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 worked in the Soil and Water Conservation District for 14 years as a district specialist, as well as office manager. She retired Dec. 21.
"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 in California.
Her typical duties as a district specialist included leading information education programs and explaining practices to land owners.
"She goes way beyond the hours and parameters of this job, to get the job done," said Christina Mettenburg, who is also a district specialist. She said working with Kirby has been a great experience.
"(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 helped with the many outreach programs that serviced the community. Some included the elementary poster contest, Envirothon and Women in Agriculture.
Women in Agriculture is a national program that presents current issues to female land owners. She said hosting conferences for the district is an important source of information for them.
"If you're the farmer's spouse, there's a lot of duties that fall down to you. I know as I was growing up I had to help take care of the cows (and) take care of the pigs," Kirby said.
Some challenges arose in the district as policies and technology changed with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. However, she said, working with the farmers and addressing their needs was always rewarding.
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."
She said she also looks forward to spending more time with her grandchildren in Columbia and farther north in the state.
About 50 people attended an open house to celebrate Kirby's retirement 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.