Stanford looks ahead for extension concerns

Dr. Roy Stanford Jr., 36, the county’s new agricultural extension agent, began his job three days before Hurricane Ike hit the area. 

He worked out of the Emergency Operations Center for two weeks.

Now, a break room serves as his temporary office. With fewer storm concerns in the mix, he’s had a chance to set some goals for 2009. 

He wants to see an active horticulture program in the county, hopes to establish a junior Master Gardeners’ group; and wants to help support the Orange Convention and Visitors’ Bureau Farmer’s Market through various organizations and programs.

“The main component of [an agent’s] job is education To help the public and to improve people’s lives in Texas and their communities,” he says.

Stanford works for the Texas Agrilife Research group, a division of the Texas A&M University System. Orange County has two other extension agents who work with youth groups (such as 4-H or FFA) and family consumer sciences. Before moving to Orange, he helped generate biofuel research at the Agrilife center in Vernon.

“Our project looked at using mesquite as an [energy-saving] resource that could be converted into ethanol,” he says. “Most people are familiar with that process with corn, but when you use wood products it gets more technically involved.”

A native of Liberty and raised in Palestine, Stanford says he was, “ … always into agriculture.” He earned a master’s degree at Stephen F. Austin, obtaining his Ph.D at A&M, the only university in Texas that offers a doctorate in the subject. Stanford has three children: Kara, 13; Trey, 12; and Daniel, 6.

“I want to help support farmers and ranchers in the area,” he says.

“We can offer programs on pesticide training, so people can renew their CEUs (continuing education credits); and programs on beef cattle management and on how much forage and hay they can produce.”

Starting Dec. 1 on first Mondays, Agrilife will sponsor meetings to ready for the Orange County FFA and 4-H Livestock Show, set for April 17-18. Meetings will be at 7 p.m. at the Raymond Gould Community Center in Vidor. 

“We need 4-H leaders, parents and ‘ag’ teachers to participate, and tell us things they’d like to see with the show and for the kids,” Stanford says. “It’s important for everyone to attend the first meeting because we’ll have officer elections.”

Stanford also works with the Master Gardeners’ group, which has about 46 members. Members receive about five hours of training, required to be periodically recertified and work several hours in volunteer community service.

“Our office is interested in getting not just necessarily Master Gardeners,” he says, “but even people who are just interested in gardening, who might want to learn a few things or just get involved in their community and help others.”

For more information on how the Orange County Extension office can serve you, call 882-7010.