At the 110th Annual Conference of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, Yancey County was one of only six counties in North Carolina to be recognized as an outstanding partner by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

In presenting the award to Yancey County Government, a number of accomplishments were highlighted that made a positive difference in the lives of people in our community. This is especially true when it relates to agriculture development. In 2016, Yancey County Government formed the Yancey County Agricultural Task Force that included two NC Cooperative Extension employees. The goal of the task force was listen to farmers to learn what support they needed from Yancey County Government. This produced a report that was presented to the Board of Commissioners and generated feasible projects that Yancey County and the Extension Service could partner to support agriculture growth in Yancey County.

Also highlighted in the award presentation was Yancey County's commitment to TRACTOR, the local food hub. By spearheading the development of TRACTOR with the Extension Service, farmers have been given a new way to sell their product as well as a guaranteed market to sell their goods. Over the last year, TRACTOR has relocated to a new facility with double the floor space of its previous location, thus improving the services that can be offered to local farmers. Yancey County Government has been instrumental in the support of TRACTOR, which allowed the Extension Service to leverage private and other foundation funds. TRACTOR has been recognized locally and regionally hosting representatives from Florida, Kentucky, and North Carolina State University, as a model for how the Extension Service, farmers, and county governments can work together to benefit agriculture and economic development. To date, more than $1.1 million in public and private funds have been invested in TRACTOR and of that funding, 90% of those funds have been spent locally.

Another program that was highlighted where Yancey County Government and the Cooperative Extension service has partnered together is the inmate garden project. This project involved not only Yancey County Government and Cooperative Extension Service but also the Yancey County Sheriff's Department, and TRACTOR. Non-violent inmates were selected to take part in this innovative project that utilized an agricultural technician from the Cooperative Extension to teach the inmates how to grow green beans, cucumbers, and squash. Using a piece of County owned land inmates plant and cultivate the vegetables then sell the produce to TRACTOR and return the profit back to the County. This program has been so successful that former inmates have signed up to produce for TRACTOR.

By partnering together the Cooperative Extension Service, Yancey County Government, and TRACTOR have attracted the attention of a local philanthropist who donated 25 acres of land to farmers who need land. Additional property was provided to allow the local chapter of the Future Farmers of America at Mountain Heritage High School to have a school farm for the first time in 25 years. This partnership is building a stronger agriculture economy in Yancey County.

Chairman of the Yancey County Commissioners, Johnny Riddle, who has worked closely with the Cooperative Extension Service and with TRACTOR stated, "We are so proud to be recognized on the statewide level by the Cooperative Extension Service for being an outstanding partner. Yancey County Government and Cooperative Extension want to make the lives better for all Yancey County citizens and to be recognized for that effort is truly an honor. There has been lots of hard work from everyone involved to create these great things happening in Yancey County."

Yancey County Government and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service have a long history of working together for the betterment of Yancey County. The Cooperative Extension Service was established in 1914 with partnership between the counties of North Carolina and the two land grant universities, North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University. The goal of the agency is to provide lifelong learning opportunities for all the citizens of North Carolina.


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Accepting the Partnership Award for Yancey County were (L-R) Commissioner John Stallings, Commissioner Mark Ledford, Clerk to the Board Jason Robinson, Yancey County Cooperative Extension Director Tres Magner, County Manager Nathan Bennett, and Matt Gunnet with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners



Also during the NCACC Conference in Durham the 4-H Youth Voices Summit met with county leaders from across the state. Jeremy Heidenfelder represented Yancey County and met with Commissioners John Stallings and Mark Ledford as well as County Manager Nathan Bennett, County Planner Jamie McMahan, and Clerk to the Board Jason Robinson. 




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