For those of you who are wondering this or that, here are some
questions and answers about Fulton's long and illustrious career and
his plans for the future.
Was Ag Advisor/Extension Advisor your first career?
Fulton: Extension was my first “career.” I was Extension Advisor,
Agriculture with rank of Assistant and did livestock work for adults
and youth work for agriculture and other areas. I did have a period
between hiring and starting work where I did some crop adjusting for
an insurance company (continuing summer college employment) and was
a herdsman for a farm in Iowa for about six months in the interim.
There were some fiscal constraints even in the early 80’s! My first
“Extension job” was mowing the lawn and doing janitor work at the
home county extension office when I was in junior high, and I often
joke, in some regards things haven’t changed much through the years.
Does your wife still work with the Extension?
Fulton: My wife, Sherry, is retiring from Extension at the same
time. She began in 1982 in Greene County, and has been in DeWitt
County for most of her career, while also covering Piatt County
since the last reorganization.
What are your children doing now? Did they follow you into
Fulton: Our oldest son Andrew lives in Carterville, IL with his wife
Corie, and he is an ag engineer for NRCS in Marion and covers the
Southern Illinois district. David is engaged, and is the assistant
Farm Bureau manager in Champaign County. Daniel is an operator for
Beck’s Seed at their Practical Farm Research site at Downs, IL. All
are in ag related careers!
There is often talk about how technology has changed farming,
so how has it changed your job?
Fulton: There weren’t any cell phones or computers when I started,
so lots of paper and note cards in the pocket. The first office
computer was in 1984 in Logan County. We actually had a two-way
radio system for my vehicle back to the office, and when on farm
visits for black cutworm damage, they could radio other locations in
the same area to reduce travel.
The websites have been big changes, allowing staff to reach much
wider audiences in an almost instantaneous timeframe. Since I
started two blogs a while back, I have over 250,000 blog hits. The
unit website had over 1.3 million hits last year. The method of
getting information to clientele has shifted for many to web-based,
but we have offered in-person and walk-in as well, for those who
prefer those methods.
What are some of the other big changes you have seen during
Fulton: Specialization has been a large change. When I started,
staff were generalists who also might specialize in a broad area
such as crops. Entry positions required bachelor degrees, and you
could work on advanced degrees. Now, all professional positions
require masters degrees.
This has also led to many forms of multi-county programming from the
education center concept to the current multi-county unit concept.
Pure information exchange has probably improved, but it is harder to
make relationships in communities while covering larger geographic
Homeowners and producers have also become more specialized. Many
homeowners are true experts on certain flowers, shrubs, and trees.
Ag producers are much more knowledgeable in production and
marketing, and many are even certified crop advisors. The level of
knowledge attained by clientele is a great thing!
How have the fair and 4-H evolved over your years at the
Fulton: The fair is an opportunity to showcase project work, and the
knowledge gained about projects. That part hasn’t changed.
What has changed is the breadth of the projects, and the types of
clubs youth members belong to. We now have Special Project Interest
Clubs (SPIN) which focus on robotics, cheerleading, self-defense,
shooting sports, and many others. This is really “everything old is
new again,” since 4-H originally started in this format with Corn
Clubs, Pig Clubs, and Sewing Clubs, but the topics are much broader
and extend outside of the agriculture and home economics areas.
What is one of the most interesting or memorable events that
happened during your career?
Fulton: There are several ranging from important things such as
confirming soybean cyst nematode in Logan County and the ensuing
testing and education programs, co-authoring the 4-H Crops project
manuals, starting the Master Gardener Program in Logan County, and
conducting the Focus on the Future activities for Logan County with
the Community Resource and Development Council to the things like
coordinating State Fair Swine exhibitors to meet with President
Reagan and working through all the Secret Service screenings
involved. The formation of support groups such as the Logan County
4-H Foundation and the Logan County Extension Educational Building
Association are also at the top of the list. An appendectomy right
after finishing the fall European corn borer survey in 2004 was very
Is there something interesting that happened at the fair that
you could share?
Fulton: Horrible storms one year on the first day of the livestock
show were memorable, as I was running back from the main office at
the fairgrounds to the livestock show arena after checking with
Emergency Services and the National Weather Service. Running through
about three inches of water and extremely windy conditions wasn’t
any fun. My hat blew off and was never seen again, and my glasses
literally blew off. I had to find them in the water before getting
everyone to the more secure corner of the show arena. That’s one
reason the new bath house was built on the livestock end of the
fairgrounds, as it is also a storm shelter!
Could you tell about your major accomplishments or something
you did in your career that you are proud of?
Fulton: There are many things, and some are in the memorable events
section. However, the single item I’m most proud of is the small
part I may have played in the lives of youth which may have
contributed to their success and their leadership roles in the
communities they now live in. The Extension mottos from “Helping You
Help Yourself,” “Investing in You,” to “Extending Knowledge –
Changing Lives” have been good summaries of the work. Extension has
been a truly rewarding career for me, where it has been almost
impossible to differentiate between work and personal interest.
Fulton's coworkers have enjoyed working with him
Patty Huffer, Extension Program Coordinator of 4-H Youth Development
says, "John has always been a great Extension Director to work with.
He is supportive of his staff members, a good fiscal manager, and
encourages teamwork. He’s always had an easy going nature and been
level headed regardless of any sort of stressful situation that has
come to pass throughout the years."
[to top of second column]
in his office around 1999 when the
Extension was still
located at the Logan County Farm Bureau Building.
The ribbon cutting of
the brand new office located on the Logan County Fairgrounds, summer
Fulton about 20 years back, announcing
information ahead of the 4-H Auction during Logan County Fair Week.
Huffer: Best memories would include all the years of working during
Logan County Fair Week and the 4-H Shows that take place during that
week. 4-H Nights at the Fair are especially fun evenings and John
has led those evenings which allow us to ‘showcase 4-H’ and exhibit
our pride in the Logan County 4-H program.
Others also shared some of the best memories of Fulton from over the
Another co-worker said, “When I think of John and being funny or
silly would be when sometimes we’d hit a slow point or need a brain
break, we’d play the “letter game” in the front office. The game
consists of picking a letter and saying random words that begin with
that letter until you can’t think of anymore. John would oftentimes
somehow end up a part of the game and try to stump us. More often
than not, the next day he would randomly walk in and say a word that
began with whatever the last letter was.”
Fulton's coworkers were also asked what were his most significant
contributions to the work at the extension office.
Huffer: One of [his] most significant contributions was
collaborating with the Lincoln Community High School Building Trades
program to have the Logan County Extension Office built on the
northwest corner of the Logan County Fairgrounds Fall 1999/Spring
2000. It was a big move for us to come to a brand new building
situated in an ideal location on the fairgrounds.
John has many strong connections throughout the counties he has
worked in, from Fair Boards, to County Boards, to Ag Committees,
John has been influential in supporting and contributing to all of
Huffer: He has also received numerous National and State awards such
as multiple recognitions for Outstanding Programs, Personal Column,
Newsletter, Website, and Distinguished Service Award.
Huffer describes Fulton as someone who has "a keen understanding of
University of Illinois Extension, is an esteemed leader, active team
member and a respected supervisor."
Fulton has made a deep impact on Logan County to be felt for years
to come. He will undoubtedly be missed at the extension office.
Photos taken at
March 27th Retirement Reception