Randy Forst, who has served as a county extension agent for 13 years, has been hired
as the consumer horticulture educator for extension, part of the University of Arkansas
System Division of Agriculture. In his new role, Forst will provide leadership for
statewide horticulture programs and coordinate the Arkansas Master Gardeners program,
the state’s largest horticulture volunteer and education organization. Forst began
the new position Oct. 3.
Forst has a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Design and Urban Horticulture and a Master
of Science in General Agriculture, both from the University of Arkansas. Before joining
extension, he was a landscape architect in Tennessee.
With 30 years of experience under his belt, Chad Norton is ready to shepherd the next
generation of agriculture extension agents in Arkansas. Norton, who worked as a county
agent for 20 years and a verification coordinator for 10, stepped into his next role
with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture as the agriculture
and natural resources instructor for row crops.
Hannah Wright-Smith, new extension weed specialist for the University of Arkansas
System Division of Agriculture, will be keeping an eye on brush control, forests, forages, turf, horticulture crops, industrial sites and right-of-way.
As part of her duties, Wright-Smith will also conduct research for the Arkansas Agricultural
Experiment Station, the research arm of the Division of Agriculture.
Wright-Smith received her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics with an emphasis
in Agribusiness from Mississippi State University. She received her Master of Science
in Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, with an emphasis in Weed Science, from the
University of Arkansas in 2020. She will receive her Ph.D. in Crop and Soil Sciences,
with an emphasis in Weed Science, from the University of Georgia in December 2022.
Ashlyn Ussery is the agriculture and natural resources educator at the Northeast Rice Research and Extension Center in Greenfield, Arkansas, where she is
working to build an agriculture educational program for youth and adults in the delta
region that will be focused predominantly on rice. With the NERREC building still
under construction, Ashlyn is working with extension agents and community groups in
the delta to not only learn how NERREC can best serve them, but also to begin building
educational opportunities for the community now.
Ashlyn is originally from central Arkansas and received a bachelors in Agricultural
Business from Southern Arkansas University in 2019. From there, she continued her
education at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, where she received a masters
in agriculture extension education with an emphasis in communication and leadership.
This is a new position.
For Les Walz, his new position as Agriculture and Natural Resources Livestock and
Forages Educator for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is
an opportunity to mentor county agents and teach them about these two major production
systems and more.
Walz began his new role in May 2022 after working as a Cleveland County extension
agent for more than 22 years. He said the most rewarding part of his career as an
agent has been helping clients succeed.
This is a new position.