New Regional Crops Educator is welcomed here

Marquette, Waushara, Adams and Green Lake counties now have the services of new Regional Crops Educator, working under the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension program. Natasha Paris of Green Lake has filled that role, beginning this past June.

Extension has restructured the former agriculture educator position, which had placed an educator with general agricultural background in each county. Instead, larger multi-county regions have been developed and they are offering those regions the services of specialized educators. Paris’s specialty is in crops and soils. Her primary interest areas are crop management, grazing, and data management.

Paris was born and raised in Sheboygan County in the country, but not in an agricultural home. However, that changed during college when she got together with a guy who wanted to be a farmer! Fast-forward to today, they have lived in the Green Lake area since 2013, farming land that was in her family. They raise grass-fed beef and pigs and grow hay on their farm. Prior to joining Extension this year, Paris taught high school agriculture and advised the FFA chapter in Ripon for seven years.

She said Extension offered her a more hands-on experience with actual farmers, as well as the science of agriculture, compared to the high school setting. Extension Educators also act as “boots on the ground” for researchers in Madison.

Paris’s role includes helping farmers to identify pest problems in their crops, as well as other issues, such as problems with herbicide-resistant weeds.

She will also be looking toward holding some workshops in fall and winter. “I really want to help farmers with what they need,” Paris said. “I want to talk to them and see if we can get to the bottom of (their crop problems).”

To start this process, Paris has been finding numerous ways to introduce herself to Marquette County producers and organizations. She spent a day at the Marquette County Fair making introductions and getting contact information from farmers. She has also met with Land and Water committee in all four of her counties, as well as Farm Bureau chapters.

Recently, she worked with a local grazer to consult with him on grazing management questions. She has also visited many area Amish farms, helping them diagnose diseases in their commercial vegetable operations. She is helping connect those Amish families to the crop specialists in Madison, as well.

Paris is delving into professional development as part of her ongoing work here. She is working on a data management project with a specialist in Madison who is working on a soybean production project. Paris felt strongly that sandy soil sites should be included in that study, so she identified and is scouting four sandy soil fields for him in her 4-county area.

“I am very much enjoying connecting with the farms,” Paris says. “I’m learning a lot about their needs and having positive conversations.”

Paris is pleased that farmers are beginning to phone her with questions already and encourages all producers of any size to do the same. Her office is located in the Marquette County Services Center on Underwood Avenue in Montello. She can be reached at (608) 228-8325, or by emailing: