Sampson County thrives on agriculture and Margaret Ross is ready to contribute to the success by helping out poultry farmers.
Ross is looking forward to working with producers as the Area Specialized Poultry Agent for Sampson County Cooperative Extension.
“It’s a very important part of the economy for money coming in and staying in the county,” Ross said stressing the importance. “People have been farming here forever and having the opportunity to diversify your farm a little bit, helps brings in another income source and helps generate money to stay in the economy.”
Her work will consist of covering 40 counties on the eastern side of Interstate 95 and assisting farmers with poultry and education matters such as litter, waste management, raising poultry in the backyard, diseases and mortality. As an agent, will help though research from North Carolina State University.
“One of the best things is that we get to work with the farmers,” Ross said. “That’s my favorite part of the job because of all they have to do. They have a lot on their plate and they come to us to get research based information that will better their farm.”
Ross grew up on her family farm in Pollocksville, a town located in eastern Jones County. As a little girl, she wanted to be a veterinarian. But she decided to take a different path while attending North Carolina State University, where she earned a bachelor’s in animal science. During her studies, she learned how working with the extension office can be a promising career through her alma mater.
Prior to her current position which began in November, Ross served Craven and Jones County as a livestock agent. While working in her home county, she earned a master’s in animal science.
She said covering an abundance of counties as a poultry agent is going to be a whole new ball game. She expecting to spend a majority of her time in Sampson, Duplin and Wayne counties.
“It’s going pretty well so far,” Ross said. “I have several counties that are very much populated with poultry houses and poultry integrators.”
With expansion on the horizon for larger poultry companies, Ross said she wants to work closely with them to help with the transition and provide educational resources.
“We hope that we can be able to do that and provide support for the poultry industry,” Ross said.
Ross would also like to educate youths about the industry available through 4-H.
“Another thing we would like to do with the university is open up 4-H’ers eyes about the opportunities in the poultry industry,” she said. “There’s some good opportunities to go to NC State or NC A&T State and get some animal science degrees, come back and work in the county you grew up in and have a really good job.”
The extension office hopes to get integrator meetings started again so farmers can learn about different topics about poultry such as turkeys and chickens.
“Having those separate meetings for the producers is really a big help for them,” Ross said.”It helps them keep connected to us and it helps them gets the most current technology and resources available.”
Ross is continuing to enjoy farm life with her husband Adam in Pollocksville.
“We love our little farm,” she said. “We have all sorts of livestock. We got goats, cows and chickens and of course some cats and dogs too.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.