UNIT Extension Staff
Eric Stormer, Unit Coordinator, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent
Gregory Costanza, 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent
Elizabeth Calen, Family Nutrition Program Assistant – Food, Nutrition & Health
Vincent Falzone, Family Nutrition Program Assistant – 4-H Youth Development
Elizabeth Hall, Family Nutrition Program Assistant – Food, Nutrition & Health
LaTricia Jennings, Family Nutrition Program Assistant – 4-H Youth Development
Brenda Lutz, Unit Administrative Assistant
Regina Smith, Family Nutrition Program Assistant – Food, Nutrition & Health
UNIT Extension Leadership Council
2013 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 3000-0000
Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, genetic information, marital, family, or veteran status, or any other basis protected by law.
An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. eepartment of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin .. .ones, eirector, Virginia
Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; .ewel E. Hairston, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State, Petersburg.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Recreation and Leisure Services 8
Arts and Culture 9
Community and Resident Perspectives 13
Economic Vitality and Workforce Development 14
Life-long Learning 16
Environmental Sustainability 17
Asset Development in Children and Adolescents 20
Safe, Healthy, and Inclusive Communities 22
The Virginia Cooperative Extension Service (VCE) Norfolk Unit performed a Situation Analysis
during the 2013 calendar year. This process was led by the Unit Coordinator, with assistance
from Extension Leadership Council members, unit staff, and area stakeholders. Perspectives
were gathered by utilizing data generated from survey instruments, personal interviews, USDA
records, U.S. Census data, Virginia Department of Taxation records, City of Norfolk records,
VCE’s Strategic Plan (2011-2016), and the City of Norfolk’s Priority Area Plan. Outcomes of this
process were used to identify key issues facing the community, and ensure that VCE has in
place a detailed plan to guide its progress in realizing stakeholder’s shared goals.
Straddling one of the world’s largest natural harbors, the Hampton Roads metropolitan area boasts
one of the best ports on the East Coast. The title, “Hampton Roads”, is a centuries-old reference
that originated when the region was struggling as a British outpost 400 years ago. Signifying the
safety of a port, a roadstead, or “roads”, is a nautical term which refers to a sheltered offshore an-
chorage area for ships.
The Hampton Roads Metropolitan Area consists of 16 municipal and county governments. It is the
largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in the United States, and the 8th largest MSAin
the southeast. Norfolk’s modern history began in 1636 at the core of Hampton Roads.
Norfolk, Virginia, founded in 1682, is considered to be the historic, urban, financial, and cultural
center of the region. Norfolk is almost completely surrounded by water, with the Chesapeake Bay
immediately to the north, Hampton Roads and the James River to the west, and the AtlanticOcean
18 miles east. As a military community – the city has a long history as a strategic military and
transportation point – the population is diverse and somewhat transient. According to the U. S.
Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 96 square miles, of which 54 square miles is land and
42 square miles is water.
Norfolk is home to the largest Navy base in the world. The United States Fleet Force Command,
located in the northwest corner of the city, consists of approximately 62,000 active dutypersonnel,
75 ships, and 132 aircraft. The base also serves as the headquarters to the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization (NATO) Allied Command Transformation and the United States Joint Forces Com-
mand. Over 35% of the Gross Regional Product, which includes the entire Norfolk-Newport News-
Virginia Beach MSA, is attributable to defense spending, and 75% of all regional growth since 2001
is attributable to defense spending.
Norfolk Southern Railway, one
of North America’s principal
Class I railroads, and Maersk
Line, Limited, which manages
the world’s largest fleet of U.S.
Flagged vessels, both call Nor-
folk home. The region also
plays an important role in de-
fense contracting. Shipping
and shipbuilding activity are
paramount, along with fishing
and seaport-related commerce.
Major private shipyards located
in Norfolk and Hampton Roads
include Huntington Ingalls In-
dustries, Newport News, BAE
Systems Norfolk Ship Repair,
General Dynamics, and Colon-
na’s Shipyard, Inc.
Because Norfolk serves as the commercial and cultural center for the unusual geographical region
of Hampton Roads, and its political structure of independent cities, it can be difficult to separate the
economic characteristics of Norfolk from that of the region as a whole.
According to the Virginia Employment Commission, Norfolk’s Top 10 Employers are:
1. U.S. Department of Defense
2. Sentara Healthcare
3. Norfolk City Public Schools
4. City of Norfolk
5. Old Dominion University
6. Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters
7. BAE Systems Ship Repair
8. Norfolk State University
9. Eastern Virginia Medical School
10.Portfolio Recovery Associates
The military’s presence significantly impacts Norfolk’s economy.
