12/08/04 — Mike Allen new horticulture agent

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Mike Allen new horticulture agent

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on December 8, 2004 2:06 PM

Helping sustain, enhance, protect and promote all aspects of horticulture in Wayne County is the goal of a new extension agent.

Mike Allen of Fuquay-Varina replaced Bonnie Faulkner in November as the county's horticulture extension agent. Ms. Faulkner accepted a position in August to teach at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte.

Allen has over 30 years of experience in the horticulture field. He was a plant pest specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service's Plant Industry Division for two years and a communications specialist with the division for seven years.

Other previous positions include head instructor of the Norfolk Public Skills Center Horticulture Program in Norfolk, Va., an associate extension agent in Dare County and an assistant extension agent in Durham.

He received his bachelor of science degree in agriculture education in 1973 from N.C. State University and his masters in agriculture education in 1980 from N.C. State.

A native of Washington County, Allen said he had a desire to come back to eastern N.C. Wayne County was especially attractive because of its mix of an urban setting, small communities, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Cherry Research Farm and Mount Olive and Wayne Community Colleges.

A typical day for Allen includes answering questions about horticulture, taking plant samples and developing educational programming. Horticulture deals with topics including pruning trees, fertilizing plants, ordering seeds for gardens, plant diseases, insects, fruits and vegetables, shrubs, nursery production, greenhouse production and gardening.

Allen said he has already received questions about gardening, pecan tree problems and a disease problem on an evergreen. He said the extension service is part of N.C. State and N.C. A&T University and the agents can access resources at these universities to help answer questions from county residents.

Allen is also an advisor to the master gardeners, a group that goes through 40 to 45 hours of training in botany, plant identification and soil fertility. They then work in community gardens, help with beautification projects, man the plant clinic at the Wayne Center and participate in the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair. Allen hopes to start another master gardener class in February.

He is writing a column for the News-Argus that appears on Wednesday Farm Pages on a popular topic in horticulture.

His wife, Sandy, is a teacher at Fuquay-Varina High School and they have two children.

Allen said he is still in the process of getting settled and enjoying meeting area residents. He is learning new things daily and plans to help the field of horticulture grow and develop.

"The opportunity to help people here is really good," he said.