Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter
October 17, 2013
Phil Rucker has worked in Yadkin County for more than 18 years as the agricultural extension agent for Yadkin and Davie counties. If someone has a problem with a cow, a horse, a chicken, or a pond, Rucker is the one to call.
Rucker was born and raised in Shelby. His family had a 300-acre farm with row crops and cows. It was there Rucker’s lifelong love of farm animals started.
He attended Clemson University with an animal science major, and then stayed to work for the university’s dairy program.
Rucker worked as the farm’s reproduction specialist and manager. He left the university when he began a family with his wife Jennie and took a job with the cooperative extension agency in Georgia.
He worked there for a year and a half before leaving to take a job in Rural Hall working on a private Hereford cattle farm. He stayed there for more than five years before the lure of steady government work led him back to the extension.
He took the extension position for Yadkin and Davie and has worked there since February of 1995.
The extension agency is an extension of North Carolina State University and the state and county governments. Rucker technically works for all three: his true job is through the university, part of his salary comes from the state, and part of his salary and his office is provided by the county.
Rucker is based out of Davie County but splits the job 50-50 between the two counties.
Rucker said the job is constantly throwing curveballs. One day he may be answering phone calls and emails; the next he is working with someone on their farm’s best management practices; the day after he is helping someone determine how to clean up a pond on their property.
Part of the responsibilities for Rucker include aquaculture and waste management. Aquaculture is very seasonal, he said, mainly in the spring and summer, but waste management contains the waste from chickens and cows.
When asked what a typical day was like, Rucker laughed and said there was no such thing.
Rucker said he works to help everyone better care for their animals, but said he was not a vet. The extension agent works to educate the public on best management practices for their livestock.
As an extension agent he works to help everyone succeed at raising livestock. He helps beginners getting started and experts looking to try something new.
He said the extension agent position is successful depending on the attitude in each county. If the county sees the worth in the program and the agent works hard, the two are able to do a lot for the community.
Rucker said he was lucky in Yadkin because the county commissioners have shown support for the program and the two agencies work well together.
He and his wife Jennie are very involved in animals outside of his job. They also have passed their love on to their children.
The family raises and shows cattle for fairs like the Dixie Classic in Winston-Salem and the State Fair in Raleigh. Their children — Erin, Rae, Jacob and Christy — all join in showing the animals and working with them in the down time.
Rucker said the family enjoys going to Lake Lure when they can get away from the demands of caretaking for the animals. They attend Mountain View Baptist Church in Hamptonville and have since 2000.
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