The Hampton Roads MSA is home to four Fortune 500 companies, representing the food,
transportation, retail, and shipbuilding industries. These companies are located in Smithfield,
Norfolk,Chesapeake and Newport News. They include:
1. Smithfield Foods (213th)
2. Norfolk Southern (247th)
3. Dollar Tree (346th)
4. Huntington Ingalls Industries (380th)
Governmental agencies constitute the largest employer group in Norfolk (20.7%). Nationally, gov-
ernment employees represent just 6.6% of the local workforce.
The City of Norfolk is challenged by an abundance of tax exempt properties.
In 2014 (data updated March, 2015), City of Norfolk tax exempt property included the following:
Sub-Category # Parcels Total Assessed Value
Federal Government 59 $5,031,661,200
Commonwealth of Virginia 514 $87,465,800
Norfolk State University 22 $169,458,100
Old Dominion University 267 $381,801,100
Virginia Port Authority 2 $351,035,200
City of Norfolk 1,962 2,195,192,700
NRHA 1,170 594,528,400
Norfolk Airport Authority 10 $436,021,100
Regional General Municipal 84 $140,968,700
Religious 776 $708,041,400
Secular Organizations 259 $685,305,600
TOTAL EXEMPT 5,125 $10,781,479,300
As of July, 2014, the assessed value of taxable land in the City of Norfolk was $17,806,235,050,
while the value of tax-exempt land was 10,781,479,300. As measured by value, 37.7% of property
is tax exempt.
As of the 2010
in the City of
sity was 4,382.8
units, at an average density of 1,757.3 per square mile.
Norfolk’s racial demographics have not changed significantly since 2007, e.g., 48.17% of Norfolk
residents are white, 43.37% are black, 4.76% are Hispanic, and 3.49% are Asian.
Nationally, 14% of children live in poverty, compared to 16% in Virginia, and 28% in Norfolk.
Nationally, 20% of children live in single-parent households, compared to 30% in Virginia, and 50%
According to the census, the age distribution in Norfolk was 24.0% under the age of 18, 18.2%
from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 16.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or
older. The median age was 30 years.
Median income for a household in the city was $31,815. Median income for a family was $36,891.
Males had a median income of $25,858 versus $21,907 for females. The per capita income for the
city was $17,372. About 15.5% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the federal
poverty line, including 27.9% of those under age 18 and 13.2% of those ages 65 or older.
Norfolk’s morbidity indicators reflect, and are consistent with, other state trends. Obesity in chil-
dren, adolescents and adults remains a concern, as are low birth weight, physical inactivity,exces-
sive drinking, teen pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases.
In comparison to state and national levels, incidents of violent crime are high (716 per 100,000 in
Norfolk, vs. 233 per 100,000 in Virginia, and 66 per 100,000 nationally).
Norfolk crime statistics reveal an overall downward trend in crime based on data gathered from the
past 11 years, with violent crime increasing, and property crime decreasing.
In 2010, the city’s violent crime rate was higher than the national violent crime rate average by
52.92%, while the city property crime rate in Norfolk was higher than the national property crime
rate average by 91.07%.
In 2010 the city violent crime rate in Norfolk was higher than the violent crime rate in Virginia by
189.03% and the city property crime rate in Norfolk was higher than the property crime rate in Vir-
ginia by 141.54%.
Fast food restaurants are accessible to 51% of Norfolk’s residents, as opposed to 50% of Virginia
residents, and 27% of the U.S. population. Food deserts, urban neighborhoods and rural towns
without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food, are not uncommon.
In addition, daily fine-particulate matter exposure, while not so high as state statistics, is signifi-
cantly higher than national levels (8.8 ppm vs. 12.3 ppm).
Recreation, Parks, and
Norfolk boasts pristine beaches.
Norfolk has a variety of parks and open
spaces. The city maintains 3 beaches on its
north shore in the Ocean View area. Five
additional parks contain picnic facilities and
playgrounds for children. The city also has
several community pools open to residents.
Norfolk Botanical Gardens offers lively displays.
In all, the parks system includes 2 festival parks
(Town Point Park and Ocean View Beach Park),
3 beach parks, 6 community parks, 12 dog parks,
17 community centers with active park amenities,
and 71 neighborhood parks.
The Norfolk Botanical Garden, which opened in
1939, is a 155 acre display, conservation, re-
search, and cultural venue open year round. The Virginia Zoo boasts diverse wildlife and teaches
conservation of biodiversity.
Arts and Culture
Norfolk is the principal home of several major per-
forming arts companies. In addition, Norfolk plays
host to numerous yearly festivals and parades,
mostly at Town Point Park in the downtown section
of the city.
The Chrysler Museum of Art, located in the Ghent
district, is the region’s foremost art museum. The
late John Russell, art critic for the New York Times,
once noted that the Chrysler boasts objects “any
museum in the world would kill for.”
