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August 19, 2015



The Catawba County Board of Commissioners was named winner of one of this year's County Government Partnership Award from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Foundation. The award is one of five given regionally across North Carolina each year. The Catawba County Board won the award for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension’s South Central District.

“I nominated the Catawba County Board of Commissioners for this award because Catawba County has been incredibly supportive of the Cooperative Extension Service and helped us tremendously to access needed resources and maintain departmental capacity in a time of state cutbacks and position losses in our organization,” said George Place, Executive Director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension-Catawba Center. “Working with Catawba County has been an incredible experience for me in my professional development as well as the development of Cooperative Extension. Although Cooperative Extension is a small department, we are included in all County government activities.”

As department head, I regularly attend county department head meetings and participate in leadership meetings and management decision making,” Place continued. “My relationship with Assistant County Manager, Mary Furtado, is incredibly strong with open communication, outstanding professional support, and complete inclusiveness in the government processes. Tom Lundy, our County Manager has been incredibly supportive of our activities and is very focused on bolstering a local food system. The Board of Commissioners are equally enthusiastic about the importance of Cooperative Extension and have been extremely enthusiastic, encouraging, and supportive of our activities.”

“The County Partnership Award from NC State University Cooperative Extension Service started in 2008 as a way of recognizing the vast contributions of our county partners,” said Sheri Schwab, Associate Director of North Carolina State Extension, and Director of County Operations. “County Extension Directors submit nominations in this competitive process detailing evidence of their County's collaboration with Extension in innovative and inclusive ways; involvement of the County elected officials in Extension-related educational programs; and, notable resource contributions that support Extension programs. Selection is based on the review of any or all of those factors. It is NC State Extension's way of giving meaningful recognition to an individual county for its support of this strong, long-lasting, and locally-driven outreach program. We know that through this partnership, we all strive to improve every aspect of the citizens' lives through trusted experiential learning that helps them help themselves.”

Place also mentioned the close cooperation between County departments and examples of how other departments have supported the goals of Cooperative Extension.

“The Planning and Parks Department is integral in the Voluntary Agriculture District program designed to protect farms and slow the loss of farmland in the county,” Place said. “Catawba County Public Health and Social Services are completely supportive of Public Health Farmer’s Market and similar initiatives to connect low-income county residents to our local food system. The County Library system is working with Cooperative Extension to launch an Advanced Gardener series and develop a library community garden on-site at some of their library locations. The Board of Commissioners adopted a proclamation officially declaring the third week of June as Eat Drink Be Local Week and urged all county residents to participate and enjoy local agriculture.”

The award was presented at the annual North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Awards Luncheon in Greenville, North Carolina on Saturday, August 22.