Jeremy Kichler is the newest member of the University of Georgia Extension staff in Colquitt County.
Kichler, an Alabama native with more than 14 years of Extension experience, is still getting acclimated to his new surroundings in Moultrie. Kichler arrived in Colquitt County in March after serving as the county Extension coordinator in Macon County for a decade.
"Agriculture means a lot to Colquitt County. This economy has a big dependence on agriculture," Kichler said. "It's a great opportunity to be an ag agent. If you want to be an agricultural (Extension) agent in row crop production or forage production, then you come down to Colquitt County."
According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, Colquitt County generated $545 million in farm gate value in 2012. The county produced the second largest cotton acreage in 2012 at 62,000 acres, yet it yielded the highest farm gate value for cotton at $65.1 million. Colquitt County farmers also produce a wide array of vegetables, such as cabbage, cucumbers, squash, watermelons and cantaloupes. Beef cattle and peanut production are also high on Colquitt County's list of top commodities.
"Diversity (in agricultural products) makes an Extension agent's job exciting because you never know where your next question's going to be. You never know where you're going to go next," Kichler said.
Never knowing what's next on his agenda is exciting to Kichler, but it can be challenging at times.
"An Extension agent is probably one of the most humbling careers you can have because you think you know everything until you get a question you've had to research. Getting back with the growers in a timely manner is probably the biggest part of an Extension agent's job," Kichler said.
Fortunately for Kichler, he has developed a working relationship with UGA researchers — like Stanley Culpepper, David Langston and Eric Prostko. Culpepper was instrumental in assisting Kichler when he was working with Macon County growers on weed resistance. The first case of glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth was confirmed there in 2005. This issue has wreaked havoc with cotton farmers over the past decade. Weed resistance is a concern Colquitt County farmers have already expressed to Kichler.
"Weed resistance is definitely on people's minds," Kichler said. "Growers are spending more money on weed management programs in order to control glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth compared to before glyphosate resistance."
Kichler navigated his way to UGA Extension via the University of Auburn, almost four hours away from his hometown of Elberta, Ala. Kichler earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in ag economics. It wasn't until a career fair at Auburn that Kichler discovered UGA Extension. He was hired to be an agent in training in Laurens County. Kichler served in Laurens County for two years and then moved to Webster County in 2002.
Despite a career that's moved Kichler to four different counties in 14 years, Kichler's belief that he's making a difference hasn't changed.
“It's very challenging because you've got to figure out what the issues are with the growers. But it's a very gratifying type of career where you're helping these growers make money. Seeing them strive is pretty enlightening," Kichler said.
Visit the UGA Extension Colquitt County website for more information about local programs.
Published April 14, 2014
Jeremy M Kichler
Agriculture & Natural Resources
Phone: 229 616 7455
"An Extension agent is probably one of the most humbling careers you can have because you think you know everything until you get a question you've had to research. Getting back with the growers in a timely manner is probably the biggest part of an Extension agent's job."
- Jeremy Kichler, Colquitt County ANR Agent