(Editor’s note: Steve Watson, Agronomy eUpdate editor, will be retiring on Sept. 1. A retirement reception will be held for Steve on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 10 a.m. in Throckmorton 2002. Until then, his email address remains firstname.lastname@example.org. The new eUpdate editor is Kathy Gehl, email@example.com)
More than 650 eUpdate issues ago Dan Devlin (former Environmental Quality Specialist), Steve Watson, and I discussed the idea of an electronic newsletter for extension personnel, producers, and industry people across the state. There had been intermittent newsletters and quarterly newsletters from the Agronomy Department, but there had not been a consistent departmental newsletter in more than 50 years. We also had Agronomy Research Briefs, which were one-page summaries of applied research. These were sent to county agricultural extension agents to be used in their county newsletters. They also were inconsistent, but they served as the germ for an electronic newsletter -- the Agronomy eUpdate.
Steve Watson has been the editor-in-chief and driving force behind the eUpdates since its inception. Steve, a Kansas boy, had a good knowledge and understanding of our agricultural systems, plus he had publishing and journalistic experience from previous agricultural jobs -- one included being managing editor of Kansas Farmer magazine. We needed someone who could shepherd the various authors through completion of their articles or write the articles for the authors after interviewing them. Each week the eUpdate had to contain articles that were not only pertinent and timely, but also anticipated what readers would be needing soon. (No alternative facts or fake news here!) Steve was the one to carry the load each and every week.
I don't recall Steve ever making presentations to farmers at meetings or doing many of the things extension specialists do. But that didn't make him any less important to Extension Agronomy's mission. In fact, his presence and activities have been vital. Thus, that would make him our D'Artagnan, the Fourth Musketeer; or Brian Epstein or Billy Preston, the Fifth Beatle -- a key member of the team.
Here we are 12 years after our first discussion about creating this newsletter; the eUpdates are better than ever and Steve has decided to hang up his cleats. So, I want to say thank you to Steve for all he has done for the department and Kansas producers. Good luck and enjoy your retirement.
Jim Shroyer, Former Extension Wheat Specialist & Ext Agronomy Program Leader, Professor Emeritus