Extension News January 2024

Seydel Cropps Receives Award

Recently, Seydel Cropps, Expanded Foods and Nutrition Educator, received the “Over the Mark” award. Seydel received this award for exceeded more than 5% above her target outreach and meet and exceeding program impact goals during this performance evaluation year. She is a master of outreach and partnership. Seydel accommodates clientele by adjusting her work schedule to meet participants where they are and when they can meet. She has formed solid partnerships with community organizations that result in EFNEP goals being met. We are proud that Seydel is part of our team and cannot wait to see what impacts she makes in the future.

Seydel Cropps

Ryan Coe

Agriculture - Field Crops, Area Agent

North Carolina Regional Soybean Schools

Starting in 2024, there will be a new offering for farmers across the state when it comes to options for winter crop production meetings. The North Carolina Soybean Producers Association, along with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, will be conducting regional-based soybean schools for local farmers.

The regional soybean schools are being structured to deliver research-based information for optimizing soybean production. Topics and speakers featured at each regional soybean school will be tailored for the corresponding area within the state. The Piedmont Regional Soybean School is being hosted in Statesville on February 9th, 2024. Check out the flyer below for more information.

Extension to Continue Auxin Herbicide Training

North Carolina Cooperative Extension will continue the Auxin Herbicides Best Management Practices training again in 2024. This training is required for any private pesticide applicator to complete before purchasing herbicides with auxin chemistry, especially when it relates to dicamba products. Any applicators who use Enlist products are not required to receive the training but are encouraged.

Just like in previous years, there will be live Zoom training opportunities that will be provided by North Carolina State University Weed Specialists Dr. Charlie Cahoon and Dr. Wesley Everman. There will only be a total of six live Zoom training opportunities that will last until the end of March. If you are a private pesticide applicator who needs to complete their auxin training and are interested in participating in the live Zoom trainings, call 336-401-8025 to receive more information.

Here is the list of the live Zoom training dates, and each training starts precisely at 8:30 am:

  • Tuesday January 16th
  • Wednesday January 31st
  • Wednesday February 14th
  • Tuesday February 27th
  • Tuesday March 12th
  • Tuesday March 26th

Bailey Wood

Agriculture - Agent Livestock

The Amazing Ruminant

Cows are known for chewing their cud, but what does that mean? Cows, like sheep, goats, or deer, are known as ruminants. This means they have a special multi-chambered stomach. The four parts of the stomach are the rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. Each of the compartments has a specific job they do for cattle and other ruminants that allows them to digest forages such as grass, hay, or silage. Digestion begins in the mouth as food is chewed. Cows, on average, produce 50-80 quarts of saliva daily to aid in digestion! After the feed is chewed, it goes down the esophagus to the reticulum, or honey-comb compartment, which is a pouch-like compartment. If the feed is too large to move on, it is regurgitated back up to be chewed longer as cud. Cows typically spend 35-40% of their day chewing their cud! After it is re-chewed, the reticulum compartment leads into the rumen, the largest portion of the stomach. A cow’s rumen can hold 25 gallons or more of material, depending on the animal. There are microbes in the rumen that are responsible for the fermentation of feeds, which allows volatile fatty acids to be formed and digested by the animal. The rumen also contains papillae, which are finger-like projections that help with the digestion of nutrients being broken down. Feed then moves to the omasum, whose main job is to absorb excess water. The final compartment is the abomasum, also known as the true stomach. This compartment is most like ours and is responsible for producing acids that continue to break down feed. Thanks to the features of the rumen, ruminant animals can convert typically indigestible feed sources into great nutrient-dense products!

Source: Extension.umn.edu

Image credit: Ruminant Digestion

Beef Breeds

Black Angus cattle are one of the most popular breeds in the United States, with more than 330,000 animals registered. This breed of cattle came from Aberdeen and the Angus Counties of Scotland. They first arrived in the United States when George Grant transported four Angus bulls to Kansas in 1873, and the breed has grown in popularity since then. Black Angus cattle are polled (naturally hornless) and are recognized by their solid black coats, moderate frame size, small upturned ears, and refined head. They have excellent meat quality with good marbling (intramuscular fat that gives meat flavor and juiciness), good calving ease, and are hardy. You may recognize this breed name from the Certified Angus Beef brand, which requires Angus Beef to be graded Choice or Prime by independent USDA graders. Then, it must meet 10 exacting standards for taste and tenderness. Whatever brand or breed of cattle you have, you can rest assured that beef producers have worked hard to produce a high-quality, safe product.

