Gurley Benefitting from Summer Learning Experience

Thursday, August 13, 2015
Gurley is pictured on one of the many test fields.(courtesy photo)

Piggott native Allison Gurly is spending the summer interning with Clay County Extension Agent Andy Vangilder.

"It's definitely been beneficial to my education," Gurly said. "In class they mention things such as different pests and diseases that affect crops, but they don't show you."

Gurly also works on Arkansas State University's farm with Dr. Steve Green, but the crops on the college's farm are mostly miscanthus, and "it's good to learn about more common crops."

Gurly believes she's learned more this summer than she has in all three years at college, simply because now she knows how to apply what she's learned to life. She has learned the difference in varieties of seeds, funguses, and different pests and their effects on different crops such as the cutworm. "I got to see a cutworm in three different crops -- corn, cotton and beans -- which will help me identify the pest in the future," Gurly said.

At the beginning of spring, Vangilder and Gurly planted test fields of different varieties of seed. She said it's very interesting to see the different stages and "there are so many differences in each variety, and it's really important to know the differences, because, if you don't, you may take the wrong course of action."

For example, Gurly saw a variety of beans that was a different color than the others. "It was a lighter green and I would've thought it needed more fertilizer, but it didn't." She said instead the plant was supposed to be the light color and applying more fertilizer would have destroyed the plant.

Though Gurly has learned an expansive amount during the summer, two lessons stick out the most -- "never stop learning and you're never too smart to ask questions." She said there is always room to learn and grow. Things are constantly changing with new varieties of plants and chemicals popping up on the market all the time, she said, so learning is a very big component in farming.

She grew up in a farming environment with her father, Kevin Gurly, farming some when she was small, and working as a tractor mechanic most of her life, but her decision to pursue a degree in plant and soil science stemmed from her love of the outdoors.

Gurly will graduate from ASU with a bachelor's degree in December and a master's degree in May. She has learned a lot about the customer service aspect in the Extension Office and said in the future she would like to use the customer service aspect in her career.

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