Tobacco, Cattle, and Orchards…Oh my!


One of the most important parts of being an Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent with the VCE is going on farm visits to assist producers and hobbyists in reaching their goals or overcoming a problem. In Patrick County, some of the main commodities produced are cattle, tobacco, and fruit from orchards so farms producing these products consumed most of our time. Agents try to maintain a positive and constructive relationship with most of the producers within their county. To achieve this, they must reach out and help the farm owners in whatever task they are trying to complete. For example, in Patrick County, there is a producer who just inherited a large farm and they have very little experience operating a farm. Travis Bunn, the Ag agent, worked diligently to assist them in areas such as livestock management, financial stability, and other decision-based areas. With his help, they were able to improve their operation and maintain a successful production livestock operation. At times, problems will occur on a farm and the agent will be responsible, with the farm owner’s request, to come out and examine the problem and offer solutions to these problems. Occasionally, the agent will need to reach out to an expert or professional in areas such as crop diseases, herbicide application and details, and other areas. Travis Bunn and I are more knowledgeable about livestock, cattle primarily, and when questions arise pertaining to crop and soil questions, we have to reach out to Virginia Tech experts on areas such as diseases, crop intervals, and other production based questions. These farm visits allow the agents to gain relationships throughout the community they work in and assist the farmers in gaining high yields, overcome difficulties, and improve the overall quality of the operation.

Training, training, and more training


           Training is a must for an agricultural and natural resources extension agent. With changing market trends, new technological advancements, and other changing factors, new training and education is important to be able to successfully inform the community and producers.

            On June 7th and 8th, Travis and I attended the Livestock-Dairy-Forages In-service training at Virginia Tech. On Tuesday, the 7th, we participated in training and case studies that pertained to forages and grazing management, nutrition and ration balancing, beef/sheep hands-on skill development, and reproductive management basics for beef and sheep. In the picture above, you can see a Virginia Tech representative showing the agents different types of forages and weeds throughout the pasture at the Virginia Tech facility. He taught us the proper way to use a Weed-Wiper herbicide applicator, as well. On Wednesday, we started the morning hearing from Virginia Cattlemen’s executive secretary, Jason Carter. He spoke to us about the Virginia Quality Assurance and how it can help the agent market cattle and improve the quality of the cattle being sold. Virginia Department of Agriculture representatives talked to us about the importance of grading feeder cattle and what they look for while grading. VCE participates in VQA Livestock Tele-o-auctions so Jason Carter, the VDACs representatives, and other agents gave presentations on the importance and the added benefits of these sales. Later in the evening, Scott Greiner gave a presentation on the role of VCE agents and what is expected of them. Lastly, Dee Whittier gave his final remarks to the agents present. He is retiring from his career as the extension veterinarian and talked about what he had learned and how we can apply his knowledge to our operations and counties.

            The in-service was a beneficial insight into the education and training behind being an agricultural and natural resources agent. It was eye-opening to witness the vast knowledge and experience needed to be an agent with the VCE.

angus cattle

First day on the job!

Hello all and welcome to my first blog!

Throughout the next 10 weeks, I will be sharing my experiences that will come along with an internship with the Patrick County Extension office. I will be working alongside Travis Bunn, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent, as well as assisting the rest of the Patrick Extension agents and staff. Under their guidance, I will learn about the Virginia Cooperative Extension, its programs, and what is expected of an extension agent. During this experience, I will have the opportunity to grow and develop skills in communication, teamwork, public speaking, leadership, and management. I will additionally be able to learn more about agriculture and natural resources, which is a huge passion of mine. I will be helping Travis Bunn as he advises individuals in the community on issues pertaining to agriculture and natural resources. These issues can include weed control, soil analysis, livestock management, and many other issues.

I have had a great first couple of days and am really looking forward to what’s to come!