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Greensville/Emporia 2023 Situation Analysis Report


VCE-596-43NP (VCE-1175-43NP)

Authors as Published

Extension Faculty and Staff Sara Rutherford- Extension Agent, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Unit Coordinator; Hannah Wilson- Associate Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development; Jessica Jones- Associate Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences; Sammi Kent- Unit Administrative Assistant

Greensville County and the City of Emporia located within the Commonwealth of Virginia indicated in green.
Greensville County and the City of Emporia located within the Commonwealth of Virginia indicated in green.

Five priority issues identified for Greensville County and the City of Emporia, Virginia

  • Helping youth develop leadership, citizenship and other life skills
  • Protecting water quality
  • Preventing youth violence
  • Ensuring safe food handling practices to prevent foodborne illnesses
  • Addressing adult and youth mental health


The Greensville/Emporia office of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) conducted a comprehensive situation analysis report from March through October 2023. The process was led by unit coordinator, Sara Rutherford, was supported by office faculty and staff and involved Extension Community Council (ECC) members. The result of this process included an updated unit profile with major emphasis on gaining a better understanding of our community’s needs. Community and resident perspectives were an integral component used to determine the top priority issues Extension can address in Greensville County and the City of Emporia.

In preparation for this task, it was decided, within the unit, that a duplicate of the survey instrument created for state-level use would be edited and distributed electronically to residents, stakeholders and government officials. The survey was also made available in print form for anyone making that request. Using the survey results, the top priority issues for Greensville County and the City of Emporia were identified, including those that could and should be addressed by Extension and those that were outside the scope of Extension’s mission.

An Extension Community Council meeting was held in April of 2023 where the unit coordinator oriented the new ECC members to the situation analysis process. The ECC members reconvened in October of 2023 to discuss the results of the community evaluation survey. All four Greensville/Emporia Virginia Cooperative Extension employees were in attendance during this meeting.

Unit Profile

Greensville County was formed in 1781 and is in Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Southeast District. The county lies approximately 65 miles south of Richmond, bordering the North Carolina state line. It is bound to the south by Northampton County, NC, to the north by Sussex and Dinwiddie Counties, to the west by Brunswick County and to the east by Southampton County. It is situated in the Piedmont and Tidewater regions of our Commonwealth; just 80 miles west of Norfolk and the ports of Hampton Roads on the Atlantic Coast. The Town of Emporia was chartered as a City of the Second Class by an act of the General Assembly on July 31, 1967. At this time, it became a separate political entity from Greensville County. The Town of Jarratt, located in northern Greensville County and partly located in southern Sussex County, was incorporated by order of the Circuit Court of Sussex County on June 20, 1938. Currently, there are no other incorporated communities in Greensville County.

Greensville County consists of generally flat or gently rolling land where the clay-based soils of the piedmont region and the sandy-loam soils from the tidewater region meet at the fall line which runs north to south through the county. Given its central location along the eastern seaboard of the United States between Raleigh, Richmond and Hampton Roads, Greensville and Emporia are conveniently located within a day’s drive of over 50 metropolitan areas and nearly two-thirds of the United States population. Being located at the crossroads of I-95 and U.S. Route 58 provides prime access to the eastern part of the United States.


The population of Greensville County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s July 2022 estimates, totaled 11,389 people. This shows a 6% decrease in population from the April 1, 2020 estimate base. The racial breakdown was 60.1% black or African American, 37.5% white and 3% Hispanic or Latino. The population of the City of Emporia, according to the same estimated data, totaled 5,481 people. This shows a 4.9% decrease in population from the April 1, 2020 estimate base. The racial breakdown of groups was 63.5% black or African American, 21.5% white and 7.9% Hispanic or Latino. There was a small but noticeable increase in the Hispanic and Latino race population since the last situation analysis report in 2018. Overall, there was a population decrease from the 2010 U.S. Census to the 2020 U.S. Census in both localities. Greensville County’s population decreased 1.4%, and the City of Emporia’s population decreased 3.6% during this ten-year span.


