McDuffie County’s new agriculture extension agent, Sarah Cranston, brings an extensive background in horticulture and a keen interest in animal husbandry to the job. Cranston officially began her duties on July 1.
Agriculture is one of McDuffie County’s leading industries and therefore having an Ag extension agent is vital, according to Allison Eaddy, who heads the county extension office’s 4-H Youth Family and Consumer Sciences division.
“The county’s agricultural make-up consists of two major container plant nurseries, several large cow/calf operations and a variety of smaller livestock producers,” Eaddy said. “We are so very pleased to have Sarah join us as the McDuffie County UGA Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Agent. Our office has been without an ANR Agent since the retirement of Mark Koenig, in December, so we are very excited to have someone in this position to once again help serve the McDuffie County Community.”
Cranston said she looks forward to meeting people in the community and making field visits to avid gardeners, farmers and local plant nurseries.
“Currently there’s not a Masters Gardener program,” Cranston said. The new Ag agent intends to speak with residents to discuss the programs they would like to see implemented so she can determine what could be of the most benefit to them.
Cranston earned a Bachelor’s of Science in biology from the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. While a student, she traveled to the jungles of Belize and the bush country of South Africa to assist in wildlife research through challenging internship programs.
In Central America, Cranston helped clear paths and place camera traps to monitor movements of the jaguar. She was a field tech for a study conducted by Virginia Tech associate professor Dr. Marcella Kelly. Kelly is with the university’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, College of Natural Resources and Environment.
In Africa, the young biologist joined researchers at a preserve near Mossel Bay. Cranston said she learned to track lions, giraffes and types of antelope. They also observed the behavior of giraffes and elephants in order to understand the animals’ mock charges. In addition, she assisted in tracking a species of mouse. She also participated in an overnight surveillance of rhinoceros; animals often preyed upon by human poachers.
Cranston grew up in Loganville and worked at Buck Jones nursery for 7 years. She describes herself as “outdoorsy,” since one of her passions is horseback riding.
“Agriculture is kind of a natural fit for me,” Cranston said. “I’ve always been interested in learning new scientific research.”
Cranston said she plans to share what she learns with others, so they can benefit from the most current information.
Cranston said she will likely coordinate on youth programs with Eaddy. Eaddy told the Progress that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they could not meet with youth face-to-face “at this time” for 4-H programming.
“We are in hopes that when school starts back up, we will be allowed back into the classroom,” Eaddy said. “If not, we hope to offer programming virtually to our youth.”
The extension office offers general soil and water testing, and can direct residents to agricultural resources.
To contact the local extension office, call 706-595-1815. For more information visit extension.uga.edu.