New Livestock Agent Joins Extension Service
Texans usually disdain North Carolina's pork barbecue.
Not Elena Eller, a Texas native newly added to the Moore County Cooperative Extension Service staff as a livestock agent.
"The first day I pulled into town, we went out and had some North Carolina barbecue," she said. "I really like it."
As Extension agent, Eller will provide outreach to farmers raising and managing beef cattle, dairy cows, goats, sheep, and horses, as well as swine.
"Our job is to provide them with the best research available, based on their needs," Eller said. "It depends a lot on the farmers, what they need and what they want from us."
She will take her direction from the wishes and needs of the men and women who raise a broad variety of farm animals in Moore County.
Eller assumed her duties Aug. 17. On her second day here, she traveled into neighboring Hoke County to visit the farm of John Council, who supplies a number of Moore County restaurants with grass-fed beef.
As soon as possible, she hopes to meet the people who raise livestock in Moore County.
"A lot of this job is building relationships and getting to know people," Eller said of Extension Service work, which focuses on educational outreach. "That's how we effectively do our job."
Eller said she looks forward to working with young people, especially in the 4-H program.
"They're our future," Eller said. "We want to keep them, not just to raise livestock and become good farmers, but because it also teaches them life skills, responsibility and interaction with their peers and with adults."
Eller said the 4-H program also teaches the concept of giving back to the community. She will be working closely with Linda Gore, Extension 4-H agent.
Although she grew up in Texas, Eller has family connections in North Carolina and Virginia, reason enough to make the move to the Tar Heel State.
"Texas is a huge animal agriculture state," she said. "It's really big on horses, beef, cattle and goats."
Eller admits that two weeks ago, if asked about barbecue, she would have immediately thought of beef brisket, not pork. The move has changed her definition of barbecue, but she says there are similarities in the style of barbecue in both states.
The 31-year-old livestock specialist is a graduate of Texas A&M University, where she earned both bachelor's and master's in animal science. She did livestock nutrition research at Texas A&M for awhile, then worked a year and a half in the veterinary school at Louisiana State University. Most of the work at Louisiana State was at a large animal hospital.
Eller grew up showing horses. She worked with 4-H horse shows and helped with the Pony Clubs of America.
Despite her upbringing in Texas, Eller and her husband had plenty of incentive to move to the East Coast. Her mother's family is from North Carolina, her father's family from Virginia.
Their wishes worked out neatly when both found jobs in this area of North Carolina. Her husband now holds a job at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
They are living in Southern Pines with the rest of their family -- two horses, a dog and a cat.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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