May 19, 2016 - Shelby County AgriLife Agent Lane Dunn is a busy man. He has to be to “wear as many hats” as he does: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Horticulture, Community Economic Development, and 4H Youth Development. Any one of these could be a full-time job and he is responsible for all of them. He gave specific examples of the many AgriLife programs and activities in Shelby County to Timpson Area Genealogy and Heritage Society members and guests at their May meeting last Wednesday.
A graduate of SFA with a Master of Science degree and a former Center High School Ag teacher, Lane Dunn has been Shelby County AgriLife Agent for thirteen years. He may have left public school teaching behind but his love of working with young people remains. His face lights up as he talks about 4H and its benefits to young people. “4H helps create future leaders” he says. “You trick them into it. Give them something fun that they want to do and then make them tell others about their project when they are finished”. He cited a recent 4H taxidermy project as an example. “The kids loved doing it and they were so proud of their projects when they finished them!”, he says. He explained that many of the 4H'ers had never spoken in fron of a group before and found it difficult at first but their enthusiasm for their project got them through it.
January through March is an especially busy time for Lane. He spends over half his time travelling around the county helping young people prepare for upcoming agricultural shows. He helps with hoof trimming and and showmanship classes. In February there were 4H project meetings, Shooting Sports meetings, the San Antonio and Houston Livestock shows and a Forestry Pest Seminar which he co-hosted. In March there was the Shelby County Livestock Show. Dunn is quick to point out that Shelby County kids did very well at these shows, including his daughter, who won Breed Champion at Houston with her steer. She was also chosen as one of only 28 4H Livestock Ambassadors statewide. “Through the creation of the Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassador Program a new generation of knowledgeable, educated, and well-spoken youth have emerged in Texas to teach other youth and adults the skills of being good stewards, producers, and exhibitors of beef cattle, sheep, goats, and swine.” The Ambassadors have travelled to South America and may go to Australia to promote Texas livestock.
Dunn also speaks with pride about a garden planted as part of the Community Economic Development in which proven techniques of fertilization and insect control were demonstrated. The vegetables grown were then given to Shelby County Community Outreach Ministries to distribute to residents who are physically unable to go to the supermarket. They also had a tomato variety trial, looking for the varieties with the best taste and disease resistance.
As expected, Mr. Dunn asked if there were any questions at the end of his talk and that was when the audience pounced. It seemed that ever person had come with a question..or two..for the county agent. “What is this and how can I get rid of it in my lawn?” (You're too late this year. Apply a pre-emergent weed control in September.) “Are red ladybugs or orange ones the good ones?” (Red is good.) “How can I keep hogs off my property?” (Electric fences are a lot of trouble but they seem to be effective.) “What about hog traps?” (Hogs are smart and have become wary of the old-style traps. If a hog steps on metal it will back away. 'Corral traps' are most effective.) “Why can't we sterilize them?” (Sterilization works but there is great concern about the possibility of accidentally sterilizing other species.) “Can peanuts be grown in Shelby County?” (Probably not very successfully.) “Why do my tomatoes get blossom end rot?” (Lack of calcium and sporadic rainfall.) After all the audience's questions had been answered, Mr. Dunn gave out his telephone number saying “If you need more information, just call me.” Many undoubtedly will.
TAGHS meets at 2pm on the third Wednesday of each month in the Meeting Room of the Timpson Public Library, located on the corner of Austin and Bremond streets. The public is invited.