A Nurse Wanna-Be turned Outstanding Extension Worker

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Being a farmer herself, she really walks the talk. All the things she learned in trainings were applied in her farm for farmers to see and experience.

“If it’s meant to be, it will be.” Who would have thought that the person who had wanted to be a nurse someday would end up being an agricultural extension worker and will be awarded as Rice and Corn Achiever for two consecutive years.

A 62-year-old extentionist, Neri Frigillano, or fondly called as “Nene” by herfamily and friends, has been working for 42 years as agricultural extension worker (AEW) in the Local Government of Mahayag, Zamboanga del Sur. She is handling corn, rice, high value crops, and others while currently covering four barangays namely, Poblacion, Tumapic, Delusom, and Balanan.

The beginnings that tailored her destiny

In her younger days, she dreamt of being a nurse who would take care of her sick fellowmen. But her parents wanted her to study agriculture. Without the approval of her parents, she had no choice but to pursue agriculture even if she had no passion or love for agriculture. She still became a student majoring agronomy.

“I even cried in the middle of our gardening because I can’t manage to work on my own plot, but, fortunately, I had few helpful classmates who were willing to work with me in my plot and I was able to do it. That time, little by little my passion in agriculture started,” she narrated.

Despite all the struggles she encountered during her college days, she was able to finish her degree. In 1974, she got the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture major in Agronomy in Zamboanga del Norte Agricultural College (ZNAC), Tampilisan, Zamboanga del Norte. Right after graduation in 1974, she started her career as Corn Technician in the Bureau of Agricultural Extension (BAEx), now the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), she was transferred to the local government unit as Agricultural Technologist in 1995.

What made you stay?

“There was a time when half of my batch in my work place decided to resign because they didn’t like the job anymore, but, unbelievably, I was one of the people who stayed and continued the journey.” She explained how she enjoyed the work of being an agricultural technician, how she enjoyed going to farms and fields, and how she enjoyed experiencing the lives of the farmers. “While I’m sharing something to them, I’m also learning many things from them. It’s a win-win situation.”

What’s unique in being an AEW compared to other professions?

As an AEW, she claimed that work is very enjoyable even if it is very exhausting and very tiring. She got to go and enjoy visiting farms, talking to farmers and appreciating life more. “Compared to other professions that is only situated in the four corners of a room and they only see a limited view of life whereas being an extentionist, I could see a wilder and bigger horizon every time I visited farms and fields. I can appreciate all the things I see andf eel the fresh mountain breeze.”

She added, “The scorching heat of the sun does not matter because in my heart the love of agriculture and farmers is there and the happiness and satisfaction is overflowing. There’s a saying that goes ‘people in agriculture age less because of the exposure.’”

How to be an outstanding AEW?

Her two national awards were the 2014 Agri Pinoy Rice Achiever Awards for Agricultural Extension Workers and the National Quality Corn Achievers Awards in 2015. She said that these awards where fruits of her efforts of always trying and never quitting. “I never stopped my ambitions while I’m still alive. I believe that if it’s for you, it will be given to you.”

She added that for a person to be successful, one must need to be hard working. One must not count everything that he does, it must be heartily given. Don’t count the time, money and effort that were rendered because of work.

The spiritual guidance she does by praying every day and offering everything to the Lord helped her to face every struggle and workrelated challenges given to her.

It was destiny

“The choice to be an AEW, I never regret that.” She said that at first she might have thought that she was not sure, but with perseverance and hard work, she surely reaped the feeling of enjoyment and contentment of what she has now. “All struggles will be paid off.” she added.

As realization, she claimed that even if she did not become a nurse, she still helped her fellow countrymen, not only the sick ones but every citizen of Mahayag, because being an AEW helps every farmer in producing food for the people.

Story by: Chared D. Ladera

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ATI Today

Extension services continue to evolve. With the challenges that extension workers and farmers face, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) continues to explore various strategies to improve its efforts as the extension and training arm of the Department of Agriculture. In over 30 years, the ATI has celebrated various successes and learned from the lessons during hard times. Nonetheless, we are proud to be standing the test of time through the support of our partners and the clientele themselves. This is the ATI Today, more committed to bring you extension services beyond boundaries.