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franklin county times

Extension adds new animal science regional agent

Texas transplant Ali Gotcher recently took on the Alabama Cooperative Extension System role of Regional Extension Agent for animal science and forage for northwest Alabama, and she’s “excited to be able to work with a lot of the beef producers here in the state,” she explained.

“I am very servant-hearted, and so I enjoy being able to work with the beef producers I’ve come to know so well throughout my life and help them better their operations,” Gotcher added. “I’m extremely passionate about helping cattlemen.”

Gotcher said she’ll be working with cattlemen on their forage systems, including hay testing, to help them understand how to offer better nutrition to their animals – not only for cattle but also horses, goats and other livestock.

While her expertise is in cattle, and specifically meat science, her background includes all livestock species. “I can help in a lot of ways,” Gotcher said. “This is something I’ve always been passionate about.

Gotcher earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Texas A&M University, where she majored in animal science.

Prior to her new role, she served as director of education and outreach for the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association – which is what brought her to Alabama, in June 2018.

She was the Beef 101 coordinator at Auburn University, marketing director for October Beef Month and worked with food service and retail companies on beef promotion opportunities.

“I did one-on-one beef programs for culinary students, food service reps and others within the industry that needed to know more about the beef industry — people that have someone influence on what the consumer eats every day,” Gotcher explained.

“When I was in grad school, I worked with Extension agents to make online programs for beef producers, so this job is definitely me getting back to my roots, and it’s kind of a full circle moment for me.”

Gotcher grew up in Weatherford, Texas, where her family still ranches with a cow-and-calf operation. They have also raised quarter horses.

“I didn’t know a soul when I moved to Alabama, and I didn’t think I’d wind up staying here, but it’s become home for sure,” Gotcher said. “I’ve definitely found a confidence here, and it’s very similar to Texas in a lot of ways, in terms of the people and the climate.”

“The Alabama Extension is thrilled to have Ali join the animal science and forage team,” said Gotcher’s team leader, Kim Mullenix, associate professor and extension specialist for Auburn University. “Her knowledge of livestock production systems, strong communication skills and passion for Alabama agriculture bring a strong skill set to the region and a reliable expertise for our farmers.”

Gotcher’s office is located at 410 North Jackson Ave., in downtown Russellville, in the basement of the Franklin County Courthouse, Room 1. The Extension can be reached by calling 256-332-8880 or by mail at P.O. Box 820, Russellville, AL 35653.

Gotcher is married to Will Gotcher, who works for Alabama Farm Credit in Tuscumbia, and they live in Muscle Shoals.

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