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ACE Retiree Update

March 2016

In this issue, we invite you to consider attending the 2016 annual conference, we welcome three new life members and a retiree, we get a couple of updates from others, we feature Lyn Jarvis' active life in retirement, and Bob Kern provides a wonderful piece on his mentor, Dutch Elder.  We also sadly report the passing of John Brien, our wonderful Aussie life member, who was instrumental in the development of our International SIG.  

— Bob Furbee, ACE Retiree Director


Memphis 2016

Three months to our annual meeting in Memphis and several retirees have expressed an interest in attending.  You can register for the entire meeting or register daily.  Either way, retirees get a significant discount.  

You can join us for free on the afternoon of June 12, 2016, to meet with other retirees and past ACE presidents before going to the general reception in the early evening.  

More detailed information on the meeting is forthcoming.  Meeting registration will begin in about a month.  Stay tuned.

The Passing of John P. Brien 

Our Australian ACE Life Member John Patrick Brien passed away earlier this year.  John was a specialist in communication of science and technical information.  After graduating in Agricultural Sciences at the University of Melbourne in 1954, he started his career as an information officer at the Victorian Department of Agriculture.  He undertook postgraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and continued close affiliation with UW colleagues all his life.

He held the first appointment in Agricultural Extension at the University of Sydney  the 1970s to the early 1990s.  He then held  appointments at Macquarie University and Charles Sturt University; and he was a visiting fellow at the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii.

John served as a consultant for CSIRO and other organizations, including AUSAID, Australian Development Assistance Bureau, and the Asian Development Bank.  He had close ties with and spent several sojourns at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) at Los Banos in the Philippines (his PhD on knowledge utilization was based on IRRI).   He also undertook agricultural development and extension work around the world -- the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, India, China, Singapore, England, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Japan, and the USA.  He supervised many PhD students from around the world.

John was honored by ACE with the Award of Excellence in Research and the Award for Excellence in International Communication. John was instrumental in the development of the International SIG.  He was awarded the higher doctoral degree of Doctor of Agricultural Science by the University of Queensland in 2007.

John is survived by Marie, his wife of 57 years, and their children, Jo-anne, Mary Louise, John and Chris.  Condolences can be sent to Jo-anne at jo-anne.brien@sydney.edu.au

Member Life Updates 


Wolfgang Hoffman

Wolfgang reports that with plenty of heart medication, the occasional jolt from his pacemaker, the ongoing nudging from his Rottweiler, and healthy food from wife Katharine, he is still alive.  The occasional photo assignment helps keep him in touch with the college (University of Wisconsin) and keeps his eyes trained.  For Wolfgang, the fall hunting season was more of a live observation of the deer inventory.

Ed Poe

Since his retirement from USDA in 2006, Ed Poe and his wife have spent time touring and cruising in South America/Antarctica; western Europe; the Mediterranean (Italy); the Baltic Sea region and Russia; and Canada.  They enjoy exploring new landscapes including historic cities, medieval towns and museums.  In the summer, they spent time at Tenants Harbor, Maine on the Atlantic coast and attend antique shows and auctions.  The Poes purchased a modest cottage in the Tidewater area of Virginia near the Rappahannock River where they keep up a lawn and attend to flower gardens.  Also, they entertain their grandchildren and attend athletic events that they participate in.  Occasionally, they drive to nearby Williamsburg to see the ongoing mission that the Williamsburg Foundation is making to preserve and restore 18th Century colonial architecture.

Nancy Peterson

Having going through successful cataract surgery late last year, Nancy's grateful to be back to her normal healthy self; busy, at times more than she would like to be.  Among her activities are serving as a facilitator with AARP Tax-Aide Program and as treasurer for her HOA where she has helped reorganize their finances and business forms. 

New to Our Ranks 

2016 is proving to be an eventful year for our membership.  Since January 1 we have added three new life members and two new retirees.  Welcome Jim Coats, Elaine Edwards, and Laura Miller; and Randy Anderson and John Wozniak.  Here are updates on Jim and Elaine.

Jim Coats

Jim retired from the University of California on September 23, 2015, grateful for the wonderful people he worked with and the valuable work they've been able to do over the past 30-odd years.  

But he was ready to make some big changes in the direction of his life before his life makes the change in direction (earthward) for him.  He's tutoring reading for a second-grader through the Reading Partners program, he's doing a lot of photography and photo printing (mostly landscapes, textures, and graphic patterns), he's writing more than that (memoir, fiction, poetry; anything to keep the pen moving), and he's playing music a whole lot more than either of those (mostly bluegrass and Irish traditional).  The once-a-week group ukulele class he teaches just auditioned to play the national anthem at a minor league baseball game this summer. 

