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story.lead_photo.caption Nancy Kirby has worked at the Soil and Water Conservation for 14 years. Her retirement will be celebrated 1-3 p.m. Dec. 13, 2018, at the USDA Service Center. Photo by Danisha Hogue / California Democrat.

Moniteau County has been home to Nancy Kirby for most of her life. Her love of the land started early, growing up on a farm in Tipton.

Although she moved away for 25 years, she returned to the land of her hometown to educate the public and get back into the agriculture community.

"If I can spread the word to the kids how important this is and help them preserve it, that's kind of what I do," Kirby said.

She has worked in the Soil and Water Conservation District for 14 years as a district specialist. She is also the office manager.

"The best thing about this job — besides helping the land owners, helping them get their ground in good order and keeping it in good order — is probably the people I work with," Kirby said.

Prior to this, she worked as a banker at Central Bank, California. Her typical duties as a district specialist include leading information education programs and explaining practices to land owners.

Kirby will retire this month.

"She goes way beyond the hours and parameters of this job, to get the job done," Christina Mettenburg said.

Mettenburg is training to become a district specialist. She said working with Kirby has been a great experience so far.

"(Learning) a new position, it could be a painful experience but it's the exact opposite with her," Mettenburg said.

As a district specialist, Kirby enjoyed helping with the many outreach programs, including the elementary poster contest, Envirothon and Women in Agriculture.

Although she sold her farm, Kirby will not leave the agriculture world. She is looking forward to being involved in local and state-wide outreach programs and traveling.

"We have a state Women in Agriculture Conference once a year and I am on the committee that helps plan those .. I intend to stay with the committee here (in Moniteau County)," Kirby said. "I want to travel the state of Missouri (and) go to a lot of the state parks; Missouri has so much to offer and I want to go see it all."

An open house for Kirby's retirement will be held 1-3 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Moniteau County office.

She said she's enjoyed learning and growing with her co-workers, who have become like family.

"It has been a pleasure to work in this office it's going to be hard to leave," Kirby said.

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