By Jennifer Whitlock
A typical day can find Chase Brooke organizing workshops, classes or demonstrations for the public on agricultural topics. He may take a farm visit to offer technical assistance or work with a school to help educate students about agriculture. He might even promote agricultural advocacy at the local community college.
This is because he is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Officer in Collin County.
It works to provide education and information to farmers, ranchers and landowners, as well as consumers.
Although no two days are alike, Brooke has the satisfaction of knowing that he is making a difference in his community by promoting the history and science of agriculture.
“Agriculture is important because it not only provides food and fiber, but also because of the fundamental links it has with other industries. From finance and marketing to IT and automation, agriculture engages a large part of the economy, often in ways that are not explicitly recognized, ”he said. “This is important to me because it means that every farmer and rancher supports a network of industries that contribute to a healthy local economy. Keeping agriculture strong means keeping our communities and families strong.
After spending most of his formative years in Mexico, Brooke attended college and high school in suburban Southlake, where he met his wife, Jennifer.
When living in the metroplex, Brooke felt most comfortable spending time on her family’s ranch in Coryell County. Working cattle, repairing fences, hauling hay, and other aspects of ranching have taught him the value of hard work. He also instilled an enthusiasm for farming which has become a passion and a career.
Brooke graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in space science and a master’s degree in ecosystem science and management, then accepted a position as a research technician at Michigan State University.
But the cold was too much for this boy from Texas, he said with a smile.
So he and Jennifer returned to Texas, where this passion for farming came full circle when he was hired by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Collin County.
The position seems tailor-made for someone from their agricultural and suburban background. Collin County is one of the fastest growing areas in Texas, with a 198% population increase from 1990 to 2010.
“We are growing so fast. Many of our landowners are first time landowners, so my role in Extension is to give them the information they need to reduce this learning curve, help them love their land and achieve their goals ”, did he declare. “I also do a lot of outreach and education with all kinds of organizations to help connect people to agriculture. I remind them that we still have a very strong agricultural economy, but this goes beyond planting seeds and harvesting. The technical aspects, the articulation of all these different areas and components come together to interweave in a community, even as large as the ones we have here.
Getting commuters into farming and helping them separate truth from sensationalism can be an uphill battle some days, he said. But it’s a battle worth fighting, and it’s rewarding.
“My favorite part of my job is working with people. Being able to go out and take a tour of the farm, help someone identify a challenge and ways to solve it, it’s a good feeling, ”said Brooke. “Or let people know that there are local farms and local food available here. Show them where to link to agriculture in more than just a textbook sense. To me, that’s the best part: the people I meet and having a tangible impact on my community.
And he still plays a role on his family’s ranch. He helps control and manage invasive species, looks after the livestock and helps plan the future of the property.
“All the good manual character-building work I did as a teenager really instilled in me a passion for agriculture and natural resource management,” he said. “I love going back to the ranch whenever I get the chance and spending time working to improve our operation.”
Click here to watch a video interview with Brooke.