N.C. Cooperative Extension Holding Public Listening Session at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River

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As a reminder….. Please plan to attend the listening session below to share your thoughts on issues affecting Buncombe County that Cooperative Extension can help to address.  
As the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nears its centennial celebration, the organization is holding a series of 12 listening sessions across the state in November and December of 2013.  Cooperative Extension, which provides educational programs in 4-H, Agriculture, Family & Consumer Sciences and Community Development to citizens in all 100 counties and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, is seeking public input as the organization launches a strategic planning initiative for the future.

Buncombe County is hosting a listening session at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center located at 455 Research Drive, Mills River, N.C. 28759.  The session will run from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 21.   Follow this link to register for the meeting:

http://go.ncsu.edu/2013_ncces_listening_sessions

All Extension employees and the public are invited to attend.  Dr. Joe Zublena, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service Director, will be in attendance at the session to update participants on progress and to engage in discussion about the organization’s future.

Dr. Zublena strongly believes we need the cooperation of all our stakeholders to chart a course in these challenging times.  “I cannot state enough the importance of this endeavor and the need for participation and feedback from the public.  At Cooperative Extension’s core are people and communities, and it’s their input we need to ensure another century of educational services for the people of North Carolina,” said Zublena.

Cooperative Extension in North Carolina has seen recurring federal and state budget cuts of around $20 million since 2000, leaving roughly 90 positions unfilled, mostly at the county level, over the past four years.  The listening sessions and strategic planning process were implemented to help the organization adapt accordingly to the economic environment and resulting impacts going forward.

Participant feedback gathered during the listening sessions will be reviewed and analyzed starting in January and will assist in the development of a recommended action plan to meet the needs of Cooperative Extension and its partners for the future.

In summary, Dr. Zublena states “North Carolina Cooperative Extension has built and maintained a high level of success over the last century.  This is a journey we have to make together – employees, public and partners – and I believe that collectively we’ll navigate Cooperative Extension through this process to another century of success.”

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