Chuck Browne began his work with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System in May 15, 1989, as an assistant county agent/horticulture and 4-H. During a career of more than 27 years, he served Lee, Chambers, Russell and other counties, including teaching numerous Master Gardener classes statewide.
Browne, originally from Birmingham, claims as his mentors Jeff Clary, Larry Easterwood, Tom Burnside, Ken Tilt, his father and his maternal grandfather. He received a B.S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture-Landscape Design and an M.S. degree in Ornamental Horticulture-Nursery Production, both from Auburn University.
“The Extension folks taught me methodology,” Browne says. “My family members instilled a work ethic in me that served me well in my career. My grandfather was a World War II U.S. Marine veteran who was a staunch right-wing conservationist—a Teddy Roosevelt kind of guy who spoke softly but carried a big stick. My father grew up during hard times, post-World War II, and could smooth out any problem that arose.”
Browne’s proudest accomplishment was serving clientele for more than 25 years and making an impact on thousands of 4-Hers, farmers, homeowners and other citizens that he served.
“Also, I cannot leave out the impact the AACAAS had on my career,” he says. “I was most humbled and honored to serve in whatever leadership role my colleagues gave me and trusted me with.”
Looking at Extension programs today, Browne is encouraged by the recent expansion of 4-H youth programs. For adults, he believes continued development in information transfer and electronic availability to agents and specialists is instrumental in future successes.
Browne says the biggest challenge faced by Extension today is competition from digital media platforms. “People can post anything on the Internet with no references or documentation of proof of what they claim,” he says. “Extension’s advantage is still research-based facts and information.”
The two most significant scientific and technological advances to occur during his career was the development of the Internet and precision farming, says Browne.
Since retirement, Browne continues to volunteer with Extension on a limited basis. “My wife Cathy and I live on Lake Martin. She is still employed full-time with the Auburn University College of Agriculture’s Department of Horticulture, and I own and operate a small kayak/canoe outfitters business. I mostly serve clients locally, but I’ve had them from Hawaii, Africa, Australia and from throughout the United States,” he says.
Browne has three sons. (No grandchildren yet.)