After three decades with extension, Chaney tapped to provide expertise state-wideBy Ryan McGeeney
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
- New position designed to mentor county agents
- Cooperative Extension Service agents serve growers in counties throughout state
FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark. — The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is adding a new echelon of expertise in an effort to bolster the impact of Cooperative Extension Service agents throughout the state.
Hank Chaney, a veteran agriculture agent of more than 30 years, is now serving as the Area Agriculture Educator. The newly-established position is intended to “bridge the gap” between the division’s specialists, most of whom are based in Little Rock or at one of about a dozen research centers around Arkansas, and agricultural agents working in each of the state’s 75 counties.
Rick Cartwright, Associate Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the Division of Agriculture, said the new position will serve as a way to provide mentorship and expertise to agents in the field, particularly for those new to the job.
“The concept is to give our younger, developing agriculture and natural resource folks access to someone who can work with them individually, mentor them in those ideas for local success, and just give them somebody they can call on if they need help dealing with program problems, Cartwright said.
“We want to bridge the gap between specialists and agents, too,” he said. “These younger agents, they’re out there on their own sometimes, and we’re hoping this will give them a way to improve their chances to have an excellent local program in a shorter amount of time.”
Chaney began his career with extension as the Prairie County agricultural agent in1982. From 1987-1990, he served as a rice verification coordinator, before accepting a position as the CEA in Faulkner County, serving in that position until earlier this year.
“What I’m trying to do is work with agents and help them with their programs and demonstrations,” Chaney said. “Give them technical advice, maybe be a person they can contact if they need help.”
“When I started, I had an experienced agent to teach me,” Chaney said. ”What's happened to a lot of these guys, they've gone into counties where there is no experienced agent, and agriculture technology has moved forward so rapidly, it’s very difficult today to keep up and really impact things.”
Cartwright said he would like to continue expanding the division’s roster of instructor/educators where needed. Earlier this year, the Division of Agriculture hired Mike Hamilton, an agriculture agent with 18 years’ experience in Poinsett and Crittenden counties, as the new extension irrigation educator.
Since May, Hamilton has worked to educate growers throughout the state on new and more efficient methods of irrigating their respective crops, striving for greater yields while conserving more water. Hamilton’s position is co-funded by the Arkansas Natural Resources Conservation Service, and he works with ANRCS staff to develop and implement irrigation water management plans.
“The endgame is, we want to increase our chances of achieving and maintaining excellence in local programming,” Cartwright said. “The only way you do that is to make sure our agents have access to resources, including someone who can work directly with them to resolve problems, answer questions, and coordinate bigger projects.”
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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service