Harborfest annually draws thousands of each year,
capitalizing on Norfolk’s natural appeal as an
inviting waterfront city.
Nauticus, the National Maritime Center,
features hands-on exhibits, interactive the-
aters, aquaria, digital high-definition films
and an extensive array of educational pro-
The General Douglas MacArthur Memorial
contains the tomb of the late General and
his wife, a museum, vast research library,
personal belongings, and a short film that
chronicles the life of the famous general of
The Hermitage Museum, an early 20th
century Tudor-style home on a 12 acre
estate fronting the Lafayette River, fea-
tures an eclectic collection of Western and
Asian art. The Virginia Opera, founded in
1974, conducts performanc- es at the
Harrison Opera House and statewide.
Old Dominion University’s Ted Constant
Convocation Center offers large scale
concerts, while the Nova Theatre provides
a more intimate atmosphere for smaller
Chrysler Museum Tiffany Glass
Ted Constant Center
Norfolk serves as
home to two profes-
sional sports fran-
chises in Virginia –
The Norfolk Tides and
the Norfolk Admirals.
Norfolk has two uni-
versities with Division
I sports teams – the
Old Dominion Univer-
sity Monarchs and
Norfolk State Univer-
sity’s Spartans, which
provide many sports,
basketball, and base-
Norfolk is also home
to the Norfolk Blues
Rugby Football Club.
College sports contribute to the diversity of recreational opportunities in Norfolk.
Norfolk Public Schools, the city’s public school system, includes 5 high schools, 8 middle schools,
34 elementary schools, and 9 special-purpose/preschools.
There are also a number
of private schools in the
city, the oldest of which,
Norfolk Academy, was
founded in 1728.
Virginia Wesleyan is an innovative 4 year liberal arts college in Norfolk.
Religious schools located
in Norfolk include St. Pius
X Catholic School, Holy
Trinity Parish School, Alli-
ance Christian School,
Christ the King School,
Norfolk Christian Schools,
and Trinity Lutheran
School. The city also
hosts the Governor’s
School for the Arts.
Norfolk is home to three public universities, and one private. It also hosts Tidewater Community
College. Old Dominion University, founded as the Norfolk Division of the College of William and
Mary in 1930, offers degrees in 68 undergraduate and 95 (60 masters/35 doctoral) graduate degree
Eastern Virginia Medical School, noted for its research into reproductive medicine, is located in the
region’s major medical complex in the Ghent district.
Eastern Virginia Medical School students benefit from the latest in medical modeling and simulation technology and
pioneering standardized patient programs.
Norfolk State University, the largest majority black university in Virginia, offers degrees in awide
variety of the liberal arts. Tidewater Community College offers 2-year degrees and specialized
training programs. In addition, several for-profit schools operate in the city.
Norfolk Public Library, Virginia’s first public library, offers 12 locations around the city and a book-
In addition to VCE’s Norfolk Unit, Virginia Tech operates three Agricultural Research and Extension
Centers in Hampton Roads. These facilities, in Suffolk, Hampton, and Virginia Beach, areheavily
invested in research and extension education.
Within program areas, emphasis is directed toward sustainable production that considers profitabil-
ity for producers and processors, quality of food and fiber products, and soil, water, and air protec-
Currently, Virginia Cooperative Exten-
sion’s Norfolk Unit is comprised of one
Agriculture and Natural Resources -
Horticulture Extension Agent, a Unit
Administrative Assistant, three Supple-
mental Nutrition Assistance Program
(SNAP-ED) Program Assistants, and
two Expanded Food Nutrition Educa-
tion Program (EFNEP-ED) Program
Assistants. The Norfolk Unit also
shares a 4-H Youth Development Ex-
tension Agent with the City of Ports-
Virginia Tech’s Hampton Roads Research and Extension Center
Community and Resident Perspectives
To assess issues of pressing concern to Norfolk’s residents, a community survey was electronically
distributed to area stakeholders, including businesses, elected officials, and individuals. The survey
instrument was anonymously completed by 54 key stakeholders, businesses representatives, and
residents. Of those who responded to questions concerning demographics, 52% were between the
ages of 18 and 64, while 48% were 65 or older. Data showed that 32% of those who completedthe
survey were male, and 68% were female. Ethnically, 10.42% were African American/Black, and
89.58% were white. Asked how long they had lived in Norfolk, 37.5% indicated an average of 18
months, while 97.92% have lived here, on average, 47 years.
A forced choice Likert scale was utilized to measure respondents opinions. Respondents were
asked to rank the importance of 33 community issues as either “Unimportant”, “Somewhat Im-
portant”, “Important”, or “Very Important”. Comments from participants were also invited.
