Rockdale gardeners should see a smooth transition from the “bug lady” to the “plant guy” when they visit the Rockdale County Cooperative Extension office in Conyers.
On Common Ground News was the first publication to interview Stephen Pettis as he moved into his office as the new County Extension agent.
“My background is as about as green as you can get. I’m a certified arborist and have years of work in the green industry as a nursery manager and a University of Georgia County Extension Agent in Gwinnett,” said Pettis, who has a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture and a master’s degree in Plant Protection and Pest Management, both from the University of Georgia. “It is my hope to pass along some of the knowledge and passion I have gained over the years from my various experiences.”
Pettis, an avid gardener, has hosted a radio show on the subject in Athens. He served as the Gwinnett County’s Extension agent for three years from 2004 - 2007.Rockdale’s previous Extension agent, Julie-Lynn Macie, says she believes Pettis will be a valuable asset to the community.
“We narrowed it down from nine candidates to three and Steve’s experience with helping others and greenery shined through. He is great and has a background in service,” said Macie, who will work with Pettis for about two weeks and help him transition.
“Now, we’ve got to get him set up to meet the county commissioners and all other government officials, master gardeners club, get his contact list in order, those types of things. Steve has a wealth of knowledge and I know the people will love him.”
Pettis is replacing Macie, who was promoted in February to be the Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Development Coordinator for the Northwest District. Her new position is in the city of Griffin, where the University of Georgia Extension’s Northwest District Office is located.
Pettis says he knows he has big shoes to fill and he says he is ready for the challenge.
“Juile has been great showing me the ropes. She’s built a legacy here of more than 20 years, coaching state champs, receiving national wards for her 4-H work and a list of other accomplishments,” said Pettis, who says he plans to keep all the programs the office is known for such as ‘Ag Day’ and the ‘Insectival.’ “I’m not here to change, but just improve in any way that I can. I would like to incorporate some home gardening programs and teach more classes on trees and gardening overall, like I did in Gwinnett.”
For tips on gardening, plants, pests and upcoming events, call the Extension Service at 770-278-7373.