By Marlee Moore
Kent Stanford has a ready smile, a servant’s heart and a passion for educating farmers — a combination earning him the Duncan Award for Excellence in Production Agriculture & Forestry Extension.
As the award winner, he receives $5,000 for programming costs, courtesy of the Alabama Farmers Agriculture Foundation. This is the third annual Duncan Award, coordinated by the Alabama Farmers Federation to reward Auburn University (AU) and Alabama Extension professionals for work tangibly affecting farmers.
Stanford received the award during the organization’s Farm & Land Expo in Montgomery Aug. 5.
“It’s humbling to be recognized for your efforts,” said Stanford, 50. “You don’t do this for recognition. Extension people have a heart for service.”
Stanford is an associate Extension professor and statewide Extension specialist who focuses on nutrient management (related to agronomic crops, animal sciences, forages and poultry). He was named a statewide specialist in 2008 and is based out of the Sand Mountain Research and Extension Center in Crossville.
The ’94 AU animal sciences graduate works behind the scenes to troubleshoot compliance issues for growers. Producer education works toward Stanford’s real goal: Helping farmers follow rules and telling their positive story.
“I like to see people get better,” he said.
“Better” includes quality record-keeping and complying with programs such as the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) rule. It’s a program he’s worked closely with since the late ‘90s and continues to influence. Stanford informs all stakeholders on revisions to the state permitting process made during 2020’s mandatory 5-year program review.
Stanford, who co-facilitates the Inter Agency Waste Team, also worked with Dr. Rishi Prasad to write a new publication on organic soil amendments as the complicated topic of biosolids gained attention across the state.
The farmer who nominated Stanford called him “a true joy to work with each time I needed his help.”
“Kent’s cheerful attitude and willingness to serve the people of Alabama make him so deserving of this award,” the nomination continued. “His dependability and work ethic make him stand out above the rest.”
Stanford, a native of Pine Apple in Wilcox County, joined Alabama Extension in 1995 as a county agent in St. Clair County. He lives near Ashville with Amy, his wife of 25 years. The couple met on AU’s livestock judging team. They have two children, both Auburn students, Ross, 21, and Callie, 19. The Stanfords raise horses, hay and cattle and attend Odenville First Baptist Church. Traveling is a family pastime, and Stanford’s favorite trips coincide with attending national meetings as a member of the Alabama Association of County Agricultural Agents and Specialists.
Stanford, an auctioneer, is a lifetime member of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association and is a former county Young Farmers Committee chair.
He said the Duncan Award is a testament to the hard work of stakeholders and his Extension coworkers.
“We have gone through tremendous change in Extension,” Stanford said. “But relationships still matter. That’s true in everything we do in life. Communication is critical. And teamwork drives success.”