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NEW FORAGE SPECIALIST JOINS MISSISSIPPI EXTENSION SERVICE

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- An Extension forage specialist with experience across the United States is one of the newest experts to join the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Rocky Lemus will serve as the primary contact for Extension education information on forages and grazing lands technology, said Michael Collins, head of MSU's Plant and Soil Sciences Department.

“He will develop Extension and applied research programs focusing on forage crops, grazing management, pasture systems, environmental stewardship and other related areas,” Collins said. “In this role, Dr. Lemus will also provide statewide program leadership that assists, supports and strengthens work of other specialists, scientists, county agents and producers. He will work closely with industry to facilitate the adoption of best management practices and technology transfer.”

Lemus may be new to MSU, but he's no stranger to the field. He received his master's degree from Iowa State University in agronomy and a doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in crop and soil environmental sciences. As a graduate student, Lemus studied and worked with forage systems at each location.

Collins said Lemus' experience makes him valuable to the department and the state.

“Dr. Lemus brings a tremendous range of experience with different forage systems around the United States,” Collins said. “Graduate work at Iowa State University gave him experience with the cool-season forage systems in use in that region. While working at Virginia Tech University, he gained experience with Transition Zone forage systems.”

Before taking the job at MSU, Lemus was an assistant professor in the Agricultural Sciences Department at Texas A&M-Commerce, where he was responsible for teaching, Extension and research.

“His most recent experience in Texas gives Dr. Lemus a good feel for the rainfall and temperatures that most Mississippi forages experience,” Collins added.

In this position, Lemus plans to work closely with the state's producers and address the problems they face.

“I believe that the success of an Extension program depends on maintaining close contact with producers, listening to their problems, ideas and suggestions, and developing projects and demonstrations that will focus on answering their needs.”

Specifically, Lemus said he hopes to develop better management plans to help increase sustainability and profitability of small producers' forage-based operations. He also plans to develop a Web-based information system with management tools producers can access from their farms.

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