And Candace DeLong, who is now the agriculture and natural resources agent in Hampshire County, is no exception to that rule.
Growing up in rural Indiana, DeLong spent much of her childhood enjoying the outdoors and studying plants. Her hometown of Anderson, Indiana, was surrounded by a variety of agricultural operations, but she couldn’t quite see how her own interests fit into that world. It wasn’t until she went to college that she discovered how her interest in horticulture could benefit farmers and others in the community.
DeLong graduated from Anderson University with a degree in biology before heading east to complete her master’s degree in horticulture at Virginia Tech. While working on her second degree, she had the opportunity to work closely with farmers around Winchester, Virginia, and learn about the role that extension plays in agriculture across the nation.
Since then, DeLong has put her horticulture knowledge and training to the test while managing an orchard in Virginia, just across the state line. In her new role, DeLong is ready to use that same expertise to serve the people of Hampshire County.
“I enjoyed working on an orchard and I’m grateful for that hands-on opportunity, but something was missing,” DeLong said. “Through WVU Extension, I get the best of both worlds – I’m able to apply what I know while also sharing that knowledge with others. And, I get to learn from them, too. I’m excited to get out into the community and build relationships with those who call Hampshire County home.”
As an agriculture and natural resources agent, DeLong will work directly with residents, producers and other operations in Hampshire County to identify agricultural needs and opportunities for growth throughout the communities. She’s looking forward to helping locals build on the area’s agricultural successes, as evidenced by the region’s many farms and orchards. She’s also excited to work with the county’s Master Gardener program, hoping she can offer a fresh perspective and new ideas.
“Candace has spent the last several years working and studying in a neighboring county in Virginia, so she’s already familiar with agriculture in the region and has hit the ground running,” Ronnie Helmondollar, program director of the WVU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources unit, said. “We’re excited to have her as part of the WVU Extension Service team and know she’s a great fit for the Hampshire County community.”
To learn more about WVU Extension programs, visit extension.wvu.edu, or contact your local WVU Extension Service office. Keep up with the latest in WVU Extension news on Facebook and Twitter by following @WVUExtension.