With almost 20 years as a University of Georgia Extension agent under his belt in southeast Georgia, James Jacobs has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
He began his career as a research coordinator in September 1995, then worked as a county agent in Berrien County from 1998 to 2005. Jacobs left Berrien to work in Ware County for two years before settling in Pierce County in 2007.
Jacobs learned about the career of a county agent in college and decided that was the road he wanted to take. Growing up on a farm in Brantley County provided Jacobs the work ethic and skills he needed to become an agricultural and natural resources agent.
"My family grew tobacco and cattle, so I had plenty of experience in agriculture," Jacobs said. "I saw good years and bad years while working on the farm, and in this career I see good years and bad years. It is important to learn how to cope with each season and hope for a better year."
Jacobs spends much of his day in the field, working with cotton, peanut and blueberry growers.
Pierce County has seen an increase in blueberry production in the last five or six years. According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, the farm gate value report for Pierce County blueberries was $7.1 million on 965 acres. He has had to adapt to a relatively new crop in his county in order to help the growers succeed with blueberries.
"I don't miss an opportunity to go to a training session and gather information to share with growers," Jacobs said. "We are all learning together throughout the entire season. Each year and each day you learn something new."
According to Joann Milam, Southeast District Director for UGA Extension, Jacobs is successful because of his thirst for knowledge.
"He knows he has to stay abreast of that newest information and what farmers need," she said.
Jacobs enjoys working one-on-one with the farmers. He works closely with farmers from planting to harvesting, helping the farmers to work through any problems that may arise during the season.
"I bounce around on all commodities," Jacobs said. "My goal is to leave footprints with every farmer in the county."
Even though blueberry interest has increased for farmers, Jacobs says the most widely grown commodity is still cotton, with nearly 13,000 acres in Pierce County. Pierce County produced around $9 million worth of cotton in 2013.
Jacobs plays a major role agriculture in Pierce County. He attends annual meetings, and visits fields to discuss options as well as general management practices.
"When James Jacobs speaks, I along with producers and other agents, listen," Milam said. "He's one of the wisest men in his field."
Jacobs was awarded the 2013 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Public Service Extension and was just awarded the Friends of Southern Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Award in 2015.
"I enjoy being able to go out and recognize a problem or issue and help growers come up with possible solutions and maybe what they can do differently next year," Jacobs said. "Problem-solving is a big part of my job that keeps me learning."
Visit the UGA Extension Pierce County website for more information about local programs.
Published March 17, 2015
James L. Jacobs
Agriculture & Natural Resources
"I enjoy being able to go out and recognize a problem or issue and help growers come up with possible solutions and maybe what they can do differently next year. Problem-solving is a big part of my job that keeps me learning."
- James Jacobs, Pierce County ANR Agent