“I’m often asked if that model fits in 2012,” Smith said. “And I say it was important in 1700, it was important in 1900 and it will be important in 2500. Because it starts by asking the people what’s important to their economic or health or social livelihood, and then brings the science to meet those issues in their locality. That gives people the ability to make informed decisions.

“The model is strong, so as long as the leadership in land-grant systems understand the principle and understand that all three parts – teaching, research and Extension – are absolutely necessary for economic development and success, then the model is tried and true.”

Smith swallows more Pepsi and pauses after rehashing his career.

“I have tried to make it fun for all the folks I’ve worked with in Extension,” he said. “There’s always a job to be done and when you can do it using your own talents, then the job is fun all the time.”

“Fun” will take another form in his career as Smith considers the next turn on his path.

“I’ve never golfed, never fished, never hunted and I don’t have any hobbies. So I’ve obviously got to find something fun to do. I need to get in shape. Maybe you’ll see me on TV, ‘Ed Smith Does Yoga,’ telling everyone to stretch or whatever. I told my wife I would be hers 24/7/365 and she said she was going back to work,” Smith said through deep laughter.

“Actually, I have two grandkids in Houston and two in Austin, along with my sons and their wives. So I have lots of grandpa-type stuff to deal with,” he said. “And you know, Extension depends a lot on volunteers. Maybe I’ll be a volunteer.”