• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Chambers says he's glad to be back

Before being hired as the new operations manager and environmental education coordinator for the Woodford County Conservation District (WCCD), Jimmy Chambers was a 4-H Extension agent in Cookeville, Tenn. The Lee County native was looking for an opportunity to return to Central Kentucky when longtime WCCD operations manager Martha Newby told him that she was getting ready to retire. When her decision became official, Chambers was interviewed and hired by the WCCD board. "I'm glad to be back in Woodford County," says Chambers, 26. A program assistant for the Woodford County Cooperative Extension office before becoming a 4-H agent in Tennessee, Chambers began his training to become operations manager and environmental education coordinator on July 1. He officially succeeded Newby, whose career with the WCCD spanned 46 years, on Aug. 1. "What I like about the day-to-day job so far is it's always changing," explains Chambers. One of his greatest challenges as WCCD operations manager has been getting a handle on the many cost-share programs offered through his office. Sign-ups for a Rock Gateway program began during his first week on the job. So it was his responsibility to help farmers access available dollars to improve the gateways from one field to another so those paths do not turn into "a muddy mess," he explains. These on-farm improvements also reduce soil erosion and promote rotational grazing - sound environmental practices. In addition to his WCCD duties, Chambers also serves as facility manager of the Agricultural Resource Building, which houses the WCCD, Farm Service Agency and Cooperative Extension Service that "work hand-in-hand with the farmer." "It's such a great educational center here," says Chambers. He describes the folks who wander through as "some of the best people in Woodford County." Soon, Chambers will begin working closely with teachers to promote environmental education in the county's schools. Chambers says he grew up in the 4-H program - often tagging along with his older sister. He wanted to do everything she did in 4-H, and soon he was gaining skills in leadership and public speaking through his own involvement in the youth organization. The Beattyville native eventually became state president of 4-H as a high school senior, and knew he wanted to give back to the youth organization that had given him so much. "Some of my lifelong friends," explains Chambers, "I met through the 4-H program." He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in education so he could pursue a career as a 4-H agent. Instead, he found "the best of both worlds" as the WCCD's operations manager and environmental education coordinator - focusing on both agriculture and education.

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