Henderson Extension Office Highlights Eclipse - TribPapers

Henderson Extension Office Highlights Eclipse

A Henderson County family uses solar glasses and a homemade pinhole viewer during the solar eclipse.

Hendersonville – The Henderson County Cooperative Extension Center hosted an eclipse party and open house in Jackson Park during the April 8 partial solar eclipse. The staff of the Extension Center took advantage of the excitement surrounding the solar eclipse to spread awareness of the services available in Henderson County.

Mills River mother Rebekah brought her children Luca, 5, Kieran 10, and Zia, 13, to experience the eclipse. In addition to the glasses provided by the Extension, the children made their own pinhole viewers out of cereal boxes to safely view the eclipse.

“We homeschool, so we love an opportunity to see something new and ‘sciencey’ and cool,” said Rebekah.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, temporarily blocking the sun’s light. Henderson County was not in the path of the total solar eclipse but did experience a partial eclipse between approximately 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

The Extension office provided complimentary popcorn, water and a prime viewing location on the grassy lawn in front of the office. The organization had 100 pairs of special glasses to view the eclipse, which were all given out to the large crowd. Many families shared their glasses so that everyone had a chance to view the moon’s shadow as it blocked out up to 86% of the sun’s light.

“We just thought that it was a good opportunity to open our office for people to come in to see the things that we do and enjoy the sunshine and fellowship with one another,” said Extension Director Dr. William Kelley. “Hopefully it will help more people know what we do.”

The Extension offers a wide range of services to the community ranging from agriculture to family and consumer sciences, as well as the popular 4-H clubs for students. Kelley noted that many of the Extension’s services and programs are free of charge.

“We feel like we have something here in this office for everyone, whether you have a yard or a garden, or children or grandchildren. Or if you want to learn how to cook or can or eat well or do good exercises and that kind of thing, we can certainly help you along that path,” said Kelley. “We’re basically the face of North Carolina State University for Henderson County. All our information that we give out is research-based information from NC State or other colleges and universities.”

The open house included information booths for each available program inside the office, with staff on hand to answer questions.

Hannah Peeler, Extension Agent for 4-H Youth Development, greeted attendees at the 4-H information booth and shared information on 4-H’s hands-on learning opportunities for students ages five through 18.

Henderson County offers seven different 4-H clubs, all of which are currently open for enrollment, said Peeler. The various clubs include traditional skills such as sewing and agricultural topics such as gardening.

4-H offers a mini-gardening program, providing seeds and education for children to grow their own garden in their backyards. For families without access to a garden plot, the program will provide a container garden or access to raised beds.

4-H also focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills and boasts a popular robotics program.

“Our biggest pro and our biggest con with 4-H is that you can do anything in 4-H,” said Peeler. “It is a good thing, but it can also seem like a very large program.” She said the range of programs is drawing a new generation to 4-H activities.

“We see kids that actually grew up in 4-H and return as volunteers and they want to keep engaging their families into it, which is wonderful,” said Peeler. “At the same time, we’ve seen a lot of new families since COVID. They want to do the canning; they want to learn how to sew; they want to learn how to garden. They’re kind of getting back to their roots.”

Information on Henderson County Cooperative Extension services, including the 4-H program is available at https://henderson.ces.ncsu.edu/