The new McPherson County K-State Research and Extension agriculture agent offers plenty of home-grown experience.

Canton native Shad Marston started in the role last week and hopes to use his knowledge of production and education to give area farmers a hand in their own operations.

“I’m looking forward to working closely with people who have questions. Rather than just teaching the people in your classroom, you’re teaching and educating the people who come with the problems,” Marston said. “It’s more of a direct line to each situation. There’s something different each day.”

Marston grew up north of Canton, where his family farmed and raised cattle. After graduating from Canton-Galva High School, Marston attended Kansas State University and worked on several big ranches before returning home to run a purebred operation for 10 years.

“I’m hoping that broad background will help out here. Of course, I don’t think anyone walks in to this job with as much knowledge as needed,” Marston laughed.

For the past 11 years, Marston has taught agriculture in the Moundridge school district.

“I’m still educating and promoting agriculture, so this is kind of a side step,” Marston said. “Educating has a close spot in my heart, and now I can just use that on a wider base. I’ll work even closer with the producers, whether that’s in livestock or crops. The last couple days, the wheat farmers have all been out busy in the fields, so more questions are coming from people in town about horticulture, gardening or insects.”

Marston hopes that community members and producers take advantage of the K-State Research and Extension resources he has at his fingertips.

“It’s a sound place to find accurate and up-to-date information about a topic, unlike the internet. You don’t know where some of that comes from,” Marston explained. “This is research-based and scientific. Our area specialists and production-oriented people spend a lot of time and training in experimenting with different things. I have that network to call and ask so we can work with those questions in our community.”

As Marston continues in the job, he hopes to continue offering the resources producers are familiar with, while looking for new solutions and educational opportunities.

“When things slow down, we’ll be working on educational pieces like a conference coming up or a tour,” Marston said. “We’ll have a wheat planting training in the fall and cover a lot of aspects of livestock operations to be more efficient or safer. Hopefully, these will really benefit members of our community and producers.”

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at cderksen@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.