Buffalo Island natives on Greene County Extension Service staff

Thursday, March 29, 2007
Greene County Cooperative Extension Service intern Blake McClelland and Staff Chairman Allen Davis review upcoming 4-H events at their Paragould office. (Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)

Town Crier News Staff

Monette alumni Allen Davis, of Paragould, is quick to credit his parents for teaching him good work ethics and encouragement from teachers for his successful career with the Cooperative Extension Service. He was promoted to Greene County Extension Service Staff Chairman last year.

"There is nothing more valuable that establishing good work ethics," Davis said. "My parents taught that to all of us children, and I have tried to pass it along to mine. We have never expected anyone to just hand us stuff, but we are willing to work hard to obtain it. I think this has paid off for all of us."

Davis was born at Kennett, Mo., and grew up in the Happy Corner Community, north of Monette, one of 10 children of Marion and Lorene (Myers) Davis. He attended Monette High School all 12 years, graduating in 1975. He went on to earn bachelors and masters degrees from Arkansas State University, in Jonesboro, finishing in 1981. He started to work at the Poinsett County Extension Service in 1982, transferring to Greene County in 1984.

"Working in and around agriculture has always been a family way of life for me," Davis said. "My grandfather Jack Davis came from Kentucky and farmed there. My grandfather Myers farmed and taught me to pick end rows of cotton when I was just five years old. My family all worked on the farm chopping cotton. We also worked pitching watermelons for a neighbor. I helped Dad farm cotton and soybeans growing up. We worked on the cattle farm at Lafe, and with livestock at our home."

Davis was very involved in FFA while in high school. He won many honors including FFA Degree of State Farmer in 1974. He was a member of the Upper Poplar Ridge 4-H Club, west of Monette.

"I owe a great debt to the teachers in high school that encouraged me to be a good student and try new things," Davis said. "Mrs. Billie Layne, Deloris Miller and High School Principal Edna Mae Freeman were a strong example for me. Most of all, I credit my agri teacher, Joe Estes, for teaching me the basics about being a good farmer and reaching higher than I ever thought possible."

"I hadn't even considered going to college, but Mr. Estes encouraged me to fill out an application for the Oakland Jockey Scholarship at the state fair anyway," Davis said. "He said it would pay a year's tuition for me to go to college. I was so surprised when I got it. Dad provided the gas for me to go back and forth to school, and I worked to finish.

"I became convinced I needed a degree if I was gong to teach agri, like Mr. Estes. I knew that teaching was an honorable profession. I was able to get assistance to complete my masters degree. Even though I received teaching offers after graduation, I decided instead to work for the Extension service. I have never regretted that decision. I would never have been where I am today, had it not been for Mr. Estes. He set me on the right track."

Davis married Karen Agee in 1978. They live on a hill farm south of Paragould, where they raise cattle, sheep and show hogs. They have four children. Sons Jason and Brandon are in college at the University of Arkansas, son Blake is in the ninth grade and daughter Katie is in the eighth grade. All the children have been very involved in 4-H and the boys have excelled in FFA.

"Our farm has been a wonderful place for our children to grow up," Davis said. "I wanted them to be raised on a farm and be exposed to agriculture. They have been taught to work, just like we were, and don't back away from any of the tough jobs. They are active in all levels of 4-H and FFA competition. I knew that these two organizations have helped me in college and in my life as a whole.

"I took the boys to meet Mr. Estes this year, as I wanted them to get to know the man who had encouraged me to go to college and make something of myself. It's strange how you don't learn to appreciate teachers who were strict and determined to teach you something, until you get out of school. Now I am thankful for all of them."

Davis works with all varieties of agriculture as a county agent, but especially likes 4-H. He took 75 kids to compete at the state fair last year, with 230 head of animals and livestock. He stayed over 11 days with them to help with competition. Greene County 4-H'ers are very competitive and have earned titles all the way to nationals in many categories. The 4-H'ers are definitely a power base to be reckoned with in Arkansas, as they always arrive well prepared, determined and confident. No doubt, they too will remember the man who encouraged them to work hard and excel.

Blake McClelland of Monette joined Davis last September on the Greene County Cooperative Extension Service staff as an agent intern. McClelland graduated from Buffalo Island Central in 2003, and from ASU in 2006 with a degree in plant science. He was very active in the BIC FFA organization and the Monette Buffalo Island 4-H Club.

McClelland and his wife, the former April Sammons, make their home in Monette. She is working on her bachelors degree in speech and language pathology at ASU and will graduate in December.

"Like Allen, I owe a lot to my high school teachers," McClelland said. "My FFA instructor Gary Lester made me stick to the instructions and finish my jobs. I would never have made it through math if Mrs. Reba Wimberley had not encouraged me. I wouldn't have ever been able to write things in context if it had not been for Mrs. Cody Ann Cornish. I look back now and am so thankful to them

"I am working with 4-H here in Greene County, and that just comes natural for me," McClelland said. "After all those years of competition and filling out record books, I know all the terminologies by heart. Coming from an agriculture background helps in all the aspects of being a county agent.

"My father (Wayland) is a farmer and I followed him around all my life," he said. "I wanted to see it all and learn how to do things, as I had a great curiosity. Now I go out to the farms and bring back soil samples and do cotton variety tests, just like I had done growing up.

"My mother (Karen) is a school teacher and never gave me an option about going to college after graduation. She has been one of my best supporters while I was in 4-H and FFA, and all aspects of high school. She never gave me the option about seeking higher education, as I had no doubt that I was college bound."

"We are very fortunate to have a good team here in the office," Davis said. "Nickie Taul and Debbie Still add a lot to the success of our program, along with an accomplished staff, and countless volunteers. Teamwork is what it is all about."

Hard work, determination, training and encouragement from family and teachers have proven to work well for these two men from Monette. Love for agriculture and farming has never been in better hands.

Greene County 4-H will hold its annual awards banquet this Tuesday evening, and Davis will be handing out many awards for accomplishments made by members during this past year. No doubt, he is making an effort to pass his secret to success on to the next generation of young people.

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