There was a surprise at the Morgan County Extension Board annual meeting and banquet recently. Chris Parker, long-time ag educator and also head of the Morgan County Extension Office staff, was recognized by his board for nearly 30 years of service to Morgan County.
Parker actually completes 30 years in February. In accepting the plaque recognizing his accomplishment, he noted that he would complete his 30 years and begin another year of service in February. There was no hint of retirement in his remarks.
Jason Henderson, Director of Purdue University Extension was on hand to see Parker receive the award. So was Parker's wife, Susan, and his daughter, Lara.
While it's becoming rare for someone to spend 30 years in Extension these days, it's especially unusual to spend it in the same county. Parker's ability to adapt to the needs of the county probably go a long way in explaining why he has been able to continue to serve the county productively for nearly three decades.
He emphasizes natural resource management in much of his programming, because the county is diversified and has a large amount of natural resources, including woods, part of a state forest, ponds and lots of hay and pasture land. He regularly writes a column, Forage Corner, for Indiana Prairie Farmer, and is also a panelist on the long-standing Profit Planners published in Indiana Prairie Farmer each month.
Parker relates a couple of his memories. In 2008 he scheduled a woodlot management field day on his father's farm. It was zero degrees the morning it was supposed to happen. "My dad said I was nuts and no one would show up," Parker recalls. "Twenty-eight of the 30 registered came. We went until noon, when it was a balmy 10 degrees."
Then in 2012 he scheduled a pond management field day on his father's farm. "Time for the program came and it was 104 degrees at 4 in the afternoon," he says. "I decided I was nuts – nobody would come. Thirty-five people showed up, and we went on until 8:30 p.m., when it finally cooled off to 96 degrees. "