Morgans Pass Love of 4-H to a New Generation

Bill and Debbie Morgan

In one way or another, Bill and Debbie Morgan have spent most of their lives involved in UT Extension and 4-H. In fact, that’s where the couple first met, as Agent and Assistant Agent at the Union County Extension Office. And their four kids have gone through the program, inheriting a love of rural life and rural skills from their parents.

Bill grew up in Friendsville in Blount County and attended UT Knoxville as an agriculture major. He graduated in 1970 and got an internship in the Anderson County Extension Office. A lifelong 4-Her, it wasn’t long until he realized he wanted to be an Extension Agent and help bring 4-H programs and other services to rural communities. He worked as an assistant in Campbell County, then transferred to Union County in 1975, where he worked as Extension Agent until he retired in 1997.

“Extension is just a job of helping people,” said Bill. “4-H has a lot to offer kids. Responsibility, work and leadership. I was in Campbell County at the end of coal, and it left a lot of people in poverty and displaced. 4-H kids could still participate even in very meager economic situations. Very few programs can take kids like that and head them towards college and careers.”

Debbie is from West Tennessee. She attended UT Martin and applied to be an Assistant Extension Agent in the early 1980s. At the time, Extension jobs were scarce, so she had to wait a while. Even though the Union County job was far from home, she jumped at the chance.

“Extension appealed to me because of the service and education aspect,” she said. “The whole idea of it is that you have the university system, now how do you bring that to people in rural areas?”

As co-workers, the Morgans fell in love with Union County, but that wasn’t the only love story they told. They were married in 1987 because, “we thought we spent so much time together, we may as well get married,” said Debbie with a smile. But due to conflict of interest rules, Debbie had to quit her job at the Extension.

They started a family and bought 106 acres in Sharps Chapel, where they built the farm and home where they still live. The kids are grown now, all homeschooled. Anna is a junior in chemistry and education at UT. Sarah is a successful folk musician majoring in traditional music in Kentucky. Mary is interning with the Union County UT Extension this summer and majoring in animal science at UT Martin, and Jim graduated from high school this year and started a job in heavy equipment.

Debbie said they made the decision to homeschool because of the flexibility, family togetherness and the chance for Christian discipleship it offered. And from Mary’s passion for animals to Jim’s talent in showing sheep, and even reaching to skills like photography and public speaking, 4-H helped enrich the kids’ lives.

The Morgans look back fondly on their time at UT Extension, and reflect on the ways agriculture has changed in Union County. When Bill first came to Union County, there were 16 dairies and 400 tobacco farmers. Now, there are none. Most folks today grow beef cattle or vegetables.

“The Extension now has had to carve out a place of how they can meet the needs of the farmers that are farming today,” said Debbie, pointing out Extension programs like Master Beef and the Farmers Market. “You have to remember that your neighbors in the county are taxpayers, and (Extension) wouldn’t exist without their vision and their seeing value out of Extension. The farmer next door is your boss.”

“I know when I retired, I visited County Commission for the last time, and I had been involved in some way with every County Commission member there,” said Bill. “I think it just kind of showed how Extension can involve just about everybody in the county. You don’t have to be a farmer.”

It’s also rewarding to look back on former 4-Hers who have done well as adults. The Morgans named District Attorney Jared Effler, Todd Dykes of Hallsdale Powell Utility District and Glen Liford of Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, just to name a few.

“At our 4-H achievement banquet, we used to get motivational speakers,” said Bill. “But we don’t have to do that anymore. We just get former 4-Hers.”

The Morgans said they plan to keep helping and volunteering with 4-H and Extension programs, and they’re grateful for the skills farm life and 4-H helped instill in their children.

“It’s really important to have a love and a feel for regular people, down-to-earth people, people with skills, and just a general concern for rural people, those humble people just making a living,” said Debbie.

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Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 18:00
UNION COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION

REGULAR WORKSHOP UNION COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2018 6:00 p.m. Union County High School

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· Horace Maynard Middle School—51 Art Club Students to Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC Chiluly Exhibit September 28, 2018 (Sponsor Lindsey Lewis)

2. Budget Amendments and Transfers/Director’s Monthly Report—Ann Dyer

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FREE EYE EXAM AND GLASSES AVAILABLE FOR UNION COUNTY RESIDENTS
(South Claiborne County, Washburn, Powder Springs, and Corryton also welcome)
Sponsored by the Union County Lions Club
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2018
8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
150 Main Street, Maynardville, TN 37807 (Union County High School)
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY!
Call Kathy Chesney at (865) 566-3289
Glasses will be distributed 2-3 weeks after this event.
Sponsored by the Union County Lions Club,
In conjunction with the Smokey Mountains Lions Charities.

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Obituary

Lurtie Brewer

Lurtie Brewer-age 92 of Sharps Chapel went to Heaven Friday, September 21, 2018 at her home after battling an extensive illness. She is preceded in death by husband, Boyd Brewer; grandson, Billy Joe Turner; granddaughters, Connie Freeman, Maryann Cox; sons-in-law, Larry Cooper, Ray Martin and Bill Turner; three brothers and two sisters.

