Jeffrey Clary served the Alabama Cooperative Extension System for 30 years, working primarily in Dekalb and Lee counties. He is a native of Akron, Alabama, and a three-time Auburn University graduate.
Clary choose a career in Extension because of the passion he has for agriculture and the farming way of life. He did not have the funds to farm, so he chose a career path that would allow him to work with farmers. “God made me for Extension work and I never regretted my choice for a minute,” he says.
Clary considers his parents to be two of his greatest mentors. They taught him to be honest, true to his word and a hard worker. Mr. H. H. Martin, his high school ag teacher, also had a positive impact on his life.
He advises young agents to learn as much as they can about their field of work, to never talk down to anyone, and to always keep a smile on their faces.
His proudest work accomplishments include bring bringing row-till farming to east-central Alabama, bringing in peanuts as a rotational crop to help save the
cotton industry, starting the Auburn Opelika Convention and Visitors Bureau, creating Leadership Opelika, and starting the Annual East-Central Alabama Crops Tour.
Clary states that during his time with Extension he had very few challenges because he had a great staff in Lee County. He believes the greatest challenge facing Extension today though is the need to change and adapt to meet the needs of the clientele. He also believes that Extension also has a huge responsibility to tell its story in order to stay relevant.
Clary was the third person in Lee County with a cell phone, a request that required the approval of the Auburn University administration. Cell phones and computers are the greatest technological advances that occurred during Clary’s time with Extension. He even focused his dissertation on cell phone use by county agents.
Since his retirement from Extension, Clary has become an esteemed real estate salesman in the Auburn area. He claims that real estate is a lot like Extension, just with a different product. Clary also spent 28 years in the Alabama National Guard and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2000.