01/20/13 — County field crop agent steps down

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County field crop agent steps down

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 20, 2013 1:50 AM

John Sanderson of the Four Oaks community in Johnston County has resigned after just eight months as the Cooperative Extension Service field crop agent for Wayne County.

Sanderson submitted his resignation Jan 2., and his final day on the job was Friday.

The crop agent helps solve problems for farmers, including ensuring that diseases and insects are properly diagnosed, as well as soil issues.

Sanderson also was responsible for pesticide education.

"John did a great job," said Extension Director Kevin Johnson. "It just didn't pan out. We will move on and try to fill the position. He is going to be missed, no doubt about it. He helped me a lot.

"You know he had retired from Bayer Crop Science. He is going to go back and farm. He was farming on the side, but is going to expand his farm some. He is going to do some crop consulting."

Before Sanderson was hired last May, the position had been open for almost a year after Johnson left that office to become the county director.

During the time the position was open, Johnson continued to handle the field crop agent duties. He will do so again.

There were concerns early on during that time that state budget cuts would eliminate the position, prompting Wayne County commissioners to campaign for it to be filled. Commissioners cited the importance of the position to the county's multi-million-dollar agriculture industry.

However, this time around, Johnson feels better about the slot being filled. He just doesn't know how soon that will happen.

"The county is thumbs up," he said. "They know there is a need for it and they are thumbs up. I have two bosses. I have (County Manager) Lee (Smith) and the one in Raleigh, and he said he didn't see any problems.

"But as of yet, the button has not been pushed. It is not advertised right now. He did say he did not see any problem with that. Hopefully we can it advertised. Getting it advertised is one thing. A handful of good candidates is another thing. Hopefully it will pan out and we can get someone in place."

Until then, Johnson will be handling all of the crop meetings with farmers, including ones on pesticides and other training. On top of that are the director's administrative duties.

Johnson said he had informed Smith and Wayne County Commission Chairman Steve Keen about the resignation.

Sanderson had 30 years of experience as a researcher and product specialist in the agriculture chemical and seed industry.

A graduate of South Johnston High School, he received his bachelor's and master's degrees in agriculture education from N.C. State University.

After graduating, Sanderson worked for Rohm and Haas, an agriculture chemical company that was later bought by Dow. He later worked with Bayer Crop Science.