Lebanon agricultural center gets new director

Staff Reports • Updated Dec 1, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto hired Quintin Smith to be the new James E. Ward Agricultural Center director. 

Hutto said he made the decision based on the recommendation of the Ag Center director search committee and a rigorous interview process. 

“The committee reviewed more than 50 applications and interviewed a number of those applicants,” Hutto said. “Then, they recommended the top two candidates, and based on their interviews and credentials, I felt Mr. Smith was the best candidate. He is a Wilson Countian through and through who has a deep love of agriculture, and that’s what the Ag Center is all about. Mr. Smith is a hard worker with a great work ethic. As a longtime supporter of the Ag Center and a charter member of the Ag Management Committee, he has many years invested in the Ward Ag Center. A volunteer and supporter of the Wilson County Fair, he wants to see its success continue. His years of personal experience in agriculture will serve the county well.”

The position was posted Oct. 2-30. Applicants were ranked and scored by human resources according to the job description. The committee first met Nov. 7th to review the applications. The recommendation committee consisted of members of various organizations who work closely with the Ag Center. Commissioner and chairman Jeff Joines represented the Ag Center management committee, who then selected three other members, commissioners Sonja Robinson and Terry Scruggs and Lebanon-Wilson County Chamber of Commerce president Melanie Minter. 

Randall Clemmons and Helen McPeak with Wilson County Promotions, Wilson County Expo Center marketing director Charity Toombs and manager Zendell Murphy, Donna Banes and Randy Davis with the Ag Center, Wilson County Extension agent Ruth Correll and Wilson County human resources director Von Barr also made up the committee.  

During the first meeting, applications were reviewed and narrowed down to an appropriate number to interview. In the days that followed, the committee conducted first-round interviews, then reviewed the rest of the applicants for possible interview sections and held second-round interviews before recommending the top two candidates to Hutto and current Ag Center director Larry Tomlinson, who conducted the final interviews.

“I understand that the committee had a lot of good candidates to choose from, and it was no doubt difficult, but I believe they made a good choice with Quintin,” said Tomlinson. “I’ve known him a long time, and he’s been around the Ag Center since day one. As a young man, he put on the first cattle show we ever had at the Ag Center under a tree before we even had a cattle barn. He has seen the property evolve into what it is today. I’m sure he’ll take the knowledge he’s gained over the years as a successful businesses man and manager of his own family farm and bring that knowledge to this job. I look forward to working with him and will help in any way I can.”

Smith’s first day on the job will be Dec. 11, and he work side by side with Tomlinson until Jan. 1 when he will retire. 

Smith comes to the James E. Ward Agricultural Center with more than 40 years of experience maintaining pastures, managing employees – some bi-lingual – and working with every kind of farm animal. His experience also includes maintaining structures, including electrical and plumbing, and in creating and maintaining herd books, including all registration data.

With a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University as a double major in animal science and plant and soil science, Smith also attended Cumberland University and studied biology. Smith maintains a private applicator certification for restricted pesticides and chemicals, as well as a commercial driver’s license and health card. He interned at the Wilson County Extension Office prior to owning and managing his own successful beef cattle operation, which he has done for the past 40 years. 

Smith organized and oversaw more than 17 cattle production sales each attended by more than 500 people from across the U.S. and Canada. He currently manages 600-plus acres of farmland and managed as much as 1,500 acres at one time. He is particular about equipment maintenance; so much so that some of his personal equipment has lasted throughout his 40-year agricultural career.

Smith received numerous awards and is a member of many organizations all centered on agriculture that stretch across the country and into Canada. His background and current involvement with various organizations in the agricultural world provide a unique opportunity to promote the Ag Center and bring a variety of events to Wilson County.

“We look forward to the days ahead as Mr. Smith leads the James E. Ward Ag Center into the future,” said Hutto. “We know he will continue to promote our agricultural heritage, educate the public and expand on the successes of the organization in our county. Mr. Smith will continue to promote the Ag Center as one of Wilson County’s largest economic engines. I’d like to say a very special thank you to our recommendation committee for their hard work. The selection process can be stressful and tedious, but I believe we’ve all come together and made the best decision for the betterment of the James E. Ward Ag Center and our county.”


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