I’ve spent over 34 years working for NC State University and NC Cooperative Extension. My first two years out of graduate school, I taught several classes at NC State University and also worked as an Extension Research Associate helping with vegetable budgets used across the state. I then took my first NC Cooperative Extension position serving as an Area Farm Management Agent in seven western NC counties (Henderson up to Watauga). After two years of that, I was promoted to the Western North Carolina Tennessee Valley Authority Program Coordinator for the 13 most western counties. Then, I worked out of the WNC Extension and Research Center adjacent to the Asheville Airport for five years. I got to work with many neat farms and projects all over Western NC during that spell. Next, due to the opening of the Alexander Extension Director position, came the beckoning call to come back home. I applied, was successful, and began my career here as of January 1, 1995. I’ve now been the County Extension Director here in Alexander County for over 25 years. But now, it’s time to give somebody else the opportunity.
Besides being given the opportunity to work back home close to family and relatives, I’ve been blessed to work with many fine people over the years. I’ve had some great employees and have enjoyed working with many great growers, homeowners, partnering agency folks, and other Extension Agents. No one day has ever been the same. My days have included: helping a grower diagnose a disease and recommending a treatment, teaching a Master Gardener class, helping a homeowner identify an insect in the garden and then recommending a solution, attending trainings, holding a field day, teaching a pesticide class for farmers or landscapers, filming an episode for the Government Channel’s Garden Calendar, helping a landscaper with a tree or lawn problem, teaching garden or honey bee classes at elementary schools, checking my orchard insect traps, helping build or maintain various community gardens, helping set up and manage the local farmers market, lining up or helping facilitate beekeeper or garden club meetings, doing lots of office paper work of course, and much, much more.
All in all, it’s been a great job. I’ve truly enjoyed working outside in Western NC and in our beautiful county. I’ve also really enjoyed seeing the seasons change and seeing beautiful agricultural fields and operations. I’ll always cherish meeting and making lifelong friends along the way. But most importantly, I’ll forever be thankful for having a career where you get to go help people that need and want help and who truly appreciate what you can do for them. I’ve been blessed.
What are my plans, you might ask? I’ll just be out in Ellendale taking care of my bees, gardens, and other things I truly enjoy. I may help my brother out with some of his house construction projects on occasion. I definitely plan to travel some to visit my awesome kids: Rachel – Costa Rica, Hannah – Washington DC, and Ben – Hickory. I’ll also get to take a few more trips with my wife, Elena, whom I met at a National Extension Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. She was a Florida Extension Agent at the time, but now works for NC Cooperative Extension covering the western half of our state with on-farm produce safety.
If I don’t get to say goodbye in person as an Extension Agent, I’ll still be around. I’ll see you out and about in town or other parts of the county. So, until then, see you later. I’ve truly enjoyed the ride!