The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service is focused on readying new agents to best serve the needs of constituents in their respective counties.

Recently, Hank Chaney, Area Agriculture and Natural Resources Specialist for the Division of Agriculture, brought together 17 Cooperative Extension Service agents, many of them recent additions to the ranks of the Division of Agriculture’s outreach efforts, for a day’s training focused on cotton, and the many questions growers are likely to have as the crop ages toward fruition.

“We’ve had various training days like this throughout the calendar year,” Chaney said. “We just try to focus in on something that’s hot at the time, and work with a specialist to set it up. We go look at plots or grower fields, if possible.”

Bill Robertson, extension cotton agronomist with the Division of Agriculture, was among the specialists who attended the meeting, and shared his expertise on the crop, which has seen an increasing return to favor among growers during the last year.

He said “inservice days” such as the one held recently serve to bolster the Division of Agriculture’s institutional knowledge among both specialists and agents, as well as help new agents feel more comfortable about meeting the needs of growers in their respective counties with relatively little direction from state-level administrators.

“A lot of times, when you’ve got an agent fresh out of school, you’ve had someone telling you where to go, what to do and when pretty much your whole life,” Robertson said. “As an agent, you’re making a lot of decisions without a lot of direct supervision, and we want to help people learn how to do that.”

Robertson said one of the goals of these sessions is to help agents develop educational programs of their own.

To learn about row crops in Arkansas, contact a local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.

— Ryan McGeeney is with the U of A System Division of Agriculture.