Additional information was gleaned from the City of Norfolk’s Priority Area Plan. The City of Norfolk
utilizes a priority setting model to convey its vision and associated priorities (set by the CityCouncil
with community input).
Data from each source was then collected, processed, and tabulated for analysis. This analysis re-
vealed five key priority areas in which VCE sponsored programs play a particularly important role,
reflecting goals and objectives aligned with The City of Norfolk’s Priority Area Plan:
Economic Vitality and Workforce Development
Asset Development in Children and Adolescents
Safe, Healthy, and Inclusive Communities
Economic Vitality and Workforce Development
The City of Norfolk’s Priority Area Plan has identified Economic Vitality and Workforce Develop-
ment as a City-wide priority. Economic Vitality and Workforce Development is defined as “a
growing, competitive and diversified economy that enhances the quality of life for residents
through a wide range of housing, shopping, educational, cultural, business, and employment op-
The city has identified several objectives and intermediate measures aligned with this priority
strongly supported by VCE programs in Norfolk. These include marketing cultural experiences
available in Norfolk, increasing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of Norfolk’s workforce, and
eliminating barriers to employment.
Agriculture is Virginia’s largest industry. Collectively, agriculture and forestry have a total eco-
nomic impact in excess of $79 billion annually in output or sales, providing 501 thousand jobs
(10.3% of Virginia’s workforce). Each of these jobs supports another 1.5 jobs elsewhere in Vir-
ginia’s economy. In addition, the value-added impact of agriculture and forestry is about $37 bil-
lion – about 10% of Virginia’s gross domestic product.
Currently, VCE programs support these objectives by educating and training people for positions
in a number of areas relating to Agriculture and Natural Resource (ANR). The ANR Horticulture
Extension Agent works with other area agents and professionals each year to provide commercial
and municipal employees (groundskeepers, arborists, pesticide applicators, landscape designers,
irrigation contractors, growers/producers, etc.) with updated training on new research develop-
ments, products, practices and services in order to be current and competitive. This training also
enables employees to obtain and maintain licensure to practice in the commonwealth. Training
and testing is used to certify pesticide applicators, crew managers, advanced crew managers, irri-
gation contractors, arborists, and horticulturists.
In addition, area Extension Agents partner to provide horticulture and pesticide applicator training
to military inmates at the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig. This training program, designed to ac-
commodate inmates serving sentences of 10 days to less than 10 years, provides valuable job
skills for the incarcerated so that upon re-entry to the general population, they may productively
contribute to Norfolk’s economic growth by having eliminated barriers to employment.
By providing educational services to increase knowledge, skills and abilities of Norfolk’s work
force (and strengthen Norfolk’s economic base) VCE offers a number of programs that have
positive impacts for cultural institutions.
The ANR Extension Agent routinely plans, markets, creates, implements and evaluates programs
while providing leadership to the Unit’s Extension Master Gardener volunteers. These programs
are diverse in nature, and directly support many lifestyle and cultural amenities. By buildingrela-
tionships with individuals, governmental agencies, and academic, as well as other institutions,
VCE staff and Extension Master Gardener volunteers contribute to reaching clientele with re-
search-based knowledge to work for economic prosperity, environmental stewardship, and im-
proved quality of life. Inter-agency partnerships and collaborators include: Norfolk Public Health
Department; Virginia Department of Health; Norfolk Emergency Response and Preparedness;
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs; Old Dominion University; Virginia Wes-
leyan College; Norfolk Botanical Garden; Norfolk Recreation, Parks and Open Space; Hermitage
Museum; Cape Henry Audubon Society; Norfolk Environmental Commission; Fred Heutte Cen-
ter; Norfolk Public Library; Virginia Horticultural Foundation; Virginia Department of Conservation
and Recreation; Bon Secours Health System; Airfield Conference and 4-H Center; U.S. Navy;
U.S. Department of Defense; Tidewater Community College, and Norfolk Public Schools. These
valuable relationships permit VCE programs to reach a broad, far-reaching audience.
The impacts of these various programs are particularly significant in that they support many of
the goals elucidated in the City of Norfolk’s Priority Plan, including:
job creation and training
providing opportunities for life-long learning
protection of cultural resources
emergency management, preparedness, and response
obesity prevention education
access to healthy, affordable, nutritious foods
urban forestry management
healthy, active lifestyles
In its Priority Area Plan, the City of Norfolk expresses a desire for “residents of all ages (to) enjoy a
culture of learning that enables them to reach their full potential, achieve personal goals, and,
through their knowledge, skills, abilities, and talents, become well equipped to support a prosperous
Objectives and intermediate measures associated with this priority include increasing vocational
and technical skills training opportunities for Norfolk residents; identifying and partnering with local
educational institutions, businesses, and community resources to promote and expand life-long
learning for the city workforce and community members; and increased accessibility to program-
ming at libraries and recreation centers to be used as a resource for communication and education.
