While sitting on a wagon tongue waiting for the combine to fill my wagons, I happen to notice many animals of nature scurrying about. I enjoy the interaction with one another and with the environment around them as they prepare for fall. Without thinking I dig around at the dirt to see how dry it is and flick up a worm. I watch it for a while to see what it does, because there isn’t much entertaining about waiting on the combine to come back and fill my wagons. I do notice that it laid there for a while before proceeding back down under ground. Most of nature that we experience we can see their benefits to us as a society, but the lowly earthworm’s benefits go unseen. The earthworm continues to do his job drilling holes to provide oxygen and water to the soil, breaking down organic matter to be able to be used by plants and energizes the bacteria and fungi activity to help feed the plants and other soil animals.
The earthworm’s benefits and job are very similar to someone who works and lives in our community; someone whose benefits go unnoticed unless you are a farmer or read some of the valuable research that they have spent time compiling and sharing.
This man works behind the scenes and benefits can be seen far and wide. I am talking about our county’s agriculture extension agent, Sam Custer. I have known Sam for many years and have gained much knowledge from him that has benefited my farm and allowed for further expansion into various fields that agriculture has to offer.
Sam is a true asset to our community as well. His job allows him to share his knowledge with people of all ages and it also allows him to share the value of agriculture. I know over the past year he has provided Nutrient Management education, Avian Flu information, Farm Bill education, On Farm Research performed in our county providing unbiased research and he is able to provide a forum for farmers to get together at the monthly Ag breakfast.
To help put into perspective what is under his agricultural guidance: we live in Ohio’s largest or second largest agriculture county, depending on the crop year and crop pricing and according to the 2012 Census, agriculture in Darke County accounted for $559,494,000 of economic activity in the county. Astonishing numbers when compared to other industries in the county.
It is not my intent to influence a change in his pay today, but rather to help plan for our county’s future. One day our county’s agriculture extension agent will retire and the pool for those to fill his shoes gets very small unless we can offer a full time position versus a part time one that he is currently hired for.
We have had some great Ag extension agents over the years and they have made a lasting impression on our county; such as Dennis Baker and Steve Foster who both touched many lives during their tenure. It is important for our county and for the economic stability of our county to have a resource that we know and trust, so we can continue to be No. 1 or No. 2 agriculturally in the State of Ohio.
A quote that resonates well with me and in this situation particularly: “All along the untrodden path of the future, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand.” – Boyle Roche
I ask you to let the Commissioners know the importance of our Agriculture Extension agent and his influence on your lives, community and business; and remind them the importance for us to have a full time agent in our county.
Matt Aultman, a concerned Darke County Farmer