12/31/08 — New agent eager to get her hands dirty in field again

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New agent eager to get her hands dirty in field again

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on December 31, 2008 3:19 PM

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Karen Bussey,Wayne County Cooperative Extension Service's new horticulture agent, says she is looking forward to meeting people in the community. Former agent Jessica Hyatt left to pursue a career in the public schools.

Wayne County's new horticulture extension agent Karen Bussey says she is glad to be moving from the laboratory into the garden.

Miss Bussey is replacing Jessica Hyatt, who left the Cooperative Extension Service in August to become a teacher.

Miss Bussey is making a career change, too.

Having earned her bachelor's degree in biology from the College of Charleston, S.C., she decided to work toward her master's degree in plant science from Clemson University.

"I was always interested in plants. I love hiking and wildflowers," she said.

But her experience was limited to studies of how to control certain invasive trees and plant diseases, so a chance to get out of the laboratory and into the field appealed to her.

"I knew research was not for me in the long term," she said.

The big draw of the horticulture agent's job was the chance to share what she has learned with others and to get her own hands dirty.

She said she is considering restarting the lunch-and-learn gardening classes established by her predecessor.

And she is excited to be working with the Master Gardeners volunteer program. The regular plant clinic starts back up March 12 and will run from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until Sept. 14.

The Master Gardener training classes might resume, too. Those interested in taking the class can call Miss Bussey's secretary, Diane Lynch, at 731-1525

Miss Bussey has met with the organizers of the Wayne Food Initiative, an organization that is working to build a local sustainable food system. Sustainable development has been described as an environmentally friendly pattern of using natural resources.

"I do want to be involved with that," Miss Bussey said.

And she said she is excited about working with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at the Cherry Research Farm. The center uses cutting edge technology and research to develop food growing systems that protect the environment while strengthening the community. Part of the center's work is to help support the Extension Service in its efforts to educate the public about natural resources.

Miss Bussey sees it as a symbiotic relationship.

"They have the gardens, and I have the staff support. And I am looking forward to working with actual plants," she said.

Meanwhile, she said, she has been cautioned by veteran horticulturists not to try to learn too much about any one subject, the way researchers are taught. Now is the time to branch out and learn a little about a lot of things, she said. And she is gathering her resources to better serve members of the public when they call for advice about a certain plant or its pest.

"This is fun," she said. "I am no longer limited to one kind of plant. It's all over the map."