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Two retire from the USDA

Posted by: tdt -

By Robin Scott

    The USDA/NRCS is honoring two of their own on January 11th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  David Guest has spent 43 years, 355 days serving and John Childress has spent 31 years, 214 days serving the Dallam County community.  Both veterans are retiring, and the celebration will be held to recognize their many years of dedication.

    The United States Department of Agriculture has been involved in leadership on food, agriculture and natural resources since 1862.  The agency relies on “sound policy, the best available science, and efficient management.”   The Natural Resources Conservation Service is a Federal agency created in 1935 to help America’s private landowners conserve soil, water, and other natural resources.

    David Guest joined the Soil Conservation Services (SCS) in 1966 as s summer student trainee.  He continued working part time while earning his Master’s Degree from East Texas State University.  In the late 60’s, David took a leave of absence for two years to serve in the U.S. Army.  Fourteen months of his two years was spent in the Republic of Vietnam.  The USDA sent David to many Texas locations over the years, including Athens, Palestine, Clarksville, Winnsboro, and, finally, Dalhart where he has remained since 1975.  SCS was changed to NRCS.  

    David was raised in Texarkana.  He has two children.  David, Jr. lives in Norman, Oklahoma and Suzy Thompson lives in Canyon.  He also has two grandchildren, Colt and Tripp.  David noted, “I have always enjoyed working with the farmers and ranchers in Dallam and Hartley Counties to help them conserve our natural resources and make this area a better place to live.”  Many in Dalhart know David for his work with the XIT Rodeo, including having been a past director.  He also has a knack with ribs, and has competed and won in cook offs.

    John Childress began his career with the USDA in 1978.  He applied for job openings in Texas, hoping to return to his home state. He was hired on as the soil conservation technician for the Dalhart office.

    Born in San Angelo, John has also lived in Sherwood and Mertzon, Texas, but a family move to Anderson, California in 1964 took him out of Texas.  He attended Anderson Union High School and Shast Junior College before going onto the University of California for one year. 

    John also served his country by joining the Air Force in 1971, and he served at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc CA until 1974.   He worked for the Air Force on the base until 1978.   John married wife Connie in 1982, and they have three children.  Joby lives in Denver, Lindsi lives in Dalhart, and Briana lives in Lubbock.

    While with the USDA in Dalhart, John has taken care of the engineering needs of the Dalhart Field Office as a soil conservation technician and then as a civil engineering technician.  During the past few years he has also worked in the Stratford Field Office.

    Both men have made quite an impression on their co-workers.  Anita Coulter stated, “I know that working with David and John is something I will always remember. They both have made working with them easy and fun.  I have learned so much working with them. They have shown me that no matter how big the workload, everything can get done in the best way possible for each individual producer.”  Molly Avila added, “Mr. Guest always has a smile on his face and I don’t believe I ever was around him when he was in a bad mood. He has a great outlook on life.  Mr. Childress was very dependable when it came to meeting deadlines.  He was very pleasant to talk to on the phone.”

    Troy Headings commented, “A couple of things that I appreciate and will remember about ‘Dancing’ Dave from Dalhart and John is their willingness to do what it takes to get the job done, and have fun even with short deadlines and lack of or changing of rules.  David and John make me think out of the box, which I also appreciate.  Their presence within NRCS will be missed.”

    Terry McFall noted, “I have always admired David and John and will always appreciate them.”  John Newman stated, “David Guest was going to be gone for a day or two and left me as the acting DC.  Even with the calm manner of John Childress, the time as acting DC proved to be more than talking to folks that wanted to see the boss.  Upon David’s return, he asked how it went and if there was any problems.  What he said has made me smile many times since, ‘It’s not so easy to play the clown when you have to run the circus, is it?  I learned to have fun at work from David and still be the one that had to answer for what my office had done.  John Childress was the force behind the drip irrigation used on the windbreak trees in Dallam County and the survival of many windbreaks.  When John saw a need for drip irrigation, he became the person that learned all he could and taught others.  He pushed the leadership to develop the guidelines for drip in windbreaks.

    Mark Donet added, “David instilled in me a quality of always looking at everything I did in my job as being fun and exciting.  I never once saw him mad or hating his job.  It was always new and exciting everyday that we worked together.  I always saw John as a very determined man and one of the most technical persons I have ever worked with. There was nothing that John could not do if he set out to do it.  These are qualities that I have never forgotten about them, and I took them with me when I left to my new job in Alpine.  I think these are qualities that made my experience with USDA a memorable and successful one.”

    The USDA invites everyone to attend the celebration for David and John on January 11th at the USDA offices located at 622 W. 7th Street in Dalhart beginning at 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.