As I begin to write this blog, I reflect back on the Virginia Tech’s Hokies football victory this past weekend and am reminded that Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Extension agents are working in triple overtime. The load and demands placed on them by serving multiple communities has them spread too thin. The Hokies set a new record against West Virginia’s Marshall University by winning in triple overtime.
At the last Virginia Agricultural Leaders Obtaining Results (VALOR) meeting (Seminar VI), I introduced Keith Balderson to the VALOR Fellows during a short visit to his farm in the Northern Neck. Keith works for Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Extension Service as an Agricultural and Natural Resources Agent – better known as the County Agent for Essex County. Keith has been their county agent since 1988. During the past 25 years his position has been stretched beyond the borders of Essex County. Today he is known for his dedicated work to educate farmers, landowners and young students in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck regions of Eastern Virginia.
Other “County Agents” are stretched beyond their boarders as well. Funding priorities and workload demands have placed Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Extension Service in a dim light in recent years. Traditionally Cooperative Extension has been the “go-to” place to solve local problems and to educate communities on research based technology and practices. Today, Extension is growing by filling vacant positions and re-branding its image to include protecting land and water resources as well as sustain profitability of agricultural and forestry production. The issue at hand in Virginia’s communities is the pending deadline to achieve water quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) model. Cooperative Extension needs increased funding to be able to deliver effective water quality solutions and technical assistance to solve this issue. This increased funding will enable our agents to bring a victory to the water quality struggle as they battle triple overtime.
VALOR would like to thank Keith Balderson for taking the time to visit with us at his farm to discuss grain production. You can find me on Twitter at @Plainviewfarmer and Facebook at facbook.com/hunter.b.richardson.