Larry W. Turner
Larry Turner dedicated his life to agriculture from his roots on an Indiana farm until his untimely death in 2006. As leader of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Turner traveled across the state and beyond in his efforts to improve the lives of Kentuckians.
He was an enthusiastic supporter of grassroots extension programs. Turner believed in the mission of extension and its role in “taking the university to the people.” He is remembered as a modest and easygoing man, with a quiet self-confidence and a powerful sense of purpose that made him an innovative and aggressive leader. In only a few years, he had a tremendous impact on Kentucky Cooperative Extension.
Turner joined UK in 1978 as an extension agricultural engineer and faculty member in energy management. He earned a doctorate in agricultural engineering from UK in 1984. In 1999, he was promoted to chair of the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. He became associate dean in January 2002.
In addition to his extension and applied research activities, Turner taught courses in the dynamics of biological systems and in design of ventilation and environmental control.
He led multistate, multidisciplinary efforts in development of a swine growth computer model now used in several states. Turner's extension program focused on cattle-forage systems such as geotextile pads, fencing, water supply and paddock layout, as well as cooling systems for dairy and swine.
Under Turner's leadership, the biosystems and agricultural engineering department increased external research and extension grants from an annual level of $250,000 in 1999 to more than $4 million at the time he became associate dean.
As associate dean, he spearheaded a statewide streamlining and enhancement effort called “Re-envisioning Extension,” and led the successful effort to develop the County Enhancement Initiative which established a county agent career advancement track.
Turner is remembered and honored in many ways. Turner Leadership Academy is a not-for-credit, voluntary certificate program in the college designed to meet undergraduate student leadership development needs. The Turner Scholarship Fund provides scholarships for first-generation college students. An athletic field at the Lexington Christian Academy is named the Larry Turner Memorial Field. A friend made a 3,800-mile journey on a bicycle to honor Turner and raise funds for Kentucky 4-H Foundation.