Moffat County’s 100th Fair: From the weeds, a new extension agent blooms
July 17, 2018
Moffat County’s new extension agent, Jessica Counts, says she is ready to bloom and help the community, as her predecessor, JD Sexton, did.
Counts serves as county weed and pest manager before being named extension agent.
Counts replaced Sexton after he resigned at the end of December to accept a position as Logan County extension agent. Counts said she took the position because she liked the educational aspects of the job. She said she is excited to help the community with the 4-H Program, agriculture and horticulture, adding she is passionate in those fields.
Counts graduated from the University of Wyoming with a degrees in rangeland ecology, shed management and minored in soil sciences and reclamation ecology. She said she will begin by observing and getting a feel for what needs to be done and how the agency works. She added she hopes to work a little more in 4-H recruitment.
“I want to get the word out on what 4-H offers and not just on the livestock or the ag front,” Counts said. “I want them to know about the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) opportunities. I want to provide insight to the kids on what they can do, no matter where they live or what their interests are.”
The region’s 4-H program is steady, Counts said, adding it is a strong, widely known program, though enrollment numbers tend to ebb and flow. She attributed this fluctuation to the fact that, while some families remain very invested in the program, others age out. This means enrollment can’t be accurately gauged year-to-year, Counts said. Instead, it should be examined over a five-year span to get a better picture.
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Asked about the county’s limited budget for the extension program, Counts said the program is bolstered by donations. She added the department works hard to streamline processes and use new technology to lower operating expenses. Within those parameters, she said, she thinks she can work with their current budget.
She said she plans no major changes in her first year and will be careful about fundraising, as the community has contributed to many other programs.
“People donate money through the United Way and earmark the money to go towards the 4-H Program,” Counts said.
In terms of area farmers, the extension office will continue many programs, such as water and soil sampling, Counts said. But it will also perform an assessment on current programs to gauge farmers’ needs and interests. She has been active in coordinating Moffat County pesticide applicator workshops for the past two years and said she plans to continue doing so.
“As an extension agent for Moffat County, I am here to do what the community wants to do,” she said. “Any future development will come from assessing what they want to do. Knowing what they want, I will work hard on giving what they want.”
Counts was born and raised in northern California’s Seiad Valley. She is married to Frank Counts Jr., a fourth-generation Moffat County resident.
The couple has two children, son Cashton, 10, and daughter Frankie, 5.
When not working, Counts enjoys arts and crafts. She said she has recently become interested in fiber arts, which entails spinning animal wool into yarn and using it to knit.