Extension Educator, Energy and Environmental Stewardship
1120 N Webster St.
Taylorville, IL 62568
Gary Letterly earned a bachelor of science in agriculture - agronomy at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a master of arts - agricultural and environmental affairs at University of Illinois Springfield. Letterly served as an agronomist and plant manager in central Illinois for 14 years prior to Extension. His current research and teaching responsibilities include the development of alternative energy/biofuel crops for regional production. He works locally to investigate various uses of energy crops and screens plant selections for their development into large-scale biomass and cellulosic ethanol fuel stocks.
Letterly's natural resource assignment includes working with conservation, water quality, and agricultural committees and volunteers, planning and organizing Christian County Soil Savers workshops and events in cooperation with Christian County Soil & Water Conservation District staff, and coordinating Master Gardener volunteers. He networks with other agencies in the Christian County area to address agriculture, horticulture, and community economic development issues and provide programs to area residents.
Examples of program offerings include:
Dudley Smith Farm
Field days, pasture walks and other activities on the U of I Dudley Smith Farm are exciting new ways to help build confidence in local farmers and landowners in agro-economic transition. Designed as a model of incorporating livestock into a traditional row crop farm operation, the site offers face-to-face learning activities that promote local agricultural development, strong communities, and a sense of environmental stewardship. Farmers, landowners and all interested parties to can explore alternative crop production methods, livestock pasturing innovations, and bio-fuel development on a scale that may allow for area farm adoption. The projects are based on the continued need to understand systems of agriculture and their relationship to rural communities. The farm is open to tours by appointment.
Soil and Water Conservation
The conservation program provides ways to involve youth and adults in stewardship efforts across the county. Working with Christian County Soil Savers opens the door for all area farmers to learn how they can alter traditional farming practices to improve soil and water quality by coupling the principles of producing a maximum economic yield with other management skills to support critical ecologic systems. The program has proven beneficial to farmers, landowners, and other community watershed groups.
Letterly was first certified as a Crop Adviser in 1994 at both state and national levels. His regional interest in alternative crops helps support a variety of continuing education programs for farmers and crop consultants. Letterly's program provides face-to-face training with farmers and agribusinesses throughout the county and provides a direct link to the resources of the College of ACES.
Letterly and a local network of Master Gardener volunteers provide help in home horticulture. Training for homeowners is made available in a variety of settings from backyard seminars to workshops on seasonal topics. As a unique feature of county-unit-based Extension, Letterly offers in-house diagnostics for pests, plant diseases and other home horticulture challenges.
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