Interview with W. Bert Collins, November 27, 1984
Project: University of Kentucky: Extension Service Oral History Project
Interview SummaryWilliam "Bert" Collins was born in Fleming County, Kentucky on October 29, 1908. He was the middle child of three children and lived on a 98-acre farm two miles from Flemingsburg, Kentucky. He attended a private high school, where he passed an exam that exempted him from paying tuition. Collins attended the University of Kentucky and earned a B. S. in Agriculture in 1931. He went back to the family farm, but took extra courses in his spare time, sometimes at different colleges, such as Colorado A. & M. (Colorado State) University. Collins notes "he did not care" when he discovered these classes did not count towards a master's degree. He returned to UK and earned a Master's degree in Agricultural Economics.
Collins recalls he was still in college at UK during "the Panic of 1931", and said farmers had "a rough time" from 1920 to 1930; they could not expand. There were few tractors and fewer hard service roads, the combine was unknown, and electricity was limited. Collins discusses his work doing farm surveys with U.K. in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.). He remembers that most farms were small due to the mechanics of tobacco production and inheritance laws. He talks about the chores in the home and the few conveniences that were available for the women. Collins first worked for UK Extension Services as Assistant County Agent in Nicholas County, Kentucky, transferred to Bracken County for five years, then worked in Mason County for thirty-five years as Agricultural Agent.
Collins recalls that methods of working with the farmers were more informal at that time. He states it was his job "to help them move to new ideas and new approaches to things", and feels that this is still the purpose of Extension Services today. He discusses the changes in farming over the years, the movement towards bigger farms, and notes the biggest change in economic terms is in out-of-pocket cost of production. Collins talks about agents he has supervised over the years. He recalls he retired from U.K. "in 1973 or 1974", and represented the Bank of Maysville, Kentucky, working with farm problems and other "thank you jobs". He talks about his family. He reminisces about some humorous experiences during his career.
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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Collins, W. Bert Interview by Mike Duff. 27 Nov. 1984. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Collins, W.B. (1984, November 27). Interview by M. Duff. University of Kentucky: Extension Service Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Collins, W. Bert, interview by Mike Duff. November 27, 1984, University of Kentucky: Extension Service Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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