By RACHEL PARKER DICKERSON

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

The Faulkner County Extension Service has a new county agent.

Hank Chaney, longtime extension agent for Prairie County, is picking up where Faulkner County's longtime agent, Bill Dodgen left off. Dodgen retired in January.

In his office at the Faulkner County Natural Resource Center, Chaney discussed the road that brought him to Faulkner County.

After earning his degree in agronomy in the 1980s, Chaney was looking for a job and just happened to find one with the extension service in Prairie County.

"It's kind of like today, it was tough to get a job. There wasn't a lot of folks hiring at the time. I started at Prairie County and pretty much stayed my whole career up until this point."

Agronomy is the study of row crops, a science that served Chaney well in Prairie County. He served as staff chair there as well. The main focus in that county was row crop production and agriculture, he said. He also worked with youth.

"Ag is very big over there," he noted.

When he learned that Dodgen had retired, Chaney and his wife, Regina, decided it was time for a career change, as well as a new challenge, he said.

"I was fortunate enough to be selected to come here to Faulkner County," he said. He started work on June 1. He gave a quick assessment of the work he has cut out for him.

"There's a lot of livestock in the county. There's a lot of urban horticulture. There's still some row crop, which is what I'm better suited for, but I plan on getting better at the others as well. There's also a very strong 4H program in the county. I'd like to be sure that we continue to meet the needs and service Faulkner County. I have a very good staff in place. I can already tell."

At this time, Chaney said he is trying to meet with a variety of people and organizations that work with the extension service, such as the Faulkner County Fair Board, Farm Bureau and county officials.

"We will do what we can to keep the programs in place that we have going. I'm trying to feel my way through it. I'm looking forward to working with the folks. I hope they feel like if they ever have a problem they can come by this office. We'd love to service their needs."

Chaney and his wife, Regina, have been married 28 years. They have a son, Michael, who is married and, along with his wife, expecting the family's first grandchild. Chaney also has a daughter, Rachel, 18, who is enrolled at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Chaney and his wife have purchased a home in the Wooster area and will move there soon, he said.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by e-mail at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)