Meet Our New Administrative Support Specialist – Melena Dillingham

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Cooperative Extension is Fully Staffed Again!!

A New Face To Greet You

N.C. Cooperative Extension in Henderson County has a new face to greet clients as they come through our doors. Melena Dillingham joined the Extension staff on May 1 as our new Administrative Support Specialist. She will be responsible for greeting visitors, answering the phone, handling social media sites, creative and graphic design needs, and generally supporting the staff in their programs.

Melena comes to Cooperative Extension with a great background working with the public through Cooperative Extension at The Ohio State University. For the past three years, she served as the office administrator for the Molly Caren Agricultural Center of the Ohio State University College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences. The center is a 2,100-acre farm that encompasses a grain operations earnings account, the Gwynn Conservation Center, and the annual Farm Science Review, the nation’s largest outdoor agricultural and educational exposition.

Melena Dillingham

Melena Dillingham

During the annual Farm Science Review, Melena accounted for lot spaces and tickets sold, communications to all volunteers and temporary employees, and liaised between vendors and service providers. She spearheaded the FIRST STEP program, which provided extensive, fully cultivated lesson materials for high school agricultural teachers to bring their students to the event and maximize their experience. These experiences will serve her well as we conduct our annual Farm City Day and 8th Grade School Tours here in Henderson County.

In addition to standard secretarial and administrative duties for the daily operations of the Caren center, Melena also processed over 1.5 million dollars annually, accounting for over 120,000 ticket sales, assisting in the management of student and seasonal help, as well as being trained in the protection of personal and institutional data.

Melena received her bachelor’s degree in Musical Theatre from Mars Hill University. For a time, she and her husband were the owners of Riverwood Music where she taught piano and voice. Music is still very much a passion of hers and she often performs for weddings, conventions, and other special events. She is also an experienced cake decorator.

We are very pleased to have Melena as part of our team here in Cooperative Extension. She brings a great level of talent and experience to the position and we look forward to her contributions in the years to come. Please stop by and welcome Melena if you get an opportunity at our Jackson Park office. Melena can be reached by phone at 828-697-4891 or via email at

A Year of Restaffing Comes to a Close

Melena is the most recent in a series of new faces at Cooperative Extension. Retirement, promotion, new positions, and one departure have created several new openings in our office in the last 18 months. Since most of that time was during the pandemic, you may have not had a chance to meet all the new faces in our office. I hope you will come by to welcome them and visit us.

Here is a recap of the other new faces and changes you will see:


Keai Tilly

Keai Tilly became our new Administrative Assistant on March 1, 2020, with the retirement of long-time AA Ivy Olson. Keai has adapted to the job like a duck to water. You’ve probably already interacted with Keai and most likely been impressed.

Anne Higgins

Anne Higgins

Annie Higgins became the Administrator at Bullington Gardens on October 1. She provides the type of oversight at Bullington Gardens that has been too much for one person to handle for a long time. John Murphy has been very relieved to have Annie on site to take these duties off his hands so he can concentrate on the educational programs. Annie and John are teaming up to do great things at Bullington and we hope you will visit there soon. Hint: The Fairy Trail opens on June 1.

Isaac Wyatt

Isaac Wyatt

Isaac Wyatt is our new intern. He started with Cooperative Extension last fall and is continuing his education in Horticulture while he works with us. He has a passion for heirloom seeds and has been a great help around the office and in the field while he learns more about the Horticulture industry. Isaac hopes to work in Extension someday.

Hannah Worrell

Hannah Worrell

Hannah Worrell became our new 4-H Agent on January 15 as she replaced Denise Sherrill who retired after a distinguished career. Hannah grew up in our 4-H program and has all the skills and experience to continue the excellence in 4-H that Henderson County has enjoyed for decades. Hannah just completed her Master’s Degree from Lenoir Rhyne University.

Courtney Clemons

Courtney Clemons

Courtney Clemons replaced Hannah as our 4-H Program Assistant on April 1. Courtney has Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Animal Science from NC State University. She has been a welcome addition to our 4-H team and is off to a wonderful start. Courtney is from Shelby and has lots of experience working with youth.

Wow!! Your County Director is glad that this rash of openings have all been filled. I am confident that we have chosen very qualified individuals to carry on the tradition of excellence in Cooperative Extension and to serve our clientele to even a higher level. Please welcome these new employees to our team.