Image Credit: Oklahoma State University

Sources: Breeds.okstate.edu, certifiedangusbeef.com, & Marshall.tennessee.edu

Joanna Radford

County Extension Director & Extension Agent, Commercial & Consumer Horticulture

Lunch and Learn

Ever wondered what the correct methods are for pruning plants in your landscape? Join us at our next on-line Lunch & Learn Webinar titled “Pruning Tips for Woody Ornamentals” on Thursday, January 4, 2024, at 12:00 noon. This webinar is designed for homeowners who want to know more about pruning. Registration is required.

10th Annual Foothills Specialty Crop Growers Roundtable

The tenth annual Foothills Specialty Crop Growers’ Roundtable is scheduled for Tuesday, February 6, 2024, from 12:00 to 5:00 pm. The event will be held in person at the Surry County Government Service Center located at 915 E. Atkins Street, Dobson. This is a great event to attend if you are a small farm looking for information on growing various fruits and vegetables. All farmers, new and old, are invited to attend. Topics vary from year to year. A few of the topics this year will include:

  • New Pest Introductions – Monitoring to Eradication
  • Succession Planning
  • Deer Management
  • Precision Agriculture and Vegetable Production
  • Growing Blackberries

Some sessions will have pesticide credits available. Additional vendors will be available onsite to network with farmers. Several of these will include Got to Be NC from the Marketing Division with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and Plant Industry Division with North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Registration and an agenda will be available soon at the link below. Please register by January 26. If you have any questions or need help with registration, please email joanna_radford@ncsu.edu or call our office at 336-401-8025.

Thank you, AgSouth Farm Credit for sponsoring this event!

USDA Updates Plant Hardiness Zone

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM). This map has not been updated since 2012. This is a great tool for gardeners, as it is used to determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a given location. The new map-jointly developed by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Oregon State University's (OSU) PRISM Climate Group, is more accurate and contains greater detail than prior versions. Interestingly, the map is based on 30-year averages of the lowest annual winter temperatures at specific locations, is divided into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones, and is further divided into 5-degree Fahrenheit half-zones. The web version offers a Geographic Information System-based interactive format. It is user-friendly. Most places went up by half a zone. Surry County’s plant hardiness is zone 7b.

The map is available at the link below:

The Plant Hardiness Zone Map website includes a “Tips for Growers” section, which provides information about USDA ARS research programs of interest to gardeners and others who grow and breed plants.

The 2023 map incorporates data from 13,412 weather stations, compared to the 7,983 that were used for the 2012 map.

Pesticide Disposal Day Summary

Surry County Public Works, NC Cooperative Extension, Surry Center, and NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services had their annual disposal day for homeowners and farmers on October 28. Agriculture Extension Agent, Ryan Coe assisted 225 vehicles through the event and collected 4,225 total pounds of various pesticides. NCDA estimates it costs $5 per pound to dispose of the chemicals, so along with keeping the environment safe, a potential disposal cost of $21,125 was avoided. This disposal day is a huge benefit to homeowners. It is offered every year on the fourth Saturday in October. Mark your calendars for next year’s event on October 26, 2024. We hope to see you there.

2023 Pesticide Disposal Day

Bee School 2024

The Surry County Beekeepers Association and N.C. Cooperative Extension, Surry Center, will be hosting our annual “Bee School” for beginning beekeepers each Tuesday from February 6 until March 11, 2024, from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. This year’s school will be held in person at the Surry County Farm Bureau Office basement, 112 N. White St., Dobson, North Carolina 27017.

The Bee School will give you the information needed for beekeeping as you begin your amazing journey with your honeybees. Some of the topics that will be presented include an introduction to beekeeping, honeybee anatomy, the life cycle of the honeybee, the honeybee colony and organization, beekeeping equipment needed to get started, how to assemble equipment, seasonal hive management of the colonies, pests and diseases of the honeybees, and harvesting and processing honey and other hive products. We hope you can join us!

Amanda Royall

EFNEP - Youth Program Assistant

Winter is here!

Winter is here! Along with the cold weather, it is important to keep our bodies healthy during this time of year. By eating the right kinds of foods and keeping warm, we can do our part to keep our bodies healthy. Make sure you and your family are eating a variety of foods to get all the vitamins and minerals you need. Try this EFNEP soup recipe to warm you up on a cold day!!

