microscopes for completing course
Seven North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service agents who signed up for a course on plant diseases got considerably more than they bargained for.
Dr. Paul Shoemaker, one of three North Carolina State University faculty members who taught “Plant Disease: Principles, Diagnoses and Management,” arranged for the agents to receive microscopes upon successful completion of the course.
Shoemaker, Philip Morris Professor and Extension plant pathologist stationed at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center at Fletcher, purchased the microscopes, which cost about $1,000 each, with unrestricted funds available from grants to his program. The microscopes were given to the county Extension centers at which each of the seven agents work.
Shoemaker said providing the agents with microscopes is a way to support them.
“I couldn’t see any better way to do it,” he added. “With tight budgets, it’s hard for them to come up with the money.”
The seven agents are Frank Bolick, agriculture agent serving Avery and Watauga counties; J.B. Coltrain, Extension director in Martin County; Rod Gurganus, agriculture agent in Beaufort County; Stanley Holloway, agriculture agent in Yancey County; Mark Lancaster, agriculture agent serving Henderson and Transylvania counties; Terri Scruggs, agriculture agent in Madison County; and Neill Westerbeek, horticulture agent in Bladen County. They were among 17 students taking the course.
The microscopes were presented during a luncheon in Raleigh in late June.
If the payoff for taking the graduate level course was a little unusual, so was the way in which the course was taught. Using teleconferencing facilities, the course was taught simultaneously at three locations: in Raleigh on the North Carolina State University campus, at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Fletcher and at the Vernon James Research and Extension Center in Plymouth.
Dr. Gerald Holmes, course coordinator, taught from the campus location, while Dr. Mark Cubeta was at the Plymouth site.
Perhaps appropriately, Holmes, who could not attend the June luncheon in person, appeared on a television screen via videotape. He told his former students that with their microscopes, they will be able “to continue the learning curve.” He pointed out that the availability of a microscope will allow the agents to make better use of what they learned during the 18-week course.
Dr. Jon Ort, Cooperative Extension director, called the effort to provide the agents with microscopes an example of Extension teamwork. Dr. Roger Crickenberger, Extension assistant director and state program leader, agriculture and natural resources, added that Extension is committed to forging a strong relationship between campus and field faculty. Providing the agents with microscopes, he said, “builds such relationships.”