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Arkansas County Agricultural Agents Association salutes excellence 

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 HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- Agricultural extension agents from across the Natural State were saluted for distinction at the annual meeting of the Arkansas County Agricultural Agents Association, which was held March 10-12 in Hot Springs.

“The awards are given to recognize the quality educational work our members do each year,” said Brad McGinley, Montgomery County extension agent and state awards chairman. “State winners will go on to compete for regional and national awards and will be recognized at our national professional improvement conference and annual meeting this year in Mobile, Ala.”

Distinguished Service Awards, given to agents with more than 10 years of service who have exhibited excellence, were awarded to:

  • Sherri Sanders of Searcy, who is responsible for homeowner and commercial horticulture programs in White County, including guiding the master gardener program. She has worked for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service for 19 years in three counties.
  • Jeremy Ross, extension soybean agronomist who is responsible for soybean and edamame production efforts statewide. In that capacity, he provides applied agronomic research and education programs for producers, consultants, industry personnel and county agents. He joined the extension service in 1996.
  • Mike Andrews of Pocahontas, Randolph County extension agent staff chair, who conducts educational programs for row crop and livestock producers, as well 4-H and community development programs in four counties. He was instrumental in bringing the peanut industry to Arkansas, and he has qualified a 4-H team for National Grassland Evaluation Contest in 13 of the 14 years of its existence.

Achievement Awards, given to agents with less than 10 years of service who have exhibited excellence, went to:

  • Melissa Beck of Prescott, who has been the county extension agent and staff chair in Nevada County for the past seven years. Her work involves county programs aimed at improving the sustainability of beef and forage producers, and she also serves on the multi-state planning group for the Four States Cattle Conference. She has also implemented a 4-H veterinary science program, which is a model for other counties around the state.
  • Brad Runsick, who is the county extension agent in Fulton County and previously served as county agent in Searcy County. His responsibilities include education in beef, forages, fruits, small ruminants, home horticulture and gardening. He also works with 4-H youth in school programs and livestock projects, as well as training 4-H members for competitions.
  • Chris Grimes of the Soybean and Wheat Research Verification programs, which provide training and assistance to county agents and farmers with limited expertise in soybean or wheat production. The verification programs conduct on-farm demonstration projects and is an interdisciplinary effort between farmers, county extension agents, extension specialists and researchers.

In addition to the achievement awards, the ACAAA also honored members in other categories:

  • Search for Excellence/Crop Production: Mike Andrews and Herb Ginn, Lawrence County staff chair.
  • Search for Excellence/Landscape Horticulture: Sherri Sanders.
  • Search for Excellence/Livestock Production: Stone County Extension Staff Chair Preston Hipp, Van Buren County Extension Staff Chair Daniel J. Griffin, Cleburne County Extension Staff Chair Michelle Mobley and Faulkner County Extension Staff Chair Hank Chaney.
  • Search for Excellence/Young, Beginning or Small Farmers and Ranchers: Sherri Sanders.
  • Excellence in 4-H Programming: Amy Heck, White County extension agent.
  • Young Professionals Award: Sara Beth Waller, Lonoke County extension agent.

 Communications awards were also given to the following recipients:

  • Amy Simpson, Clark County extension agent, computer generated graphics presentation
  • Brad Runsick, personal column
  • Jesse Bocksnick, featured story, video presentation and program and promotional piece
  • Michael Sullivan, individual and team newsletter
  • Cindy Ham, team newsletter and published photo and caption
  • Chris Grimes, fact sheet
  • Rebecca McPeake, publication
  • Jane Maginot, web site

To learn more about the Cooperative Extension Service and its programs, visit or contact your county extension office.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

March 21, 2014

By Rich Shumate
For the Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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