"He is so helpful for our Master Gardeners program in Bartow County," said Posey, who has benefited from Bowman's guidance over the past 10 years. "He is an authority when it comes to working, not only with animals, but he works with people all the time and he is very sympathetic and very conciliatory. He actually [approaches situations by] not immediately taking action or saying the first thought in your mind, but he'll consider things and work things out. And he'll come back to you, if he doesn't have an answer. He's really helped us an awful lot, working with the community at Rose Lawn and other facilities in Cartersville. I just think he's such a great asset. I'm so sorry that he's leaving us. ... The agents are just totally invaluable.
"They are so valuable as a resource, and of course Greg has been very instrumental in getting classes held. ... The classes are ongoing right now at [Chattahoochee Technical College's] North Metro [Campus] for new Master Gardeners, and I think we have seven people from Bartow County that are new members so that's very exciting," she said Friday. "Greg is very instrumental in that, and he does lectures as well with the classes and [brings] in professors from UGA to teach them. So for us, we have a loss. We really do. But I have his phone number, so I'll be calling him for sure."
Along with the Bartow County Master Gardeners program, Bowman also has been instrumental in the success or implementation of various efforts, ranging from a homeschool 4-H program, six state-winning livestock judging teams, an Ag Career Day for high school students and a Beginners School for Small Farmers workshop. While he has enjoyed his time serving the Bartow County community, his new job will have more responsibilities and the ability to assist his hometown.
"I'll be moving up into a coordinator position, plus I grew up in Gordon County. So it's a good move," said Bowman, who, in addition to being its agriculture and natural resources agent, will be the coordinator for the Gordon County Extension Office, managing four other staff members. "I'll be a little bit closer to home. I'll actually be the coordinator for the county I grew up in as a 4-H'er."
Currently an agriculture and natural resources agent -- assisting gardeners and farmers with their commercial or recreational endeavors as well as overseeing the 4-H Club's livestock competitions -- Bowman joined the Bartow County Extension in 1994 as the 4-H coordinator -- a position he held for more than 11 years.
"Greg has had a tremendous impact on the 4-H youth in Bartow County, working with them in the 4-H program for all of these years, and specifically with the livestock judging program," said Kathy Floyd, Bartow County Extension Coordinator. "We really didn't have a livestock judging program or really a show program to speak of, and that is Greg's area of expertise. He has done a tremendous job of coaching these kids and increasing the number of youth who've had an opportunity to participate in these projects. He has expertise in that area that the rest of us don't have that have been on the county staff. So we've just been very fortunate.
"He's just an excellent role model and good family man, and all of those values that he holds dear translates into his work with the young people. And then as he's transited into the ag and natural resources job, he has continued to work with the 4-H youth but also brought in his work with community and homeowners and some of the local commercial ag folks in arranging top production meetings and small farmer meetings and our Master Gardeners program. So he's done a great deal, and we are certainly going to miss him."
Along with seeing more quality programs emerge to compete for students' time and interests, Bowman also has witnessed changes in Bartow's landscape and the adaptability of its agriculture industry in the past 17 years.
"In my early years, I would go around on my school visits and a month didn't pass [when one pasture or field] was going into development every month throughout the school year," Bowman said. "What's happened over the years is we still have ranked always in that upper third as far as farm value compared to everybody in the state. Our farmers have really learned to do more with less land to work with at times.
"We've learned to go into more areas of agriculture," he said, noting the county is strong in a variety of areas, such as poultry, row crops, livestock production and most recently, the nursery industry. "I think our diversity has really been our strength. ... 4-H wise -- when I first started working many years ago, [students] didn't have as many opportunities to participate in a wide array of things. [That] was almost 17 years ago, so now 4-H does compete for kids' time with more other quality groups. So you have to be a little more adaptable to work with their schedule because kids are involved in so much nowadays, and you want them to be a part of the life-skill-building opportunity that 4-H has."
During his service to Bartow County, Bowman's enjoyment in "building relationships" while imparting his knowledge did not go unnoticed as he garnered numerous awards. To add to his collection of accolades, Bowman became the 32nd recipient of the Friend of Agriculture distinction at the 48th annual Farm Family Banquet in May.
"Obviously the best thing is building relationships and probably one of my most rewarding is the work that I've done with our 4-H livestock judging team over the years," Bowman said. "We have had six state-winning teams -- three junior and three senior -- plus we've had four of our young people go on to receive college scholarships in livestock judging ... So [it has meant a lot] -- just building those relationships there and seeing the kids become better public speakers and gain confidence. I did that project when I was a youth and got to travel around the country.
"So I knew the worth of it and [now I am] seeing how these kids have grown and matured into fine adults. ... One of the awards that I've appreciated the most is getting the Friend of Agriculture award here locally because when they show that list of people that have received that award over the years, it's kind of a who's who that's got an agriculture investment in this county, and that's one they highlight year, after year, after year. So it was a big award for me. Then just any time I've had 4-H'ers over the years with teams recognize me at banquets -- just to get a thank-you back for spending a little extra time with the kids or having a successful program, that's just always rewarding to know your appreciated."
While Bowman's last day in the Bartow County office will be Monday, area residents will have to wait a few months to say 'hello' to the new agriculture and natural resources agent. Floyd said, while the position will be filled internally, the hiring may take two to four months.
"The plan with the restructuring or reorganization of Extension that has happened due to budget restraints that we're in right now, [is his position] is on the table to be filled," Floyd said. "Hopefully it will be advertised and filled as soon as possible, now that could be within a couple of months or it might take as long as three or four months. But we're certainly hoping for the earlier of those two options. We have a lot of horticulture and spring activities going on, and the office gets really, really busy starting about March."