Lifelong learning may be broadly defined as learning that is pursued through life: learning that is
flexible, diverse, and available at different times, and in different places. Lifelong learning occurs to
fill needs. According to Delors (2006), education is at the heart of both personal and community
development; its mission is to enable each of us, without exception, to develop all our talents to the
full and realize our creative potential, including responsibility for our own lives and achievement of
personal aims. Delors four “pillars of education’ for lifelong learning include:
Learning to know—mastering learning tools, rather than acquisition of structured knowledge.
Learning to do—equipping people for the types of work needed now and in the future including
innovation and adaptation of learning to future environments.
Learning to live together, and with others—peacefully resolving conflict, discovering other
people and their cultures, fostering community capability, individual competence and capacity,
economic resilience, and social inclusion.
Learning to be—education contributing to a person’s development: mind and body, intelli-
gence, sensitivity, aesthetic appreciation and spirituality.
By employing both non-formal and informal education practices, VCE offers programs that are
learner-centered, responsive to identified community needs, accessible, inclusive, diverse, and flex-
ible. Programs are offered to many and varied organizations in many settings, e.g., libraries, recre-
ation centers, college campuses, churches, community groups, etc. Many programs exist as a re-
sult of forging strong relationships with other area agencies. Essentially, all VCE programs offer
opportunities for life-long learning.
Delors, J. (1996) Learning: The Treasure Within Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-
first Century, UNESCO
In its Area Priority Plan, the City of Norfolk stresses a “premier waterfront community that creates
a positive, regenerative effect on its environment, avoids detrimental impacts, and thrives eco-
nomically and culturally”.
VCE’s Strategic Plan offers similar direction, seeking to increase profitability and sustainability of
Virginia’s commercial food, fiber, animal, recreation, and green industries, while demonstrating
awareness of social, economic and environmental considerations in program development and
delivery through an outreach plan that increases involvement in under-represented audiences,
fosters cooperative relationships between public partners as a means of addressing resident’s
needs and includes teamwork that promotes local, regional, state, national and international priori-
The City desires to enhance efficient use and protection of natural resources, and reduce theneg-
ative impacts of coastal flooding. Currently, the ANR Extension Agent offers a number of pro-
grams to support these goals.
While jobs skills training affords clientele with employment opportunities to strengthen Norfolk’s
economic base, it also plays a crucial role in protection of natural resources and protection of the
city’s urban tree canopy. In addition, the ANR Extension Agent works with other area agents to
offer a Pesticide Disposal Program, financed through a grant from the Virginia Department of Agri-
culture and Services (VDACS). Agents solicit pesticide users to register unwanted pesticides to
be collected and disposed of. This program greatly reduces pesticide exposure risks.
ANR Horticulture Extension Agents regularly organize
and instruct courses to licensed pesticide applicators to
meet state and federal regulations for safe and sound
pest management decisions to protect public health and
The ANR Extension Agent serves offers
leadership to the Norfolk Environmental
Commission’s Community Gardens Initiative,
advising citizens, groups and organizations
regarding community gardens and green
space. These services include consultation
for the purposes of facility development,
including organizational strategies, fund-
raising, management, and code compliance.
He also serves on Norfolk’s Emergency
Operations Team, providing assessment
assistance in the wake of natural and man-
made emergencies. As a liaison to the
Agricultural Sector, he coordinates envi-
ronmental issues and offers guidance in
addressing threats to food security, the
environment, historic, and cultural resources.
The ANR Extension Agent also serves on the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission Urban
Forestry Committee, providing leadership and offering strategies and support services to other pub-
lic, private, local and regional agencies to improve quality of life. He also serves as a resource to ex-
amine issues pertinent to regional planning for urban forest management and restoration, potential
tree canopy legislation, and related issues.
ANR programs enjoy strong support from a diverse audience for their focus on sustainability.
Around the world, educators, governments, political bodies, planners, landscape architects, anden-
gineers refer to the idea of “sustainable landscapes” as a subject of increasing importance. Sustain-
ability and sustainable design are at the intersection of environment, economy, and society,reflect-
ing the significance and relevance of ecosystem services and limits, fair and durable prosperity,
health, and social justice. Sustainable landscapes foster environmental sustainability and the
preservation of relevant functions (e.g., biodiversity, water filtration, energy balance). In addition,
sustainable landscapes support ecosystems while providing for human well-being through provision
of food, water, timber, and fiber, and by regulating services that affect climate, diseases,flooding,
and water quality. These ecosystem services are tied directly to the acquisition of cultural services
that deliver recreational, aesthetic, and even spiritual values, while supporting soil formation, photo-
synthesis, nutrient cycling, and carbon sequestration.
