University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agricultural and natural resources (ANR) agent is the perfect job for Brian Hayes, who loves the camaraderie of working with farmers and meeting their needs on a daily basis.
The Mississippi native started his professional career as an independent crop consultant before moving to south Georgia in January 2014. Hayes serves as the ANR agent for Grady County.
"I've enjoyed it. We do a lot of field trials, and I love that part of it. I love working with growers," Hayes said. "We have a very diverse group of growers in Grady County. I enjoy working with all of them."
Agriculture was a $177.3 million business in Grady in 2014, according to the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. Grady County's top commodities include cotton, peanuts and corn, as well as multiple vegetables. In 2013, Grady County was sixth in farm gate value for bell pepper production in Georgia at $3.4 million. Grady was also fourth in farm gate value for tomatoes and squash.
Scott Utley, the ANR Southwest District program development coordinator, believes Grady County is reaping the rewards of Hayes' addition to the Extension family.
"Brian Hayes has been a great addition to Southwest District Extension," Utley said. "Brian brought with him, to this agent position, a wealth of agricultural production knowledge from his previous work experiences in crop consulting. Brian has embraced the role of an ANR Extension agent as an educator. In Grady County, he immediately became familiar with the county and did a tremendous job of accessing the needs of the agricultural community."
Hayes has an affinity for technology and wants to know about the science behind the way things work, Utley said. With technology playing a key role in agricultural production, Hayes' appreciation for recent advancements makes him a valuable agent in Grady County.
"Many here in south Georgia are looking forward to his ideas on using drones to enhance agricultural production and his research and demonstration results from on-farm trials he is conducting in the areas of row crop and vegetable production," Utley said.
Hayes participates in variety research trials for high-value commodities like cotton, peanuts and corn, but his main responsibility is meeting and serving the needs of farmers across Grady County. If they have questions about plant diseases or insect pests, it's up to Hayes to find those answers.
A key to Hayes' job was developing a rapport with producers, allowing the growers to gain trust in their local agent.
"I can tell farmers are gaining trust in me just from the number of calls that have come in this year as opposed to last year, when I was brand new and hadn't had that working relationship with them," Hayes said. "The calls almost exponentially increased."
Though Hayes did not have Extension experience prior to his arrival to UGA last year, he had an agricultural background. While a high school student and during college, Hayes scouted cotton and eventually received his scouting license.
That knowledge, combined with a positive work ethic, makes Hayes a valuable member of Grady County's agricultural community.
"I just really enjoy what I do. If you don't love what you are doing, you need to find something else because you will never make a difference," Hayes said.
Visit the UGA Extension Grady County website for more information about local programs.
Published July 23, 2015
Brian Wirt Hayes
Agriculture & Natural Resources
Phone: 229 377 1312
"I just really enjoy what I do. If you don't love what you are doing, you need to find something else because you will never make a difference."
- Brian Hayes, Grady County ANR Agent