The other day I visited a garden space at a local health-care center.
It was one of those days when my wife, Andrea, was out of town on business and I had my youngest son in tow. Asher is pretty outgoing and usually doesn’t shy away from telling people what is on his mind. And, he is 3. So you can only imagine some of the things that come out of his mouth.
So I was at the center, planning to meet a couple of residents and Bob Salzer, our 4-H youth-development agent (who we won’t let retire). Asher immediately started talking to Bob. Random stuff – probably about Transformers, his racetrack and that his sister goes to a new school where she has to eat lunch really fast – but, of course, Bob listens.
As we are walking down the hall to the garden, Asher lets go of my hand and runs, actually limps (broken foot – bunk beds should be questioned when purchasing for kids) up to Bob and grabs his hand.
He has met Bob before, but don’t forget he is 3, and sometimes he doesn’t even remember that. But the comfort and safety level was obvious: Asher trusted him.
Two days later, Asher came upstairs and said he has changed my name to Megatron (again, with the Transformers). I accepted it, but let him know that I have then decided to change his name to “Bob.”
Much to my chagrin, he let me know that, “I don’t want to be called Bob … unless it is Bob from your office. I like him.”
That is Asher in a nutshell.
It is also Bob Salzer in a nutshell. He loves kids, and kids seem to love him.
Bob has been here 30 years, and it seems that we are going to finally let him retire. Our hope – and it looks promising – is that by next spring, we will have a new 4-H agent despite the bleak state budget. La Plata County has also stepped up and shown tremendous support for this position, which is greatly appreciated by our community.
There will be a gap between agents, because Bob will probably be done by November. But if we have a gap of five or six months, then I will consider ourselves fortunate – four months ago, I expected a gap closer to 18 months.
Before Bob leaves, we are going to have one last uncomfortable moment in his honor: a retirement party.
On Oct. 16, we will be celebrating him here at the Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. In typical 4-H style, the potluck will begin at 6:06 p.m. and the “program” at 7:07 p.m.
The challenge – and hopefully all of you can help – is to let people know about this event. Remember, Bob’s been working with 4-H for 30 years – that’s thousands of people who have been positively affected by his leadership and training. So if you know past 4-H’ers, please tell them to come.
And bring a story. Or a scrapbook page. Oh, and something to eat.
Bob needs nourishment because there will be a dance afterward, and he plans to boogie all night.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter
is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.