Kuykendall received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy and Soils from Auburn University. He earned his Master’s degree in Animal Science from Murray State University.
After joining Extension, Kuykendall served as an agronomy agent in Autauga, Chilton and Elmore Counties. He also served as an Alabama regional agronomy agent, which extended the counties served to Sumter, Marshall, St. Clair, Chambers and Autauga Counties.
Although he originally wanted to work for Soil Conservation, Kuykendall’s respect for county agents led him to work with Extension. Bill Alverson of the College of Agriculture handed him an application, he received a job offer and from then on was committed to Extension.
Kuykendall received some great advice over the years. Early in his career he was advised to be honest, humble, sincere and caring. He was also told that clients are always looking for leadership from Extension by taking up issues and identifying opportunities with growers, commodity groups and government officials. Perhaps the best advice, however, could be summarized as follows: nothing compares to getting in a truck together one-on-one with a farmer to build a relationship.
Kuykendall recalls several mentors who guided his early career, “my first Job in Sumter County got me oriented with CEC BB Williamson along with ANR Agent Jeff McClure and 4-H Agents Gloria Steinhilber and Theresa Threadgill. Frank Wood, my second CEC in my second year of employment guided me
and supported me in Marshall County. All the Specialists were friends and supported me both in 4-H and ANR along with Fellow 4-H and Ag Agents. Great Extension family.”
Career highlights include his work with 4-H Livestock, Piedmont Cattle Marketing Association (where he also functioned as an IRM Committee), and assessing Expected Progeny Differences (“EPDs”) with Beef Cattle through the Alabama Beef Cattle Improvement Association. He oversaw cotton soil quality and nematode surveys in Autauga and Elmore Counties. He conducted a range of trials including on-farm variety and IPM trials and transgenic studies of both insects and herbicides with conservation tillage in row crops.
His career flourished despite the challenge of moving counties three times due to funding pressures.
Kuykendall notes there was a 12-year period where he was the only agent responsible for ANR 4-H and Agriculture in two counties. With that much 4-H background, it’s not surprising that he would like to see programs such as 4-H farm tractor driving revived.
Kuykendall catalogues some of the greatest advances as EPDs, conservation tillage, Boll Weevil eradication and the use of Bt which opened up South Alabama and Georgia for cotton production, and precision agriculture.
Kuykendall recently retired from his second career with Pioneer. He and his wife, Tina, live in Fort Payne. He is still gardening, and oversees a tree farm and rental property ventures with his family. Leisure time is spent enjoying the company of their new granddaughter and, Kuykendall adds, “enjoying my wife’s good cooking.”