Larry Spradlin, 55, has been the heart of the Hopkins County agriculture community for the last 14 years. Spradlin, no stranger to education or the industry, will be leaving his role as Texas AgriLife Extension Service agriculture agent at the end of March. “I have now been with our Extension office in Hopkins County for 14 years,” said Spradlin.
Spradlin started his career with the Hopkins County Extension office by request. He was running a feed store in town when he was first approached with the idea.
“I was currently running a feed store in town. I’ll always cherish Mr. Prince asking (me) to apply,” remembered Spradlin fondly.
A teacher of vocational agriculture at North Hopkins Independent School District, Spradlin was well-trained in educating the community about agriculture and all its intricacies.
“How has my role changed?” he mused. “Really, not much from the outside. We are still an educational faculty, teaching farmers and ranchers, landowners and young people about agriculture and its purpose, and how to become more efficient.”
Aside from teaching agriculture professionals how to better themselves and their livelihoods, Spradlin’s favorite part of the job has always been the people, he said.
“Without a doubt, I have enjoyed working with the people of Hopkins County, and especially our youth,” he stated. “Very rewarding.”
Spradlin’s fondest memory was at a recent Northeast Texas Livestock Association show.
“They are all very good memories, but when the NETLA presented me a hat at our last Hopkins County Junior Market Show — and wow, has the Market Show and Sale grown — that was very special,” noted Spradlin. “Another is how the NETBIO (Northeast Texas Beef Improvement Organization) organization has grown. NETBIO has really taken off to be a state-leading beef improvement organization.”
Spradlin has expressed his hope that the new agent taking his post will be accepted and treated as well as he feels he has been during his tenure.
“From our county judge and commissioners and their staff, all the way to the people of the S.S. (Sulphur Springs) Livestock Sale Barn — they each have been very, very generous to me and I will always be grateful.”
Spradlin described his experience as an agent as not only a teaching experience, but in return, a learning experience.
“I know that as an agent, we are supposed to teach and reach out to others, of which I have tried. But, without a question, I have received more from others,” he said.
Though Spradlin says he will miss the people, he is not as emphatic about missing other aspects of his job.
“All of Extension knows that I am not very good at reporting,” he quipped. “I believe that Extension has changed their reporting system several times in the past years, which really keeps me confused. But, I try. I definitely won’t miss my monthly reports. My job in itself has always been very pleasurable, of which sometimes I didn’t know the answer, but we always got it.”
Spradlin joked that after retirement he is not sure what he will do — after all, he has never retired before.
“My wife tells me that we are going to travel some, and she sure deserves it. She has really been a great friend through all of my career,” he said.
But, Spradlin won’t be straying too far from the home pastures.
“I really want to spend some time with our grandchildren — and eat some ice cream,” he said.
Spradlin will be the guest of honor at a retirement reception on Tuesday, March 31, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., at the Extension office on Houston Street.
“We are going out in style, as they say,” said Spradlin. “I hope that everyone will come by.
“I would most sincerely wish to say a great thank you for allowing me a chance to serve Hopkins County. I really do appreciate it.”
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