Jim's been trying to do at least one really improbable thing each week. But the trouble is that by following that sort of a pattern, you end up making the improbable a whole lot less improbable, and that can give him a bad headache. He notes, "Life is good. And retirement ain’t half bad, either."

Elaine Edwards

After a 28-year career with Extension in Kansas and Iowa, Elaine is now immersed in her second career as the owner and innkeeper of the Habberstad House Bed and Breakfast in beautiful Lanesboro, Minnesota, along with her husband Mark.  Lanesboro is at the heart of a 61-mile paved bike trail along the Root River. Thousands visit the community for outdoor and art activities.

Good communications and marketing along with excellent customer service are at the core of running a bed and breakfast. She is honing her skills in financial matters for running a small business, and is active in the local chamber and with citywide efforts. Goals include blogging on a regular basis and honing her photography skills. Yoga classes, book clubs, and church activities are also part of life in Lanesboro. 

Most recently, Elaine was at Kansas State for seven years, working with K-State Research and Extension as manager of the news media unit until June 2, 2015. Prior to that, she was at Iowa State University Extension for more than 21 years, both as a communications specialist and manager of communications.  

March 2016 Feature -- Lyn Jarvis

In 2002, Lyn Jarvis retired from University of Vermont Extension as producer of Across the Fence telecast on WCAX-TV, the CBS affiliate in Vermont.  This year it celebrated 60 years on the air and is the longest running farm and home show in the country.  Lyn has been involved for 40 of them...hard to believe.  Upon his retirement Will Mikell, the current producer, invited Lyn to serve as contributing editor and do a show the first Thursday of every month called “In the Kitchen with Across the Fence.”  It is very popular and a nice way to keep in contact with their many viewers.  

With free time, Lyn started to travel and purchased a Cannon XA10 to document his adventures.  These are aired on Across the Fence and below are links to shows done in Spain that aired n December 17 and 18, 2015.  

In Antarctica he captured a “Rolling Iceberg” on video that now has 566,337 hits on YouTube.  

He stills considers enrolling his work in the C&A competition.  

Since Memphis is one of his favorite cities, he hopes to be there in June.  

Dutch Elder, My Mentor 

Clarence R. “Dutch” Elder and I met by telephone between Ames, Iowa, and Decatur, Illinois, one Thursday afternoon in late February 1950. Two days earlier I had posted a letter to him at Iowa State College to ask about agricultural journalism master’s work.

About 20 months into my first job as Extension assistant farm adviser, the developmental tutelage by my county farm adviser was replaced by a nit-picking micro-manager. Something had to give. Over my interrupted college career, I had developed interest in writing, in agricultural journalism. With course electives I managed 34 hours in communications, but the University of Illinois 1948 graduation diploma said “general agriculture.” It was nearly a decade before Hadley Read got the ag com major that Jim Evans powered to, probably, the top world program in the field. 

My supportive and understanding spouse, Verba (who left my life after 66 years), and I saw the possibility of getting an ag journalism credential via a master’s degree. I focused inquiries on Iowa State, Cornell and Wisconsin.

On that Thursday afternoon, Elder told me he had a new graduate assistantship in Technical Journalism, and the next quarter started in nine days. After work the next day, Verna and I headed up the road. A week later, we moved to Ames. 

Dutch Elder became the powerful contributor to my professional life and a delightful friend over the next half century.

Dutch Elder, in 1950, was Extension Editor and Iowa State College Director of Information. After about 15 years in commercial journalism—from selling subscriptions to Farmer’s Wife to editing a biweekly newspaper in Clarke County, Iowa, he  came back to campus. A few weeks before the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, Dutch had become Extension Editor. Within a couple of years, Dutch had helped consolidate the dissemination services in agriculture and had also been appointed by the president as the college’s first Director of Information.

He had quickly made his mark nationally:  AAACE president in 1945-46; a formal and, especially informal, adviser within the U.S. Department of Agriculture; significant contributor to information and public relations methods within the Land-Grant College organization. And in the middle 1950s, he was the first chairman of the board for the National Project in Agricultural Communications. 

When Dutch came back to Iowa State, he was THE main professional communications resource of the Cooperative Extension Service in Agriculture and Home Economics. He wrote news services for farm magazines, daily and weekly newspapers, also how-to stories that county agents personalized for their local weeklies. And he hosted daily farm programs, putting station WOI on the air at 6 a.m., and handling a week-day noon-hour show. 

Under the press to promote farm output for World War II, Dutch got support for more professional staff for extension information: a full-time farm radio editor, a home ec editor, and an expanded agriculture writing staff. Among the early ones was Hadley Read, when he worked on his master’s. (At the time I left the unit in 1980, it numbered 17 professional writers, editors, visual, and broadcast specialists.)

