As you have likely heard, I will be leaving Hall County Cooperative Extension in January for a new job at the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Commissioner-elect Gary Black has asked me to serve as chief operating officer for the department.
I was honored to be asked to serve in this role and look forward to the challenges ahead. However, before I depart, I would like to offer my thoughts and words of thanks to the people of Gainesville and Hall County.
I moved to Hall County in May of 2002 to serve as the County Extension Coordinator and Agriculture Agent, and I must say I was thrilled to get the gig! I grew up outside of Athens in rural Oconee County, and my wife is from South Hall. So moving back to Northeast Georgia was just fine with us.
In addition to the "home" factor, Hall County had a long-standing reputation of excellent Extension programs and top-notch county Extension agents. I need only mention names like Gene Anderson and Bob Lowe, and local folks know exactly what I mean.
Some will tell you that it is easier to follow someone who did very little. The thinking is anything you do will be an improvement. Well, I'm here to say that couldn't be further from the truth.
Following agents like Gene and Bob does make for some pretty big shoes to fill, but at least the shoes are there. Because of the strength of Hall County Extension's programs over the years, Extension receives unwavering support from county government, local agricultural organizations and the community at large. Such support is priceless to a county agent.
During my eight-plus years here, I've had the opportunity to meet and work with many great people and some outstanding organizations. I won't even attempt to mention people by name, but I would be remiss if I did not thank the following Extension supporters: Ag Georgia Farm Credit, Full Bloom Nursery, The Times, Georgia Poultry Federation, Glory 1330, Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, Hall County Farm Bureau, Hall County Government, Hall County Master Gardeners, Hall County School System, Hall County Soil & Water Conservation District, Jackson EMC, Jacobs Media, Jaemor Farms, Keep Hall Beautiful, King Green and Mar-Jac Poultry.
Agriculture and agribusiness put Gainesville on the map. After all, we are the Poultry Capital of the World. And while many communities forget their roots, this community certainly has not. While Hall County has grown much more diverse, that small-town atmosphere remains, and I believe that is directly attributable to our agricultural roots.
Yes, I will be working in Atlanta, but Hall County is home and, Lord willing, it always will be. Thank you so very much for being a part of my life for these many years and for allowing me to be a part of yours. God bless.
Billy Skaggs is the outgoing agricultural agent and Hall County extension coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.