Randy Welk is back at the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Idaho Field Office in Boise after five years at the NASS National Operations Center in St. Louis.
As state statistician for Idaho, he succeeds Vince Matthews, who retired early this year. Welk on Aug. 13 started in his new position, which was subject to a temporary hiring freeze and then reopened to applicants around midyear.
“I am energized to come back to the state of Idaho and serve the industry here,” said Welk, 52. “My immediate plans are to be out of the office, and out among the producers and agricultural-industry folks. And I am going to do more listening than talking.”
His management and headquarters-unit experience in St. Louis followed a nearly 20-year stint with the NASS Idaho Field Office as a statistician. Earlier, he worked for NASS in Minnesota and Illinois.
From Boise, Welk moved to St. Louis as part of an organization-wide restructuring that created regional offices and downsized field offices. He got headquarters-level experience in Missouri, where he managed an IT team supporting regional offices.
“I am more rounded now as a representative of USDA NASS,” he said.
Welk hoped for a chance to return to Idaho.
He reported to his new job early so he could work in an agricultural service center USDA agencies plan to staff at the Western Idaho Fair Aug. 17-26 in Garden City. A current USDA initiative aims to create a comprehensive, one-stop-shop approach to serving constituents initially rather than emphasizing individual agencies.
“That is my goal, to meet as many people as I can, hear their stories and learn what we (USDA) can do for them,” Welk said.
He grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, where he participated in youth agriculture organizations and held leadership positions. He earned a degree in agricultural economics, with minors in farm management and animal science, from the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. He started his career with NASS in Illinois in 1989.
At the NASS Idaho Field Office, Welk works alongside Bill Sigrist, survey coordinator. The office is in the federal court building north of downtown Boise.