Pike County Extension hosts Grassroots meeting

Published 2:00 am Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Pike County Extension Office hosted the 2015 Grassroots Meeting Tuesday at the Colley Senior Complex in Troy.

The purpose of the meeting was for community leaders to learn more about Extension’s Six Strategic Program Initiatives and to get feedback from community leaders who are involved with agencies and programs that relate to the Pike County community.

Heath Wesley, Pike County interim extension coordinator, said Extension’s Six Strategic Program Initiatives are broad based and span an extensive array of interests.

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The six program initiatives are Health and Wellness Across the Lifespan, Workforce Development, Safe and Secure Food Supply, Financial Literacy Across the Lifespan, Sustainable Agricultural and Forestry Systems and Environmental Stewardship.

“One of the main purposes of the Grassroots Meeting is to gain feedback in an effort to ensure we are providing relevant and impactful programming to the citizens of Pike County,” Wesley said.

Regional Extension Agents representing the 11-county Wiregrass region highlighted their areas of expertise and explained the role their area plays in Extension as a whole.

REA David Koon, Home Grounds and Home Pests, said the Master Gardener program is a main focus of Home Grounds.

“The Master Gardener program is regionally based, and we haven’t offered the program in Pike County in about four years,” Koon said. “But it is one of our most popular and well attended programs. Food safety is another popular program. There is also a lot of interest in the pruning of trees – ornamental trees as well as fruit trees. Fertilizers and water quality are also among the many topics we explore.”

Drew Thompson and Emily Roling, Pike County Extension Office, spoke on 4-H and Youth Development programs.

For many, 4-H is Extension, and 4-H is the certainly the poster child of Extension.

“The big emphasis of Extension is on youth, ages 9 through 18,” Roling said. “Four-H is in every school system in Pike County. The programs include a wide variety of interests from the cattle club to the junior master gardeners’ club.”

Thompson said every effort is made to ensure the programs offered to 4-H’ers are something the students want to talk about.

“If not, there’s no reason to offer them,” he said.

He pointed out that the Chick Chain program, which is relatively new to Pike County, has taken off and should continue to grow and develop.

REA Wanda Carpenter, Family Child and Development, said relationship classes are popular with the older 4-H’ers. The classes target issues students are facing including bullying and substance abuse.

“We discuss parenting because this type situation sometimes arises,” she said. “We also discuss ways to strengthen families because family bonds can be and often are weak.”

REA Theresa Forehand, Human Nutrition, Diet and Health, said students learn about nutrition, and they also learn to prepare budgets as well as food for the table.

“Diabetes is a concern for many young people, so we offer cooking classes with information on the effects different foods have on the body, especially the eyes and feet of those who have diabetes.”

REA Neil Kelly highlighted the Animal Science and Forages and the Commercial Horticulture programs.

He said the Master Cattleman program sponsors board sales whereby cattlemen can fetch premium prices for their cattle and heifer development sales that feature quality replacement heifers.

“As far as horticulture, Extensions sponsors programs on fruits, vegetables, turf grass and nursery products,” he said. “We offer small group programs on specific topics as well as larger groups programs.”

Consumer Science and Personal Financial Management is a program of interest to adults although the piggy bank-age kids are targeted, also. REA Gloria Marks said children should be taught early the value of a dollar and the importance of saving money.

“Everyone should be financially literate,” Marks said. “Financial literacy includes knowledge about money management, savings, credit and estate planning. We also have programs on elder exploitation, financial abuse and how to live on a reduced income. These programs are valuable to people of all ages and in different circumstances in life.”

Wesley expressed appreciation to all those who attended the Grassroots Meeting.

“We value your thoughts and input as it relates to Extension programming throughout the county and the state,” he said. “We appreciate your participation.”

For more information on any program offered by Alabama Extension, call the Pike County Extension Office at 566-0985.