Curtis Wayne "Moose" Donahue

Curtis Wayne “Moose” Donahue-age 74 of Luttrell passed away Wednesday morning, September 19, 2018 at his home. He attended The Church of God of the Union Assembly in Luttrell. He was a retired drafter with Plasti-Line. Preceded in death by sons, Duane and Doyle Donahue; parents, John B. and Azalee Merritt Donahue; sister, Varnell Schaeffner; brothers, Radis, J. C., K. O., Benton, Tommy and Parnick Donahue.

Melvin Corum

Melvin Corum – age 78 of Maynardville, passed away peacefully at his home with his loving wife of 60 years by his side on Saturday, September 15, 2018. He was a member of Fellowship Christian Church in Luttrell. He especially loved the yearly fall festival and The Life of Christ drive thru exhibit. Melvin was a dirt track race car driver and won many championship races during his career. His latest hobby was restoring vintage cars and trucks.

Glen C. Carmon, Sr.

Glen C. Carmon, Sr.-age 72 of Maynardville passed away Monday morning, September 17, 2018 at Willow Ridge Center. Glen was a member of Fairview Baptist Church and a U. S. Army Veteran. Preceded in death by parents, Thurman and Hester Carmon; brother, Ed Carmon; sister, Ina Carmon.

Survivors: son, Carroll Carmon of Maynardville; daughter, Jennifer Buckner and husband, Tony of Luttrell; three grandchildren, Kali Buckner, Caleb Carmon and Christian Carmon; sisters, Mary Campbell, Marie Johnson and Betty Williams, all of Maynardville. Several nieces and nephews.

George David "Dave" Murphy

George “Dave” David Murphy, Sr., age 63, of Powell went to be with the Lord on September 16, 2018. He was a member of Central View Baptist Church. He enjoyed farming, raising pigs, and working. He adored his grandchildren. He loved helping people, as he would give you his last of anything. He was a selfless man of God. Preceded in death by parents Hobert and Christine Murphy; and brother Phillip Murphy. Survived by his wife of 45 years Kathy Murphy; children David Murphy, Jr.

Ermon T. Bullen, Jr.

Ermon T. Bullen, Jr.-May 2, 1932-Sept 14, 2018 of Corryton, known by everyone as Junior Bullen originally from Washburn, born to the late Ermon T. Bullen, Sr and Hila Johnson Bullen. Preceded in death by the love of his life of 58 years, Mildred Marsee Bullen. Junior was an Army Veteran and retired maintenance man from Claiborne County Hospital. He also loved traveling with Mamaw, watching grandkids and great grandkids at sporting events, plays and such and faithfully attended church where he was a member at Union Missionary Baptist Church.

Carl Edward Fielden

Carl Edward Fielden, age 84 of Halls Crossroads, peacefully entered into his eternal rest in the presence of his Lord Jesus Christ on September 15, 2018. Saved by God's merciful grace as a young man, Carl was a faithful member of Emory Valley Baptist Church. He served his country in the United States Air Force, honorably. He retired from Fairmont Supply located in Nashville, Tennessee. Preceded in death by parents Hobert and Amy Fielden, son Greg Fielden, all of Heiskell, sister Ann Tudor of Manchester, sister Geneieve Humphrey and brother Rev. Glen Fielden, all of Knoxville.

Raymond Eugene Clark

Raymond Eugene Clark age 71, of Knoxville went to be with with his Heavenly Father on Thursday, September 13, 2018 at his home surrounded by family. He was a member of Texas Valley Baptist Church. Raymond lived most of his life in the Halls Community and was an avid sports fan of all Halls community and school sports teams. He was often thought of as the Honorary “Mayor” and Cheerleader of the Halls Community. Preceded in death by parents; Jack Raymond and Allene Wooten Clark. Survivors; sisters, Rosalee Clark Highland and Diane Clark Woods. Brother; Phillip David Clark.

James Warren "J.W." Hughes

James Warren "J.W." Hughes, age 82, of Halls Crossroads went to his heavenly home, Thursday morning, surrounded by his family. He was a member of Fairview Freewill Baptist Church. He served in the U.S. Army and retired from Jefferson Smurfit Corp. J.W. loved the outdoors; hunting, fishing and camping.

He is preceded in death by parents, C.M and Mary Hughes; and brother-in-law, Leon Spangler.

Mitchell Elvis Kitts

Mitchell Elvis Kitts-age 62 of Luttrell passed away suddenly Saturday, September 8, 2018 while away in Florida for work.

Mitchell was a Journeyman painter who took pride in his craft. He was employed by Larry Mitchell Painting Company. Over the years he coached his son’s youth baseball teams in the Knoxville Area. He was an avid fisherman and loved spending time with his boys on the lake.

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