According to the Virginia Employment Commission, the top five employers in Greensville County are Boar’s Head Provisions, Greensville Correctional Center, Greensville County Schools, County of Greensville Administration and TotalSource III. Other notable employers in the top ten are SteelFab, Inc. and Dominion Virginia. The top five employers in the City of Emporia are Georgia Pacific Wood Products, Wal-Mart, Bon Secours Health System, Inc., the City of Emporia and Pro Labor Temps. Other notable employers are Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Sadler Brother’s Oil Company and Food Lion. The unemployment rate for Greensville County as of July of 2023 was 3.3%. The unemployment rate in the City of Emporia as of July of 2023 was 4.2% The unemployment rate in Virginia was 2.7% and the United States was 3.8%, also as of July 2023.


Greensville County Public Schools consist of one high school, one middle school and one elementary school. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 data, 34.5% of Emporia residents 25 years of age and older have a high school diploma compared to 40.74% of adults age 25 and older in Greensville. Also, 7.25% of adults age 25 and older in Emporia have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 6.99% of Greensville residents of the same age. This is a good place to note that some Greensville/Emporia families send their children to private schools outside of the county as an alternate to the public school system.

Community Health

According to the 2023 University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s School of Medicine and Public Health’s website:, 20% of Greensville and 27% of Emporia residents have poor to fair health compared to 12% of Virginians. Health factors that influence quality and length of life include health behaviors like tobacco use, alcohol and drug use, diet and exercise, etc., which can be modified to improve the length and quality of life. For quality of life, Greensville ranks 104th and Emporia 132nd of 133 counties and cities in Virginia; with one being the highest quality of life and 133 being the lowest in quality of life.

Additionally, 25% of Greensville and 34% of Emporia children are living in poverty compared to 13% of children in Virginia. The ratio of primary care physicians to residents is 2,820 residents to 1 physician in Greensville. There was no ratio reported for Emporia in this category. The overall health rankings are 104 for Greensville and 132 for Emporia of 133 counties and cities across Virginia. These statistics are staggering, to say the least.

The chart to the right (figure 2) shows how the health behaviors of individuals impact health factors and ultimately the health outcomes of the population of a city or county.

Flow chart depicting health behaviors' influence on health outcomes.
Figure 2: Flow chart depicting health behaviors’ influence on health outcomes.

Community and Resident Perspectives

Those who filled out our community needs assessment survey provided insight on current issues and concerns in Greensville and Emporia. This survey was distributed digitally and did not collect data that could identify residents’ names, affiliations or other personal data. It did collect data that identified their age, race, gender and ethnicity and verified their residence in the City of Emporia or Greensville County.

Greensville County and Emporia City residents ranked which topics Virginia Cooperative Extension in the Greensville/Emporia unit should put very high efforts towards when educating the community. These are:

  1. Helping youth develop leadership, citizenship and other life skills
  2. Protecting water quality
  3. Preventing youth violence
  4. Ensuring safe food handling practices to prevent foodborne illness
  5. Addressing adult and youth mental health

Greensville County and Emporia City residents ranked which topics Virginia Cooperative Extension in the Greensville/Emporia unit should put high efforts towards when educating the community. These are:

  1. Assisting forest landowners with sustainable management practices
  2. Helping consumers make healthy food choices
  3. Providing physical fitness education
  4. Conservation and utilization of forest resources
  5. Teaching youth good money habits

Comparatively, in a state-wide needs assessment survey, residents ranked which topics Virginia Cooperative Extension should put high or very high efforts towards when educating the community. These are:

  1. Protecting water quality
  2. Ensuring safe, high-quality foods
  3. Ensuring safe food handling practices to prevent foodborne illnesses
  4. Protecting freshwater resources
  5. Strengthening the local food system

Community Issues

Our unit faculty and staff reviewed the results of our local needs assessment survey with our Extension Community Council to determine what programmatic priorities we should have over the next five years. The five educational priorities which ranked the highest were combined to four educational priorities to focus our efforts.

