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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New County Extension Agent ready to get to work

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Fulton County Extension Agent, Brad Runsick (left), meets Howard Burris at the Fulton County Farm Bureau's annual meeting on Oct. 13.
Brad Runsick introduces himself to Farm Bureau members, then gets right to work, telling them they need to get their bulls checked for a venereal disease which is leading to aborted calves.

At just 26 years old, Runsick is Fulton County's new County Extension Agent.

"I grew up on a farm in Independence County," said Runsick. "My dad ran a cow-calf operation at home, in addition to his job at the Entergy power plant in Newark. When I went to college, agriculture stood out to me as the most appealing thing to study."

After getting his degree at Arkansas Tech University, Runsick moved to the big city, managing an auto parts store in Little Rock for a company that employed him during his college years.

But, in late 2008, Runsick landed his first job as an extension agent. He got his initial chance to put his degree to use in Marshall, serving farmers in Searcy County.

"I love the job, because you get to identify the needs of farmers and residents in your area and determine how you can help them," said Runsick.

After three successful years in Searcy County, Runsick is now busy meeting people and assessing needs in Fulton County.

"Independence County, where I grew up, is a lot like Fulton County, with lots of hills and cattle and pasture," said Runsick. "It's definitely a good place to be."

One thing that brought Runsick to Fulton County is Amber Foster, who Runsick married in August.

"She grew up in the Viola area and has lived in Mountain Home, so she has family here and is very familiar with the area," said Runsick.

Is he related to the Runsick's in Izard County?

"I have relatives in Izard County," Runsick replied. "I think anyone named Runsick came from Izard and Sharp Counties," he laughed.

While helping farmers with cattle and pasture problems, and residents with yard and garden problems, Runsick also enjoys another part of his job - the opportunity to work with 4-H groups.

"I got a lot of 4-H experience in Searcy County, and have been dropping in on meetings here in the county," said Runsick. "The great thing about my job is I love working with people, so what I do usually doesn't seem like work."

After speaking at the Farm Bureau's annual meeting, Runsick hungaround to meet people. One woman talked to him about parasite problems she is having with her chickens. Runsick gave some advice, then promised to check with some specialists in the extension service who are more knowledgeable about poultry.

"One of the best things about the extension service is its network of agriculture experts," Runsick said. "I can call a hotline or find information online to address about any problem or concern someone is having."

Runsick, himself, is working to become an agriculture expert. He is seeking his masters degree through the University of Arkansas, with an emphasis on plant science.

Runsick replaces Brad McGinley, who served as Fulton County's extension agent for four years before taking a similar position in central Arkansas.

As he settles into his office in the Federal Building on the Salem square, and his wife, Amber, adjusts to her job as a dietitian at Baxter Regional Medical Center, both are busy, but excited about living in the area.

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