July 13, 2011 Edition

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Ashley Durden, new Lawrence County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences, looks over her calendar for the upcoming weeks. One of the first items on her agenda will be a reception to welcome her on Friday.
TD Photos ~ Gretchen Hunt

Durden is new FCS agent

Gretchen Hunt

For Ashley Durden, a native of Eudora, being selected as the new Extension agent for family and consumer sciences in Lawrence County is a dream come true.

Durden was interning at the Craighead County Extension Office, when she found out they would be filling the position in Lawrence County.

While she was interviewing for the position, she had a medical problem and thought she had missed out on the opportunity.

"I was so upset," she said. "I thought I messed it up. When I got the call I thought to myself, this is truly an act of God. It is really what I want to do, and I appreciate Herb (Ginn) for giving me this chance."

Ginn, who serves as staff chair for the local office, said he believe Durden was the right choice for the job.

"Ashley is well prepared to help the family and consumer science and 4-H programs grow and flourish," he said. "She has a great education background and knows how to work with people. I believe she will do great things here in Lawrence County."

This is not the first time Durden has felt God push her in a certain direction.

"When I first started college I thought I was going to be a registered nurse," she said. "I got wait listed, but didn't want to wait around for a year, so I started taking some nutrition classes. It didn't take me long to realize that is what I really wanted to do."

Durden holds a bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics from the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and recently completed her master's in health sciences and education at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

After serving as a home economist for the Arkansas Health Department in Howard County, Durden decided to seek her master's degree.

"I really liked beging a home economist with the state," she said. "I only left it to pursue my master's. I always wanted to get back into being a home economist or family and consumer sciences specialist."

She has also served as nutritional services team leader at St. Bernards in Jonesboro.

Durden's first goal is to familiarize herself with the county and get to know everyone.

"Long term, my goal is to strengthen the program and let everyone in the county know about health and nutrition programs," she said. "This is my career. I plan on being here as long as Herb will let me."

Durden, a resident of Jonesboro, has a six-year-old son, Jalen Wilson. Her boyfriend, Tierre Hamilton, also has two children, Kiara Miller and Tierre Hamilton Jr.

Reception set

A reception to welcome Durden will be hosted by the Lawrence County Extension Homemakers Clubs on Friday.

The event will be held from 2-4 p.m. at the Extension office in the conference room. The public is invited to attend.

Sandra McGinnis, administrative specialist, said she hopes people will take the opportunity to meet Durden.

"She is a welcome addition to our office, and we would like everyone to take advantage of her knowledge and skills," she said.

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