Regardless of whether they are scrutinized in social,
political, economic, or aesthetic contexts, evidence for
the environmental sustainability of landscapes is often
related to their multi-functionality, services, and/or re-
silience. The term “sustainable landscape” broadly
reflects two schools of thought—one focused on the
design and protection of scenic assets, the other, on
understanding the dynamic, multi-functional links be-
tween ecosystems and human well-being.
To address these various needs, the ANR Extension
Agent and his Extension Master Gardener volunteers
plan and implement various programs targeting con-
sumer horticulture audiences at various venues oper-
ated by Norfolk Public Libraries, the Norfolk Public
Health Center, and Norfolk Recreation, Parks, and
Open Space. These programs are designed to en-
courage behaviors that support preservation of bio-
diversity, water conservation, nutrient
management, pest management, and local food
Dr. Laurie Fox discusses buffer zones and pond
management with Extension Master Gardener
trainees at Virginia Tech’s Hampton Roads
Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
Extension Master Gardeners staff VCE’s Helpline, answer-
ing homeowner’s questions about plants, trees, etc.
Norfolk’s Extension Master Gardeners also in-
vest time, energy and resources to support
many related initiatives. The annual Arbor Day
celebration, a joint-project of VCE and Norfolk
Recreation, Parks, and Open Space, encour-
ages stewardship of the natural environment
and preservation of our urban tree canopy.
Utilizing the City’s nursery, Extension Master
Gardeners annually propagate several tree
species, and distribute seedlings throughout
the city. The Significant Tree Program, led by
Extension Master Gardeners, encourages
preservation of urban forests, while recogniz-
ing trees of exceptional merit and Norfolk, and
encouraging appropriate tree planting.
Extension Master Gardeners regularly staff the Norfolk Botanical Garden’s Butterfly House, where
they instruct visitors on such topics as the importance of pollinators, and preservation of biodiversi-
ty. These inquiry-based and experiential learning processes facilitate a greater understanding of
ecology and the fundamentals of entomology.
Ask a Master Gardener serves the community at various venues (Lowe’s, Norfolk Botanical Gar-
den, etc.) from January—November each year. The Extension Master Gardener Speaker’s Bureau
offers educational programs addressing a variety of topics, and gardens at the Virginia Zoo, main-
tained and interpreted by Extension Master Gardeners, demonstrate organic cultivation and pest
control methods. Extension Master Gardeners also lead programs at the Zoo for small children,
connecting plants, animals and people, through story and craft.
Norfolk Extension Master Gardeners also invest time, energy, and resources to conserve natural
resources at the (Cape Henry Audubon Society’s) Weyanoke Wildlife Sanctuary, and through con-
servation-oriented programs offered at the Hermitage Museum, and the Ernie Morgan Eco Garden.
The Native Dune Demonstration Garden teaches appropriate plant selection to prevent coastalero-
sion, and capture sand for dune growth. Extension Master Gardeners also demonstrate square-
foot gardening techniques at the Fred Heutte Center.
The Community Gardens Taskforce Group offers consultation services as well as hands-on garden-
ing instruction. Under direction of area Extension Agents, Extension Master Gardeners also con-
tribute their time by serving as moderators and aides at the Mid-Atlantic Horticulture Short Course’s
nationally recognized training for professionals in the green industry. (Extension Agents and Exten-
sion Specialists coordinate speakers and moderators for over 100 classes at this event, and also
instruct many of the classes.)
Asset Development in Children and Adolescents
As children grow and mature, positive youth development programs accommodate their physical,
intellectual, psychological (and emotional) as well as social development needs, necessary for
healthy development and well-being. Realization of these needs diminishes the likelihood of an
adolescent from joining groups whose activities, attitudes, and social norms have been document-
ed as having detrimental effects not only on adolescent development, but also, success in adult-
Data from area stakeholders indicates that education and asset development in children rank high-
ly as priorities. Survey responses indicated that fostering positive values (e.g., caring, honesty,
integrity, responsibility and restraint), positive identity (e.g., self-esteem, sense of purpose, a posi-
tive view of personal nature), and social competencies (e.g., planning and decision making, cultur-
al competence, and resistance skills) were rated as “important” or “very important”.
As the oldest and perhaps best known youth de-
velopment program, 4-H offers research-based,
life changing experiences through clubs, camps,
afterschool and school enrichment programs.
