North Carolina is the ninth most populous state in the country with 10.4 million residents. By 2030, that number is expected to reach nearly 12 million. Currently, over a third of the state’s population lives in the six urban counties of Mecklenburg, Wake, New Hanover, Durham, Forsyth, and Guilford. The majority of future growth is projected to occur in these metropolitan regions and other micropolitan areas of the state.
N.C. Cooperative Extension has offices in every county across North Carolina, including our most urban counties. While the needs of urban areas are not always different from their rural neighbors, the context in which Extension delivers services often varies greatly. Extension has embraced an increased population size and density, greater diversity of citizens, and the complex organizational environment of NC’s urban centers, where multiple partners often work toward similar goals. And Extension has adapted programs and services to a vastly different physical environment of the city and suburbs.
The “National Framework for Urban Extension,” published by the National Urban Extension Leaders in 2015, outlines four distinct opportunities to strengthen Extension’s relevance and success in urban communities, which we are working on here in North Carolina:
- Programs: Adjusting program delivery methods and content to address the multitude of issues and priorities in North Carolina’s cities
- Partnerships: Increasing collaboration at the local, state, regional, and national level to leverage resources for collective impact
- Personnel: Embracing a flexible staffing model and finding ways to attract, develop, and support staff that have the skills needed to work in an urban environment
- Positioning: Increasing awareness and support for Extension among the state’s urban audiences
Through our urban extension efforts, we are working to fulfill NC State Extension’s Vision to be a dynamic and futuristic organization, responding to changes in the social, political, and economic environments of our state. Check out some of the exciting work that’s happening in urban areas of NC!
For more information, contact Kristin Feierabend, Area Specialized Agent for Urban Programs.