Kevin Starr, director of the Lincoln County Cooperative Extension, is set to retire at the end of this year after more than two decades at the post.
He came on board as director in April of 1991, having previously worked for about seven-and-a-half years in Robeson County.
“People always say when it’s time, you’ll know it,” he said of stepping down.
He recently began having that feeling.
At 62, he said he’s not as innovative or creative as he once was. As such, he figured it was a good opportunity to go on to something else.
“It’s important to find out who you are outside of your career,” Starr added.
Born in Lincolnton and raised between Maiden and Denver, Starr said he has enjoyed getting to work in the area in which he grew up.
“It’s been meaningful to come back home and work so long,” he said.
His “green thumb” and love for the outdoors came honestly.
“It goes back to my family’s interest in gardening,” he said, noting that his mother always had a vegetable garden and various plants, shrubs and flowers growing.
Starr received his undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University and then a master’s in horticulture from Virginia Tech.
Reflecting on his years of service, he said it’s the people, and interacting with them, that he’ll miss the most, both co-workers and clients.
“I hope I’ve been of some help,” he said, noting that the Cooperative Extension has been a great organization to work for.
He is also appreciative of the support he’s received from Lincoln County.
The Master Gardener Program is something he’s been particularly fond of during his time as director. The last class under his leadership wrapped up in February.
Over the past few years, he’s also enjoyed the resurgence of interest in local foods and how that’s been evidenced at the county’s farmers markets.
At the beginning of August, he picked up an additional workload by stepping in as interim director for the Catawba County Cooperative Extension after the previous holder of the job retired.
With things now set to slow down soon, he has some plans in store for retirement. The father of two daughters, Starr, whose wife is the dean of the nursing school at Gardner-Webb University, is looking forward to the flexibility to try new things.
On his post-work to-do list are exercising, eating healthier and continuing to travel. With the time to do so, he hopes to be able to cook and prepare foods at home more often, including those from his own, personal vegetable garden — something he’s been meaning to get “squared away.”
“It’s easy to let things go when it rains every day,” he said.
Starr also intends to do more volunteer work at his church, First Baptist in Lincolnton.
One thing he doesn’t plan to do is move away, opting instead to stay put in his home located about four miles out of town.
“I’m not planning on leaving that house until I absolutely have to,” he said.
Starr’s last day in the office will be Dec. 20, with his retirement officially effective Jan. 1.