We normally shy away from feature articles about retirements. As a monthly publication, we could fill the Nebraska Farmer each edition with "good-bye and thank you" stories from the many producers, researchers, educators and other leaders in Nebraska who have had a big impact on agriculture.
But I'm making an exception in this blog to comment on an education and communications legend who often toiled under the radar in his 57-year career. Yes, that's nearly six decades
Richard "Dick" Fleming retired in June of this year. It was fitting that the UNL Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications, for which he worked in many positions and leadership roles, established the Dick and Connie Fleming Scholarship Fund to benefit future agricultural communicators.
ALEC in Action, in its fall newsletter, featured Dick's accomplishments through the years in feature article. I've taken some information from that article and from an interview with Dick for this blog.
The department estimates he held more than a dozen positions in communications and marketing, "positively affecting thousands of UNL faculty, staff and students."
He plied his trade at UNL in both the City Campus downtown and in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources on the East Campus.
He may not be a household word to the state's farmers, but he's an icon among ag journalists, UNL faculty, farm organizations and agribusinesses.
Dick first retired from ALEC in 1996, but was back within the year to advise students enrolled in an agricultural journalism program. He retired again in 2013, this time for good.
He graduated from Kansas State University and, like myself, started out on a small daily newspaper where the cub reporter works for everyone else on the staff but garners a wealth of experience in the process covering every aspect of the local community, including covering county government, city hall, agriculture and human interest.
He came to Nebraska 1956 as an Extension communication specialist. In his various assignments over the next 40 years, Dick mentored students, presented workshops in Nebraska and around the country and served in top level positions, including director of university information and assistant to the chancellor.
In the late 1990s, he was responsible for establishing ag journalism as an official degree program at UNL.
We at Nebraska Farmer benefited from Dick's marketing and organizational skills 17 years ago when we sponsored a large precision agriculture conference, called Precision Decisions, in Omaha. It was one of the first such conferences in the country. Dick helped line up speakers, coordinated the conference, designed our promotion flyers and got the word out in ways we didn't think of.
In the early years of electronic news coverage, when satellite information systems like DTN began, Fleming worked with us at Nebraska Farmer to provide news content.
Fleming earned many awards over the years, of course, but it seems he spent many, many hours after his retirement in 1996 coordinating various award programs within UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
He approached every assignment with a smile and worked tirelessly to get the job done.
Good luck, Dick.