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Brett Reese is getting back to his roots – not his plant roots but his farm roots.
Reese grew up on a farm in Scott County and his father was the Extension agent for agriculture there. Now Reese, who hired on as Shelby County's horticulture agent in 2005, is the ag agent here.
The Extension District Board recently approved the hiring of Reese as the ag agent. He had been doing double duty as ag agent and horticulture agent since the departure of Brittany Edelson last summer; she had served as ag agent for about 10 years. Hiring a new ag agent in the county had been stymied by a hiring freeze instituted by the University of Kentucky. And with budget cuts at the higher education level on the horizon, lifting that freeze doesn't appear likely anytime soon.
Reese will continue to serve commercial horticulture interests in the county, but Extension will hire a horticulture technician to handle home and garden questions and home visits. Reese will oversee the work of the horticulture technician as well as take on the agriculture duties. Tammy Brookshier, ag programs coordinator for Extension, will serve as administrator for the Phase I Tobacco Settlement program.
“It will be sort of like a Christmas tree with Brett at the top,” said Doug Langley, president of the Extension district board.
County funds will pay for the horticulture position. Extension is funded in the county through property taxes. Assisting Reese in agriculture will be Tammy Brookshier, Extension's ag programs coordinator. She will serve as administrator of the Phase I Tobacco Settlement programs.
For Reese, the move over to agriculture from horticulture is not a big step. Not only has he been filling in at ag for the past six months, his background served as some preparation.
“I was steeped in agriculture as a kid,” Reese said.
Reese has a degree from the University of Kentucky in horticulture, and he has a minor in agriculture economics. He served as horticulture agent in Bourbon County for three years before coming to Shelby County to replace former horticulture agent Tim McClure.
Langley said the hiring of Reese as ag agent and bringing on a horticulture technician will be good for the county's farmers and gardeners.
“It's going to be a better situation than it was,” Langley said. “There was too much of a workload on Brett and when that goes on too long something gets left undone.”
Reese said he is not concerned about being in over his head on the agriculture side of Extension.
“If I don't know it, I know the specialists to call,” Reese said. “It will be better than having a new agent.”