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Friend to Owen Co. farmers stepping down

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Strohmeier announces retirement after nearly 35 years of service

By Molly Haines

After serving farmers through numerous changes in agriculture for over three decades Owen County Extension Agent Kim Strohmeier is set to retire Friday.
Strohmeier was hired on as the county agent for agriculture and natural resources in June of 1979 and has made a career out of helping Owen County’s agriculture blossom.
As tobacco production in Owen County has slowed, Strohmeier has been with farmers through investigation of different farm enterprises, as well as taking part in community development projects.
A native of Franklin County, Strohmeier said a roommate in college had taken the county agent’s position in Bell County.
“He really enjoyed it and talked about it a lot,” Strohmeier said. “So in the summer of ’77 I interned with the county extension in Scott County and really liked that.”
At the time Strohmeier said candidates for extension agents weren’t eligible to work in their home counties and Owen County happened to be the closest to home.
Over the years Strohmeier’s duties have varied to include working with tobacco research test plots, working with farmers to advise them on agricultural topics that are specific to them, soil testing, identifying weeds and insects and helping with feed samples.
“When I started in this position tobacco was much more important to a whole lot more people,” Strohmeier said. “They didn’t farm as big back then, but there was a whole lot more of them.”
Strohmeier said tobacco production isn’t all that has slowed.
“When I started there were 70 to 80 dairymen in Owen County,” Strohmeier said. “There’s three now, but beef cattle has become pretty important due to the cutback in tobacco. The management of a beef herd has gotten a lot better.”
Despite the changes, Strohmeier said Owen County farmers have always welcomed new ideas to better their livelihoods.
“You used to always hear that farmers were traditional-minded people,” Strohmeier said. “That they weren’t accepting to new ideas, but I’ve not found that to be so.”
Strohmeier said. “In general there are a lot of good farmers in Owen County and if they thought it was something that would save them time and make money, they’ve been very accepting to it.”
In recent years Strohmeier has also become involved in community development, including Owen County 20/20 Vision Project, a landscape architecture project, as well as helping small business owners with business planning.
Strohmeier said he stuck with the job for nearly 35 years simply because he never had any reason to want to leave.
“I’ve enjoyed this community, the people and it’s close to home,” Strohmeier said. “There’s been variety in this job from day to day and year to year and it’s kept it from getting stale. I’ve been able to adjust what I’ve done based on changing needs for farmers and others.”
Strohmeier said he will miss visiting and working with the farmers who have made his job important over the years.
“What this job boils down to, why it’s important, is everybody loves to eat, “Strohmeier said. “If you ask a person to mention the finer things in life, most people will include a good meal in that list. I work with a farmer that produces that meal … The county agent provides the production management and marketing advice for the farmer.”