CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A local N.C. Extension Service agent has received two awards this summer, including one at a national event in Tennessee this month.
Surry County agent Joanna Radford earned the 2018 Distinguished Service Award by the N.C. County Agricultural Agents Association in June. Then earlier this month, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of County Agriculture Agents here.
The Distinguished Service Award is the highest recognition that an agent can receive. Agents must have a minimum of 10 years of service and have exemplary Extension programs, according to Kathryn Holmes, Rockingham County Extension agent. Radford was one of four extension agents in the state to receive the award this year.
“There’s nowhere to go from here,” Radford joked on Wednesday. “This is as good as it gets.”
Radford has 23 years experience with Cooperative Extension. She started in 1995 as an agent in Stokes County where she worked for three years before coming to Surry County in 1998. Radford was Surry’s field crop agent until 2012 when she became the county’s horticulture agent. She replaced Terry Garwood, who spent 29 years as an extension agent, including the final 18 in Surry County.
She graduated from N.C. State University with a degree in agronomy with an agriculture business core, and is now pursuing a master’s degree at N.C. State in agriculture and Extension education.
“I’m chipping away one class at a time,” she said after returning from Tennessee.
“My specialty is field crops,” said Radford, “The clientele is the county farmers, and I basically dealt with traditional programs. But with horticulture, the clientele is larger. It’s home gardeners, anybody that has a yard, really. I work with lawns, shrubs, trees, flowers, vegetables, all of it.”
Radford’s programming efforts include being an advisor and mentor to local master gardeners, local beekeepers, and three county farmer’s markets. She consults with local commercial produce and fruit growers on production practices and food safety on their farms. She relays horticulture information to homeowners to help with their lawns and gardens.
According to Holmes, Radford’s efforts have enabled farmers to reduce their input costs and increase profit margins on the farm, and homeowners have received information to help preserve plants, plant gardens, and manage home pests effectively and agriculture awareness has been increased.
“Joanna makes coworkers and clientele alike feel comfortable and like they are a part of her family,” said Holmes.
Asked what is the biggest change in her 23 years as an Extension agent, Radford had a one-word answer: “technology.”
“There’s a lot more technology we can pool from,” she added. “People like tech. They like getting answers fast.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.