POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — If anyone knows about sowing seeds, it’s Rodney Wallbrown.
Wallbrown is a native of Spencer, W.Va., but since 1972 has become a familiar face to many in Mason County, W.Va., when he arrived as a vocational agriculture teacher at the Mason County Career Center. Then, in 1989, he took a position as the West Virginia University Extension Agent for Mason County.
After 43 years working in Mason County, Wallbrown will be retiring on Aug. 31. Though, as he put it, he’s not just going home to sit on the porch. He said he plans to continue working in the community in any way possible to promote vocational agriculture and says Mason County has so many opportunities for practically every producer when it comes to agribusiness.
Agribusiness is something Wallbrown knows about with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in agriculture education from WVU. He’s also well versed in everything “agriculturally speaking” simply by being visible and available to all of those with questions about what he’s devoted his life to.
Wallbrown said it’s important to be out there among the people who are doing this important work, which ultimately comes back to everyone’s dinner table at one point or another, or at the very least, arrives in someone’s flower bed or in a project for a 4H member or during an event for CEOS. Extension agents are just that, extensions of WVU who relay the newest, best information to people on how to better their farms, 4H clubs, CEOS membership and homes.
“I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of these 43 years in agriculture,” Wallbrown said, saying the only thing he didn’t enjoy during those other minutes would be some of the paperwork.
“The people of Mason County are wonderful to work with,” Wallbrown said, recalling when he got hired to teach here years ago and how he was excited to be in an area known for those opportunities in agriculture, including the number of farms, the available land and as he put it, “the attitude of the people.”
Wallbrown said getting to be here was really a “dream come true” when it came to finding a place to practice what he loved and had been educated to do.
As for what he’ll miss most, Wallbrown said that would be the people, but, again, he’s not going anywhere; he’s just changing hats. As for who will replace him, Wallbrown said WVU goes through a process of advertising for his job, interviews and then the WVU extension committee will choose a candidate so his chair won’t sit empty for too long.
Of course, as anyone who has ever met Wallbrown knows, he’s definitely one-of-a-kind. His staff and family hosted a special retirement party/open house from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 29 at Bellemead United Methodist Church in Point Pleasant.
As for Wallbrown’s new chapter, it will include more time with wife, Sherry, and daughters Kristi, Kara and Kessa, and their families. Wallbrown said he also hopes to volunteer more at his church, but whatever his new story holds, it will most certainly contain seeds he sowed during 43 years worth of work in his adopted home county.
Reach Beth Sergent at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BSergentWrites.