Life doesn’t always happen in the order that you would like it or even expect it to. A short three weeks ago retirement from UW-Extension was the last thing on my mind. Then a challenging opportunity was tossed my direction that melded two of my greatest passions: forage crops and writing.
After many discussions with my wife, I decided to retire from a job I still love to do after 27 years and accept this new challenge during the home stretch of my work career. Enough of me; this final column is all about appreciation for you.
Let’s start with the farmers of this county — all of them. What many times began as a UW-Extension client relationship often ended as a lifelong friendship. Through the years, we battled droughts, frosts, floods, low markets and a bevy of crop pests. We also enjoyed the good times. Together, we sat through thousands of pesticide applicator certification slides and talked for countless hours on the phone. We walked fields, went to meetings and laughed until we cried. You — the farmers — are what made this job great and I thank you for all that you’ve done and taught me.
The agribusiness and media infrastructure in our county is second to none. They made my job so much easier with their support of both money and personnel. So many times they helped make UW-Extension programs successful. Did we sometimes disagree on farm management issues? Yes, but it was always with respect and the knowledge that all of us were trying to make farms more productive and profitable.
I’ve always been so thankful that our local media outlets have kept agriculture a part of the news; this doesn’t happen in every county. The agribusiness professionals have been outstanding career partners and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
For 27 years I’ve hung my hat in the Fond du Lac County Extension office; actually, that’s not exactly true because I usually wear my hat all day. Nevertheless, the office team (currently totaling 14 women and me) has made it extremely easy to come to work. We’ve gotten along so well it’s almost sickening. I’ve tried insults and practical jokes, but with little success — they still seemed to like me. The few changes we’ve had in staff over the years hasn’t made much difference; the nauseating euphoria just continued. Our office leads the league in group hugs and potluck lunches. I thank all of you, my co-workers past and present, for your unwavering support and putting up with my little quirks. I’ll never forget the many laughs we’ve shared.
Finally, I’d like to thank Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel and the members of the Board of Supervisors for their steadfast support of our UW-Extension office. Working with the knowledge that we are appreciated by those who oversee the operation has been paramount to job satisfaction and effectiveness. I/we never forget that our duties are tied to the taxpayers of this great county.
All careers must come to an end. I am proud that I got to play a small part in forwarding the Wisconsin Idea: expanding the boundaries of the university to the boundaries of the state. Though I will now take-up a new challenge and opportunity, be assured that my years in Fond du Lac County will forever define who I am. Thank you all.
Mike Rankin, Crops and Soils Agent, UW Extension-Fond du Lac County