Pittsboro, NC – Ginger McLaurin Cunningham has been appointed director of , effective Feb. 1. To the position, she brings more than five years in Extension. She previously served as interim county Extension director, 4-H agent and 4-H program assistant.
The appointment was announced by Sheri Schwab, NC State Extension’s director of county operations, and Chatham County Manager Renee Paschal. Cunningham succeeds Sam Groce, who retired Sept. 1, after serving as Chatham’s Extension director since 2010.
Cunningham’s strong background in agriculture and leadership development will serve her well as extension director of a county where agriculture is so important. She grew up in Chatham County on a fourth generation farm in the Hickory Mountain Township where her great-grandparents raised cattle and hogs. Cunningham has fond memories of helping on the farm as a child and has herself raised cattle and meat goats.
Cunningham is in the final stages of completing her doctorate in Agricultural and Extension Education with a minor in Leadership Development at NC State University. She has a master’s degree in Animal Science from NC State and received a bachelor’s degree in Exercise & Sport Science and Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
According to District Extension Director Jim Cowden, Cunningham is skilled at balancing administrative tasks while providing outstanding Extension programming, maintaining essential community support and providing empowering leadership and support to her Extension team members.
“We are blessed here in Chatham County to have a high level of support from Chatham County government,” Cunningham said. “I am looking forward to serving as the county’s extension director, which will allow me to guide an experienced team of agents and support specialists.” She added that as the county continues to grow, it will become increasingly important to focus on agricultural literacy so that new residents have an understanding and appreciation for Chatham’s agriculture.
Chatham County Manager Renee Paschal has high praise for Cunningham: “She is the total package. Ginger has the leadership skills, technical knowledge, and demeanor to be wildly successful. Being a Chatham native, she knows our county inside and out. As we work to ensure that our agricultural heritage and farming are preserved for future generations and positioned for future challenges, Ginger’s expertise will be invaluable. I look forward to working with her and strengthening the great relationship we already have with the county’s office of Cooperative Extension.”
N.C. Cooperative Extension is a strategic partnership of NC State Extension, the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and local governments statewide. Extension professionals in all 100 counties and with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians connect millions of North Carolinians with research-based information and technology from NC State and N.C. A&T. Its educational programs focus on agriculture, food and nutrition, 4-H youth development, community development and the environment.