My name is Alex Tays, and I am Flagler County’s new Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent. I started my position with UF/IFAS on July 18 and now that I’ve settled into this role, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.
Born and raised in Jupiter, Florida, most of my upbringing took place in Palm Beach County – you know, the county with the largest value of agricultural products sold within the state of Florida. It is more than just beautiful, blue coastlines and ritzy houses. Sugarcane, sweet corn, and bell peppers are the main agricultural commodities of my home county, and I was fortunate to grow up around it and develop an appreciation for the value of agriculture.
I attended the University of Central Florida, where I studied Chemistry and Microbiology in preparation to become a science teacher. As an undergraduate, I worked for several schools in many different roles. I served as tutor, a mentor, a substitute teacher, and even an AmeriCorps member for the economically challenged schools where I focused my efforts on community engagement by planning, organizing, and executing events designed to provide aid to the less fortunate.
For the last 4 years, I served as an Ag teacher and FFA advisor for Orange County Public Schools. In my role, I taught the fundamentals of agriculture: plant science, animal science, leadership and civic engagement, business management and entrepreneurship, history and more. I coached students for the parliamentary procedure and tractor driving contests. I even managed our school’s shop where I taught students how to operate the machinery. Orange County used to be nothing but citrus farms as far as the eye could see, but unfortunately, due to the devastating effects of the citrus greening disease many Orange County producers have had to diversify their production.
Agriculture education provides students with the skills and teaching necessary to make a positive difference in their home and community. My time working as an FFA advisor has taught me that everyone can benefit from comprehensive agriculture education programs like the FFA and 4-H. While my previous position focused on educating youth, I am now looking forward to expanding my skills to enlighten and engage the farmers with my science background.
In the coming months, I will be traveling around to local farms and businesses to build relationships with residents and producers and to get a better understanding of agriculture in Flagler County. My goal is to provide public education to local agricultural producers and associated businesses to promote sustainable agricultural practices. Anyone in need of a pesticide license? Or maybe help with identifying a new insect pest in your pasture? Which pines to plant in your natural areas? As the new Extension Agent, I am here to help, and l look forward to serving my new community.
I am excited to have the opportunity to learn alongside the men and women that have farmed here for generations. If you have any questions or just want to reach out, feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com or call UF/IFAS Extension Flagler County at (386) 437-7464.