Randy Pryor looks around his office and laughs.
“Where did the time go?” he said. “There’s so much in here to pack up.”
“Here” would be the office he has occupied at the Saline County Extension office in Wilber for over 37 years. He will retire at the end of December.
The position has been the only role Pryor has held since attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and majoring in mechanized agriculture.
Being one of five children on a small farm in Nemaha, Pryor always saw himself doing something in agriculture.
While in college, Pryor was directed by ag educator Jack Schinstock to look at a career in Extension.
He was in a one-year apprenticeship at the Saline County office when it suddenly became an open, permanent position.
“The Extension board had fun one evening, saying ‘Are we going to keep Randy or not?’” Pryor said. “I received unanimous support and the rest is history.”
Pryor said his job has not only been pleasurable, but rewarding. Over the 37 years, he has watched the Extension field change.
One main difference is that ag educators are having “focus areas” like horticulture, animal science and early childhood development.
“Today you’re much more focused on key issues,” Pryor said. “Farming has also changed tremendously.”
One ag project that sticks in Pryor’s mind is a no-till farming experiment that began in the 1970s by Saline County farmers.
Pryor got involved with the project after joining the Extension Board in 1982 and helped develop it. He said within the last five years, area farmers have been utilizing the strategy to improve their soil health.
When thinking over his time spent in Extension, Pryor said it helps to have a passion in both agriculture and youth to be successful in such a role.
“I have enjoyed working with the public, especially if I knew I could help,” Pryor said.
There are no set plans as far as retirement goes for Pryor, but he said he is looking forward to spending more time with his children and grandkids. He hopes to travel with his wife Michelle as well.
Pryor lives in Wilber and hopes to be more active in church and the community as his time frees up.
Pryor said he has been blessed to work with so many wonderful people over his 37 years, namely Lou Hayek, Becky Vales, Leanne Manning and Eric Stehlik at the Saline County office.
Nathan Mueller from Dodge County Extension will be his replacement, and Pryor said he is excited to see him fill the role, even giving him some advice.
“Keep ahead of the technology and pursue passions in farm research and precision,” Pryor said.
A retirement reception will be held for Pryor Dec. 20 at the American Legion building in Wilber from 3 to 6 p.m. He said anyone is welcome and he is looking forward to hearing stories and sharing memories. Pryor said he will miss serving the public and getting a personal touch from people on a day-to-day basis.
When asked to sum up his 37 years (and four months) working in Extension, Pryor thinks about it before offering two words, “I cared.”
Mueller will officially take over Jan. 1, 2020, but for Pryor, the change can take its sweet time getting here. After all, he has some packing up to do.