Morgans Pass Love of 4-H to a New Generation
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.
Historians will record 2018 as the second year in a row of a balanced budget for Union County; likely the most significant legislative accomplishment of the County Commission in a generation. Union County’s budget is one of the most important pieces of public policy the Commission enacts every year.
My husband's widowed mother married her former brother-in-law in our living room. Uncle Charlie had hurt his leg putting down our well on the property of what was to be our new home, closer to my husband's work. The minister said it wasn't written anywhere that you had to stand to be married. We were all seated.
Back to the well. The water table was high at the new place. We didn't need to drill a well, Uncle Charlie said. He would help us pound down a well. It was cheaper to do than drilling a well. The three of us could do it.
Some spices I am privileged to experience from the side line.
That spring evening, my daughter Sara’s softball team was playing the number one, undefeated team in their league. The other team were all 12 years old whereas Sara’s teammates were barely 10. We went in with no illusions of victory. If we were lucky, we may get one run.
At the top of the third inning, Sara went up to bat. At this point, none of ours girls had made it to first base, which was no surprise. At least they looked cute in their red, white, and blue outfits.
The pitcher threw. Sara swung.
I remember when I worked full time in a sewing factory. My mind would wander while sewing. After you do the same stitching over and over, it doesn't take all your attention to do the job. My mind would wander to wondering what I would fix for supper that evening. My kids were in the lower grades in school and came home about the same time I did. They had a long bus ride.
When you run across a snake, their normal reaction is to get away. But if they feel threatened enough all snakes will bite defensibly. If you are bitten, here are some recommended first aide treatments.
Try to determine if it’s venomous or not. If you’re confident it’s not you can treat the bite like you would a puncture wound. Check with your doctor to see if you might need a tetanus shot booster.
Narrow Ridge invites our friends and neighbors to join us for our open music jam on Saturday, July 21 at our outdoor stage just up the road from our Mac Smith Resource Center at 1936 Liberty Hill Rd. We are happy to announce that local artists, Dixie Nicely and Wendal Sturgill, will kick off the festivities from 6:30 to 7:00 pm. 7:00 will begin the open mic/jam portion of the evening when we invite guests to share their talents in a forum that provides equal time to all who wish to participate.
"We invite all area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders to come together on the last Thursday of each month at Hardee's at 7:30 am. This is to be a time of fellowship, prayer, and discussion about how we as a community of Faith can work together to have a positive impact on our county. All are welcome!" Margaret Chesney
The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education will be held on Thursday, July 26, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at Union County High School. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.
REGULAR WORKSHOP UNION COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION THURSDAY, JULY 26, 2018 6:00 p.m. Union County High School
1. Discuss School Trips
· None at Time of Publication
2. Budget Amendments and Transfers/Director’s Monthly Report—Ann Dyer
On February 22, 2018, A Call To Prayer was made in the Luttrell Community. Several community pastor agreed to go back to their respective churches and call on their members to pray for the Lord to guide in an effort to unite our churches with a common goal of a Community Worship & Revival leading folks to Jesus the only begotten son of God.
Benny went to sit on the lap of his LORD and SAVIOR Saturday July 14, 2018 at children's hospital.
Benny our sweet angel is the son of April King. Grandson to Sherri and Matt Bridges. Benny was also a brother to Kyle King and Jesse Perry. Great Grandchild of Barbara Brown along with Ronnie and Tina Bridges. Benny was the nephew of Alley King, Jacob King, Ethan Muehliesen, Leah Bridges, Isaiah Bridges, Faith Bridges and Noah Bridges.
Proceeded in death by great grandfather W.L. Carmon Our love for our sweet Benny will forever be. Always our sweet Angel!!
Donald H. Norris-age 64 of Maynardville passed away Monday morning, July 16, 2018 at his home. He was a member of Cedar Grove Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents, Roy and Maude E. Norris; brother, David Norris.
Barbara Kay “Momma” Burkhert, age 72, went to be with the Lord on July 15, 2018. She had 3 kids, John J. Viglasky, Liesa Canupp, and Greg Viglasky. She also had 3 grandkids Ashley Taylor, Stacey Canupp, Taylor Viglasky, as well as, 4 great-grandkids. Family will receive friends 5:00-7:00pm Thursday July 19, 2018 at Mynatt Funeral Home Halls Chapel with service to follow. Family and friends will meet 10:45am Friday July 20, 2018 at Fort Sumter Cemetery for and 11:00am interment. Please leave online condolences at www.mynattfh.com
LaVerne McLain Cummings, of Knoxville, suddenly went to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Wednesday, July 11th, 2018 at Parkwest Hospital. Preceded in death by parents Ed and Mildred McLain, grandson Chad Breeden, and sister Sandra Leach. Survived by loving husband Harlan J. Cummings, daughter Angelia (Bob) Love, son Brent Cox, grandson whom she raised Matthew (Amber) Cox, granddaughters Amanda Dykes and Brittney Russell, sisters Faye (Roger) Neff and Burlene Tolman, as well as 6 great grandkids. She was looking forward to seeing her great grandson Grantley expected in August.
Michael Ernest Smith – age 53 of Maynardville, passed away suddenly Saturday, July 8, 2018.
Michael is preceded in death by his parents, Ernest and Mary Smith; and sister, Barbara Smith. He is survived by his son, Daniel; sister, Debra (Stacy) Lynn; special niece, Emily; special nephews, Derrick and Aaron Lynn; several aunts, uncles and other nieces and nephews.
Jackie Owen Carpenter, age 83, passed away at home on July 9, 2018. Jack was born October 28, 1934 in Claiborne County and graduated from Claiborne County High School in 1952. He served in the U.S. Army from 1957-1960. He earned his BA from University of California, Northridge in 1972. Jack accepted Christ at an early age and was a member of Salem Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday School for many years. He retired in 1998 from Harrison-Chihowee Baptist Academy (The Kings Academy) after 22 years of working as Business Manager.
Carolyn Lee Underwood-age 52 of Maynardville went to be with the Lord, Monday, July 9, 2018 at her home. She was a member of Grace Full Gospel Baptist Church. Preceded in death by husband, Richard Williams; grandson, Richard Dylangaddy.
Survivors: daughters, Alicia Williams, Chassitty Williams; son, Cory Underwood; husband, Randy Underwood; sisters, Charlene Gouldie, Sandra Bryant, parents, Alice and Robert England; two granddaughters, Mackenzie Mixon and Alyssa Gaddy; many nieces, nephews and a host of friends.
Steven James See, age 35 of Knoxville, went to be with the Lord July 6, 2018. He was a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Steven was always a friendly, outgoing young man and always had a smile on his face. He loved going to church and enjoyed fishing with his friends. He was a great uncle to his niece and nephews, as well as, a wonderful step-dad to Courtney and Austin. Preceded in death by father Steve See; grandmother, Bobbie Franklin; uncle Jack McClain.