“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)
When I came home to Smith County as the new Agriculture Agent back in 2014, it was a dream come true and a position I thought would carry me to retirement. After dozens of farm production classes and field days, hundreds of farm visits, and untold numbers of conversations with farmers, I still believe in and love the work that UT Extension does.
While I could happily stay in this job I love, I think God has different plans. As some may know, I am beginning a new position this month with UT Extension as the Central Region Director. In that role, I will have the opportunity to provide leadership and service to 31 counties in middle TN.
While I am excited about this new opportunity, it is certainly bittersweet. It is difficult to leave so many farmers I have worked with and think so highly of. I have often said that I have learned more from them than they have from me, and that is the truth. I have tremendous respect for those who battle weather, input prices, land development, pests, government regulations, etc. to feed the world. I hope I have helped make that burden easier for them at times.
I am comforted by the knowledge that I will still be able to live in Smith County and be a part of this community. I agree with Mayor Mason that it is the greatest place in the world, and there is no place my wife Amanda and I would rather raise our girls.
I am thankful to our industry partners, volunteers, and local officials who have supported and funded our programs, sponsored meetings, and helped in various other ways. While I won’t try to list them all for fear of omitting someone, please know that your efforts are appreciated.
I also appreciate the Carthage Courier and Smith County Insider for giving me a space to write each week. I have enjoyed writing the “Ag News & Views” column, and I hope that whoever follows me will be given the same opportunity to provide education on this platform.
Finally, I must say a word about my co-workers. I will be leaving the greatest office staff anyone could ask for. Rachel, Katie, Mary, and Nancy are high-character professionals who work hard every day to serve our farmers, families, and 4-H members. Being their co-worker has been nothing but a joy, and when I count my blessings, I count them twice.
I’m looking forward to this new role and the new responsibilities that come with it. One of those responsibilities is hiring my replacement, which I promise will be someone who loves agriculture and has the heart to serve our farmers and our community. The technical aspects of the job I can teach them, but the heart to serve and teach is something they must have within.
Thank you all for reading each week, and please know the UT Extension office in Smith County is still here to help. Until our paths cross again, thank you for the memories!