Ben Richardson had a long and fruitful career with Extension. He served in Colbert County from 1945 to 1968. In 1968 he moved to Jackson County, from which he retired in 1981. Never one to stay still, he was elected to the Alabama legislature in 1982 and represented his district for the next twelve years.
Richardson was born in 1924. He says AP1, 4-H and Auburn came to his attention in the 7th grade and was recruited by an AP1 recruiter, Dr. Mullins. “I always knew I was going to college. My brothers and sisters did. When I left Jaspar I had $50 for the first semester tuition and $10 for the bus. After that I was on my own.”
Richardson describes himself as a people person and believes that a successful career in Extension requires that you love the people you serve. Additional advice includes don’t put off acting on a request, work on it right away and let your client know you’re working on it.
It was big move for Richardson, transitioning from Walker County to Jackson County in 1968 but, as he says, “I hit the ground running and didn’t have any trouble at all.” Richardson says he enjoyed his work with Extension every single day and that he never once said he didn’t want
to work that day. Just two years after moving to Jackson County, Richardson was honored with the NACAA Distinguished Service Award.
When asked about his proudest moment, a single, but powerful, image stands out in Richardson’s mind: the sight of 1200 children in 4-H uniforms parading down the main street of Tuscumbia. He strongly believes that 4-H develops leadership skills that last for life. Richardson was instrumental in building attendance at the 4-H camp and transported a large group of campers each summer. He supported the 4-H program at a time when it was institutionalized as a regular part of school curriculum.
Richardson continued to serve the interests of his Extension clientele after he joined the legislature. He introduced a bill establishing a comprehensive boll weevil eradication program which ultimately became law.
At 95, Richardson recounts many blessings for which he is grateful, not the least of which is his beloved wife, Joanie. As he says, “the Good Lord knew I needed to be in Jackson County, that’s where I met my wife—I’m a lucky man.”