“I feel very lucky to work in this career because of the great producers we work with and the cooperators,” Justin Chlapecka, county extension agent with the University of Arkansas said. “Working with the good people in agriculture, there’s no better option I could have chosen.”
Chlapecka didn’t wake up one day and know exactly what he wanted to do or how to do it, but he knew where to start.
Growing up with an interest in waterfowl and hunting, he thought he wanted to be a game warden or waterfowl biologist, so he went to college to major in wildlife ecology. Several changes later, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, a pre-pharmacy degree. However, he realized pharmacy wasn’t the dream he wanted to chase.
Justin chose to pursue his master’s degree with a focus in agriculture. He was awarded the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board’s Fellowship and returned to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. His pursuit of a second degree yielded a master’s in plant and soil science.
One month after graduating, he began working as a county extension agent in Poinsett County.
Justin successfully created his own program with variety trials, demonstrations and guidance for applications in Poinsett County. Chlapecka’s favorite part of his job is getting to know the problems farmers face and helping them.
While a career in agriculture doesn’t require a master’s, the best advice Chlapecka can give, especially for someone without a farm background, is to pursue a master’s. He said taking the thesis route and working in the field with farmers taught him more than he would have learned in a classroom.
But Chlapecka isn’t done learning and growing as an ag. professional. He is now a graduate research assistant at the University of Arkansas pursuing his doctorate in Crop, Soil and Environmental Science specializing in crop production.
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