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.



Get Your Morning Mojo at Liquid Lightning

Liquid Lightning

It is a great time to be a coffee drinker in Maynardville. Whether you are waking up early headed to work, finishing up the morning school drop offs, or just plain love to guzzle coffee all day, with one sip you will be sure to add a new stop to your daily route. Liquid Lightning, a local veteran owned and operated coffee shop, has opened their doors and put the go-juice on to brew with a goal of bringing delicious coffee, lots of laughs, and a sense of joy and comfort to the community.

Win for Author Kaye George

Kaye George

Knoxville TN: Local author Kaye George took home a second place win from BOULD (Bizarre, Outrageous, Unfettered, Limitless, Daring) for her short story Dream Girl. The story is published in BOULD Awards Short Story Anthology and is now available on Amazon.

Shirleys Bread

Shirley's Bread

I got a call from Aaron Russell the other day. He was checking to see how I was doing. He hadn't talked with me in a while. During the conversation, he mentions that he likes to bake bread. Not just any bread, but salt-rising bread. He described the process as well as how good the bread tastes. That got me thinking.

Ambulance Selfie

Ambulance Selfie

“Well, you always want an adventure!” Lynda locked the car doors.

It’s an interesting story how we had gotten to that point. Lynda is my best friend and cousin. We played ball together, ran around together, and went to the same middle and high school.

George Washington Cherry Treat

George Washington Cherry Treat

Fresh pie cherries aren't available in February. That's okay. Food City does my canning for me these days. They have one pound cans of red tart cherries on the shelf every day. I call them sour cherries.

Do you really think George cut down a cherry tree? Do you really think he fested up to the deed? Naw. George was known as a ladies man. I wouldn't be surprised if he did tell a lie now and then.

Science versus Faith

Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal once said, “The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing… We know truth, not only by reason, but also by the heart.”

Pascal was a genius and a genuine polymath who lived in the 17th century. To cover his accomplishments and body of work would require volumes, which have already been written. I want to focus on the concept he so poetically illustrated above – the ever-present battle between the head and the heart. Specifically,

Cherry Creme Fudge

Cherry Creme Fudge

Here is a fudge recipe I made a long time ago, that is, if you call 1981 a long time ago. Fudge recipes have evolved over the years. They are easier to make now. Just cook up some sugar and evaporated milk. Add chocolate and marshmallow cream and you have fudge. But it is not the same as the old fashioned variety. Oldsters will agree with me. (I will share one of those recipes at a later date.).

Failed Back Surgery Is Relatively Common

Failed Back Surgery Is Relatively Common

Failed back surgery (continued low back and leg pain after surgery) is relatively common according to a new report from the Boston University School of Medicine. With each reoperation, success, as defined by pain reduction, becomes less likely and most patients do not improve. However, preliminary studies using a simple procedure to remove scar tissue or adhesions suggests a new treatment could help those with post-surgical, chronic low back pain.

The German Beer Stein

German Beer Stein

I have had a beautiful beer stein since World War II. My brother, Rodney, sent it back from Germany. He was part of a Navy goodwill tour that started at England then went on to Germany. He sent back two beer steins and a Black Forest coo coo clock from there.

When he returned home, Rod took back the coo coo clock and one beer stein. That left me with one beer stein. I have placed that beautiful beer stein in a prominent place in my home as I moved around the country. It is time to give it a permanent home while I am still here to do so.


Interested in Homeschooling?

Monday, February 25, 2019 - 18:00

Join us for our annual Mom's night out. Monday, February 25, at six pm when April Shepherd, from the Smoky Mountain Home Education Association will be speaking at Hardees. April, a proponent of country living and a successful homeschooling Mother, will be speaking on using everyday living to teach fundamentals and life skills. She has titled her talk, "Little House on the Prairie Schooling". Sponsored by the local support group of homeschooling families, more information can be obtained by contacting Connie Dickey @ 865-992-3629

Mens Conference

Friday, March 1, 2019 - 19:00
Alder Springs Missionary Baptist Church

Alder Springs Missionary Baptist Church will be hosting a Men’s Conference on Friday, March 1st at 7:00 P.M. and Saturday, March 2nd at 9:30 A.M.
Evangelists will be Rev. Jerry Vittatoe and Rev. Mike Viles. Pastor, Rev. Jimmy Davidson extends a hearty welcome to all men.

