Highland Bath VCE Agent Rodney Leech Retires – Part 2


In part 2 of our conversation with Highland Bath Cooperative Extension Agent Rodney Leech, he spoke about the timeline for re-hiring for his position.

“Well, that’s certainly subject to change, and it is a question you get quite a bit, but they’re saying anywhere from 12 to 24 months before they re-hire this position. It depends on the finances and how things go, and there could be an internal transfer if there’s somebody interested in the position, or they could hire somebody outside. Being a kind of a critical area, two counties, my supervisor has indicated it probably will be prioritized a little higher than some of the positions, so we hope that it will be sooner than later.

“We have some means to cover the bases – we have area agents, which are partially funded in Bath and Highland County. We’re in the process of getting their responsibilities outlined, and letting our UAA’s know who, for different issues, that need to be contacted right away to solve a problem. So we’re not leaving our producers out here with a big deficit – we’re still going to cover the needs.”

He reflected back on moments that stood out in his 31 years on the job, and how he hopes his tenure is remembered.

“Trying to find cattle that escaped at the Ag Center, that has to be one of them. Certainly, when the power went out down here at the livestock market, and we had six or eight loads of cattle to load out, and no lights whatsoever, pitch dark – that was an experience I’d rather not go through again.

“There’s been some real characters I’ve met over the years, and I won’t name any names, but really interesting folks that I’ve learned some things from. That’s always been the fun part of my job, meeting all the different folks that I’ve dealt with, and I’ve often said I should have kept better notes and wrote a book about some of those.

“Some of those projects that we’ve worked on in the county – used to be on the steering committee for the radio station, that got me into a whole new group of folks that I hadn’t been able to be involved with.

“The Ag Center project was a huge ten year experience that, I enjoyed most of it while we were doing it, I would never want to repeat it, because it was quite trying at times, but I felt like we got a lot of people involved with that, and it is operational, and has some employment, providing a service here in the county. So there’s big and little projects throughout the years I’m certainly proud of.

“I hope I’ve made a difference in people’s lives, that they have improved some phase of their farming experience through some information I’ve been able to get them or program that I’ve been able to bring back here, or some new technology that I’ve introduced to them, that they’ve been able to use that and improve their production practices, to help them on the farm become more efficient.

“I think that would be my ultimate goal as an agent that they have benefitted from my services over the years. I feel like that would be what I was supposed to be doing, and that I did make a difference in their lives.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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