Burley Tobacco Extension
Burley Tobacco Extension

Former Tobacco Extension Specialists

Former Tobacco Extension Specialists

Former Tobacco Extension Specialists

Former Specialists

Portrait of Gary Palmer
Gary Palmer

Gary was born in East Tennessee in 1954 and grew up in the Glendale Community of Cocke County.  He received a BA degree in cellular biology from the University of Tennessee in 1977. He worked for the Cocke County Extension service as a program assistant working on a TVA-funded project. He credits the County Extension Agricultural Agent Raymond Sutton for his interest in Extension. After working with numerous Extension specialists from the University of Tennessee, he returned to the University to work on his MS degree in Entomology and Plant Pathology. After taking a course in Weed Science, he began his PhD work concentrating on Weed Science in the Department of Plant and Soil Science. After graduation, he became the fifth tobacco specialist to be employed by the University of Kentucky in 1984 replacing the retiring Ira Massie. He served for 23 years as a tobacco specialist until accepting a job in 2007 as the Assistant Director of Extension for Agriculture and Natural Resources. In 2017, Gary was named the Interim Associate Dean for Extension in the UK College of Agriculture.

Bill was the sixth tobacco specialist employed by the University of Kentucky after the retirement and death of George Everette. Bill's primary responsibilities were for dark tobacco production in the western part of Kentucky and was stationed at the Research and Education Center at Princeton.

Portrait of Joe Smiley
Joe Smiley

Joe was born in Casey County in 1933. He received a B.S. and M.S. degree in Agronomy at UK in 1959 and 1960, respectively.  He attended the University of Wisconsin where he finished a Ph.D. in Genetics, Plant Pathology and Agronomy in 1963. That same year Joe accepted a job as Extension Tobacco Specialist at the University of Kentucky. Joe retired in 1992 after a long career of helping Kentucky's tobacco farmers and the tobacco industry with many innovative ideas like baling tobacco. Joe passed away on January 18, 2004.

Portrait of George Everette
George Everette

George was born in 1922. He finished his B.S. in Ag Economics in 1949 and received his M.S. in Agronomy and Plant Pathology in 1955. He became an Extension Tobacco Specialist at Princeton in 1956. George was known as a great storyteller and speaker. George passed away on March 27, 1986. The George A. Everette Conference facilities at the Princeton Research and Education Center was dedicated in George's memory in 1987.

Portrait of Ira E. Massie
Ira E. Massie

Ira E. Massie was born Nov. 13, 1919, in Stamping Ground in Scott County, KY.  He attended the University of Kentucky where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in general agriculture.  In January, 1953, following a six-month stint in Mason County as a county agent, he was named Extension Tobacco Specialist at UK. In 1958, he received a Master’s Degree in agronomy from UK.  In October, 1953, he began a mass media endeavor with a tobacco report on WHAS and later on WAVE in Louisville and WSAZ in Huntington, WV.  On July 19, 1960, the first televised showing of "Tobacco Talk" was presented to Lexington audiences.  Massie "inherited" the tag of "Mr. Tobacco" from his predecessor in the UK Agronomy department: Russell Hunt.  He retired from the University of Kentucky in 1983.  Massie died in January, 1987, after an extended illness.  He was inducted into the UK Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1995.

Several interviews with Massie are included in the Kentucky History's Burley Tobacco Oral History Project.  To access these interviews, follow these links: July 17, 1985 InterviewAugust 22, 1985 InterviewNovember 13, 1985 Interview.

Portrait of Russell Hunt
Russell Hunt

Russell was born on April 10, 1896 in Ohio County, KY.  He graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1918 with a B.S. in Agriculture.  He returned to the University of Kentucky in 1924 where he completed a Master's degree in rural life problems.  From August 1, 1925 to July 1, 1927 he was instructor of Vocational Agriculture at Liberty High School in Casey County.  From 1927 to 1931, he managed a general farm in Jessamine County near Lexington.  In 1931, Russell became a Field Agent in Tobacco at the University of Kentucky, where he served until his death on July 6, 1962.  Known to many as "Mr. Tobacco", Russell was named " Man of the Year" in Kentucky agriculture shortly before his death. 

Hunt gave a presentation titled "Industry Can Be Our Partner" to the Southern Regional Conference for State Extension Specialists in Agronomy and Soil Conservation, Washington D.C, September 17, 1959.  It can be viewed by following the link HERE.

(Photo courtesy of Curt Hunt, grandson)

Contact Information

Bob Pearce
Extension Tobacco Specialist

1405 Veterans Drive Lexington, KY 40546