MONTGOMERY, Ala., Feb. 23 — The Alabama Farmers Federation welcomed today’s announcement of Mike Phillips being named director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES).
“We are excited about Mike’s promotion to director,” said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. “He has expressed a sincere desire to focus Extension’s work on production agriculture by helping farmers access the research and technical assistance they need to be successful. The Alabama Farmers Federation has a rich history with Extension, and we look forward to working with Mike and his entire team to fulfill the land-grant university mission of helping improve life for Alabama farmers and families.”
ACES is the primary outreach organization for Alabama A&M and Auburn universities. Phillips will begin his new role March 1 with the joint system, which was created in 1995 when the universities’ Extension programs were combined. Phillips succeeds former Director Dr. Gary Lemme, who is retiring after 10 years and recently received the Federation’s Cultivator Award for service to farmers.
“It is truly a high honor to be selected to serve in this capacity,” Phillips said. “The opportunity to lead in making the state a better place is very special, and I am passionate about it. Our Extension professionals are here to enhance citizens’ livelihoods and make communities a better place to live and work.”
Phillips, an agronomy professor, has served since 2018 as Alabama Extension assistant director for agriculture, forestry and natural resource programs and as associate dean in Auburn’s College of Agriculture.
Phillips said he’s passionate about Extension’s role in education.
“My parents were working-class people, often working two jobs each,” Phillips said. “I am one of those first-generation college graduates. I take great pride in that by saying my parents knew and valued education at every level. My wife, June, is an incredibly strong supporter of the value of education.
“In Extension, we teach every day—it’s just that it may be on a turnrow or in a hayfield or forest. There are many examples, but we make the difference in livelihoods every day in very impactful ways.”
Prior to joining Alabama Extension and the Auburn faculty, Phillips was head of Mississippi State University’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. His career also includes the role of chair of the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Kentucky’s Morehead State University. He began his career at the University of Arkansas Southwest Research and Extension Center in Hope, Arkansas, where he was director and professor.
Phillips, a native of Benton, Arkansas, earned a master’s degree and doctorate in agronomy in 1982 and 1985, respectively, at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1980 from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, majoring in agriculture.