4-H is designed to grow healthy people who can
successfully function in an adult world. By devel-
oping positive assets to offset and/or minimize risk
factors, 4-H offers a game plan, structuring, for its
participants, experiences that facilitate this transi-
4-H programs use many vehicles as a “hook” for
youth development, emphasizing “learning by do-
ing” opportunities for young people who receive
4-H Robotics Programs teach young people design
fundamentals by challenging them to think crea-
tively and critically as they build their own robots
“hands-on” experiences, while fostering youth/adult partnerships, providing youths with emotionally
and physically safe environments, and ensuring that activities are developmentally appropriate. In
addition, 4-H offers fun social activities while providing opportunities for youth service in the com-
The 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent delivers diverse programs in schools, recreation cen-
ters, wellness centers, at military bases in support of each of these issues. STEM education is em-
phasized, as is CHARACTER COUNTS! ® These programs engage, empower and educate while
promoting student achievement, and fostering attributes to enhance social and emotional
The 4-H Agent also works with the YMCA, and in partnership with the Human Movement Sciences
Department at Old Dominion University.
Through 4-H, young people develop many beneficial assets, including good emotional self-
regulation skills, coping skills, and positive self-image through acquisition of knowledge, abilities,
and unique experiences in a safe, affirming, supportive environment led by adults and older
youths—excellent role models and mentors. By creating opportunities for young people topractice
(and develop) critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, decision-making skills, and life-skills
needed to navigate the waters of multiple cultural contexts, 4-H is a particularly useful vehicle
whose inherently immersive qualities and many intangible characteristics offer a means by which
young people may cultivate positive attributes (e.g., ethics; accountability; adaptability; personal
productivity; people skills; self-direction; responsibility).
4-H is an integrated process—a group of experiences and settings—whereby nurturing
environments foster the development of important assets in young people – all while introducing
life-affirming skills, beliefs, and values, and while protecting young people from the adverse
effects of negative life experiences. As such, it supports issues deemed important to survey
respondents, and the City of Norfolk’s Priority Area Plan.
Safe, Healthy and Inclusive Communities
In its Priority Area Plan, the City of Norfolk emphasizes the need for a community whose “residents
of diverse backgrounds and interests feel encouraged and empowered to assist in thedevelopment
of safe and healthy neighborhoods, thereby fostering a culture of leadership, pride and well-being
that advances Norfolk’s brand as desirable and enjoyable place to live, learn, work, and play”.
Goals associated with this priority include:
Providing a safe environment for residents, workers, and visitors
Creation of a culture that promotes health, engages in prevention, and supports economic and
social well-being of individuals and families through the provision of an array of programs and
Enhancing the vitality of Norfolk’s neighborhoods.
Objectives and Intermediate Measures aligned with these goals include:
Increased access to activities and resources that promote healthy lifestyles
Enhanced neighborhood safety
Increased access to early learning centers, libraries, and out-of-school recreation programs
Enhancing resident’s and civic organization’s capacity to shape their neighborhoods
Improving maintenance of private property
Places where people live, work, and play and care about demonstrate qualities that reflect a com-
munity’s values, inspirations and potential. Ideally, these places are inviting, inclusive, and per-
haps, most importantly, accessible to the public. Memorable characteristics and a pleasant and
safe atmosphere function well for a variety of community activities, meaningful to both local inhab-
itants and visitors. Places can be parks, streets, historic districts, street corners, markets, plazas,
gardens, or a wide variety of other public destinations. The quality of place influences quality of
life. Great places attract people and vitalize local economy. When people are drawn to the same
place, they tend to get to know one another. People interacting with one another build stronger,
healthier communities. Ultimately, creating good public spaces promotes people’s health, happi-
ness, and well-being.
Norfolk’s built environments have an impact on residents physical activity levels, access to oppor-
tunities, including healthy food, lifestyle choices, and behaviors. Research has shown that we can
improve health and quality of life through different planning approaches in our communities. Our
interaction with buildings, parks, road systems, schools, and other infrastructure we encounter in
our daily lives ultimately affects health and well-being.
Family and Consumer Sciences programs utilize a holistic approach to improve the well-being of
Virginia’s residents. Extension staff plan, deliver, and evaluate research-based educational pro-
grams tied to three specialty areas: Nutrition/Wellness; Family Financial Education; and Family
and Human Development. As with all VCE programs, partnerships and collaborations with other
agents, Extension Specialists, non-profit and other organizations are the norm.
Participants in VCE’s Family Nutrition Program (FNP) gain the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and
changed behavior necessary to choose nutritionally sound diets, and improve well-being. FNP
provides nutrition interventions on a variety of subjects including diet quality, food safety,physical
activity, food security, lowering fat consumption, and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.
Staff organize programs in the community, at schools, and in homes to bring about nutrition and
physical activity-related lifestyle changes.
Organwise Guys, a fun, interactive, evidence
-based program for children from Kindergar-
ten to 2nd grade, uses puppets of different
internal organs to teach kids about what we
eat, and how we move, affect our bodies.
This process empowers young people to be
“smart from the inside out”.
Organwise Guys adheres to the Virginia
Standards of Learning, while helping to re-
duce childhood obesity.
