This will be my last newsletter to you all. My time on the ACE Board as ACE Retiree Director comes to a close at this year's meeting in Memphis.
It's been an interesting ride, serving as the elder statesman on the ACE Board. Not so many years ago -- well, it's actually been 15 years -- I served as ACE president and recall the sage advice of folks like Keith Remy and others who served as Retiree Director during my time on the Board. My hope is that I have helped the Board in some small way to make well-informed decisions.
But I have to say that my best memories will be communicating with you all as I gathered information for this newsletter. That's been a real treat.
I would recommend that you consider serving in this position, if contacted. It takes about as much time as you would like to give it. You get to work with bright, energetic leaders of our profession as they lay the future groundwork for ACE. Plus your travel and lodging is paid for you to attend both the annual conferences and the fall board meetings.
So stay in touch. And I know you will be as responsive to Janet as you have been to me as we call for your newsletter contributions that make this correspondence as meaningful as possible.
Thanks to you all,
ACE Retiree Director
A transition is on its way and Janet Rodekohr will be your new director as of June 17. Janet needs no introduction. She was ACE president in 1996-97 and served in communication and marketing leadership roles at the University of Georgia for many years before retiring in 2001.
Here are a few fun facts about the incoming ACE retiree director that probably did not appear in her bio she provided for the ACE Retiree Director ballot. We nearly lost her in 1971 when, as an IFYE (International 4-H Youth Exchange) delegate to Finland on a side trip to the Soviet Union, a Russian soldier aimed a machine gun at Janet for wandering off in the wrong direction. Also, she's a risk taker, having skied the Matterhorn. And her linage is also interesting. Her grandmother's sister sold her orange grove in California to some guy named Walt Disney. I hope the price was right!
All kidding aside, you are in good hands.
Janet and I hope to see you in Memphis. And if not there, then perhaps New Orleans in 2017.
This year's conference features marketing impact and measurement guru Katie Paine, National Civil Rights Museum president Terri Lee Freeman, and Monsanto's online engagement director Janice Person. Michael Porter, a songwriter from Memphis, will conduct two workshops: one on songwriting and one on creativity. And there's more. There will also be a number of breakout sessions led by our members from across the country and the annual auction and side trips into and around the Memphis community. Registration is online. You can attend one day or the entire conference.
I want to call your attention to the afternoon of Sunday, June 12, for a time of fun and nostalgia when we will hold our retirees’ business meeting, followed by the ACE Past President's Reception (open to all ACE retirees in attendance). Then we proceed to the general opening session for the conference. Except for the cash bar at the general session, the afternoon and early evening activities are free. For planning purposes, these activities typically start at 3 p.m. But be sure to check the program when you arrive.
Gary Beall sadly reports the deaths of two former California ACE members, Ray Coppock and Jerry Lester.
Ray, 94, passed in February, and Jerry, 95, passed last August. Both were retired communications specialists for the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. They were based on the UC Davis campus.
Ray began his UC career in 1960 after stints as a reporter for first the Madera News Tribune and then the Sacramento Bee. He retired in 1987, but returned to campus to work as a part-time editor and writer at the UC Agricultural Issues Center until 2001.
Jerry worked at California Farmer magazine before becoming editor of California Agriculture, UC's agricultural research magazine. He later became a communications specialist, covering agricultural research activities on the Berkeley and Davis campuses of the University of California.
Jim and Marlene Evans send their best from the Illinois prairie where they continue to enjoy their rural home. Daughter Dena and husband Bruce live nearby while son Lynn and his family live in southern Tennessee and son Loren and his family in southern Indiana. A family popcorn project emerged after Jim retired in 1995, continuing an interest his father had pursued throughout his farming career. Their small-scale operation serves a niche that features gourmet varieties of colored popcorn.
Jim's profession-related interests include the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. It is an international resource and service housed in the University of Illinois Library. As a volunteer associate, he helps identify documents of interest, process citations into the online-searchable database and coordinate a monthly e-newsletter. The collection contains nearly 42,000 documents at this 35th anniversary year. Jim remains amazed by the literature of this field and encouraged by the growing research agenda. He also continues to enjoy contacts with students, faculty, alumni and others.
A couple special thoughts come to Jim's mind for your consideration:
Please let Jim know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 217-684-2354 if you would like to visit about these and other possibilities.
Laura retired at the end of November 2015 from a 26-year career at Iowa State University. For the past 17 years, she had been communications specialist at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, producing several newsletters, numerous publications and displays, and maintaining the Center's extensive website and social media. She's looking forward to spending more time with grandchildren, gardening, keeping bees and presenting programs for children and adults about beekeeping and pollinator awareness.
John retired last year around Halloween with 34 years at LSU. He loves LSU, the LSU AgCenter and his co-workers but the state budget was in shambles and predicted to only get worse. Louisiana depends on oil revenues and the precipitous drop in oil prices meant disaster for the state’s economy. It seems that the university takes the brunt of a financial hit.
A newspaper article about the doom and gloom of state finances, a retirement incentive, and ensuring a fiscally sound state retirement system, John retired.
Serendipity had a lot to do with the timing. The big decision maker was his wife’s health. She was using a walker at the time and eventually diagnosed in need of a new hip. John provided 24/7 care for her before and after her hip replacement surgery. She’s progressed well and is now walking without a cane and without pain.
Life is good. John's catching up on all the long overdue house projects, he'll soon walk his niece down the aisle, and look after his grandkids. He dabbles in photography and volunteers a little at LSU.
John spends a little time at the farm. He owns 425 acres of forested land that has been in the family since the 1850s. It’s designated as a stewardship forest and was recently recognized as a Louisiana Century Farm.
He is a motorcycle enthusiast and has a BMW sport tourer. John hopes to crisscross the US in years to come. He joined the Asheville BMW Riders group in North Carolina because he liked their logo! Like John, the motorcycle is silver and loves the mountains. He’ll be in Asheville in May on his first trip where the group hosts an endurance ride (the Blue Ridge Boogie) as a fundraiser for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. Last year the riders raised $13,000 for the foundation at the event. Funds will be used for education, signage, projects, etc.
Then it’s off to Gettysburg for a rally, where motorcyclists from around the country volunteer a day’s work on a project at the Gettysburg Battlefield. Then it's a return trip, "carving the twisties" over the 574 miles over Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville. Then, if his arthritis holds, he’ll head home by way of Nashville on the Natchez Trace Parkway to Natchez and then to Baton Rouge.
John says he will owe his wife a few weeks at the beach before he'll consider the next ride, this time out West – Pikes Peak, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Peak to Peak Hwy, and San Juan Mountain Highway, all in Colorado; Chief Joseph Highway and Bear Tooth Highway in Wyoming and Montana; then maybe taking in the Highway to the Sun in Glacier National Park, Montana.
Memphis – June 12-17, 2016
New Orleans – June 11-17, 2017
2018 – Possibly meeting with Ag Media Summit in July