I graduated from Humboldt High School in southeast Kansas in 1968. Even though I had been heavily involved in 4-H and FFA, it should be no surprise that I had no idea of what direction my career path would take.
Then on to K-State for four years of study in the agricultural field. In my final semester as a senior, I was still very uncertain about what I wanted to do after graduation.
I just knew I wanted to work in some area of agriculture, so I started interviewing with ag-related recruiters. I recall that I even interviewed with Burger King (out of desperation I guess).
Thankfully, my uncle Floyd Ladd, who was on the executive board of the Woodson County Extension Council at the time as I recall, encouraged me to interview for a job as a county Extension agent in Morris County. I did. They offered me the job, and I accepted. Through no design of my own, Extension work seemed like a natural fit for me, so I stayed.
Why county agent work has been such a good fit for me — I do not know. My guess is that is has to do how I grew up on a small diversified crop and beef cow family farm where neighbors and relatives worked together and always helped each other out. It felt good.
Our farm was so small there really wasn't any opportunity to come back.
Therefore, as it turned out, being a county Extension agent was about as close to production agriculture on the family farm level as I could get.
From time to time, someone will ask what I have enjoyed most about being an Extension agent, and my answer is always easy for me — it’s the vast array of people, both youth and adult, who I have had the opportunity to work with in one way or another to try to make their lives better. Not only people, but what I call good people. Whether in Morris, Barber or McPherson counties, always the same- good people. The kind of people I grew up with and felt comfortable around.
Some years back, Carol Hueske gave me a writing someone had penned called “I Believe in Farming.” As I recall, it reminded her of her father, and she passed it on to me.
It is sort of long, but accurately describes the kind of people who I have been blessed to work with for all these years. This is how it goes.
I Believe in Farming: “Farming is a man’s greatest destiny. It is a devoted commitment, a love for the land and having faith in God. Farming is hard work and honest sweat. But it is also caring, sacrificing, patience, and loving the soil that is often not so good to the man in return. A farmer is a man of courage, for he has to have enough faith in his land and in himself to try again and again, and always with the same vigor and strength he had in the beginning.
Farming is the most honorable way a man can show pride in himself and his land, for it is together that they work for world benefits.
A farmer is a maker of miracles. He prepares his land, plants the seeds, cares for the crops, and finally reaps the harvest, with an end result of a complete transformation, one that is shared with the entire world.
Farming is also a learning experience.  Through their work, farmers are taught valuable lessons in life that are passed on to their children — lessons such as sharing, love, and most of all, appreciation.  A farmer learns to appreciate a strong, close family, something that makes life rich in ways money cannot buy. A family is the guiding star in the farmer’s world — the wind beneath his wings, and the force that gives him the strength and courage to go on. A farmer also realizes that many of life’s most cherished things are free. A beautiful sunrise, the ecstacy of the wide open fields, and the maturing crops are  just a few of the gifts from God that a farmer comes to appreciate with each day that passes.
Farming is a life of labor, love and dedication.  It is the one occupation in which the man gives more to the world than he takes from it, a statement that cannot be made by many. Because of this attribute a farmer can stand tall with credibility, dignity and a sense of integrity that will be measured a divine quality of high standard.
Farming is a profession in which growing older is a pleasure. Because of the fulfilling and gratifying memories that the farmer has lived through and experienced, he is assured that he has spent his time on this earth in the most honorable and honest way possible." (Author unknown)
A huge thank you goes out to the many people who helped make our Extension programs successful here in McPherson County. Especially, I want to try to express my sincere appreciation to all those who have volunteered to serve on the Extension Council and executive boards, the county commissioners who have funded our efforts, and the many cooperators who have helped with demonstrations, tours, field days, meetings and other events. Any time I have asked a farmer, rancher, homeowner, agribusiness or ag organization for assistance with some Extension program, they have always stepped up to the plate and pitched in. That is the way it is. That is the way it has always been, and no doubt it will continue.
It is usually dangerous to start naming names when passing out accolades to special people. (Have you ever watched the Oscars on TV and wished the winners would just say a brief  thank you and sit down?). Dangerous as it may be, I will give recognition to two special groups of people.
  Twenty-four years ago, I was hired as the county Extension agriculture agent for McPherson County by a nine-member executive board.
Those members were Ken Smith, Tom Throne, Carol Wiens, Delma Miller, Armin Nelson, Neal Galle, Colleen Bruce, Bud Taylor, and Al Dutrow. Thank you!
  The other group is the office crew that I have had the pleasure to work with during the years.
Most people probably do not know just how much credit is due the dedicated secretaries in this office who work hard to see to it that Extension programs are successfully kept on the right track. These long term secretaries are Terra Regehr, Ruth Yowell and Pam Norstrom along with short-timer, Regina Abbott (seven years now). Their work ethic and positive attitude helped make coming to work each day something to look forward to.
Also, my fellow Extension agents, Jana McKinney and Kendra Hopp, have always helped any time I have asked and have provided excellent guidance and leadership in making things run as smooth as possible.
I try to always remember — Extension work is about people — people who are, with our help, trying to have a better life for themselves, their families, and their neighbors. I hope that is what has been accomplished during a 35-year career as a county Extension agent.
Dale Ladd was the agriculture extension agent for the McPherson County K-State Extension Service office.