The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension provides practical education to people of all ages. The partnership of Sullivan County, the State of New Hampshire and the U.S. Department of Agriculture forms UNH Cooperative Extension. In every Sullivan County community, this program is at work, increasing economic development, enhancing the environment, supporting community needs and developing human potential. Sullivan County Extension educators provide non-formal educational programs in Agriculture, Natural Resource Management, and in Family, Community and Youth Development, with the assistance of a local advisory council. Sullivan County residents also benefit from a wide range of statewide Extension programs directed by state Extension Specialists. These efforts focus on monitoring water quality in Lake Sunapee, reducing the use of pesticides, and Community Profiles to name a few.
Educational radio spots and newspaper articles throughout the year by Extension Educators - WNTK, Eagle Times, Valley News and other local newspapers, and e-Ticker and ConnectCornish electronic newsletters in Sullivan County.
Extension educators participated in numerous countywide events, forums, fairs and public exhibits including the Cornish Fair, County Government Week, Career Days and Health Days for area high schools and the County Commissioners' Pancake Breakfast in Unity.
COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES PROGRAMS
- The Sullivan County UNH Cooperative Extension Agricultural Resources program area assisted commercial and non-commercial growers in all phases of agricultural production and farm management. This included crop production methods, pest management, whole farm planning, financial analysis, nutrient management, conservation practices, and marketing.
- Cooperative Extension addressed the needs of agricultural clientele through technical assistance and educational events. Outreach methods included 51 farm/site visits that reached 118 farmers, 2 on-farm research projects, and 18 workshops. Over 385 producers attended county educational events and over 159 phone calls were responded to in the past year.
- Workshop topics included fruit tree, blueberry, ornamental tree and shrub pruning, pest and disease control, pesticide safety advanced marketing, QuickBooks training, pasture management, cost effective dairy and livestock feed programs, estate planning, financial planning, goal setting, time management, and food safety for farmers and restaurant owners.
- Site visits focused on farm layout, labor and employee management, farm succession planning, farm financial analysis, storm damage assessments, and general farm profitability and growth.
- Cooperative Extension also helped growers with soil and tissue tests to guide fertility and conservation decisions. One twenty seven (127) soil samples and over a dozen insect specimens were submitted for analysis and identification.
- In addition to the areas above, Sullivan County UNH Cooperative Extension provided support to farmers and homeowners alike in issues of crop and livestock production, agricultural engineering, grant writing, sprayer calibration, and pest management.
- The Sullivan County Master Gardener Program continued to provide educational programs on home gardening and landscaping using their active core of 25 Master Gardeners. Additional support for homeowners was provided by the Education Center. This Center offers a toll free hot line and is staffed by volunteers from around the state. Homeowners can call with their questions Monday through Friday.
- The Sullivan County UNH Cooperative Extension Educator also supported agricultural organizations by serving on their Boards of Drectors. This included Sullivan County Farm Bureau, NH Farm Bureau, and Northeast Organic Farming Association of NH.
- The educational programs and assistance listed above have resulted in increased farm profits, increased farm efficiency which resulted in hours of time and labor saved or reduced, effective and judicious use of farm inputs, and increased support for the agricultural community here in Sullivan County.
- Several projects were begun in the past few months and will continue over the coming year. These include:
- A multi-state, grant driven effort, to develop a farm labor decision making tool. Farm labor can typically account for 40-60% of all costs on diversified fruit and vegetable farms. This tool will help farmers make critical decisions in terms of hiring, managing, and other key decisions around farm labor. The states involved include VT, NH, PA, and WI.
- Advanced Farm Management Project. This is a four session program that is being taught at three locations across the state starting this November in Charlestown. The program is funded by a Northeast Risk Management Grant.
- Farm Legal Issues Resources - A three year grant focused on building capacity in legal issues with farm service providers. The total grant funding is $156,000.
- A county team effort funded by a Rural Business Economic Development Grant to study various agricultural economic development options in Sullivan County. County Manager Jessie Levine took the lead on this project. Sullivan County Natural Resources Director Lionel Chute and I have been working with her and Dr. Charlie French to explore the economic development opportunities for the agricultural sector of Sullivan County. The grant is for close to $40,000 for one-year.
- There are over 11 farm management workshops being offered in the upcoming year. Additionally, numerous other workshops will again be offered on topics that include: pruning, crop and livestock production, season extension, and grazing management.
SULLIVAN COUNTY FOREST RESOURCES PROGRAM
- The Extension Forester completed his first full year on the job on June 3, 2014.
- Fifty-four woodlot visits for 93 landowners on more than 5,800 acres were carried out. A variety of topics were addressed, focusing on management advice to help achieve income, wildlife, recreation, and other goals on these properties.
- A total of 104 additional assists were provided in the form of e-mail, telephone, and walk-in requests.
- Twelve educational events for nearly 300 attendees were carried out. Topics included Emerald Ash Borer, timber harvest, forest health, and tree identification.
- Extension Forester continued to serve as Sullivan County Chair of the NH Tree Farm Program and coordinated the Tree Farm Program in the County. Currently, 90 Tree Farmers manage more than 43,000 acres of forestland in the County to benefit long-term productivity of our forests for current and future generations.
- Extension Forester worked closely with the Sullivan County Chapter of the NH Timberland Owners Association to promote long-term forest stewardship and the value of a viable forest products industry in maintaining our rural quality of life. Local events this year included the annual supper at the County Complex and the Woodsmen’s Field Day at the Cornish Fair.
- Direct technical assistance was provided to Town officials on forestry issues in Lempster, Cornish, Springfield, Washington, and Grantham.
- Extension Forester obtained a NH Pesticide Applicator’s License and provides treatment recommendations Statewide, as well as forest health assistance to Extension Foresters in other Counties.
