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Reg. 7 Extension director retires

By Staff | Jul 7, 2011

Jim Patton, right, talks with colleague Jim Sayers Friday. Patton retired as Webster County ISU Extension office regional director. An open house retirement party honoring him was held Friday.

FORT DODGE – Jim Patton has left his position as regional director of the Iowa State University Webster County Extension office, but his colleagues say he won’t be forgotten.

“Today’s the day,” Patton said Friday of his retirement.

Patton spent 14 years as county director and two years as regional director. A special open house retirement party was held Friday at the ISU Extension office, which is at the Crossroads Mall.

Surrounded by family, friends and professional associates, Patton said there have been many highlights in his career.

“It’s been really good to me,” he said.

He started out as a high school agriculture teacher and then went into banking for 20 years, both of which he said are “great careers.” His heart was in teaching, though.

“I think with my background, being trained as an educator, Extension was where I really needed to be to end my career, to be an educator in a larger sense,” he said.

Patton is not done being active, though. Next week he becomes Rotary club district governor.

“I’ll be traveling the north half of Iowa, visiting 54 Rotary clubs, ” he said. “That’ll take a lot of our time in the next six months to a year, and I’m looking forward to that.”

Patton has been an active Noon Rotary member for many years, but his involvement now will take a different dimension, he said.

“It will take more of my time,” he said. “I think the difference being now I can have a little more flexibility in how I schedule my time, and I can get to know people in a bigger area of Rotary, and be a little more active in some areas that I’ve always been interested in.”

Patton said he enjoys being able to make a difference as a Rotary member.

“It allows us to do a lot of international outreach,” he said. “I think we’ve been so blessed here in the United States that we need to keep in mind that we always have projects locally, but there are needs in other parts of the world. And I think having that opportunity and ability to reach out to other parts of the world is a special part of Rotary.”

There’s only one thing that could make his time as Rotary district governor better, Patton said.

“I think it would particularly enjoyable if my wife could travel with me,” he said.

Patton will be missed by many.

Sherri Schill, BLAST coordinator at Butler Elementary School, said Patton has been instrumental in helping the after-school program for the last eight years through his fundraising efforts and views him as a mentor.

“He’s a great guy,” she said. “He has taught me everything I know about fundraising. And he’s taught me how to break it down so it doesn’t seem so overwhelming.”

Lisa Shimkat, regional director for the Iowa Small Business Development Corporation, also regards Patton as a mentor.

“He’s the type of person who brings out the best in others, and as my mentor he’s really shown me what it takes to get the job done and to be successful,” she said.

Patton will also be missed by his co-workers at the Extension office.

“He is a master of getting out into the community and forming partnerships and finding the very best way that everybody in the community can work together to make it the best for everyone,” Carolyn Maschino, ISU family nutrition regional assistant, said. “He’s wonderful. He’s very kind, and he’s very knowledgeable.”

Patton feels good about the things he’s accomplished at the Extension office, he said.

“I’m sad to some degree about leaving a lot of friends that I have enjoyed working with, but on the other hand that’s what makes Extension strong – people that are well-trained,” he said.

Patton intends to keep in touch with the Extension office.

“I’m going to continue to be interested in some conservation projects, environmental areas,” he said. “I think I could be an adviser for some of the ongoing extension programs.”

Patton was unable to isolate a single greatest achievement from his time with Extension, though.

“It’s hard to just take one, but I think what I’m most pleased about is when I find out that I’ve influenced other people, whether it be with knowledge or being a mentor or helping with an educational program,” he said. “However I’ve affected them and their lives, and they’ve come back and told me they appreciated it. There’s a lot of satisfaction in that.”

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or bsummers@messengernews.net

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