When I was told this was my week to do a newspaper article, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write. I thought a while and then I got my inspiration over the weekend. My uncle from Wisconsin was down to visit my father. He asked what I did for work. I told him I am a Sampson County Livestock Agent.
Well, I might as well have been explaining nuclear physics based on the look he gave me. He said ‘oh’ while shaking his head but I knew he was clueless. I then said I work for the Extension Service. Still, I got a look of confusion. I then went on to briefly explain what I do. So, I am going to call this article “Random ramblings of a county agent” and briefly describe what my job is and a bit of what goes on in the office.
I am officially employed by North Carolina Cooperative Extension through North Carolina State University. I, and other agents, are considered “field faculty”. Our duties are to assist county residents in various areas of expertise. My area is predominantly beef cattle but I am also responsible for pastures and forages, small ruminants, forestry, and wildlife issues. If a producer has a problem — like weeds in a hayfield — that producer can call the office and I will go help identify the weed and suggest how to get rid of it.
I may be called to look at a disease problem in a forage stand. Or, I might be called upon if a producer is looking for specific information; like the pros and cons of a three-breed rotation in beef cattle. I also go out on the farm and offer some hands-on assistance with certain aspects of cattle husbandry. I’m even responsible for putting on two of our four livestock shows each year at the county livestock arena. Other agents in the office handle the swine and goat shows.
Cooperative Extension can help with a variety of subjects and questions. We have agriculture agents that deal with field crops, vegetable crops, livestock, waste management, commercial horticulture, home horticulture, pesticide licensing, farm management, forestry, and many other areas.
We also have agents responsible for 4-H and youth programs and agents dealing with family and consumer sciences (FCS). We even have area specialized agents for poultry and aquaculture. Just about anything you can think of, Cooperative Extension can probably help with.
The information or recommendations we give may come from personal knowledge, research carried out at the university, or from agent trainings we have attended. Basically, our job is to help educate the public via numerous methods. These methods include on-farm visits or assistance, educational meetings, field days, demonstrations, newsletters, and others. Questions can come by phone, visit, e-mail, or snail mail (postal mail). We can reply our responses in the same manner we receive the questions.
On a final note, as I indicated above we do send out newsletters and flyers about upcoming meetings. If you would like to get some information about what’s happening, call or send a note requesting to be on the mailing list. Mind you, you will need to know what list you want to be added to: beef cattle, horse, peanut grower, 4-H, FCS, etc. Once added, you will get any information that is sent to that list.
Like I stated above, this is just random ramblings and a very brief overview of what an agent does— or at least some of the things I do. You’ll have to contact the respective agents to find out what goes on in their areas. To be quite honest, I don’t know as much as I should about what the agents do in the other areas — like 4-H and FCS.
At any rate, if you have some questions or think Cooperative Extension might have a program for you, look us up. If you happen to be south of Clinton traveling down highway 421, stop in the office and see who’s here. Or you can call us at 910-592-7161. So, go ahead, contact the agent of your choice and see what’s going on. You might be surprised and you just might learn something!
Paul Gonzalez is an agriculture extension agent specializing in livestock with the Sampson County Extension Center.