Anyone who has a crop in Yadkin or Surry Counties has a good chance of knowing Jack Loudermilk.
He acted as director of Yadkin County Cooperative Extension for 25 years before retiring five years ago. Now he’s back, filling in as a crop liaison for the extension office once more.
Loudermilk grew up on a farm in Lewisburg, W. Va., an area that he claims to be one of the prettiest parts of the state. Loudermilk and his younger brother still own the nearly 200-year-old ancestral farm.
“We had a small farm, so I spent a lot of time in Future Farmers of America as a state officer,” Loudermilk said. “I had seen most of the states in Canada before I got out of high school courtesy of the FFA because…there were opportunities there and I made the best of them as I could.”
After graduating from high school, Loudermilk went on to Berea College in Kentucky where he pursued a degree in agriculture. Berea College requires that students work while obtaining their degree which helps cover most of their education costs.
“My degree in agriculture from Berea gave me more exposure to crops in particular,” Loudermilk said. “Most of my work (at Berea) was on the farm. I worked the farm’s office and kept records during my time there.”
Loudermilk said that he tried to go on to graduate school at the University of Kentucky, but he couldn’t get motivated to stay in the program.
“I started graduate school, and between the fact that I didn’t want to spend all of my time inside and the fact that I had about enough of school, I just realized that graduate school wasn’t going to take too well,” Loudermilk said.
However, he did go on to pursue his graduate degree in crop science from North Carolina State University later in life.
After that, Loudermilk moved into the working world where he worked a few jobs in agriculture. After a while, several of his friends were working in Cooperative Extension and recommended that Loudermilk look into it as well.
He took a job with Cooperative Extension in South Carolina where he worked in Florence and Darlington for ten years. Extension called him to North Carolina and after that when Stokes County showed a need.
“I came up to Stokes County because they needed a real serious tobacco agent, and I had very good training in South Carolina,” Loudermilk said. “A year and half later I was offered the position of Cooperative Extension director here in Yadkin County, and I spent 25 years here before I retired.”
Loudermilk spent five years catching up on work around his house that had been neglected during his time with extension.
“I did some of what I should have done but was too busy to get to while I was [Cooperative Extension],” Loudermilk said. “The problem with Cooperative Extension is there’s no 9 to 5. You end up working many more hours than other people and you don’t have time to do what you should do.”
When he wasn’t working on chores around the house he has been serving on the board of the Yadkin County Public Library as well as the NC Northwestern Regional Library System.
“I’m trying to help the libraries overcome the reductions in funding,” Loudermilk said. “Libraries are not a mandated agency and so they don’t receive mandate funding. When times are tough like they are now the only computer some people have access to is at the library.”
Loudermilk also teaches one agricultural class a semester at Wilkes Community College and works with Windsor Crossroads Ruritan Club.
“Those things take up a lot of my time,” Loudermilk said. “It suits me because I get to see and visit with people and do something useful and if the house doesn’t get cleaned up or the lawn doesn’t get mowed as often as it needs to then I can live with that.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.