Alice Smith

Once a year I take the opportunity to personalize this column a bit. While I enjoy writing about timely information in the areas of nutrition, food preparation, wellness, child development and family life or family resource management. Over the past nine years we have covered a wide variety of topics and I hope that I have helped you in some small way.

But just as the seasons are changing our life path changes as well. At the end of September we will move into fall and enjoy the beauty of the changing leaves, the cool crisp air, space opening up as the fields are harvested, pumpkins, mums, the sounds of football games complete with marching bands and much more. As a child I looked forward to getting home from school, changing clothes and hurrying to the field to take dad a snack and climbing in the wagon of newly harvested corn or soybeans and riding back to the barnyard.

In life we change seasons as well and as September comes to an end so does my professional career as I retire from Purdue Extension. Over the past 50 years, since graduating from high school, I have had some wonderful career opportunities. Purdue Extension was a great capstone for my career of education and service to others.

Fifty years ago, I started my education at Purdue and earned a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education while always thinking about a job that was then called Home Demonstration Agent. Life took me on other paths that have been very valuable to me.

After supervising a hospital kitchen and working with a caterer, I worked as an Electric Living Consultant for a major utility and was able to work with homeowners who were just getting electricity on their home or designing kitchen and lighting plans for them. We taught hundreds to use a new cooking device called a microwave oven and we helped people understand electricity and caring for their home.

I also taught in Newton, Jasper and Wabash Counties. Together with the students we learned about each other, relationships, health, nutrition and food preparation, child development, personal and home care and much more.

I had the opportunity to work with bands, theater groups and athletic teams as well. This was followed with the opportunity to assist and care for several as they passed from this time to a more permanent part of life.

My time with Purdue Extension has been a capstone to all the other experiences. Teaching has still been an important part of my life, I have been able to teach what people want to learn, rather than what the state mandates. It has been an honor to work with young children as they explore and learn about life as well as working with seniors who are exploring changes as they age.

We have been learning about new methods of food preparation and difficult challenges that our youth are facing. We also worked with many as they explored leadership in the community.

As I begin retirement I will continue to volunteer in the community, and help identify the needs of the community. I will be able to devote more time to sewing for others, and working with my church and Fendig Summer Theatre. Finally, I will be able to spend more time with family and friends as well as simply taking care of myself and doing the crafts that I have been putting off for years! Hopefully I can have a better garden and more beautiful flowers.

As always, I encourage everyone to continue to learn, to grow and to help others. It is important to find new interests, learn about yourself and others and to learn new skills. It is also important to appreciate the beauty around you, to enjoy the flowers and sunsets and to listen to the birds. I hope to do all these things now that I will have more available time.

Last week I was in Dubois County Indiana and was reminded of the wide diversity of our state and the beauty of each type of terrain. I plan to spend some time visiting the back roads of Indiana and the surrounding area.

I want to thank the people of Jasper County for all they do for the county. It has been my pleasure to serve you for most of the past decade. You have welcomed me in to you homes, businesses and schools and I know you will continue to be open to what Purdue Extension offers in the future.