4-H County Baking Contest

Monday, March 18, 2019 - 17:00

After youth have participated in school during February, they will be awarded a blue ribbon to move forward to the county contest. The entries at the county will be due for judging on March 18 then displayed with awards at the Extension Month Open House on March 19 for sampling.


Janice Ann Beeler Fields

Janice Ann Beeler Fields-age 66 of Corbin, Kentucky passed away suddenly Monday morning, February 18, 2019 at her home. She was a loving mother, nana, sister and friend. She will be sadly missed by all. Janice was a member of Nave Hill Baptist Church and was a former co-owner of Fields Apparel in Monticello, Kentucky. She was recently employed at SEKRI, Corbin, Kentucky for 22 years. Preceded in death by parents, James Aubrey and Lillie Beeler, two brothers, Gary and Terry Beeler; nephew, Adam Beeler.

Robert Bradley Douglas

Robert Bradley Douglas, known as Brad Douglas, was born October 12th, 1978. Brad spent his life in the Knoxville area embracing the Tennessee Volunteers, fishing and hiking. Brad's favorite thing to do was to take him and his family exploring. It is with great sadness that the family of Brad Douglas announces his passing at the age of 40. His spirit, enthusiasm and willingness to put other's needs above his own will be missed but not forgotten.

Robert Bruce Kezer

R. Bruce Kezer-age 84 of Knoxville departed this world for heaven on February 15 from his home. His family was at his side. Born in Jersey City, NJ, on September 30, 1934 to Edwin and Ruth (Adams) Kezer, Bruce graduated from the University of Vermont in 1957. He then entered the US Army and served, in peacetime, for three years until being honorably discharged at the rank of Lieutenant. Bruce loved Jesus with all his heart, and worked to live instead of the other way around.

Thomas Michael McLaughlin

Thomas M. McLaughlin age 57 currently of Maynardville TN, formerly of Edison NJ, passed away on February 8th 2019 at UT Hospital following an exhausting battle with cancer. Preceded in death by father, Thomas W, and brother Michael W McLaughlin.

Survived by wife Kathie, daughter and son-in-law Jennifer McLaughlin and Josh Lamb, son TJ, mother Elaine, sister and brother-in-law Lori and Gary Yurchak, grandchildren Chris and Michael, as well as a host of other relatives and friends.

Judson "Juddy" Bailey

Judson “Juddy“ Bailey - age 79 of Washburn, was born on February 27, 1939 and passed away peacefully on Sunday, February 10, 2019. We all called him Pap. He was a member of Nave Hill Baptist Church. He loved his family, hunting, playing cards, dogs and driving around. He spent his last few months putting on his shoes and saying “I believe I will go home”. He is finally “home“, peacefully in the arms of Jesus.

Frances Jane Nichols

Frances Jane Nichols “Janey”, age 61, of Rockford, went to be with the Lord on February 8, 2019, surrounded by her loved ones. She was a beloved mom, sister, and granny. Preceded in death by parents Jack Huggins and Bernice Van Dyke, brother Jackie Huggins, sisters Sarah Munsey, Sandy Huggins, and Darlene Dunaway.

Raymond Scott Brock

Raymond Scott Brock-age 84 of Washburn passed away Friday evening, February 8, 2019 at his home. He was a member of Salem Primitive Baptist Church. Preceded in death by wife, Barbara Brock; parents, Walter and Lois (Atkins) Brock; sister, Ruby Idol; son-in-law, Henry Paul McGinnis.

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