John Vining retires, Oct. 31

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, November 6, 2014


The familiar big puffy green coat and the beat up 1986 Toyota pickup truck won’t be fixtures in Polk County Government after Oct. 31. Polk County Extension Director John Vining will be retiring after 32 and a half years with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

During his tenure with the Extension Service, Vining served as agriculture agent with horticulture and 4-H responsibilities and the past 26 years as the local department head for Cooperative Extension. He followed in the footsteps of two exceptional county directors, Reagan Ammons and Paul Culberson.

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Unknown to many, John Vining is a two time national award winner. In 1991 he was awarded first place for his 1991 Gardener’s Calendar, which featured month by month gardening chores and black and white photographs of scenes from across Polk County. In 2010 he earned his second national award for the statewide Showstopper Plants publication, which he wrote and prepared each year from 2008 to 2013.

When asked about his greatest career accomplishment Vining believed it was all of the 4-H’ers and high school kids he had worked with over the years. He has been involved with numerous youth oriented activities from Super Saturday in his early years to helping coach basketball in the county’s Recreation Department.

“I really can’t recall how many reference letters and scholarship applications I have helped with for students at Polk County High School,” Vining remarked.

The 32-year County Extension Director says that he has been blessed to work in his home county all of his career. In 2004 when he suffered a serious heart attack, John received get well wishes from a few hundred people, many from people he had assisted through the local Extension Center.

“Polk County has great farm families, our Extension Service has terrific volunteers and I have had the pleasure of working with lots of top notch county co-workers. Polk County is a great place to live and work,” added Vining.

– Submitted by Sarah Gottfried