Eddie Beasley's love for agriculture and passion for problem-solving led to the perfect career for this Statesboro, Georgia native.
At age 26, Beasley is one of the youngest University of Georgia Extension agents in southwest Georgia. He's served as Berrien County's agricultural and natural resources (ANR) agent since 2013. Beasley's youth is countered by a tenacity to learn and to teach others.
“Eddie Beasley hit the ground running and has not looked back in his role as the ANR agent in Berrien County,” said Scott Utley, Southwest District ANR development coordinator. “Eddie brought with him a wealth of knowledge in all areas of crop production. He is using this energy and expertise to be an Extension educator and researcher of issues in agricultural crop production that impact his producers in Berrien County.”
Beasley began his career with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as a UGA student worker in 2008. He later graduated from the UGA Tifton Campus with a master's degree in plant protection and pest management in 2012.
Beasley knew as a child that working in a science-related field was the career path he was destined to take.
“Plant science has always been real interesting. Growing up, I was looking for a job that was challenging and this was definitely it,” he said. “It's a broad spectrum of a lot of different things.”
In Berrien County, Beasley encounters various tasks on a daily basis.
Berrien County thrives on more than one commodity. Row crops, such as cotton, peanuts, corn and tobacco, are valuable, as are watermelon and poultry. According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, Berrien County is second in the state in tobacco production, with more than $5.3 million in farm gate value, and tenth in cotton production, with more than $29.7 million in farm gate value.
“Berrien County and Coffee County teeter back and forth in tobacco production. When the buyout happened several years ago, a lot of these guys continued to grow it where other places didn't,” Beasley said. “It's still a big part of their lives, a big part of their income. It's just as important to them now as it was to folks back 50 years ago.”
What Beasley finds most satisfying is his ability to identify and solve problems his producers face. One of those concerns is Fusarium wilt disease in watermelon. Fusarium wilt reduces watermelon yields by compromising the vascular system, causing the plant to wilt. It's a huge problem in the western part of Berrien County. Beasley is working with UGA plant pathologists to try to find a solution for his producers.
“The Fusarium wilt problem is not solved by any means. I've seen some of the worst cases this year since I’ve been here because it stayed cool for so long,” Beasley said. “We're still in the phase of solving issues like Fusarium wilt and black shank disease in tobacco. Being on the cutting edge of that is nice.”
Helping his county's producers is the most gratifying part of Beasley's job. He appreciates the responsibility of showing farmers how to manage plant diseases and apply research done through field trials. When Beasley talks with growers, he aims to teach them why things happen, not just give them an answer. Education is a key component of Beasley's game plan for success.
“I want to be the specialist, the go-to guy. That's why, if there's something I don't know, I try to find the answer. I work really hard to try to find the whole answer,” Beasley said.
Published May 20, 2015
Eddie D Beasley
Agriculture & Natural Resources
"Plant science has always been real interesting. Growing up, I was looking for a job that was challenging and this was definitely it."
- Eddie Beasley, Berrien County ANR Agent