- Wednesday, September 28, 2011, 5 p.m.
- Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs As the new western regional director for Colorado State University’s Extension Office, CJ Mucklow has a lot to look forward to. But leaving his sunny and comfortable cubicle in the Routt County Extension Office is not necessarily one of them.
“The hardest part about leaving is that I like working for the people of Routt County,” Routt County Extension Office Director Mucklow said Tuesday after his promotion was announced. “That was hard, giving that up.”
Mucklow has been an agent at the Routt County Extension Office for 22 years and also has acted as the Routt County agriculture director.
Now he’s ready to take on the new challenge of supervising 18 counties in Colorado.
“After 22 years, change is not bad,” he said.
The Extension Office first came to Routt County in the 1920s as a part of CSU’s statewide network of county offices. Extension offices popped up across the country after the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which allowed the land-grant universities in each state to send extension agents into rural areas.
Today, CSU’s Extension Service offers 4-H development programs, research and information resources, and education on everything from plant science to water management in all 64 counties. The local offices are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as well as state and county governments.
On Tuesday, on Mucklow’s cluttered desk lay an aspen twig that a resident had brought in because she was concerned that her trees were dying.
From dying trees and fire mitigation grants to economics and 4-H programs, Mucklow’s breadth of agriculture knowledge long has been recognized throughout county government.
Extension agent Karen Massey said it has been Mucklow’s leadership that has elevated the local Extension Office and its programs to where they are today.
“He’s brought a lot of expertise from CSU,” she said. “He’s created partnerships, and many times his involvement is not as apparent, but he’s had his hand in things.”
Mucklow will take on the post of western regional director Oct. 1. In his new position, he will supervise 35 people, but he will maintain a Routt County office.
The regional office is based in Grand Junction, where he said he will spend about 20 percent of his time. He’ll also be on the road another 20 percent of the time. But one of his stipulations for accepting the job was that he remain in Routt County, where he and his wife, Nancy, can continue to be part of the community.
Meanwhile, Massey will assume the position of interim Routt County Extension Office director as CSU begins the process of hiring a new agent.
Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said commissioners long have relied on Mucklow’s agricultural knowledge.
“He’s contributed so much to Routt County: his expertise, his caring, his professionalism and his extensive knowledge of Routt County, Northwest Colorado and the state,” she said. “He knows extension like no one else does.”
Mitsch Bush, who has known Mucklow since 1990, cited his initiative in creating the Guide to Rural Living for prospective county residents as well as spearheading a study that put a dollar amount on the tourism value of conserved land.
The Routt County commissioners are holding a public reception in honor of Mucklow at 5 p.m. Sept. 28 in the Commissioners Hearing Room in the Routt County Courthouse.
Massey and Mitsch Bush agreed that it’s the relationships and collaborations he’s built that have helped the Extension Office earn respect from the community.
“The kind of relationships you build over 22 years are not easily replaced,” Massey said.
But Mucklow said the Routt County Extension Office is in “great shape” as he passes the torch to the next generation.
Across from his cubicle sits newest Routt County Extension Office agent Cassidy Kurtz, who said Tuesday that it was Mucklow’s personality that most resonated with her. More than a decade ago, Mucklow was the intimidating extension agent when Kurtz was a young 4-H’er growing up in Routt County. But she soon learned the other side of Mucklow, who she said used to remind her of the “Marlboro Man.”
For the past year, she’s had the chance to learn about extension from the longest-tenured agent in the program’s history.
“I had grown up knowing him, so not only to work under someone you’ve known for so long but someone with that kind of knowledge, I don’t think it gets better than that,” she said.
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com