- Activities planned for 2015 include workshops in forest health, wildlife habitat, and timber harvest, at least 50 woodlot consultations, and an outreach program to assist one Town with Emerald Ash Borer preparedness planning.
NUTRITION CONNECTIONS PROGRAM
- Nutrition Connections programming reached 61 adults, either in group series or individual home visits. Limited income residents from Charlestown, Claremont, Goshen, Lempster, Newport, and Sunapee participated in a series of food, nutrition and physical activity lessons. Cooking Matters at the Store was presented at two local small grocery stores to those who may not be able to shop at the larger markets.
- Using a series of nutrition and physical activity lessons, Nutrition Connections programming reached 330 youth in Claremont and Newport, during the 2013-2014 school year. Programming included monthly sessions in 3 classrooms in the Newport and Claremont Head Start Centers. Tasting new foods, learning about the food groups, and movement activities were incorporated into the lessons. Several teachers utilized the Teacher Enrichment Kits in their classrooms. The Pick a Better Snack program was presented to three classrooms as part of the state Fruit and Veggie program.
- Families were referred by various agencies including Good Beginnings and Southwestern Community Services, which includes WIC, Southwestern Homeless Services, and Head Start. Families and seniors referred themselves to the program through information provided in a state-wide mailer, brochures, flyers and newsletters distributed to the schools.
- Nutrition Connections was promoted throughout the county by the distribution of materials and brochures, school and agency contacts and collaboration.
YOUTH AND FAMILY PROGRAM
- University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension (UNHCE) programs help vulnerable youth and families develop knowledge, skills and effective behaviors in financial management, parenting, healthy relationships, and other essential life skills. Communities benefit by having financially stable and strong families who are raising healthy children and successful youth. This in turn results in reduced risk of poverty, less risky behavior, reduced social service costs, and a lower rate of recidivism.
- Increasing financial literacy, building present and future financial security, decreasing debt, increasing savings, and improving credit were the goals of our multi-session, money management class series, webinars and workshops offered to the general public and clients of the More Than Wheels program reaching 110 participants. In addition 15 people were reached at the Claremont Shelter, and 50 inmates attended financial education series held at Sullivan County House of Corrections this past year.
- Sixty-four handlers from school food service, hospitals, nursing homes, home catering, fast food restaurants, senior meal sites, assisted living and restaurants increased safe food handling practices to reduce food-borne hazards by attending Safety Awareness in the Food Environment and ServSafe Food Safety programs around Sullivan County. In addition, consumers accessed up-to-date information on food safety and food preservation through face to face programs as well as our web resources.
- Youth and Family field specialists partnered with the Sullivan County Department of Corrections to continue the grant funded 4-H Living Interactive Family Education Program (4-H LIFE), an enhanced visitation program where inmates and their children increase positive interactions through working together as a family on activities and lessons such as balancing responsibilities, managing stress and communication. This program has three components: Inmates with children attend parenting education classes and family night activity preparation classes (each participant is responsible for leading one or more activities during each family night) and five family nights. Twenty inmates attended parenting classes this past year and 17 children and 16 caregivers took part in the family nights. By strengthening social support, enhanced family visits can lead to better outcomes. Research shows that visits from supportive loved ones during incarceration can reduce and delay recidivism, especially when visits occur in the months leading up to release.
- In order to reach additional youth with an incarcerated parent and to remain connected to the youth and families participating in the 4-H LIFE Program during their parents’ stay in the county jail, we decided to establish a community 4-H family club in Claremont. We were able to identify five adults to serve as volunteer 4-H leaders and mentors. A total of 22 youth were reached.
- Youth and Family field specialists worked with two school districts this past year to apply for significant grants that would build capacity for youth job skills and career readiness and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) expanded learning opportunities for at-risk youth through after-school programming and mentoring.
- Youth and Family field specialists worked with local community collaborations focused on teen pregnancy prevention, substance abuse prevention, and literacy promotion in Sullivan County. Through participation on these community collaborates, UNHCE is called upon to provide knowledge, tools and technical assistance in the areas of group process, facilitation, effective communication, resiliency theory, resource acquisition and program development and evaluation. UNHCE field specialists can help communities deal with issues that require comprehensive approaches over the long-term which can yield positive results that enhance community health and support positive youth development.
- Youth and Family field specialist became certified to teach Youth Mental Health First Aid course, a public education program which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge.
- A nine year national longitudinal study of positive youth development discovered that the experiences which young people receive through their participation in 4-H plays a vital role in helping them achieve success. Compared to their peers, the findings show that youth in 4-H programs excel in the areas listed below.
- 4-H members are four times more likely to make contributions to their communities. In Sullivan County our 4-H club members and leaders collectively conducted 35 community service projects investing 402 days of their time toward helping others.
- 4-H’ers are two times more likely to participate in Science programs during out-of-school time. In Sullivan County we have a growing 4-H Robotics club that has further involved youth in building underwater Sea Perch models.
- 4-H’ers are two times more likely to make healthier choices. During club meetings Sullivan County 4-H volunteers make sure healthy snacks are served, including water or a non-sugary beverage and that youth attending meetings participate in some type of physical activity.
- 4-H programs focus on three main ideas relevant to today’s youth: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (4-H STEM); Healthy Living; and Citizenship. In Sullivan County 315 youth are enrolled as members in 20 4-H clubs with the support of 76 4-H volunteer leaders. 4-H youth have the opportunity to participate in more than twenty life skill building events and activities within and beyond Sullivan County.
- Two groups of Newport teens and four adult advisors attended the “Youth Leadership Youth Voice” full day workshop to enhance their skills in communication, facilitation and advocacy.