By MEGAN PARKER
After 27 years of being the county Family and Consumer Science Agent, Pam Dooley will be retiring on Friday, March 3.
Dooley, a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in Home Economics Education, didn’t start her career here. After graduating from EKU she moved to Cincinnati where she worked in a bank for thirteen years.
“I decided to come back,” Pam said. “I wanted to get back closer to my family and I wanted to do something that I could use my degree for.”
She took the opportunity to apply for a position with the Powell County Extension Office and was hire for as the then Home Economics Agent. “I started here on September 11, 1989,” Dooley said. “It’s been 27 and a half years.”
“When I first started here I was the Home Ec Agent, which now we are the Family and Consumer Science Agent,” she said as she talked about how the not only the program, but the community has grown and changed over the years.
“The first few weeks I was here we got our first computer. We only had one computer in the whole office and had to take turns using it,” she said. “The entire staff went to Jackie Young who was teaching computer classes in that big white house down on the corner, a few times a week.”
Dooley has worked with many families throughout the years. “My primary job has been things that deal with families, health, financial, housing – anything you can relate to home and family.”
Some of the programs she created are still used today. One such program has went above and beyond to help so many all of the nation. Pam said that years ago, while attending a National Convention, a group of FCS Agents begin discussing how a homemaker came to one of them and told of raising her grandchildren and how there were no resources out there for them. “There were nine of us and we decided this was something we were going to do,” Pam said. So the group talked to specialist at UK gathering data.
“We sat down and came up with the ten most needs at that time and divided those up and each of us wrote publications and handouts for our topics. After we had everything established we presented it at our national meeting and it spread out from there,” she said. The program started out as Grandparents as Parents and over the years this program has grown and now “Grandparenting”, as the program is called today, is a nationwide program used by Extension Agents all over the country.
“Some of the groups went on to help with grandparenting rights with the legislature,” Pam said. “Through that program we were able to encourage them and provide them with the resources were they could, through legislature, petition and get grandparent’s rights established.”
Over the years Pam said her role has been that of an educator and a teacher. “Not only do I pass knowledge on, but I’ve gained knowledge and skills from the people here.”
Pam says that now with computers and the internet a lot of people will refer to that rather than stopping by or calling their local extension office. “Our information and what we give out is all research based information and not everything you get off the internet is research based,” she said. “Sometimes what you find online may sound really, really good, but it may not be what they actually need.”
And even though she will no longer be an agent with the extension office, Pam hopes that the people of Powell County will continue to use and support the extension services. “I hope it will continue to grow and continue to serve the needs of the families in Powell County.”
After retiring, Pam will eventually be moving back to her hometown of Owlsey County where she’s looking forward to getting all of those unfinished projects from over the years finished. “Hopefully now I’ll have time to get some things done, maybe travel a bit,” she said. “Just having time to do things that you keep putting off and you keep thinking ‘well, I’ll get to that’.”
After spending almost her entire career here in Powell County, Pam says that leaving is a struggle. “Anybody that knows me pretty well knows that I’m a home person. This (Powell County) is my home too. People here are now my family. They’ve always helped me, they’ve taken me in,” she said with a smile. “Some of them have seem me through the great challenges that I have faced. Losing my mom, losing my dad, when I went through cancer.”
“It’s going to be hard not seeing everyone every day,” she said. “I’ve worked since I was six years old and been with people all of my life. So, to go home, in a way, I’m kind of looking forward to it – for a little while.”
Pam’s last community class will be the women’s health program being held tonight, March 2. Her last day as the county agent will be Friday, March 3.