You are What You Eat: Food in Dare County

Hello! My name is Emma Boyd, and I am a senior Environmental Studies/English major from Boone, NC. Before this semester, the longest amount of time that I had spent on the coast at one time had not exceeded a week. Now I can say that I have lived at the beach, and have been a part of a wonderful and welcoming community on Roanoke Island. A big part of that community has been my internship at the Dare County Cooperative Extension. Let me tell you a little more about it.

When I first got accepted to the Outer Banks Field Site, I was asked about my interests and experiences so that they could find me an internship that I would enjoy. I’m afraid I was less than helpful, however. I was (and still am, to be honest) so unsure about my future, and what I want to do after college that all I could tell them was that I was interested in food. Which is 100% true, not only do I love to cook it and eat it, but I am also interested in the way that it reaches our stomachs. Who grows it, who ships it, who buys it. This answer (or lack of an answer) led me to my internship with the Dare County Cooperative Extension.

Before I go into specifics, I am going to tell a little about the NC Cooperative Extension because if you are anything like I was 3 months ago, you have heard of it but aren’t quite sure what it does.

Every county in the country has a Cooperative Extension, and every Cooperative Extension is affiliated with a state university. In North Carolina, the Cooperative Extension is affiliated with NC State. Cooperative Extension is a partnership between county and university that focuses on making information generated by public universities accessible to the public. Since it started in 1914 it has accordingly had to adapt to the times, but it is still a valuable resource for the community, with a general focus on agriculture, families, and responsible youth.

That brings me to my specific role with the Dare County Cooperative Extension. My main focus is working with the Outer Banks Local Food Council on their community food assessment. The Outer Banks Local Food Council is a council affiliated with Dare Cooperative Extension that focuses on advocating for local products and educating the community about local food movements. The community food assessment is an evaluation of the food situation in a localized area. I am responsible for the capital resource assessment portion of the assessment. I look into seven different areas of food resource and try to summarize their impacts in the community. The seven areas are: cultural, human, social, political, financial, natural, and built. I have two wonderful mentors: Shannon Brooks, the County Extension Director, and Jennifer Thompson, the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent. Both have helped and guided me through my project, and I couldn’t have done it without them.

The Outer Banks Field Site took my less-than-helpful request to work with food and found me the perfect internship. I have learned more about a single community’s food network than I even knew there was to learn. I have enjoyed working in the office with Shannon and Jennifer, and it has been a great learning experience to see the Outer Banks Local Food Council’s meetings and process. Thanks to everyone who made this internship possible!