. The nominee must be currently employed by one of the 29 land-grant universities located in the Southern Rural Development Center region; serve as an administrator, specialist or agent who has worked in the Extension CD area for at least TEN years at the state, multi-county and/or county levels. An individual who has retired over the past 12 months and who, at the time of his/her retirement, met the conditions outlined, is eligible for consideration.

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Tackling the Opioid Epidemic in Virginia from a Community-Based Perspective – Virginia Cooperative Extension

Like many other states, the opioid addiction crisis in Virginia has been declared a public health emergency. In 2013, it became the number one cause of unnatural death in Virginia. And the trend has continued to increase, with opioid deaths rising 40.3 percent from 2015-2016. To address these challenges, Virginia Cooperative Extension launched the Preventing Opioid Abuse in Rural Virginia project, with USDA Rural Health and Safety Education funding. With partners, we are implementing the PROSPER evidence-based delivery system in Grayson and Henry Counties and the city of Martinsville. Through PROSPER (Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships to Enhance Resilience), local community teams are formed in each PROSPER community to guide programming and build sustainability. The teams are led jointly by an Extension agent and a representative from the school system. As the teams guide programming, all 6th graders and their families are recruited to participate in family-level education, for which we are using the SFP 10-14 evidence-based curriculum. It’s a universal, community-wide strategy, targeting all youth in the 6th grade, as well as their families. There is also a school-based component for Life Skills Training for all 7th graders. The research evidence for PROSPER indicates that there is a ripple effect, in that even youth who do not participate are positively impacted by the program.

In addition to PROSPER and its related components, a research-informed approach is being implemented through the Virginia Rural Health Association as a partner on this project. The Hospital Patient Education Program (HPEP) is being used to train health-care providers at rural hospitals to deliver a low-literacy training to patients arriving at the hospital that are taking a prescription opioid, or are being prescribed one at the visit. The one-on-one education, which often will include family members, explains the risks associated with taking an opioid, the importance of taking it only as prescribed, and how to avoid overdose.

As the work is occurring, we are also working closely with all Extension partners on complementary projects in the localities being served, as well as statewide to maximize resources and foster sustainability. Expanding the vision of the PROSPER community team to this project will provide opportunities for greater interaction as the team focuses on ways to address the opioid misuse and abuse problem through multiple community approaches.
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Launch Issue

January 2018 Main Topics

The 2017-18 Southern CRD Webinar Series Continues:
How Can I Be of Service? Determining the Best Role for Community Engagement

January 25, 2018 @ 1:00pm CT/2:00pm ET

Cooperative Extension has a mandate to assess community needs and assist with community issues, but how agents engage with communities will vary by topic, need and situation. This webinar is an interactive session that will explore different roles agents might fill as they work for community change. We will discuss the different roles Extension can serve when creating community change including: informing, being a catalyst for change, innovating change; or orchestrating change – and when and how these roles may change.

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Healthier Together in Calhoun and Taliaferro Counties – University of Georgia

In 2016, the University of Georgia received a two-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to boost obesity prevention efforts in Georgia's most impacted rural counties—Calhoun and Taliaferro—each with an adult obesity prevalence of over 40 percent. Involving multiple University and community partners, a cross-programming approach was crafted to address obesity through Cooperative Extension. Fittingly, the project was named Healthier Together. University partners include Cooperative Extension, the College of Public Health, the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and the Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.

The primary goal of Healthier Together Calhoun/Taliaferro is to implement environmental changes to promote healthy eating and physical activity in places where youth and families spend their time. Interventions involve forming a community coalition to work with schools, community organizations, local government and businesses to serve and sell healthy food, create places to be physically active and address local policy issues that influence healthy living.

A multi-sector community approach promotes robust outcomes and long-term impact. After the first year of implementation, notable outcomes include the following: six community groups have installed 30 raised bed gardens, walking trails are being constructed, walkability of communities is being addressed by local officials, and new physical activities for youth and adults are being offered. Fresh Stop, a structured CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) style farmer’s market is underway through partnership with the Georgia Farmer’s Market Association. In addition, school cafeterias are adopting Smarter Lunchroom policies and practices, cancer prevention cooking schools are being offered and 4-H youth development activities have increased. Success stories are taking on a very personal nature in this project: a volunteer at the community garden, who also participated in the cooking class, used veggies from the garden and recipes from class to improve her family’s diet. This volunteer’s husband had pre-diabetes, and with lifestyle changes supported by Healthier Together, he has lost 20 lbs. Calhoun and Taliaferro counties are enacting sustainable, evidence-based practices for increasing the health of their residents. These outcomes also have positive impact on the economic vibrancy of the communities and their capacity to address issues through inter-agency collaboration as residents engage in addressing health concerns together.
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Launch Issue


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