MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Sometimes simple, humble roots are the strongest and most compelling arguments for major life decisions. The case could be made for that theory for Ben Goff, who’s coming back to his home state as a West Virginia University Extension Service agriculture and natural resources agent in Mason and Putnam counties.
The Grafton native started his position earlier in July, and has been starting to make inroads with his counties’ communities and agricultural operations, using his knowledge base to start tackling everything from pond leeches to row crops.
“My first week, the pond leech question was something I got and I had to research and figure out what was happening,” he joked. “But, it really demonstrates what I love about the opportunity I’ve been given — this area is so diverse in agriculture that I get to expand my horizons by working with my community daily.”
His education background is crop science and agronomy. He earned his bachelor’s in agronomy from WVU, his master’s in agronomy from Iowa State University and his doctorate’s in crop science from the University of Kentucky. Once he graduated, he was hired at the University of Kentucky as an assistant professor who did both research and teaching.
“I enjoyed research, but I really liked teaching more than I thought I would,” he explained. “As I did more of it, I really wanted to begin teaching at a different level — taking the research and knowledge and directly giving it to producers who could take and immediately use it to make real changes on their farms. That’s what extension education is for, so it made sense to apply when I saw the opening at the WVU Extension Service.”
Goff added that he came from a working-class family with a small farm, so he knows the importance of the land and making a living in the communities he’ll be working with.
When asked about the hire, Ronnie Helmondollar, the director of the WVU Extension Service agriculture and natural resources program, said that he was happy to see Goff come back home.
“Ben is knowledgeable and he’ll be a great resource for those producers in that area of the state,” he said. “Most importantly, he understands the people side of it — and that’s what we can’t teach. You have to really have a servant’s attitude and willingness to get out there and meet with people and do an agent’s work, and we know he’ll be great at it.”
To learn more about WVU Extension Service programs, visit www.extension.wvu.edu, or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service. Keep up with the latest in WVU Extension news on Facebook and Twitter by following @WVUExtension.