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New extension agent eager to help

Posted: September 2, 2012 - 12:04am
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Extension Agent Tripp Williams (right) gives Martinez homeowner James Zadinsky advice on maintaining crepe myrtles. Williams is now the gardening columnist for The News-Times; his first column appears today on Page 12  Photo By Valerie Rowell
Photo By Valerie Rowell
Extension Agent Tripp Williams (right) gives Martinez homeowner James Zadinsky advice on maintaining crepe myrtles. Williams is now the gardening columnist for The News-Times; his first column appears today on Page 12

Although Columbia County’s new extension agent is still getting his feet wet, he’s eager to help county landscapes flourish.

Tripp Williams took over as the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent on Aug. 1.

“I wanted a position like this when I first got out (of college),” Williams said. “This was a passion. This was one of those things that I wanted to do when I got out of school, it just wasn’t available at that time.”

Extension agent Charles Phillips retired in late 2009, but worked part-time for a while. The office has been without an agent for about two years, Williams said.

The extension office moved last spring from Savannah Rapids Pavilion to the former county board of education building in Appling. None of the horticulture and agriculture materials were unpacked, awaiting Williams’ arrival.

“There’s a big learning curve, for sure,” Williams said. “Right now, my office looks like it just exploded.”

Residents are welcome to call or come by the office with horticulture- or agriculture-related questions, Williams said. Technology, including the ability to email photos, helps streamline the process.

Williams got out of the office recently to visit the Martinez home of James Zadinsky. He wanted Williams’ advice on drainage issues and plant maintenance.

“He’s on the money,” Zadinsky said after an hour with Williams. “He’s knowledgeable about plants.”

Williams should be. He’s a self-proclaimed plantsman. He takes pride in having landscape plant knowledge and can identify most plants, shrubs and grasses at a glance.

The Lincoln County native graduated from the University of Georgia in 2002 and moved back to the Augusta area to be closer to family and his then-fiancee, Anna. He worked as a groundsman and horticulturist at West Lake Country Club for seven years. He left to help run Augusta Lawn and Turf, a Martinez-based lawn maintenance and installation company.

He jumped at the chance to be an extension agent.

“It’s the educational part of it,” Williams said. “It’s me passing along that knowledge to another person.”

To reach Williams, call the UGA Extension Service office at (706) 541-4011 or email to trippj@uga.edu.

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