Clinton County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources Phil Smith will be leaving that position the first of January, as he has announced his retirement after having served this county in that capacity for the last decade.
Smith, a native and current resident of Monroe County, will turn 54 next February and plans to catch up on some things he hasn’t had time to do up to now.
Smith is a 1976 high school graduate of the former Tompkinsville High School. He attended Somerset Community College, then went on to the University of Kentucky where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education in May of 1981.
The retiring extension agent has a varied work career, having taught vocational agriculture for three years–two years at Lenoir City, Tennessee and one at Scott High in Huntsville, Tennessee.
Following the short teaching stint, Smith came back home to Monroe County, where he worked at Beldon Wire and Cable from 1984 through May 1988, combining that job with farming as a sideline.
Smith got his first job with the UK Extension Service in 1989, when he became Extension Agent for Whitley County until the end of 2002. He obtained the same position here in Clinton County in January of 2003, where he has worked since that time, again all the while, doing some farming on his own throughout.
“I’ve been at it a long time now and I began looking at hanging it up,” Smith said about his pending retirement.
He said the primary goal, or mission of the University’s Extension Service program was to take research based information out to the public through educational methods so that folks can use that information to better their lives.
Smith said he always loved his job, noting one of the best aspects was there were never two days the same and a lot of changes.
The extension agent noted that probably the biggest change he has seen since becoming an extension agent was the shift away from tobacco to other diversified farming practices, primarily in the cattle, and more specifically beef cattle industry and livestock in general, as well as forage crops, to name a few.
Even though the trend in most recent decades has shifted somewhat to large farm operations, Smith said he believed there would always be potential for small farmers. However, now it usually takes off-farm supplemental income, or jobs, to go with the small farm. “It’s hard to make it with (a small farm) alone.”
After retirement, Smith said he plans on continuing to farm at his home in Monroe County, do gardening and generally catch up on doing some things he hasn’t had time for over the past several years.
Smith said he wouldn’t take anything for the people he has met and the friendships he has developed in the two counties (Whitley and Clinton) over the years and said he appreciated the opportunity to have served the people of those counties.
The best part of the job as extension agent, he went on to say, was helping people and developing friendships along the way. “It’s worth more than anybody’s money,” Smith added.
“I appreciate the opportunity Clinton Countians gave me to serve them over the past 10 years and I wouldn’t take anything for the friendships that I’ve developed here,” he concluded.