Serving you: Ag, natural resources coordinator

Levi Morrow, of McConnelsville, started work May 13 as Washington County’s Agriculture and Natural Resources program coordinator.

He said he was hired after the post was vacant for almost two years when former Extension Agent Eric Barrett left the position to move to the Youngstown area.

The Ohio State University and the Washington County Commissioners were looking for an extension educator. To be that, the person is required to have a master’s degree. They were having trouble finding someone with that degree or someone who would want to leave their job, Morrow said.

“They changed to a program coordinator, which only requires a bachelor of arts degree,” he said.

Question: What attracted you to apply for the Washington County job?

Answer: I was actually kind of pushed by some mentors, the Morgan County Extension Agent Chris Penrose and Barry Ward, an academic adviser at OSU.

Q: What was the process you had to go through to get it?

A: I did an online application. I was asked to a first round of interviews in Columbus. After those, I was invited to a second round of interviews with (Washington County) commissioners in Marietta with neighboring county extension agents. I was offered the position.

Q: What is your farming background?

A: The family farm started in the late 1800s or early 1900s by my great-great- grandfather after they sold a motel, the Morrow Motel, in Barlow and moved to Morgan County.

Q: What is the job description now?

A: It requires general knowledge and education, anything agriculture and natural resources to the community with any questions they might have. It could be their yard, their farm. They can bring that to me. If I don’t know that, I’ll find out the answers. I’ll do some programs that are open to the public. I can form programs to whatever the community needs. Someone brought me apple leaves. I’m trying to identify why they are dying and trying to identify if it’s blight. I am here as a resource to the community to find information.

Q: How long have you been on the job?

A: I started May 13.

Q: What have you done so far?

A: I have been going around trying to meet people. I also had something come up. Someone brought me leaves off their azalea bush. I’m getting involved with the Master Gardener group and getting my hands wet in that.

Q: What do you think you will enjoy most about the job?

A: Mostly just kind of connecting and trying to help the community. I enjoy agriculture and love everything about it. I am trying to be a helping hand to these people

Q: What do you think will be the challenges?

A: Time management. It seems like there is a lot of work to be done. It’s not a 9-to-5 job. There are a lot of evenings.

Q: What are your favorite parts of agriculture?

A: Beef cattle. I have been around it my entire life and have lots of experience with it. I find it fulfilling to raise cattle. I also like anything in the growing aspect- both gardening and commercial such as corn and beans.

Q: I’m sure you’ve heard you will have some big shoes to fill with succeeding the late Jim and his son, Eric Barrett? How would you approach that? (Jim Barrett served as Washington County’s agricultural agent at The Ohio State University Extension Office in Marietta from 1988 until his death in a farm accident in 1999. Eric Barrett succeeded his dad until moving to northeast Ohio.)

A: They were a big part of the community. The family still is with Sweet Apple Farm (in Vincent). I know I won’t be them, and I know I won’t do things the way they did. I know I have some things to offer that people will enjoy. I don’t think it will be anything we can’t get through.

Q: What’s your guilty pleasure?

A: One of my favorite bands of all time is Queen.

Q: What are you reading?

A: Nonfiction and Gary Paulson, author of “Hatchet.”

Q: What are you listening to?

A: Everything, mainly Christian rock and Christian pop.

Q: What are you watching?

A: “Duck Dynasty.” I love that show. I don’t watch a lot of TV. That is one I do watch.

Phil Foreman conducted this interview.