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Face of Defense: NCO Shares Passion for Agriculture

By Army Sgt. Warren W. Wright Jr.
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GARDEZ, Afghanistan, Sept. 16, 2009 – National Guard agribusiness development teams from the United States are helping to rebuild Afghanistan’s agriculture industry, and people with extensive knowledge are needed to ensure mission success.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Sgt. Robert Moore, left, demonstrates beekeeping techniques to a student taking his beekeeping course at Forward Operating Base Gardez, Afghanistan, Sept. 9, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Warren W. Wright Jr.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

That’s where Army Sgt. Robert Moore fits in. The Lavinia, Tenn., native has decades of experience in the agriculture trade and multiple degrees to show for it.

Moore’s military experience dates to the end of the Vietnam War; he served from 1972 to 1975, and was a witness to the fall of Saigon. He was set to leave the National Guard in November 2008, but then he learned about the opportunity to come to Afghanistan and share his agriculture experience. He re-enlisted to deploy with the Tennessee agribusiness team.

Moore brings more than just experience to the team. He also has a passion for agriculture that is evident in his attitude, his fellow soldiers said.

“He’s ‘Mr. Agriculture,’” said Army Maj. James W. Thompson, an engineer advisor for the agriculture team. “He probably knows more about plants, animals, insects, soil and farming than most of us will ever know, combined.”

In his civilian life, Moore is an agriculture professor at Austin P. State University in Clarksville, Tenn., a job he continues even while deployed. Moore teaches a honeybee biology and beekeeping course to 16 soldiers here, and also teaches online courses to students stateside.

“I did it initially to get some of the guys in the [agriculture team] involved in college,” Moore said. “I understood I wouldn’t get paid to teach it, but I thought it would be a worthwhile thing to donate my time to.”

Moore hopes that by offering classes to his soldiers, they will get a foot in the door to a higher degree.

“The biggest outcome I want to see come out of it is that if I can get them enrolled in a college course, then hopefully that will motivate many of them to go into another course,” Moore said. “The longest journey in the world starts with a single step.”

Moore infuses some of his more humorous life experiences into his classes.

“There is one small video clip of him, out working with his bee box,” Thompson said. “He dropped a piece of the box, which caused the swarm to react, and in his effort to get away from it, he turned and backed over the next bee box behind him, which he forgot was there.”

Moore explained that he wants to place the video on his online class and label it “Situational Awareness” -- not just to get a laugh, but also to show students the importance of knowing what’s going on around them at all times.

Moore’s passion for education and teaching is a valuable asset here, Thompson said. “He wants all the soldiers to have the opportunity to, if not go to college, at least obtain some college-level courses.

“Sergeant Moore is a complex creature. He’s very intense, and he definitely believes in his mission,” he added.

(Army Sgt. Warren W. Wright Jr. serves in the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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