The first time I met Nelson, I was a little intimidated. He’s a big guy! I did not know him outside of the MG classroom and had no other dealings with him. Now after 4 years of working with him, I can truly say, he is a joy to work with. He is one of my greatest encouragers. As I interviewed him for this article, I found the joy behind that big smile of his; his enjoyment of people and love of family. I hope you will enjoy getting to know Nelson a little better, I certainly have
Nelson grew up in Jefferson County, in a family of 4 brothers and one sister. His fondest memories are around the kitchen table at meal time; eating together, talking, joking, playing games and spending time together.
He now resides in Shelby County with his wife of 16 years, Stephanie who is a Loan Mortgage Specialist. Between them they have 5 girls, Erica, a teacher and graduate of Montevallo University, Belicia who is a Student at UAB working on her BS degree in Marketing, Simone at Jeff State with plans to enter the Navy, Sonya who is in middle school and is active in girl scouts, volleyball, gymnastics and piano and Patricia who is in elementary school and likes singing, dancing, and gymnastics.
Nelson started with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System as a County Agent in Shelby County in 1993 and then became a Regional Extension Agent in 2004 covering 10.5 Counties and part of his duties included coordinating 6 Master Gardener Programs. Currently, he is a Regional Extension Agent for Bibb, Chilton, Fayette, Lamar, Marion, Pickens, Shelby and Tuscaloosa counties and oversees 4 Master Gardener Programs. These are in Chilton, Shelby, Tuscaloosa and the combined Lamar, Marion and Fayette programs. Nelson is an expert in Home Grounds; Gardening, and Pest Management.
He first became interested in agriculture in the 7th grade when his brother, Lee, who is 5 years older, gave him a list of future needs. Lee told him to pick one and to prepare and educate himself. Nelson picked Agriculture. He received his B.S. in Soil Science, and his Masters in Horticulture, both from Alabama A & M University. In the horticultural world he likes the study of lawn grasses the best. He says of his career choice “ This is not the kind of job where you will make a lot of money but if you like people and the type of work you are doing, you will enjoy it. “
Because he spends so much time in the office dealing with homeowners’ problems, when asked how many hours do you spend gardening? He said, “All day long in the office.” He doesn’t do a lot of gardening, but his wife enjoys container gardening. He is happy if he can get home before dark to mow his grass! Stephanie raises tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, watermelons, and greens in containers. Nelson’s favorite vegetable is a cucumber and his favorite fruit is a banana.
Nelson prefers roses, Rose of Sharon, sweet shrub and trees that aren’t messy and give good shade. He likes the Tulip Popular and Sycamore Trees but says he is seeing fewer and fewer of them.
He likes to read Sci-fi and action novels and watch TV. He works out by walking and jogging. While in school he ran track and played basketball. His family prefer fish to having dogs and cats.
A few things you might not know about Nelson, he was a county agent in Georgia in the 1980’s, and has traveled Route 66 going to a family reunion in Las Vega in 2010. Along the way he saw the Grand Canyon. He has worked for a pipe company, a respiratory company, he has been a librarian, a lab assistant, a mechanic, a carpenter, worked in pulpwood and for a bottling company.
Words to live by are words his mother taught him, “Treat people like you want to be treated. “
His favorite thing about Chilton County Master Gardeners is: “They are hard workers, they step up when ask to do something, and have helped me to keep the Master Gardener Program going and growing in Chilton County.”