Ronnie Barentine's University of Georgia Extension career is allowing him to give back what was given to him as a child.
The longtime Extension agent was once an active member of the local 4-H club in Wilcox County. 4-H was a refuge for Barentine and his family when his younger sister, Mary Katherine, died in 1979 of leukemia. Local 4-H chapter members assisted the Barentine family with fundraisers, visited Mary Katherine at the hospital and helped her with 4-H projects.
"They gave so much to my family during that time," Barentine said. "That still motivates me after 35 years."
Another motivating factor for Barentine: a desire to work in agriculture. Though his first career choice as a farmer didn't pan out, Barentine found a niche helping farmers through UGA Extension.
"There's no doubt about it, the next best thing to farming is being a county agent and working with farmers every day," Barentine said.
With almost three decades of service to UGA Extension, Barentine is a fixture in the South Georgia agricultural community. Barentine's career has spanned Dodge, Pulaski and Dooly counties. At present, Barentine's primary goal is helping Dooly County farmers achieve the highest possible yields, which involves choosing the right commodity varieties, making the right decision in regards to different fertilizers and controlling weeds and different crop pests.
Barentine is currently checking more than 250 samples of farmers' peanuts for maturity.
The hard work, passion and commitment Barentine displays to his community have earned him top awards, including a coveted D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence, Walter Barnard Hill Award for Distinguished Achievement in Public Service and Outreach and appointment as a Walter Barnard Hill Distinguished Public Service Fellow.
"All of that came from just going out, working hard every day and serving farmers," Barentine said.
When Barentine is not working with Dooly County farmers, he still enjoys going home to work on his grandfather's farm.
"I love being out on his farm that is now planted in pine trees. I'm able to get on a tractor and that’s a tremendous relaxation to me," Barentine said.
Visit the UGA Extension Dooly County website for more information about local programs.
Published October 31, 2014
Ronnie M. Barentine
Agriculture & Natural Resources
"There's no doubt about it, the next best thing to farming is being a county agent and working with farmers every day."
- Ronnie Barentine, Dooly County ANR Agent