Jimmy Ray Horton of Mount Ulla has been named superintendent of the Upper Mountain Research Station in Laurel Springs, and David Kaleb Rathbone of Haywood County has been named superintendent of the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville.
Horton succeeds Les Miller, who left to pursue other interests. Rathbone succeeds Bill Teague, who retired after more than 30 years of state service.
The appointments, announced jointly by Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Johnny Wynne, were effective June 1.
Both superintendents have previous research station experience. Horton served as crops supervisor at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury for 23 years and superintendent at the Border Belt Tobacco Research Station in Whiteville for a year. Rathbone has served as an agricultural research specialist at the Mountain Research Station, working with burley tobacco for five years. In addition, he is a member of the North Carolina Farm Bureau, the North Carolina Strawberry Association and the North Caolina Cattlemen’s Association.
“Both men recognize the importance of our research farms for ongoing agricultural success and economic expansion,” Troxler said. “Their respective farm experience and understanding of diverse agricultural practices have prepared them well to serve as station superintendents.”
The Upper Mountain Research Station contains 454 acres and the Mountain Research Station contains more than 410 acres, with elevations reaching up to 3,200 feet. Both stations focus on producing forage and field crops, including tobacco and Christmas trees. Upper Mountain Research Station is the only planted range-wide seed source of the Carolina hemlock in the United States.
“The Upper Mountain and Mountain research stations have a long and proud history of serving the agricultural community and citizens of Western North Carolina,” Wynne said. “I feel confident this tradition will continue under the direction of these two superintendents.”
Upper Mountain and Mountain research stations are two of 18 agricultural research facilities operated in partnership by the NCDA&CS, NCSU and North Carolina A&T State University.
Horton and Rathbone both spend their spare time working with family farms in Mount Ulla and Clyde, respectively.