A Cooperative Extension agent who has served Sampson and Duplin counties for the better part of two decades was recently promoted and recognized by county officials for the accomplishment.
James Hartsfield, who has served both counties for 18 years, was recently promoted from associate agent to full agent status by the Extension Administration. Hartsfield’s position is fully funded through North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.
“We’re fortunate to have him on our Cooperative Extension staff for Sampson County and Duplin County,” said Sampson County Cooperative Extension director Eileen Coite. “James works for each of these counties and also for A&T State University. We’re considered field faculty, so we are promoted just as faculty members would be — from an assistant agent to associate agent, and now James has gone all the way to full agent.”
In his role, Hartsfield provides information and education programs directed at enhancing small farming families’ quality of life and income through the adoption of appropriate technology, alternative enterprises, farm and home planning, farm management, record keeping and marketing.
“We’re very proud to have him on our staff,” Coite remarked.
She and Hartsfield appeared before the Sampson County Board of Commissioners earlier this week. Coite and commissioners lauded the agricultural agent for his dedication.
“I would thank the Board of Commissioners for their support,” he said. “I also want to thank Mr. (County manager Ed) Causey for his letter of support in helping me through this process. It has truly been a blessing.”
Hartsfield beamed about the accomplishments of one particular couple, Donnie and Alease Williams, who were named the 2016 North Carolina Small Farmers of the Year by the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University. During the recognition in Greensboro earlier this year, the couple were presented with a plaque, monogrammed jackets and $1,500. The acknowledgement occurred during the Small Farmers’ Appreciation Day program, which wrapped up the 30th annual observance of Small Farms Week.
The couple, who run D&A Farm in Autryville, attributed much of their success to the Cooperative Extension, which has offered a variety of agricultural assistance to complement their own experience and hard work. Once a month, the Williamses traveled to Kenansville to take classes about free-range practices. Advisors from N.C. A&T State University and N.C. State University visited their farm to help them.
“As small farmers, we wouldn’t have been able to do any of this,” Alease said about getting a helping hand from Cooperative Extension agents. “They advised us, they taught us and they’re still teaching us.”
Hartsfield said the job is all about assisting small farmers like the Williamses, who are expected to be at the heart of an upcoming event being organized by Extension staff.
“In 2017, we are going to have a Small Farm Kickoff, with a program out at the Expo Center and we are going to have tours out at the farm of the Small Farmers of the Year,” he told commissioners. “I’d like to invite each and every one of you to come.”
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