Brad Hardison is excited to be back home and is looking forward to helping farmers throughout Sampson County.
“The best thing about farm life is being in touch with where your food comes from and knowing how to grow food,” he said about the food chain.
He recently joined Sampson County Cooperative Extension as an agriculture-horticulture agent. His job duties will include commercial and consumer horticulture, youth horticulture development, turf and green industry. Hardison will also serve as an extension master gardeners liaison.
“We have an active extension master gardener volunteer program and one of our goals is to re-establish the master gardener hotline or plant clinic, where the public can call into the office and receive assistance with lawn, weed, weed or pest identification and other gardening related questions,” Hardison said.
Since he arrived in early January, Hardison has received many phone calls about agriculture issues such as loans or problems with pecan trees.
“I think people realize that there’s a horticulture agent here and the phone is really ringing,” Hardison said.
He is currently filling a big void at the office since the county has not had a horticulture agent for several years.
“It’s a been a longtime coming and horticulture is a big industry in Sampson County,” he said.
Hardison will also be involved in educational programs with youths and local students. In Goldsboro, he participated in Discover Ag, a program that uses scientific concepts to teach elementary students about sustainable agriculture.
“I’m looking forward to collaborating with 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences on youth education and development and working with the youth in the Sampson County and Clinton City school systems to increase their knowledge of agriculture and the food chain,” Hardison said.
He grew up on a small farm in Sampson County. The family raised produce, corn, cotton and livestock. While attending Midway High School, he was involved in FFA and contributed to many community projects.
After graduating from high school, Hardison attended Wayne Community College and studied agribusiness and business administration at Mount Olive University.
“I enjoyed working with the producers in Wayne County and impacting their lives,” he said. “It just feels good to come back home and impact the lives of people that I know and people that live in Sampson County.”
He’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in agriculture education and extension at North Carolina State University.
Prior to the Sampson County Extension Office, Hardison worked at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) at Cherry Research Farm and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. Some of his work involved high tunnel tomato production, onions, berries, organic farming, field crops and livestock. He was also a contractor for the plant and pest industry of NCDA&CS and monitored cotton fields for boll weevil, an insect which feeds on cotton buds and flowers.
The lifelong resident of Sampson County lives in Plan View in the remodeled home he grew up in, with his wife and two children.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.