Stephen D Hibinger
Steve is a Level 2, ACES Conservation Planning and Implementation Specialist, working out of the Zanesville, Ohio office. He is also a NRCS retiree whose retirement was cut short because his former supervisor and acting primary monitor, Mark Smith, enticed him back by suggesting that, if he worked in the ACES Project, Steve could spend the majority of his time in the field. And now, two years later, Steve is still working in the Pasture Management Program and says he is still thoroughly enjoying his job. Mark calls the ACES Program a ‘win -- win’ situation. “Our retirees can continue doing what they love while they are doing what we need.”
Steve’s job consists of setting up Grazing Management Programs by educating farmers in the benefits of conservation and then assisting them in the planning, implementation, and follow up of conservation programs for pasture land. Brandon Smith, a producer who has worked closely with Steve says, “Steve is very knowledgeable on grasses – I call him my ‘grass man’. He helped me a lot when I got started on my grazing system. He knows his stuff and has become a good friend, even though we are about 2 hours apart.”
While he was working for NRCS, Steve was responsible for Grazing Management Programs and livestock issues in nine counties. Now, with only a 20-hour work week, he works in only three or four counties where the workloads are the heaviest and his assistance is requested. He answers the call wherever he is needed and says that what he does now is really just an extension of what he did before he retired.
When asked how his experience differed between the previous ACES Project and the current ACES Program, Steve said that, except for filling out new paperwork and going on the electronic timesheet system, the transition was really almost seamless. In fact, if anything, Steve likes the new program better than the old because the pay is better. Getting paid for what you like to do – it just doesn’t get much better than that!