Don’t go into the new Orange County ag agent’s office expecting to find an Aggie. “You’re not going to catch me in maroon and white, not ever,” Heston Henry said.
The recent graduate of Texas Tech University has finished his third week as agriculture agent and is adjusting to a new climate and community. Henry grew up in West Texas around San Angelo, Odessa and Big Spring, a much drier climate.
Texas Tech and agriculture are traditions in his family. He’s a third generation graduate of the university. His father is an agriculture teacher and his mother and step-father have been involved in 4-H.
The family connection to agriculture is one of the reasons he’s happy to be on the other side of the state. He said if he stayed closer to home to work, he would always be the son or grandson of someone. Now, he has a chance to make his own way.
“I wanted to create my own identity, so I came to a new place,” he said.
West Texas often has drought conditions. He came to Orange for his job interview in December after rains. “I couldn’t believe how much standing water I saw. In West Texas that’s valuable,” he said.
Henry grew up in 4-H and had a “full-ride” scholarship for livestock to Howard College, a community college in Big Spring. He then went to Texas Tech where he majored in agriculture leadership and youth leadership.
His specialties are livestock and range plant ecology, but he wants to learn more horticulture. Orange County has a strong Master Gardeners program and he wants to grow it. He also wants to expand the local Texas Naturalist Program, which also involves the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Citizens who would like to see more programs should contact him.
He’s already been out meeting 4-H youth members and adult leaders. One of the popular 4-H groups in the county is the Claybusters for shooting skeet. He shot with them and was impressed with the number of participants.
Shooting is nothing new for Henry. He is an avid hunter and said he’ll miss driving to the family ranch to hunt turkeys and deer.
Last year, he went on his first duck hunt and shot a rare one. He had it mounted and it’s on the wall in his office.
“Now I’m crazy for duck hunting,” he said, though he got to Orange too late for duck season.
He also loves to fish and brought his kayak with him. He wants to buy a boat to use for fishing and duck hunting.
Henry had seen news of Hurricane Harvey, but didn’t expect to see so many effects of the storm left around Orange, including the displaced families. The housing shortage affected him as he was looking for a place to live. As soon as he found a suitable place, it was taken before he could act.
He finally found a duplex in Bridge City. His fiancee has moved here and he said she’s glad to be out of the snow and ice. Three blue-heeler dogs are also made the move to Orange County.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-