Nathan Crane is new extension agent in Switzerland County

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He’s traveled all over the world meeting different people and helping them be more productive with agricultural products; and now Nathan Crane is coming to Switzerland County as the new extension educator at the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.

His official title is “Agricultural and Natural Resources/4-H Youth Development Extension Educator”, but in Nathan Crane’s mind, his job is to work with all phases of the 4-H program and other agricultural issues as they affect the people of this county.

He began his duties here on February 22nd, and is already immersed in the registration drive for this year’s 4-H program, which has a deadline of April 1st. In that he has been busy meeting different people and getting to know the geography of the county.

“I’ve been able to go around and meet members of the different 4-H clubs and their parents,” Nathan Crane said. “I’ve seen their excitement for 4-H here. The roads are testing my driving ability, but I’m very excited about being in Switzerland County.”

It’s been an interesting journey for Nathan Crane to get here — a trip that has literally taken him around the globe.

He grew up on a family farm in Philadelphia, Missouri, which is in the Northeast part of the state near Hannibal. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics and agricultural systems management from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1999, and in 2001 he earned a masters of education degree in career and technical education.

But that’s where the journey truly begins.

After finishing his master’s degree, Nathan Crane entered the Peace Corps in June of 2001, serving as an economic and organizational development volunteer in the country of Moldova in Eastern Europe.

In that position he trained leaders in project design and management; and assisted in the development of a list of priorities for a project. He also organized seminars to educate people about needs in agriculture production; and also worked with the community on health education issues and learning English.

He had previously participated in educational exchange programs at the University of Ulster-Londonberry, in Northern Ireland; and also at the University of Prague in the Czech Republic.

Leaving the Peace Corps after a two year commitment in 2003, Nathan Crane returned to the U.S. and began working with the AmeriCorps organization. In that position he worked on Cape Cod in Massachusetts; performing more than 1,700 hours of service in the area of land and water conservation; environmental education; and disaster preparedness.
He also worked with school, governmental agencies, and community members in the area on various topics; coordinating programs and training.

In the fall of last year he returned to his native Missouri to coordinate the reelection campaign of Rick Johnson in the 90th District of the Missouri House of Representatives.

So how does a world traveler find Switzerland County, Indiana?

“While I was in the Peace Corps, I had a friend who is an extension educator in Davies County,” Nathan Crane. “His wife is from Indiana. He told me that he really enjoyed his job working with people in agriculture, and it was kind of the same outreach position of working with people and helping them attain their goals using different resources — whether it be technical or training or education.”

Settling into an apartment here, Nathan Crane laughs that he’s happy to finally have all of his stuff in one place; noting that he’s been moving around so much that it’s nice to finally be a little settled.

Having been raised on a traditional family farm, Nathan Crane said that his father farms about 2,000 acres of corn, wheat, and soybeans; and he also raises about 100 head of commercial beef cattle. Growing up in Missouri, Nathan Crane also participated in 4-H and FFA programs.

“Because my family has a farm, I have a deep respect for the traditional farm,” Nathan Crane said. “I also have a desire to help people with specialty-type farms so that they can find the resources that they need to be successful.”

Nathan Crane said that he’s aware that the tobacco buyout is a big issue with farmers here right now; so he is beginning to look into different alternatives so he can provide farmers with information on what they might want to pursue next and where they want to put their investments.

Along with that, as the deadline to enroll in the 4-H program looms a little more than two weeks away, he is also busy trying to get the word out about the benefits of being in 4-H.

He will be meeting with the Junior Leaders group this week, and together they will be preparing a program over Spring Break so that the Junior Leaders can go into the elementary schools on March 28th and talk about 4-H.

“What we’re hoping is that people will take advantage of Spring Break to come in and get signed up for the 4-H program prior to the April 1st deadline,” Nathan Crane said. “That way they won’t have to wait in line. It’s best to go ahead and get it done early.”

While his work load increases, Nathan Crane is also continuing to get more comfortable living here. His two sisters from Missouri are coming to town for a visit this weekend; and he’s already feeling right at home.

“It’s been a nice experience,” he said. “There’s been a lot of people stop by and introduce themselves and welcome me to the county. Everyone’s been offering their assistance for whatever I need. I’m really beginning to feel at home here.”