Greenfield area native James Morris assumed the role as the educator covering agriculture and natural resources, and community development for the Highland County Ohio State University (OSU) Extension this month.
“What that consists of is me working directly one-on-one and in group settings with the agricultural producers in the county and also business owners,” said Morris. “My main role is in educating producers about how to become more profitable and more productive on their farms through university-based research.”
Morris grew up in the Greenfield area on the border of Highland and Ross counties, working on a diverse farming operation of beef cattle, grain and forages. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and agricultural business from Morehead State University in Kentucky before working as an educator at the Brown County OSU Extension Office. He received his master’s degree from The Ohio State University this year.
“I’m looking forward to being able to come home and hopefully make an impact locally,” said Morris. “Our main goal is to pull the large scale research that we’re doing in Columbus — the ideas that we’re getting from our state specialists — and apply that on a county level and be able to hopefully be an outreach arm of the main university.”
From December to March, Morris facilitates a pesticide recertification course to help farmers in the county obtain the required license. “We do farm management workshops in the winter, and we do on-farm research in the summer,” said Morris. “We also hold some agronomy crop field days.”
Morris said farmers and even gardeners are welcome to call his office any time for advice about the production of any agricultural commodity. “We have a whole network of university pathology labs and entomology labs that we can use to help identify and diagnose problems within the plants as well as soils or any other environmental issues,” he said.
Morris said his top priority is to help farmers in Highland County become more profitable. “We can give these wild, crazy ideas of different ways to do their production style, but at the end of the day, whether it’s beef cattle or grain crops, we have to make sure we’re giving them strategies to either make that beef cow more efficient to be more productive and profitable or reduce some of the input costs for crops,” he said.
He said he seeks to help the agricultural industry and business community work together. “The economic environment of Highland County is very rural, so the agriculture industry relies on the business community and vice versa,” he said. “Our goal is to be able to be that non-biased resource that folks feel comfortable coming to to ask questions about their agricultural production or their business community.”
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.