MyPlate offers practical information to help consumers
make healthy dietary decisions.
FNP offers programs for children and adults addressing
improved diet, nutritional welfare, improved food produc-
tion, preparation, storage, safety, and sanitation.
Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids, developed
by VCE, teaches children, grades 3—7, about
healthy lifestyle choices, including:
The importance of nutritious food choices,
and how to use MyPlate
How to enjoy food in moderation by choos-
ing the right serving size
Healthy beverage choices
Healthy snack choices
The importance of being active
Teen Cuisine, developed by FNP, is a hands-on cooking program that teaches students, grades
8—12, important life-skills for eating smart, which will stay with them as they grow into adults. Les-
sons discuss choosing healthy foods and preventing food-borne illnesses. Specific topics include:
Eat Smart—students learn the basics of MyPlate, hand-washing, and safe knife skills
You Are What You Eat—students learn to read food labels and choose healthy food
Power Up With Protein—students learn how each nutrient on a food label affects our bodies
Fight The Fat—Students learn ways to make smart food choices when eating out, and the
health effects of different types of fat
Have A Plan—Students learn how to plan meals
Adult FNP programs include Eating Smart and Moving More. This program helps participants
make healthy changes by teaching ways to choose and prepare nutritious meals and to be more
physically active. These lessons are fun, interactive, and full of great information to inspire be-
havioral changes for good health. Topics include:
MyPlate—Families learn how to use MyPlate as a guide to eating smart and to balance ener-
gy from food and physical activity
Shop for Value, Check the Facts—Families learn to use labels to compare different foods
Choosing More Fruits & Vegetables—Families learn to add a variety of color of fruits and veg-
etables to their plates each day
Fix it Safe –Families learn how to keep food safe to prevent illness
Smart-Size Your Portions and Right-Size You—Families learn how to use proper sizes to eat
smart and be healthy
Through these and a multitude of other diverse programs, FNP encourages a culture that pro-
motes health, engages in prevention, and supports economic and social well being of individuals
The many benefits of VCE’s Family Nutrition Program are complemented by Agriculture and Nat-
ural Resources horticultural programs. The benefits of gardens and gardening are diverse.
Individually, gar- dening provides our cognitive, affective, and psycho-motor domains with many
aids that continue to be researched and documented. Studies show that those who garden enjoy
its moderatecar- diovascular benefits. Gardeners also consume a balanced diet, including fruits
and vegetables, with greater frequency than do non-gardeners.
Gardening favors us in other ways as well, including reductions in stress hormones, such as cor-
tisol, accompanied by mood elevation. Research suggests that the physical activity associated
with gardening can help lower the risk of dementia, and that gardening may improve symptoms
Beyond the merits imparted to individuals, gardening elevates communities. Lands devoted to
the creation of public parks, botanical gardens, community gardens and other green space are
intrinsic to successful urban development. While it may be impossible to quantify the benefits
inherent to certain elements of open space, models have been developed which clearly demon-
strate the substantial economic value of such areas as they relate to several pressing issues.
These include: the “social capital” of community cohesion, removal of air pollution by vegetation,
human health, tourism, and greater tax revenue associated with increased value of nearby prop-
VCE’s taskforce supports development of Community Gardens,
like this one at East Ocean View.
These many benefits are realized through
partnerships with government, community
organizations, and residents to create,
restore, enhance and maintain community
gardens, neighborhood parks, land-
scapes, and related green space, and
promote coastal resilience.
Community Gardens, in particular, create
green spaces that nourish, inspire, and
unite communities, while addressing ur-
ban decay and environmental degrada-
tion. The most frequently cited social
benefit of community gardens is their
power to create a strong connection
among participants, who often come together across a chasm of race, culture, and economic sta-
tus to share the simple joys of gardening. This “social capital”, while difficult to measure, is a val-
uable asset. These gardens build solidarity among their members and strengthen people’sattach-
ment, both to the garden itself, and to each other. The collateral benefits of this sense of attach-
ment extend to the neighborhood and city as a whole, encouraging people to put down roots, and
invest in their communities. Community Gardens have many benefits, among them:
Aesthetic – adding beauty and vibrancy to the landscape
Economic – increasing nearby property values and contributing to higher quality of life
Social – strengthening community ties, reducing crime, bridging intergenerational and cross-
cultural divides, and empowering residents
Engagement – active participation by young people, seniors, and those in health care settings.
Therapeutic – designed to accommodate client treatment goals
Food – affordable, fresh produce of high quality
Environmental – may serve as a model for sustainability
As discussed earlier, 4-H Youth Development programs foster development of assets to sustain
safe, healthy and inclusive communities as well.
VCE is a model which can address many areas of need and priority as resources can be