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County Agent Training

June 10, 2014
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Today was a full day of horticulture training for county agents. We had a great class in Conway and we ran the gamut from brand new to old hands. If you think of a county agent, they have a tough job. Especially in a county where there are two agents–one agriculture and one family and consumer science or Ag and FCS.  They have to know a little about a lot. The Ag folks need to know about crops and livestock to horticulture–both commercial and consumer, to community development, wildlife, county government, water quality, and 4-H.  There are sometimes not enough hours in the day.  When it comes to training, it is tough to teach any topic in one day, much less horticulture.  With row crops, you have many varieties of one specific crop, and the insects and diseases.  Within horticulture you have a multitude of small and tree fruits, vegetables, and then the ornamentals–from trees, shrubs, vines, groundcovers, perennials, annuals, tropicals and lawns.  But we gave it a try on mainly ornamentals.

We started the day with a quiz to see where they were in plant knowledge.

agent in service training june10.3Some knew almost all, while others knew almost none.  We had John Hopkins on hand to talk about the new crape myrtle scale and other pertinent insects.

agent in service training june10.2And we tried to do as much hands-on training as we could in a short amount of time.

agent in service training june10.1We loaded up and headed to a local nursery with a large selection of plant material and went through as many as we could.  We also gave them time to walk around and explore on their own.  The Plant Outlet was gracious to let us come and kind of take over for a bit.

agent in service at nursery1 agent in service training at nursery

Then after lunch, Sherrie Smith talked about diagnosing diseases and then had a disease quiz.

agent in service training june10.6 entomosporium leaf spot on photenia.june10.Sherri Sanders discussed current fruit issues and Kami talked about the Legacy Garden outside their building.

sherri sanders

All attendees got a hand lens for diagnosis and an insect book to use in diagnosing problems.  We ended with a tour of the Legacy Garden and the plants outside.  We had a lot of questions, but also a lot to take in. One young new agent told me he had no idea there were so many plants to choose from.  We ran out of time for the post test, but I am confident that most would have had a better score on the tail end, than they did at the beginning. We were lucky that rain stayed away, although I did drive through some heading home. Now the sun is shining!

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