New agent joins Virginia Cooperative Extension

By WILLIAM PAINE
william.paine@southwesttimes.com

The Virginia Cooperative Extension is a state agency meant to provide resources and educational outreach to Virginia’s more than seven million residents in the areas of agriculture, 4-H youth development and family and consumer sciences.
Locally, the Virginia Cooperative Extension has an office in the basement of Pulaski’s County Administration Building at 143 3rd Street NW and employs four full time staff. The newest addition to the team is 24-year old Laura Elizabeth Reasor, a bright-eyed recent college graduate, who acts as the Associate Family and Consumer Science Agent for the local extension.
Reasor (pronounced razor) is from Rural Retreat, where she finished high school in 2012. She graduated from Radford University with a degree in Nutrition Dietetics in 2014 and joined the Pulaski Cooperative Extension in May of this year. Her area of responsibility includes both Pulaski and Giles counties.
“My focus is nutrition,” said Reasor. “But I’m interested in doing a lot more with the 4-H and with agriculture in the office because they are very well-known and very respected in this area.”
Chris Lichty, the 4-H extension agent, and Cynthia Hurst, the 4-H Program Associate, have worked together as Pulaski based extension agents for nearly 40 years. Agriculture Extension Agent Morgan Paulette is also a veteran of the Virginia Cooperative Extension and works out of the same office.
A Family Consumer Science Agent is involved with educating area residents about nutrition, health, finance and home economics and Reasor is still in the process of setting her agenda.
“We’re doing a needs assessment,” explained Reasor. “We’re finding what’s most important to individuals in the community. So that’s slowly coming in, but I would like to do a lot of preventative education concerning the onset of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
Part of Reasor’s duties will undoubtedly involve going to schools and sharing insights about nutrition and general good health.
“I do love working with children,” she said. “I could do a program about fruits and vegetables and what that offers to your body. It could be what they drink at home, which could be energy drinks or soda pop and compare that to the health effects of water. I want to try to get them to see the importance of drinking milk as a child and making better choices when it comes to eating healthy.”
Moving from Rural Retreat to Radford, where she now lives, took a little getting used to.
“I grew up on a farm, so I didn’t have neighbors there,” said Reasor. “You didn’t have people living on top of each other. When I moved to Radford, it was in an apartment complex with a full family above me and below me and they didn’t have a yard like I had. So, it was lot different.”
“We have a beef cattle farm,” she continued. “It was definitely hard work and I appreciated having that lifestyle growing up because it taught me you work for what you get. I always had what I needed but I also learned what is a want versus a need. At college, I learned that a lot of kids were given a lot as children but also that there were children who didn’t have what they needed. So, I learned about the differences in people who grew up in different circumstances. That brought a sense of diversity into my life.”
Being a Family and Consumer Agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension in Pulaski is a task that Reasor looks to with anticipation.
“If I can change someone’s life to help them eat better and do better with managing a chronic disease, I feel like that would be a success for me,” she said. “Food is food and everyone has to eat, but what you choose to eat can really affect your life.”

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