Vangilder Set to Retire From Extension Office
Clay County Extension Agent Andy Vangilder will retire May 2 after 35 years with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.
However, Vangilder won't be taking it easy. He is embarking on a new venture as an agronomist with Farm Source Ag, an up and coming agricultural dealer and consultant service. He will work nine months out of the year which will allow more time for his passion -- bow hunting.
When working, he will be traveling between Clay County and Mississippi, helping Farm Source Ag line up which chemicals and fertilizers work best in what areas and consulting cotton farmers. "I've always been a cotton guy," Vangilder said. "This is the best of both worlds and much like my current job."
Vangilder was raised on a farm five miles west of Rector by his parents, E.J. and Lurene Vangilder, who still live there. His mother was the area's 4-H leader for 35 years and always encouraged him to do something to better the world. His father instilled a work ethic in all four of his children by giving each jobs on the farm. The family raised crops, cattle, hogs and chickens. "They taught me well and I owe a lot to them," Vangilder said.
He worked for the Greene County Extension Service during high school in 1975 scouting cotton. Former Extension entomologist, the late Jim Kimbrough, trained Vangilder to scout cotton and he liked it. After graduating from Rector High School in 1977 he attended Arkansas State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in general agriculture in 1981. That same year he began working in the Craighead County Extension office, where he mainly consulted cotton farmers and managed the local 4-H group. He worked and took night classes to earn his master's degree and graduated in 1986. He moved closer to home in May of 1995 when he began working in the Eastern District of Clay County and shortly after took the position of staff chair at the Piggott office. As staff chair he maintained staff, financials and worked with the quorum court. "I have been blessed with good agents and staff -- good workers with a good work ethic," Vangilder said.
He said the best thing about Clay County is "all the great people" and some of his best memories are watching several generations of 4-H kids grow up and become successful adults.
As an Extension agent he helped farmers all over the county in many ways. He consulted on herbicides, fungicides, planting, diseases and much more.
"Northeast Arkansas has the best farmers in the world, in my opinion -- they can work gumbo and sandy ground and make it produce," Vangilder said. "I never had a desire to live anywhere else."