SMITHFIELD – As growth in population increases so does the intense need for agriculture literacy. According to the 2017 Ag Census, Johnston County had a total of $267,757,999 in ag products sold while the number of farms went down by 10%. Some may think of agriculture as a thing of the past, but that can’t be further from the truth. Farmers continue to do more with less.
Due to the need for more awareness about what agriculture means to the county, a grassroots effort resulted in the formation of the JoCo Grows Agriculture Marketing Committee. The committee began in 2018 by the work of Cooperative Extension Staff in Johnston County, The Johnston County Visitors Bureau, and Johnston County Farm Bureau. The work of this committee continues to grow and so did the need for a staff member to champion the program.
On October 1, 2022, Nicole Youngblood officially joined the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Johnston County as an Agriculture Agent focusing on agriculture marketing and communications. Nicole is a Johnston County native from the McGee’s Crossroads community who has been involved in agriculture most of her life. Growing up on the farms around her childhood home instilled her passion for agriculture at a young age.
She was an active member of the FFA, starting out as the chartering president of the McGee’s Crossroads Middle FFA Chapter and continued through her college years when she obtained the highest degree of the organization, The American FFA Degree. Nicole graduated from North Carolina State University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Plant and Soil Sciences concentrating in crop production and a Minor in Agriculture Leadership. While at NC State, she served in many leadership roles that include president of the Collegiate FFA Chapter, Vice-Chair of the Agronomy Club, and Vice-Chair of the Farm Bureau Collegiate Young Farmers and Ranchers.
Before coming to the NC Cooperative Extension Service, she gained valuable knowledge in the NC State College of Agriculture and Life Science’s Advancement Office & the NC Agricultural Foundation as well as the NC Farm Bureau Federation as a program specialist. She is currently enrolled in graduate school at NC State University studying Agriculture Education and Extension.
“We are so fortunate to have Nicole Youngblood join our team and lead our efforts to help local citizens gain understanding of agriculture in our county and assist farmers as they seek to tell their story and connect with the public. This is a brand new position that is fairly unique to Johnston County and I look forward to what it will mean to farmers and consumers alike,” said Bryant Spivey, County Extension Director.
Nicole is excited to serve in a position that combines two of her favorite things, Agriculture and Johnston County. Not only will she be managing the work of the JoCo Grows Agriculture Committee, but she will also be providing technical support to farmers and increasing agriculture awareness with the general public. Youngblood is based out of the Johnston County Extension Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (919) 989-5380.
(Cooperative Extension News Release)