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November 8, 2017

Faces of Fauquier: Agent specializes in horticulture

“I like working with people,” Tim Ohlwiler says. “I feel like I’m able to help educate people about different horticultural topics and help them solve problems on their farms, in their gardens.”
Life’s not all work or all play. And that’s how you were supposed to live life. The idea was there was to be a balance.
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Staff Journalist
The horticultural extension agent first developed a penchant for plant life in his family’s backyard.

“When we were kids, my father put us out there every Saturday, working,” recalls Tim Ohlwiler, the youngest of four children who grew up in Kaysville, Utah. “We had a big vegetable garden and a little orchard. And, I liked it.”

Years later, as a high school student, Mr. Ohlwiler interviewed the hometown extension agent for a career exploration class project.

“That just kind of stuck with me as something that sounded interesting,” the 41-year-old extension agent says of that experience.

Based in Warrenton, Mr. Ohlwiler primarily works with commercial agricultural operations in Fauquier and Rappahannock counties.

Their interests range far and wide, including:

• Crop and soil management.

• Pest, disease and weed control.

• Zoning and taxation.

• Product marketing and distribution.

“Every aspect of commercial agriculture,” says Mr. Ohlwiler, a Warrenton resident. “It’s not that I know all this stuff. It’s just that I field these questions and try to get people the right resources.”

He does that over the phone and through the internet, one-on-one “consultations” and formal training in the extension office at 24 Pelham St.

Besides traditional farms, Mr. Ohlwiler assists nurseries, small fruit and tree fruit operations, vineyards and the people who serve some of those industries, such as landscapers and arborists.

“There’s also things that maybe you wouldn’t think of as horticultural crops, like sod farms,” he adds.

Winter proves the busiest time for training and education, because “all of the people I’m working with aren’t growing then,” Mr. Ohlwiler says. “Summer is actually my slow time.”

As extension agent, he has helped create the Fauquier Education Farm, “Green Grass” water quality program, an introductory commercial landscaping program and a new and beginning farmer training program.

Through the Master Gardeners’ program, he has helped train more than 250 volunteers.

“I like seeing people be successful,” Mr. Ohlwiler says about one of his job’s great pleasures.

His hobbies including running (“It makes my brain feel better.”), creating mosaics, bonsai and museum hopping in Washington, D.C.

• Age
41

• Home 
Warrenton

• Work
Horticultural extension agent, Virginia Cooperative Extension, 2008-present; agriscience teacher, Marshall and Taylor middle schools, 2003-08.

• Why do you do the job?
I like working with people. I feel like I’m able to help educate people about different horticultural topics and help them solve problems on their farms, in their gardens.

• Family
Partner, Jimmie Emmett.

• Education
Master’s degree, career and technical/agricultural education, Virginia Tech, 2003; bachelor’s degree, plant science, Utah State University, 2001; associate’s degree, general education, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, 1998; Davis High School, Kaysville, Utah, 1995.

• Civic and/or church involvement
Board member, Fauquier Community Food Bank and Thrift Store, 2014 to present.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
Fourteen years.

• Why do you live here?
I work here. It’s beautiful. I live on the East Coast because it has rain and trees. I’ve moved many times in my life. Moving to Warrenton was one of the easiest moves. I felt like I met people and developed a community rather quickly.

• How do you describe this county? 
A big county that has a strong agricultural base. It has lots of new people as well. It has the resources to address the problems and issues we have. Transportation is definitely one. Affordable housing is another. With the (Fauquier Community Food Bank & Thrift Store), I certainly see problems with access to resources. Because people are so spread out, sometimes it’s really hard for people to get to jobs, the food bank, health care — you name it.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
Take out all of the stops lights on (Route) 29. I think they should make 29 like the George Washington Parkway — just have little interchanges up and down it. I used to be a shuttle bus driver for Timely Express (in Warrenton). It was kind of my summer job when I taught. I would drive people to the airports and to the train station. And I always liked driving on the George Washington Parkway.

• What do you do for fun? 
Run. Make mosaics. I like my bonsai. I like to go to museums in D.C. And I like to go to gardens. I don’t have time to do it all, all of the time. But every weekend I try to get some of it in.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Besides this office? I really like Rady Park (in Warrenton). I go walking there a lot. It’s pretty close to home. It’s beautiful and peaceful. And there’s often a lot of people around, pick-up soccer games — not that I play. It feels like a community gathering place.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years? 
Maybe it will be full of driverless cars and driverless tractors. I think that has the ability to address some of those really big transportation issues that we’re having and maybe even address some of the labor issues in the agricultural world.

• Favorite TV show?
I don’t own a TV. I haven’t owned one since college. I find it to be a waste of time.

• Favorite movie? 
“The Shawshank Redemption.”

• Favorite book?
“Les Miserables,” by Victor Hugo

• Favorite vacation spot? 
Antelope Island, near Salt Lake City, Utah.

• Favorite food? 
Peanut butter and honey sandwich, toasted, with milk.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom? 
My mother. Life’s not all work or all play. And that’s how you were supposed to live life. If you were always working, that was not the way to live. And if you were always playing, that wasn’t the way to live either. The idea was there was to be a balance.

• Who’s your hero and why?
My dad. He’s just so consistent and so level-headed. He’s always been around. He’s not the guy who’s going to give you lots of advice. He’s just quiet.

He modeled the way he wanted his children to grow up. He wants us to love each other and stay in relationships with one another. He wants us to be honest and work hard and be very conservative with money. He wants us to exercise. He wanted us to be involved in our community. He wanted us to serve others.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
Buy a farm. Hire somebody to manage it. I’d keep my job. Pay off my mortgage. I don’t know that $5 million would do all of that, but I can dream that it would. 

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Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at cbrown@fauquiernow.com, Don Del Rosso at don@fauquiernow.com or Editor Lou Emerson at LKE@FauquierNow.com.
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Stacie Griffin · November 9, 2017 at 12:33 pm
Tim is a wonderful person and teacher. A gentle giant who quietly makes a huge impact in our community. From his team efforts to bring the Education Farm, his teaching and coordination of the Master Gardener program that impacts our community and our schools, his beautification efforts at Rady Park, School House #18 in Marshall and so much more, thank you Tim for your part in making Fauquier such a beautiful place to live.
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