15-Minute Soup


  • 1 ½ cups pre-soaked beans or 1 (16-ounce) can beans, drained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (16-ounce) can chopped or diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen, chopped spinach
  • ½ cup macaroni


  1. In a 2-quart pot, combine all ingredients except spinach and macaroni.
  2. Heat until the liquid comes to a boil.
  3. Stir in and break up spinach; bring to a boil again.
  4. Stir in macaroni and simmer until pasta is tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving: 145 calories, Total Fat .5g, Saturated Fat 0g, Protein 7g, Total Carbohydrate 28g, Dietary Fiber 7g, Sodium 135mg. Excellent source of vitamins A and C. Good source of iron and calcium.

Seydel Cropps

EFNEP - Extension Program Associate

The Power of a Positive Attitude

Our thoughts are powerful, they can influence us for good or bad. They can affect how we feel and whether we can maintain a healthy lifestyle. If we are able to think positively, we will be able to accomplish many things that otherwise would seem impossible.

When negative thoughts start coming into your mind, immediately start thinking about something else. You can do this by calling a supportive friend, taking a quick walk outside, or playing uplifting music.

It is not easy, however, to maintain a positive attitude. Sometimes this is due to trying to do too much, too quickly, or expecting too much of ourselves. Therefore, start out by setting small, achievable goals for yourself. Then, take the time to focus on the positive.

Lastly, do not forget to celebrate and be happy for your little successes with those you love. Doing this will not just help you move a little closer to your long-term goals, it will also make the way there more enjoyable.

Amanda Gann

4-H Youth Development, Agent

Fresh Beginning

The new year marks a fresh beginning after the busyness of the holiday season! It’s a great time to set goals or implement some positive changes for your family. Maybe you want to focus on making healthier choices this year. Meal planning is a great way to avoid the last-minute rush that often leads to poor food choices. When the grocery sales ads are released mid-week, it’s a great time to plan your menu for the coming week based on what is on sale. After making your grocery list, allow your children to go shopping with you and challenge them to find the items on the list. When it comes time to prepare the meal, involve your children in the process! Even little ones can assist with measuring, peeling, stirring, and other simple tasks. Children are more likely to try different foods if they have helped prepare them! While you’re already in the kitchen, make enough of your recipe so that you can put a meal in the freezer for later. Meatloaf, lasagna, chicken pie, and casseroles all freeze well. When you have a busy evening, you’ll be glad to have a quick and healthy option to pop in the oven! Slow-cooker meals are another great option during the winter. Soups and stews are easy ways to incorporate veggies that your kids may not ordinarily eat by themselves. Just put your ingredients in and set it to low before heading out for the day, and you can come home to a warm meal ready to eat with little preparation.

It’s more difficult to stay physically active during the wintertime because we’d much rather stay inside where it is warm! However, even short bursts of activity throughout the day can help. Bundle up and take the dog for a walk. Give the kids a winter scavenger hunt to search for as you take a walk around the neighborhood. Put those new bikes, scooters, or rollerblades they received as gifts to good use and get some much-needed fresh air and sunshine. Just don’t forget the helmet and safety pads! No one wants to start the year off with an injury. You may even set a goal to try a new activity in the new year! We are very fortunate to have so many state parks nearby! Go for a visit and go on a hike while you’re there. We also have some great trails in Surry County for walking, running, and bike riding. If it’s just too cold for you outside, we have several recreation centers across the county. Try a new class, and you may just find a new hobby. It’s a great time of year to implement some healthier changes for yourself and your family. It just takes a little bit of planning and willpower to follow through!

4-H Online


Everyone must re-enroll in 4-H Online starting January 1st! The re-enrollment process is quick and easy, just follow the prompts on the page!

Contact Amanda if you have questions! agann@ncsu.edu

4-H Online

Carmen Long

Family and Consumer Sciences, Area Agent

Happy, Healthy 2024

No-Bake Energy Bites

Need an easy bedtime or any other time of the day snack? Try No-Bake Energy Bites. Made with whole-grain oatmeal, these bite-size treats are a healthier version of no-baked cookies. The challenge is to not overeat. Can be stored in the freezer for a frozen treat.

Prep: 15 mins; total 1 hour 15 mins including refrigeration or freezing; servings: 24; yield 2 dozen bites


  • 1 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • ½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup ground flax seed ( I found mine in the Latino spice section of the grocery store for a low price)
  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Place the mixture on a piece of aluminum foil and flatten it out into a rectangle. Use a table knife and divide into 4 equal sections across and 6 equal sections down to form 24 even-sized pieces. Make each piece into a ball using your hands (wearing disposable gloves makes clean-up much easier). Arrange energy bites on a baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze until set, about 1 hour.

