Don Bice served as a Russell County Agent from 1970 until his retirement in 1999. He obtained his undergraduate and Master’s Degrees from Auburn University. He started his career with Extension in 4-H and says that beef was a large part of his work. He notes “getting up at 5 am to feed cattle and taking them to the fair are great memories!”
Bice was encouraged to pursue his Master’s Degree by his County Extension coordinator, something for which he was very grateful as it benefited his career and helped him develop expertise. He worked full-time and took evening classes at Auburn with the support of professors who took a personal interest in the courses he selected. That individual attention was very important to him and, in hindsight, Bice recognizes the value that type of guidance can make in the life of an agent.
Bice’s proudest work relates to the identification and promotion of Russell Bermudagrass in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Bice first identified Russell bermudagrass on the Roy Temple Farm in a field near Searle, Alabama. The field had originally been planted with the Mississippi
rmudagrass on the Roy Temple Farm in a field near Searle, Alabama. The field had originally been planted with the Mississippi State University variety “Callie” but that field was winterkilled and Bice recognized that a new and unique crop was dominating the field in the following spring –either as a mutation of “Callie” or as a hybrid between it and common bermudagrass. Superior characteristics of “Russell” bermudagrass include higher yields and better winter hardiness. Bice is proud that the variety continues to stand the test of time.
Bice believes that Extension will always benefit from having a pool of specialists to help with specific problems and recommends that resources be allocated to Extension for that purpose. Like many other agents, computers were introduced mid-way through his career and he adjusted to them but doesn’t believe they can replace the expertise of agents.
Bice lives in Phenix City with his wife, Martha. Their sons live close by: Don (Phenix City) and Brian (Opelika). They have four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.