My previous article was titled “Retirement 1.0, which was about my wife, Linda’s retirement.  The time has come for the second installment, Retirement 2.0.  August 5 I will officially be retiring from the Natural Resources Conservation Service after thirty years.  I have been planning and talking about it for a while but putting the words down on paper I pause because my hands begin to tremble and my eyes become a little misty.  I guess I can liken the feeling to when I walked my daughter down the church isle at her wedding.  We had been planning for it to happen,  was so excited for her big day, ready to see her on to the next chapter in her life, but emotional that the time had come to take the final steps down the aisle.  These are my final steps.

   My career has been a blessed journey.  I have been working with some of the best people in the business of conservation.  We are not co-workers, we are family.  The people in the NRCS agency are not just government employees, they care about the land and all it means to everyone.  There is passion in their hearts for the land.  From the field office staff to the zone office staff, all work together for one common goal, conservation.  The support from the zone especially the engineers that I have worked under have encouraged and supported be in my career.  I would not have achieved the technical knowledge to serve the producers in the counties that I have served without their guidance.  Especially Ken Foerster.  We have talked conservation, construction, techniques and philosophy.  He started out as my mentor and will always be my mentor.  And he continues to serve for a while longer.  The Ballinger office is part of the San Angelo team.  The team members from Tom Green, Coke and Sterling Counties have made team meetings very enjoyable to say the least.  Our team leader Ron Crumley will bend over backwards to help you out and though I am “high maintenance” I will miss you guys.  Wade Day is my counter-part there in San Angelo and will be taking over the field work here in Runnels County.  He is very good at what he does and has trained with Ken also.  I feel confident the producers here will be left in good hands.

   I previously worked in the counties of Coleman, Coke, Mitchell and Concho counties.  I now assist Taylor, Nolan and of course Runnels county.  I like to think that with the talent that God gave me I am able to take the problem a landowner has on his property and then see a solution to the problem.  I always remember that mine is only a suggestion to the landowner and that it is always “his or her” final decision.   Farmers and ranchers are a special breed of people and I feel rewarded to have been able to work with them on their land.

   I was always told to make a mark in the world and make it a better place.  I can drive around the county today and see the lines on the land that I have been instrumental in putting there.  My first love has always been terraces.  From the survey, to the design and then construction it has been my favorite. I sometime wonder at the miles of terraces that I have designed but going back even farther to building them with my family.

   I could keep rambling but I realize that the paragraph that I am avoiding is this one.  The Ballinger field office has had many trainees assigned here over of time.  Almost all are now in positions across the state of Texas.  The current staff of Chris Wolfenbarger, Aaron Johnson are conservation planners.  This is a training assignment for Aaron.  Chris is a permanent position.  These young men are stellar in their knowledge of plants and continually seeking to grow their knowledge.   It has been great to know them and I appreciate the friendship that has formed.  Kathy and Kay, wow, how does a person put down of paper what you both mean to me.  We have experienced the passing of loved ones together, happy times, tough times and great times. Through them all we have been the support for each other in the business setting.  I call it business setting because it is an office, but really it’s a home away from home. We spend as much awake time here as we do at home.  Thank you both from the bottom of my heart.  Kathy and I started at the same time and have served our entire careers together. 

   Since Linda’s retirement in May, and me now, we begin a new chapter in our lives with new adventures and new grandbabies.  Linda has been my rock through all these years. She keeps me focused on our life’s path.  Again, God blessed me, with a wonderful wife and family.  So in closing I will say good-bye to this chapter in my life and begin a new one.  I have not decided if the “On the Level “will continue, we will see.  Thanks to all who read it and for all the acknowledgement and support from the readers.  So for now stay “ON THE LEVEL”.

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