The top educational priorities will be:

  1. Supporting youth by providing leadership development and growth opportunities
  2. Community mental health
  3. Protecting water quality
  4. Improving food safety

It was determined the Greensville/Emporia Extension office can address all of these priority issues in some way across all programmatic areas. There were no top priority issues the group felt the Greensville/Emporia Extension office should or could not address.

Future Programming to Address Community Issues

We will take a multi-disciplinary approach to create programs that span all generations. We will work together as a team to provide programs that transcend all three program areas of Virginia Cooperative Extension. We will utilize partnerships with local and regional groups and organizations to address these issues. We will seek out grant funding and in-kind support and sponsorships to fund educational programs and outreach efforts. We will utilize trained Extension volunteers to help with efforts under this approach.

We will provide opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills through participation in 4-H clubs, volunteering during community events, mentoring, competing in 4-H activities, etc. We will support youth growth opportunities by holding programs and providing opportunities that teach life skills, like food preparation /cooking, applying for jobs, developing leadership skills, and exploring higher education opportunities, such as college or trade school. We will also foster youth character development and develop good citizenship skills through various 4-H programs and outreach opportunities.

We will address mental health in our community through efforts in all program areas. Examples of ways we will address these issues are mental health first-aid training for adult volunteers, teaching youth how to cope with and recognize mental health struggles in themselves, family members or peers, and provide character development opportunities for youth to boost their confidence. We will also provide need-based mental health support to our farmers and ranchers through one-on-one conversations and consultations as necessary. Multi-generational programming will also be prioritized that mixes character building, mental health support and life skills development across all program disciplines.

We will address protecting water quality by continuing to educate the public about the responsible and safe use of fertilizers and pesticides in their lawn and landscape. We will also continue to increase the knowledge of farmers and ranchers about integrated pest management practices that reduce pesticide use and misuse. We will encourage landowners to adopt conservation practices which reduce runoff of water and soil particles, nutrients and land-applied fertilizers and pesticides. We will encourage the use of cover crops in cropping systems to conserve the entities listed previously. We will continue to support a healthy community by providing household well water testing through Virginia’s Household Water Quality Program at Virginia Tech. We will strive to provide low or no-cost options for well-owners to reduce cost barriers to having well water tested.

We will provide programs and opportunities for youth and adults to learn about proper food-handling and preparation techniques. We will provide programming to increase life-skills centered in the home kitchen regarding food preservation and safety, food preparation, including knife sills, sanitizing equipment and surfaces, personal hygiene, etc. Food safety in the vegetable garden will also be addressed with youth and adults. This will include the planting, maintenance and harvest of fruit and vegetable crops in the home garden.

Overall, we will strive to increase the frequency of programming and outreach activities that improve knowledge and life-skills to youth and adults such as those listed above. We will also continue to provide education and services to community members in the areas of disease prevention, physical fitness and nutrition, family and youth financial management, parenting skills, life skills, sustainable forest management, and so on. We will continue to grow, develop and support our volunteers, allowing us to connect with more people in our community. Furthermore, we will partner with the Small Farm Outreach Program and our colleagues and Extension specialists at Virginia State University to achieve these goals. Finally, we will uphold Virginia Cooperative Extension’s mission to develop strong communities through sharing knowledge, supporting businesses, and implementing research that advances the wellbeing of all Virginians.


County health rankings, Greensville County, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, School of Medicine and Public Health. 2023. Retrieved on October 6, 2023 from

County health rankings, Emporia City, University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, School of Medicine and Public Health. 2023. Retrieved on October 6, 2023 from

United State Census Bureau (2023). County profile. Retrieved on November 13, 2023 from,_Virginia?g=050XX00US51081

United States Census Bureau (2023). City profile. Retrieved on November 13, 2023 from,_Virginia?g=050XX00US51595

Virginia Employment Commission (2023). Community profiles. Retrieved on November 13, 2023 from,_Virginia?g=050XX00US51595

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Publication Date

March 14, 2024

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