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Dare County Extension: An untapped resource for adults and youth

Dare County Extension director Tanya Lamo is on a mission. “There are people who have lived here their whole lives who don’t know we’re at the end of the street,” Lamo said of the downtown Manteo office. “It’s one of my goals to get the word out. We are a fantastic asset to the community,” she said.

The NC Cooperative Extension has offices in all one hundred North Carolina counties and with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, focusing on three areas: agriculture and food; health and nutrition; and 4-H youth development.

“We really do have a great opportunity to get university-level research and provide it to community citizens,” Lamo said. That’s the idea behind Extension – to identify community needs, collaborate with specialists to find potential answers and transfer that research into practical applications that North Carolinians can use to improve the economy and quality of life.

Even a brief look at the Dare Extension website (dare.ces.ncsu.edu) demonstrates that the program is doing just that. Dare County alone has 68 trained Master Gardeners – volunteers who complete 40 hours of education for the purpose of helping their communities with every aspect of gardening from lawn care, fruit and vegetable gardens, trees and ornaments. From 9-11 a.m. each Monday in Manteo and Wednesday at the Outer Banks Arboretum in Kill Devil Hills, residents can attend “Ask a Master Gardener” events, where volunteers are available to answer questions and pass out soil test kits. Questions may also be emailed to greenlineobx@gmail.com.

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Dee Furlough, family consumer science agent, teaching a Med Instead of Meds workshop. Courtesy Dare County Extension

The second focus of Extension office is health and nutrition through the Family & Consumer Sciences program. Dare County focuses on healthy eating, chronic disease prevention, food preservation and food safety. These goals are accomplished through fun educational programs and classes throughout the year. Residents can also participate in the Mediterranean meal kit series and purchase a meal kit for $10. The event description reads: “May will feature a lovely spring lunch or dinner that you’re sure to enjoy! Fresh fruits and veggies will have you dreaming of even warmer days ahead! Freshly made Salmon Patties will give you 22 grams of some of the healthiest protein around. Avocado Tomato Salad will give you good for you fats and the taste and health benefits of Balsamic vinegar. And lastly, we’ll finish up with Strawberry Nice Cream! Fresh fruit that tastes like ice cream – with no added sugars!”

The third focus of Extension is 4-H, which has about six million youth members throughout the United States. 4-H represents the four-fold development of youth through the head, heart, hands and health. The program focuses on health, science, agriculture and civic engagement through hands-on projects and programs. 4-H is open to children 8-18; Clover Buds is open to children 5-8. Lamo recalls her own involvement in the program as a child in her home state of Pennsylvania. “I did sewing, cooking, cake decorating, cross-stitch. I made a wool coat, modeled it and presented it at a state competition. It was a fantastic program!” she laughed.

This summer, 4-H will offer in-person workshops and activities. For more information for how to enroll children in 4-H or serve as a volunteer, contact Ruth Perkins, 4-H youth development Extension agent at raperki2@ncsu.edu or call 252-473-4290. About 200 children are involved in Dare County 4-H, though Lamo hopes more will join in.

“I try every week to reach out to the community to find potential partners, to get to know organizations and find out how we can be a resource to them,” she said. Extension will have a booth at the Secotan Market in Wanchese on Saturday mornings, which is just one of the ways Lamo is spreading the word about resources available. The website is packed full of information and events, or residents can contact the office directly at 252-473-4290.

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