Preston Scroggin’s first true love is agriculture.
The former Faulkner County judge now has what he calls his “dream job” as executive director of the Livestock and Poultry Commission for the state of Arkansas.
Scroggin, of Vilonia, was appointed to the position by Gov. Mike Beebe in January and said the executive director job is the only one that could pry him away from being Faulkner County judge.
“I was the judge for six years. I had recently been re-elected when I was offered this job,” Scroggin said.
“The governor called and asked if I was interested, and it was the hardest decision I’ve had to make, but those that know me best know that my first love is agriculture.”
In his new position, Scroggin works with the Livestock and Poultry Commission staff, which oversees the development of the livestock and poultry industries in Arkansas.
Lab technicians at the commission diagnose diseases that could potentially threaten the livestock and poultry industries in Arkansas.
“We oversee horses, poultry, swine, cattle, a lot of what ties into herd health, and they inspect eggs here,” Scroggin said. “It’s important to keep our livestock industry healthy in this state.”
He said this job has shown him how large the livestock and poultry industries actually are in the state.
“I knew it was big; I just didn’t know how big,” Scroggin said.
Scroggin has been given the opportunity to go out and meet various trade groups in Arkansas.
“Arkansas is blessed with some wonderful industries in animal agriculture. We have great companies and great people,” Scroggin said.
While the Arkansas State Legislature is in session, Scroggin said, he hasn’t gotten to go out to as many farms and communities as he has wanted to, but he plans to get out in the agricultural community when the session concludes.
“I’m anxious to get my boots on the ground and meet people,” Scroggin said.
Agriculture has played a role in Scroggin’s life since he was a child.
“I’m a fifth-generation farmer,” Scroggin said.
His father and grandfather grew everything they could, but he said the cattle business has been his family’s mainstay.
Aside from being involved in farming his entire life, Scroggin went to college at the University of Central Arkansas, and after graduation, he spent “many” years with the Vilonia Volunteer Fire Department and was elected to serve on the Vilonia City Council.
He also served in the Arkansas House of Representatives for six years before being elected Faulkner County judge.
Scroggin said he loved being the county judge, and he misses some aspects of the job.
“I enjoyed seeing new water lines get put in,” Scroggin said. “I liked seeing people get city water that had never had it before.”
Water is something that Scroggin said he will always be passionate about.
“I think it’s highly important for rural communities to have good drinking water,” Scroggin said.
After spending time with the volunteer fire department, Scroggin said he learned how important volunteering is to the community.
“You can’t always be a taker, you’ve got to give back to society,” Scroggin said.
Scroggin is still active in the Vilonia community and said he misses the people with whom he used to work.
“There are some great people in the courthouse,” Scroggin said.
Scroggin said he hopes some of the skills he learned as county judge will carry over into his new position.
“You can’t be afraid to make decisions, and you have to move forward,” Scroggin said.
Whether he was involved with the Volunteer Fire Department or serving in the House of Representatives, Scroggin always stayed involved on his farm.
Scroggin still works on his farm in Vilonia every day, although he has an office job in Little Rock.
“I still raise cattle. I get up every morning before daylight and feed cattle before I come to Little Rock,” Scroggin said.
He said there is always something to be done on the farm.
“You stay busy, and there’s not a lot of downtime,” Scroggin said.
Scroggin has been in the director position for only a month, but said he has been impressed by the staff he is working with at the Livestock and Poultry Commission.
“These people are a wonderful bunch of folks,” Scroggin said. “I’m really enjoying it.”
With his new job, Scroggin said, he has been able to rekindle some relationships with people in the agricultural community.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to see some old friends in the industry that I haven’t seen in years,” he said.
Scroggin said he hopes to spark interest in farming for a younger generation.
“I really want to try to make an effort to encourage more young people to get involved [in farming],” Scroggin said. “If their father had a cattle ranch or their mother had a cattle ranch, I want to try to help them stay in the business.”
Along with sparking interest in a new generation of farmers, Scroggin said he will focus on keeping cattle herds healthy.
“The cattle business has had it pretty tough recently with the drought and dwindling numbers,” Scroggin said. “If there’s some way that I can help build that industry back, I’m definitely going to do that.”
Scroggin said his rural Arkansas upbringing has kept the area close to his heart, and he wants to do more for the area in the future if the opportunity arises.
“I’m really enjoying this. I love agriculture, and it’s been a blessing,” Scroggin said.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.