The saying goes, “You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” and for Max Knowles, the new livestock agent at Sampson County’s Cooperative Extension Service, words have never rang so true.
Born and raised in Sampson County, Knowles graduated from Union High School in 2007 and ventured beyond the county lines, going to college at NC Wesleyan.
During college, he earned his degree in Environmental Science and played baseball.
“I played three summers of baseball in Washington D.C. in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League with the Alexandria Aces. I enjoyed it and I’m glad I got to go off to college and experience city life, but it wasn’t what I really wanted,” shared Knowles, adding he always knew he’d come home to Sampson County.
“I wanted to get married and settle down. My wife has roots here as do I, so it was natural for us to come back here,” said Knowles. “You can’t get away from the country lifestyle, the ease of it and all, it’s nice.”
Once back home, Knowles worked with Prestage Farms for two years. “I was in a management training program and worked on a sow farm,” said Knowles, adding that his family has grown for Prestage since 1993.
“Then this livestock agent position came up; I applied and got it,” said Knowles. “It’s just a great fit.”
As the livestock agent, Knowles’ responsibilities include swine husbandry, waste management, forage management, and helping with 4-H development.
“Basically, I’m here to aid, to be the bridge between the resources from the state schools, like NC State, and the local farmers,” explained Knowles.
When asked to describe some of his duties, Knowles mentioned overseeing sludge surveys as an example. “We let local farmers know about collection days, and then we take their samples to the labs in Raleigh to be tested.”
“We’re here to help. We want to be able to give the farmers here the knowledge and solutions they need,” added Knowles
Figuring out how to best do that can be challenging, Knowles admitted.”Also, my responsibilities are pretty wide ranging so figuring out what to tackle first can sometimes present its own challenges.”
One thing that isn’t a challenge for Knowles is coming to work everyday, and his co-workers have a lot to do with that. Having just started work Jan. 2, Knowles hasn’t been on the job long but he’s already thankful for the positive work community he’s now a part of. “The people I work with are the best thing about the job. Everyone here has different jobs but everyone helps each other. They’ve all been very welcoming and we’ve just got a good team work atmosphere going on here.”
And Knowles is a willing student, ready to learn all he can from his co-workers and other livestock agents. “I’ve been visiting other counties and learning from others who have my same responsibilities. I want to learn their strategies and what they’ve figured out that works best for them. It’s given me a good start and now I can figure out what works for me.”
Even though he’s still learning, Knowles’ Sampson County roots and his connection to the agriculture community has given him a good foundation on which to build. “As I get more and more experience, the better I’ll be at this job, at serving our local farmers. I just knew I wanted to be here and be involved in agriculture. I’ve always been around it and have a great respect for it.”
Knowles is the son of David and Katheen Knowles.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at email@example.com.