Longtime Leavenworth County ag expert rounds out career
During the past 16 years, Sy Nyhart has become synonymous with Leavenworth County Extension Service.
Nyhart, who retired as extension agriculture and natural resources agent on Tuesday, said it will be difficult to make the adjustment to retirement.
"All I've done for the last 44 years is work and do my job," he said.
As a child growing up southwest of Atchison, Nyhart participated in 4-H.
"I just got so much out of it, and I learned so much," he said.
As he puts it, 4-H helped bring him out of the barn. It strengthened his communication skills and broadened his education. He loved it so much, in fact, that he decided early on that he wanted to impart the same information to other people.
"I never wanted to do anything else in all these years," the 66-year-old Nyhart said.
So he enrolled at Kansas State University, where he graduated in 1959 with a bachelor's degree in agriculture economics and administration. He and his wife moved to Russell, where Nyhart had landed his first job with the county extension service. For 13 years, he worked as 4-H agent in the west-central Kansas community.
Nyhart, who also holds a master's degree from KSU in horticulture, then moved on to nearby Phillips County, where he became agriculture agent.
In 1986, he heard about an opening in Leavenworth County. His four children had moved to northeastern Kansas, and Nyhart and his wife seriously considered making a move themselves.
"I began to realize I was the only one left in western Kansas," he said.
So on Jan. 1, 1987, Nyhart came home to northeastern Kansas. And he never regretted the decision.
Now, it's time to move on.
"I think I'm going to miss working with the people," Nyhart said. "I hope I'll still be involved with people in the communities."
He's somewhat apprehensive about entering the realm of the retired.
"I feel it's a new time in my life to see what's out there and what there is to do," he said.
The extension council board is seeking a replacement for Nyhart. And the new agent will face some challenges, brought about by the changing face of Leavenworth County.
"This is a rather big job," Nyhart said. "It's fast becoming an urban county, so you need someone who has experience in that area, too."
But the extension office staff will provide a great deal of support, he said.
"We have an excellent staff," he said. "And they are wanting to work with all kinds of people."