published Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Dade County gets new agriculture extension agent

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    Katie Hammond is Dade County, Ga.'s new extension agent. Here, Hammond socializes "Espy," a heifer that will be among those competing at the Fall Livestock Show at the Dade County Ag Center on Sept. 29.
    Photo by Ben Benton.
    enlarge photo

FOR MORE INFORMATION

To find out more about services and 4-H programs available through Dade County's University of Georgia Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service office, call 706-657-4116, visit online at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/dade or stop by the office at 114 Pace Drive.

TRENTON, Ga. — Katie Hammond is Dade County's new agriculture extension agent, bringing an end to a four-year drought in the way of full-time agricultural expertise.

Hammond says she's ready for business.

"I just want to stress that anybody who has any questions — or especially anybody who has children who are interested in agriculture — come on by," an energetic Hammond said on a rainy Tuesday at the University of Georgia Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service office, next door to Dade County Middle School.

Longtime agent Ted Dyer was promoted away from Dade in 2008, leaving part-time program assistants Rich LaValla and Alice Black to keep 4-H programs operating. Walker County extension agent Norman Edwards helped periodically with office and farm services.

Edwards said Tuesday that Dade's agricultural community will be happy to have in-county help for farmers and Dade's LaValla and Black will be able to help expand 4-H programs rather than just keeping them up and running.

"It's been some time now since they've had an agent because of the economy and state funding cuts," Edwards said. Black and LaValla "really kept things going, but the 4-H program hasn't been able to grow and flourish like it will with a full-time agent in place."

Hammond's work toward her master's degree in education will become valuable in working with the local school system, he said.

"We're certainly glad that she's on board," Edwards said.

Hammond, a Mentone, Ala., native and Berry College graduate, said she hopes to see immediate growth and development of 4-H in local schools, but the first step is to test student interest.

"I've seen a lot of interest in some programming that they haven't had in the past — especially in the robotics area and technology; they're pushing for that," said Hammond, 30, a product of a Cherokee County, Ala., family farm.

She said some students she has talked with over the summer are interested in archery and maybe a horse-judging team.

On Tuesday, Dade's first day of school, Hammond said she's anxious to learn about the county's students.

"My first act is to find out what their interests are because, if we know what their interests, we can go in that direction," she said. "There's all kinds of possibilities if the interest is there."

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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