Nutrition Facts: Per Serving: 94 calories; protein 2.5g 5% DV; carbohydrates 10.6g 3% DV; fat 5.3g 8% DV; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 27.9mg 1% DV.

Sleep Well, Be Well

Bears may have the right idea on these cold winter days. The thought of snuggling down in a cozy place and taking a nice long nap until springtime arrives may sound appealing.

Sleep is something we all have in common. It does not discriminate, but our sleep habits do tend to change throughout our lives. Children often fight sleep, too interested in playing and afraid they may miss something. Then the teen years hit, and kids enjoy staying up late and sleeping half the day away. As working adults, wouldn’t it be wonderful if employers told everyone to go home and take an afternoon nap like they do in other parts of the world. As we get older, we may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, but we nap more during the day.

I can remember as a child trying to switch TV channels at my grandmother’s house when she appeared to be sleeping, only to have her say, “I was watching that.” She would claim she was only resting her eyes, which she did several times a day, but my brother and I would joke that she was watching the inside of her eyelids rather than the TV.

Sleep, a restorative process, plays an important role in the overall health of our mind and body. As a core behavior of the Eat Smart, Move More initiative, sleep is an important part of good health that we sometimes overlook. Research has even shown a link between a lack of sleep and an increased risk of obesity.

Make sleep one of your 2024 resolutions. Strive for the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night to help you have a healthier New Year!

Follow these tips from the American Alliance of Healthy Sleep to establish healthy sleep habits:

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
  • Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Read, listen to soft music, or do low impact stretching exercises.
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
  • Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
  • Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.

Diabetes & You

Start Smart

Start your day and your year off right by eating breakfast. Join us on Wednesday, January 24, at 11:30 am at the Surry County Center of NC Cooperative Extension as we learn how to Start Smart and sample several new breakfast recipe ideas.

Extension At Home

Join us for our first Extension at Home session and learn some meal-planning tips and techniques. MyPlate guidelines, the basics of meal prepping, stretching your meal dollars, and more!

Dementia Friends


ECA-Surry Scholarship Application

The North Carolina Extension & Community Association, Inc. of Surry County (NCECA) is currently accepting applications for their 2024 NCECA Scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship is to assist students in obtaining a degree at any North Carolina college in any field of study, with consideration given to Family and Consumer Sciences. The selection criteria include activities and honors, connection with the NC Cooperative Extension Service, financial need, and scholarship potential. The local scholarship is for the amount of $300 and the district is for $800. The committee will review applications and choose the best applicant.

Completed scholarship applications must be received at our office by 5:00PM on February 15, 2024. Scholarship applications can be mailed to

NC Cooperative Extension Surry Center Attention: ECA Scholarship Committee, PO Box 324, Dobson, NC 27017

Surry County ECA Update

Surry County Extension and Community Association members are making a difference in our community. Currently, there are three community clubs: Beulah, Pilot Mountain Achievers, and Siloam. Recent months have found members learning about community resources and doing community service projects.

The Beulah Club is led by president Goldie Sparger, Gail Shelton–vice president, Ivylyn Martin-secretary and Alberta Anderson-Treasurer. In October, members learned about the Shepherds House and the services they provide in our community. During the November meeting, members put together over 20 fruit baskets to take to shut-ins in the community. The Beulah ECA club meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month at, 7:00 pm at the Beulah Ruritan Club.

The Pilot Mountain Achievers participated in a nutrition class presented by 2nd Harvest Food Bank in November. Members learned smart shopping tips and more about volunteer opportunities with Second Harvest, made yummy yogurt parfaits, and made a donation to Second Harvest. In December, the club organized and sponsored a community musical program at the Charles Stone Public Library in Pilot Mountain. The president of this club is Marilyn Geiger. The Treasurer is Sara Bryant. This group meets during the daytime on day and time convenient for the members each month.

The Siloam Club celebrated American Education Week in November by assembing 60 "Thank You" bags for the teachers and staff at Copeland Elementary School. The Siloam Club is led by presidents Peggy Folk and Agnes Carlyle. The Siloam Club meets on the 2nd Monday of each month at lunchtime at Siloam Baptist Church.

For more information on any of the clubs, contact the Extension office at 336-401-8025.