Longtime Summit County employee recognized with a day in his honor
Sterling Banks, Utah State University’s extension agent for Summit County, has never been one to seek the limelight. However, last week he willingly allowed himself to be thrust into it.
The Summit County Council celebrated Banks’ upcoming retirement during its Nov. 15 meeting with a proclamation recognizing his work over the last 36 years and declared Nov. 17 “Sterling Banks Day.”
“It was definitely an honor,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “When they said they were going to do it, I felt humbled and appreciative. The county has been a good place to work. There have been good and bad times, but they have always been supportive over the years.”
Banks became a staffer at the county Extension’s Office as the Agriculture/4-H Youth Agent immediately after graduating from Utah State University. He received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education, and the position was one of the first jobs he applied for. He has remained with the county since, although he took a brief sabbatical to complete his master’s degree in 1984.
For more than 36 years, Banks has served as the county’s director for extension-related services for agriculture and horticulture programs, including 4-H and plants and gardening programs.
Banks said he has been able to watch as the county’s agricultural interests have evolved over the years. He said when he first came to the county, the focus was centered on the rural and agricultural lifestyle.
“Even on the West Side of the county, there was still dairy and cattle operations and now it is more urbanized,” he said. “There are more small farms and more horticulture-type issues today than there used to be. But, the love for farming and ranching is still here.”
Banks grew up on a ranch west of Spanish Fork and participated as a 4-H member for nine years, showing steers in the Jr. Livestock Program, according to the resolution. He said the interest in traditional 4-H programs has “definitely gone up” in the county throughout his career.
The proclamation said Banks “has left a distinguished impression on youth and adults alike who have participated in agriculture programs in Summit County.” It credits Banks with creating the county’s stockyards and increasing the success of the market livestock auction.
At the first livestock auction Banks was a part of, he said only about 30 or 40 animals were sold, grossing about $30,000. But, in recent years, the numbers have skyrocketed to more than 250 animals sold with nearly $480,000 in gross sales.
County Council Chair Chris Robinson said the Council recognized Banks because of his dedication throughout the years. He added, “It’s been his whole career.”
“He was not only in charge of the Future Farmers of America programs, but he was also the one who did a lot of work with the different producers,” he said. “He helped the farmers and ranchers in the county, and he did that very well with a lot of integrity.”
The proclamation said Banks “embodies the spirit of being a true professional, known for being honest and speaking his mind, but also showing appreciation, expertise, and intelligence while being a cool guy, assertive, fair, loyal, consistent, dependable, and a mentor.”
Banks is preparing for his upcoming retirement on Dec. 31, with his last day in the office on Dec. 1. He said his wife will also be retiring as an educator, and the pair plans to settle into a new home, which is under construction in Millard County.
While Banks was instrumental in helping with the design of the new venues for the Summit County Fair, he won’t be around to use them.
But, that’s OK with him.
“The kids will benefit from them and that’s all that matters to me,” he said.
To view the County Council’s proclamation, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/6928.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.