Casey holds reception to welcome new ag agent

September 08, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

LIBERTY - The number 13 might be unlucky for some people but not for the new Casey County extension agricultural agent.

Owen County native Steven Heightchew considers himself lucky after he was hired Aug. 13 and will assume his duties Sept. 13.

He and his fiance, Elizabeth Hardesty, who grew up in Brandenburg, were honored with a reception Tuesday night by the Casey County Cooperative Extension Service.

Heightchew, a December 2003 graduate of the University of Kentucky with a major in agriculture economics and a minor in plant and soil science, plans to move to Casey County as soon as he finds a place to live. He and Hardesty, who will graduate in December at UK with a bachelor's degree in plant and soil science, also plan to get married next month.


The new agent fills the position that has been vacant since Oct. 1, 2003, when former ag agent Tommy Yankey left to take a similar position in Anderson County.

"He (Heightchew) was very interested to find a county with a diverse background and a rural, off-the-beaten-track environment," said Carol Benson, 5th District director of the UK Cooperative Extension Service.

"We're tickled to death he's available and interested in coming to this county," Benson said.

"We welcome you here," Dennie Johnson, chairman of the Casey County Extension Council, told Heightchew. "Anything we can do to help, we will."

Johnson said farmers will be glad to know that when they need help or information, they can get a quick answer. The county has depended on neighboring agents or the 4-H and home economics agents during the past year.

Grew up on family farm

Heightchew, 23, grew up on a farm and was active in the Future Farmers of America organization at Owen County High School where he served as president and secretary of the chapter. On his family farm, he helped with beef cattle, hay and tobacco.

He is looking forward to beginning his career in a rural county like the one where he grew up.

"I'm from a small town," Heightchew said. "I want to help out people who have helped me. I want to help farmers and go back to farming some day.

"Farming is so hard to get in to because land prices are too high," he said.

Heightchew told farmers and other guests that this is his first job as an ag agent and that he is here to learn. "I came in all new. I don't know anyone here except the extension service people," he said.

However, while working with Gary Palmer, UK tobacco specialist, Heightchew made a few trips a few years ago to Casey County to check tobacco test plots. He's also worked in the UK seed lab doing research and has worked in a landscape business in Lexington where he studied tree and shrub problems.

First on his agenda is getting to know the people, and finding a place to live.

He was informed about the upcoming Casey County Apple Festival where he will get his first taste of the world's largest apple pie Sept. 25.

The new ag agent is an outdoor enthusiast who likes to hunt and fish and being in the woods.

Central Kentucky News Articles