I just finished a book my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas titled “Listening is an Act of Love.”
The book is a collection of stories from the StoryCorps project.
StoryCorps is a nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. StoryCorps has listening booths set up across the country and you can bring anyone you want and interview them.
Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Participant’s conversations are recorded on a free CD to share, and it is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to its weekly broadcasts on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.
I was moved by the stories that had been recorded by ordinary citizens like you and me. I think I enjoyed the book so much because as an Extension agent I get to hear stories from people that I wouldn’t meet any other way. I feel honored to work with the public and with people from every walk of life in Robeson County. Reading these stories from citizens around the country makes me realize how special the people are here. I have heard many local stories that could have easily graced the pages of that book. I have visited many farms from St. Pauls to Marietta, Maxton to Orrum and it never ceases to amaze me what kind and generous people live around every corner, neighbors helping neighbors, friends caring for each other, families that live close together.
Cooperative Extension is one of the few professions left that makes “house calls.” In the recent budget years, our travel funds have been reduced, making it harder to stay out and about, but we still travel to all ends of the county. That is part of our jobs as agents, to know the county, the needs of the county, and make things better for the residents of the county. If you’re a farmer, landowner, homeowner, renter, parent, child, the list goes on, we strive to know you so that we can plan effective programs to make an impact in your life. Our agents are educated in various subject matters and have connections to universities for you.
January, February, and March are some of our busiest months because we plan many things during the traditional down times for farmers, gardeners, and landscapers. I am excited about the third annual Cape Fear Cattle Conference that will be held Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. at the Southeastern Agricultural Center and Farmers Market on U.S. 74 in Lumberton. Specialists from N.C. State will be discussing coyote, black buzzard, and other predator management and increasing profitability of cow/calf operations. We are also planning a Goat Field Day in April where you can visit a goat farm and learn hands-on how to properly raise goats. If you have always wanted livestock but needed more information, both of these opportunities will be of benefit to you. The other agents in the office have exciting trainings coming up, too, Extension Master Gardner Volunteer training classes, pesticide re-certification, and the list goes on. Please visit our website for information. If you or someone you know in the community would like more information about upcoming Extension events, please let us know.
I wanted to share with you the book I read over Christmas to remind you that we all have stories to share. Who knows, in 20 years you may have a child or grandchild interviewing you for StoryCorps and you can share with them your adventures of working with your local Extension agents, growing a garden, or raising livestock.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at 910-671-3276 or by e-mail at Michelle_Shooter@ncsu.edu or visit Robeson.ces.ncsu.edu.
— Michelle Shooter is the Extension Livestock Agent at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center.