Garrison retires after 32 years at Henry County Extension

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By Taylor Riley

For over 32 years, a Henry County Extension agent has inspired and educated the community, and last week, the office boardroom was filled with residents thanking her for her service.
The Henry County Extension Office celebrated Maryellen Garrison’s retirement last week with gifts, kind words and certificates of achievement.
Garrison began her journey in Henry County in the 1980s, but she was an extension agent for 47 years in Kentucky. Her story began when she graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1971 with a food and nutrition degree and a master’s degree as a registered dietician.
Upon graduation, she moved to Leslie County to become a home economics agent. Later she would go to Knox County and eventually to Henry County in 1986.
Garrison commented on how many changes have been made since the 1970s when she began as an agent. She showed the audience her favorite frayed bell-bottoms and a color-block dress from an earlier decade.
“It’s a completely different time,” Garrison said.
Over the years, she has served in all types of roles and organizations, including a long-time columnist for the Henry County Local. She also fulfills the role as a wife, mother to one son and grandmother to one grandson.
At her retirement party, many community leaders spoke about their love and admiration of Garrison.
“There are a handful of people I look up to as public servants and she’s one of them,” said Judge John Logan Brent. “Leadership is showing up every day … doing your best ... to me, that’s Maryellen Garrison.”
Brent presented Garrison with a certificate of achievement stating that July 25, 2018 is now known as Maryellen Garrison Day. A park bench and tree were also donated in her name by the extension office.
Rep. Rick Rand presented Garrison with a citation of appreciation.
“She did amazing work, but what she leaves behind is even better,” Rand said.
Mary Bryant, extension office council member and Farm Bureau agent said Garrison puts “service above self.”
“I’m so glad to have you as an example, a mentor and friend,” Bryant said.
Holly Kinderman with the Henry County Chamber of Commerce commented on how great Leadership Henry County has turned out to be, a program which Garrison started many years ago.
“It’s truly a good program and I had big shoes to fill,” Kinderman said. “She is the definition of a community leader and a big support to me.”
Many extension office workers said Garrison would be “missed in the office.”
“Thank you for doing the jobs that no one else wanted,” Cathy Toole said. “Thank you for making Henry County a great place to live and raise a family.”