Each week, AgWeb.com profiles people who are doing exciting things in agriculture throughout the U.S. This week, extension agent Kerrie Roach of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension-Henderson County Center talked about her experiences in an email interview.
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Name: Kerrie Roach
Hometown/state: Kendall, NY
Title: Extension Agent, Agriculture-Horticulture
Company/organization: North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Henderson County Center
Education: BS Horticulture / Masters of Agriculture Education both from Clemson University
Family: Husband, Zack, and 4-month-old son, Zander
Hobbies: Spending time with family, softball, hiking, reading, and of course gardening!
Talk about one experience that convinced you to pursue agriculture as a full-time career.
There was never a question in my mind of pursuing agriculture. It was more a question of what direction I wanted to take within agriculture. I am a product of what Extension does. I am a third-generation 4-Her. I interned in my home county office in college, and worked with Extension programs during my graduate program. So when it came time to choose a career, I naturally turned to Extension.
How did you get your current job? What are your responsibilities, and why do you enjoy your work?
I've been with North Carolina Cooperative Extension for three and a half years, but in Henderson County for only six months. My husband and I recently moved from the eastern side of North Carolina to the west to be closer to his family in Clemson, S.C.
My position in Henderson County is 50% consumer horticulture, based primarily around the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program, and 50% commercial horticulture, dealing with the green industry (nurseries, landscapers, golf courses,etc).
I love what I do because every day is different. I get paid to teach people how to grow things, and I get to teach anywhere. I'm not confined to a classroom, and my students are not of one age. I'm outside, with real people, with real problems, and we work through them together–-I love that!
What about your job might surprise some people?
Extension is free! We serve you, the people. It's sad, but sometimes Extension is referred to as the best-kept secret. We don't want to be a secret, and we are here to help!
What is the best piece of advice you ever received about working in agriculture?
The best advice I've received about working in agriculture is, Be patient. Sometimes I get frustrated trying to teach a seasoned grower a new technique or method. In agriculture, you need to show people how something works, not tell them. So in many instances (growing nursery stock), it can take months or years to see progress.
How will your job change over the next five to 10 years?
Extension is evolving with the sustainable, local foods movement. I think we will see more of an emphasis on growing your own and sustainability techniques, especially in the horticulture range.
How can readers connect with you if they’d like to learn more about your job?
Send me an e-mail at Kerrie_Roach@ncsu.edu.