Serving New Hanover County Well in 2022, More to Come!
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The New Hanover County (NHC) 4-H Youth Development program, led by J. Scott Enroughty, reached over 2,300 youth in school enrichment, after-school, STEM, and hands-on activities with community involvement empowering student participants to develop and strengthen life skills in 2022. We saw seven New Hanover County 4-H volunteers recognized on the district and state levels for their dedication and service to enriching the lives of young people in New Hanover County. Some of our youth advanced from a County public speaking competition to District and State contests this year; two were named 2022 NC 4-H State Gold medalists in their respective categories. The annual October event at the Arboretum, “4-H Pumpkin-Palooza”, supported by New Hanover Farm Bureau showcased a total of 158 carved pumpkins illuminating the gardens and drew a total of 633 guests to “Experience the Adventure” of 4-H with hands-on activities. The Corning Foundation supported our 4-H “Summer Fun Program” providing quality, researched-based, and fun programs for approximately 440 underserved area youth.
The Ability Garden, Cooperative Extension’s Therapeutic Horticulture program led by Heather Kelejian delivered gardening activities to students enrolled in alternative schools as therapeutic intervention. The program is designed to build self-confidence, teamwork, leadership and promote delayed gratification while introducing basic gardening and environmental concepts. Also, a program titled “Green Creekwood” has facilitated eighteen raised garden beds at individual apartments in the Creekwood community. All beds are currently planted with cold weather crops. Residents are seen outside, working in their beds growing food with positive social engagement. A quarterly gardening newsletter shares educational information about vegetable growing in our region and pick up times for vegetable starts and seeds at two community giveaways planned next Spring. In-person classes are also in the works in partnership with the Consumer Horticulture Program through N.C. Cooperative Extension. The raised garden bed program is expanding to The Villages at Greenfield.
Our Natural Resources program, led by Amy Mead earned the NHC Arboretum the “Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Development Award” for the innovative stormwater management systems showcased at the gardens. These educational models for critical urban sustainability and management of water quality and quantity are in a one-stop shop setting, and include a rain garden, infiltration zone, cistern, permeable pavement, and constructed wetland/bog garden. These stormwater models are used for a walking tour program to show homeowners, landscapers, municipal and government workers, developers and others small- and large-scale stormwater control measures that can be used on residential and commercial properties. The Arboretum was also the host site for 2022 Native Plant Festival, the 7th annual event educating the public on the benefits and importance of native plants for our local ecosystems, and to promote and support native plant growers to increase demand and supply of native plants in our region. More than 600 people attended the outdoor festival to participate in hands-on nature-based activities from our partner organizations, and native plants were available for purchase at our vendor partner locations throughout the region.
Our Consumer Horticulture program, led by Matt Collogan continued to support a robust Extension Master Gardener Volunteer (EMGV) program and busy Plant Clinic in 2022. In addition, a new program “Nature at Home” is a dynamic partnership with Cape Fear Audubon society promoting sustainable landscape practices and wildlife habitat in residential areas. EMGVs from New Hanover County certified more than 20 yards for our first “Nature at Home” season. This is an exciting way for EMGVs to have positive impact on a community eager for sustainable yard solutions. Also in 2022, “Garbage to Gardens”, a program to lead the school cafeteria waste-diversion program was expanded. With funding from the Friends of the Arboretum, the first part-time program coordinator was hired and was successful in growing the pilot effort, producing deliverables for county-wide potential. A successful submission through the USDA’s Composting and Food Waste Reduction cooperative agreement grant cycle will fund a full-time program coordinator for two years starting in 2023 who will be housed in the NHC Environmental Management Department, further demonstrating the collaborative reach of Extension educational programs.
The Family and Consumer Science program, led by Morgan King has facilitated “Donation Station” collecting almost $2,000 and donating over 600 lbs. of local produce to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard this year. Leading the ad hoc group “Cape Fear Food Council” has furthered plans for improved food access in our region. Various programs get people talking about food and nutrition; Morgan reports “I’ve seen adults try kale for the first time and like it and held taste tests and education sessions with kids both in school & during summer camps.”
For my Commercial Horticulture program, we continued in offering Pesticide School, a training for safe pesticide application and licensing, and we facilitated the Certified Plant Professional test through the North Carolina Nursery and Landscape Association. Community Development work involved most all our team, and included supporting local tree giveaways, planning for a Community Learning Farm, and leading a visioning process for an Eagles Island Nature Park for conservation, recreation and education.
We look forward to bringing more service in 2023!