By John Woodmansee
Hello and welcome from the new guy in Whitley County. My name is John Woodmansee. I am the new Extension Educator working in agriculture and natural resources – half-time in Whitley County, and half-time in Noble County. My name is pronounced just like it is spelled, with three small words: “wood,” “man,” and “see,” with the accent on the first syllable.
I grew up on a family farm in Grant County. We raised corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, hay, hogs, cattle and rabbits. From time to time we had a horse or two.
I received my undergraduate degree in agricultural education from Purdue University, and my graduate degree was also from Purdue in vocational education. I taught high school agriculture at Batesville High School for three years. Following that, I was involved with full-time youth ministry with Youth For Christ for eight years. Following my tenure in youth ministry, I wanted to get involved again in agriculture and did this by landing a job with The Andersons at their Logansport Erny's Fertilizer wholesale plant. I was production coordinator there for a year and a half. I started in Extension back in 1996, and have worked in Fountain and Grant Counties.
Agriculture is strong in Whitley County, ranking in the top one-third of Indiana counties in wheat, alfalfa hay, milk cows, hogs and sheep. Other crops and livestock rank among the top two-thirds of Indiana counties. Pasture and woodland acres also rank highly.
While the public at large may notice the larger farms in Whitley County, there are a significant number of small farms. My desire is to work with the full spectrum of producers in Noble County, and I believe there are great educational opportunities to assist smaller farms.
My main goal in working here in Whitley County is to serve local educational needs. In addition to the opportunities I mentioned with small farms, I also foresee potential for education in forage production, pasture improvement, on-farm row-crop research, woodlands, wildlands, ponds, and many other areas. I also hope to be a valuable resource to homeowners, assisting with pest issues, garden problems, yard problems, and tree/shrub problems. There may be occasions where I could offer programs to lakefront owners on best management practices for lawns and for tree/shrub pruning. And, I plan to offer the popular Master Gardener program and enable local Master Gardeners to continue their great service in the county. I plan to use an advisory committee to help identify local educational needs on a semi-annual basis.
While my agricultural background is fairly diverse, I have developed somewhat of a specialty in helping homeowners with tree and shrub issues. I can also offer programs in tree identification.
So, while I am new to Whitley County, I am certainly not new to agriculture, natural resources, or to Purdue Extension. I look forward to learning more, and meeting the many individuals, groups and businesses that support this great industry.