Highland County Extension Agent Rodney Leech Receives Distinguished Service Award
Monterey, Va – Rodney Leech has been sharing his expertise in agriculture with the citizens of Highland County for nearly 30 years. At the 95th annual meeting of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents held July 11-15 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Rodney Leech received the Distinguished Service Award. Only two such awards were given to Virginia agents this year. Mr. Leech talks about his response to this prestigious award.
“I was very honored and privileged to receive that after 25 years of service” says Leech. “It’s nice to be recognized and noticed for some of the things you’ve done. It’s kind of recognizing a careers worth of accomplishments.”
Mr. Leech was recognized for his expertise in Beef Cattle Production and Profitability, including pasture management and beef cattle marketing. He has participated at the state level in the Virginia Beef Quality Assurance Program and in several other programs including pesticide education and invasive weed eradication. Only 69 agents across the country were honored at this year’s meeting.
Originally from Rockbridge County, he was educated at Ferrum College and Virginia Tech. He brought that knowledge of agriculture and livestock learned from college and from growing up on a farm, to the students at Highland High School back in 1982. Mr. Leech became the county extension agent in 1985. With his wife Marty and 3 sons, Mr. Leech runs a livestock farm near Mill Gap where they raise cattle and sheep. Mr. Leech talks about how his experience with livestock has helped him serve Highland County residents.
“You have a better feel for the needs of the producers if you’re actually out there participating with them” he says. “I can relate to the same hardships that they have, because I have them too.”
Mr. Leech and the Virginia Cooperative Extension are now facing perhaps their greatest challenge in many years as they try to cope with a loss of over $10 million from the Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Research Station budgets.