Dutch functioned at the leading edge of communication technology. When Iowa State obtained a commercial television station license (possibly the first owned by a college), he was involved in its management oversight and added TV production specialists in both agriculture and home economics. And Iowa State hosted a regional AAACE program on television for extension programming. Photo typesetting came into his department on the heels of the spread of offset printing. 

By the mid-1950s, Dutch made the seamless transition with the change in college presidents. As President James H. Hilton sped the movement toward university (from origin as “cow college”), Dutch provided both strategy and substance for effective relationships within faculty, with town and gown, with legislators, never weakening the linkage of the Extension Information Service with the people and programs it carried out with the population of Iowa. 

A desk in the basement of Morrill Hall accommodated my addition to Dutch’s Extension Information Service staff. Dutch handed me over for work assignments to his associate editor, Al Parsons, a former county agent. I was the loose resource for writing, editing, or whatever, working half time as I pursued a graduate degree.

When the two ag writers went on to their dream jobs with farm magazines two years later, I had finished five quarters in graduate school. I went on appointment as the head of the two-man ag writing team. 

The “loose resource” nature of my work had some appeal to Dutch. Despite my main commitment to writing, he kept finding other things for me to do. One of the first was to take on research in a special USDA project on using television to “teach” economic ideas. This became my thesis research. Once appointed to a task, its resolution was in my hands, with advice available when chosen.

In immediate postwar years, Dutch had been involved in creating a “caravan” of traveling educational exhibits — a modernized version of the old corn and swine trains of the 19th century; these went by truck. He was central to renewing the idea for a run in the middle 1950s; and I found myself pulled out for temporary duty, to lead planning, construction, and on-the-road management of a 20-exhibit caravan of exhibits that played 34 city venues one-a-day per stop—in addition to this unusual challenge and opportunity, it earned me the backing for leave to get a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin 

In another of these “loose resource” missions, Dutch tapped Candace Hurley, home ec editor, and me to do communication-training programs for county extension staffs. We innovated the dual-teacher concept, with two of us on our feet interacting to offer training on writing, speaking, using visuals, etc. This started well before Train the Trainer in NPAC.

Dutch involved me, along with a colleague, Lee Thompson, for training as writers for self-administered discussion materials. These were widely used in four statewide extension public affairs programs. On occasions, he loaned me out to Cornell and the University of Maine to write materials for their use.

Dutch adopted an idea of “department editor” that Hadley Read had innovated at Illinois, but abandoned later. He started it with the ag writers as “account executives,” taking responsibility for planning dissemination programs with their extension-specialist colleagues and editing their publications.( Later, under my “regime” we expanded the concept to serve all our extension “client” departments. )

Iowa State President James H. Hilton retired in 1963, and Dutch chose to give up his dual directorates. He went with Hilton into activating Hilton’s dream, the Iowa State Center: a 2,600 seat presentation theater, a multi-use coliseum (from basketball and ice shows to concerts by the New York Philharmonic), a small theater for student productions, and a multipurpose building for Continuing Education, 

I was appointed to follow Dutch, becoming the second head of Extension Information Service (created in 1942, disbanded in 2015). For the next 17 years I filled the role. Through those years, four more in serving international agricultural research centers, then 18 years of international consulting in agricultural and environmental communication in 46 countries, I encountered little for which my years with Dutch Elder had not prepared me to face.

The last years of Dutch’s life (which ended gently) were lived in the same retirement community to which my spouse and I moved almost 30 years ago. One of my life’s treasured solemn opportunities was to offer the eulogy for this remarkable man. The most enduring, and endearing, memory from that experience was this reminder of his wit and humility. 

Dutch had written in memoir-like notes to his family: “I graduated from Iowa State College with a double major: Dairy and Journalism. In 1926 I didn’t have enough money to buy a cow, so I went into journalism.

And what a boon was that choice to we who knew him and enjoyed both pleasure and gain from the range of his abilities and depth of character! To me, perhaps most of all.

K. Robert Kern
Ames, Iowa
24 February 2016


CalendarUpcoming ACE Meetings

Memphis Meeting 2016 -- June 12-17
New Orleans Meeting 2017 -- June 11-17


Show 1


A Trip to Spain, Madrid


Come along with Lyn Jarvis and Sharon Meyer for a visit to the capital of Spain, Madrid. Visit the Royal Gardens, Cibeles fountain, and a visit to Valencia a...



Show 2


A Visit to Spain, Barcelona and Catalunya


Join Lyn Jarvis and Sharon Meyer for a visit to Barcelona and some of its sights such as the Church of Sagrada Familia and the Catalonia region of Spain with...

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Preview YouTube video A Trip to Spain, Madrid

A Trip to Spain, Madrid

Preview YouTube video A Visit to Spain, Barcelona and Catalunya

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