As his time as the State 4-H Leader comes to a close, Dr. Dwight Loveday reminisces on his career and accomplishments.

Loveday grew up on his family farm in Blount County helping his family raise cattle and hogs. He found a love for animal science early because his time spent on the farm.

“I was a typical 4-H’er,” Loveday says. “I did everything from hogs to chickens to showing steers. 4-H and animal agriculture shaped my goals early on.”

Throughout his time as a 4-H’er, Loveday won state winner in the swine and citizenship projects and attended National Congress. His life revolved around 4-H so much that he even married 4-H Agent Rita Thompson in 1974.

Loveday graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 1972 with a degree in Animal Husbandry. Then he went on to gain his Masters and Doctorate in Meat Science from Kansas State University in 1978. Before completely finishing school, Loveday accepted the role of Nebraska Extension Meat Specialist and Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska.

In 1983, Loveday moved back to the Volunteer State to teach meat and food science at UT. He became involved with state 4-H staff in the early ‘90s with his appointment to the 4-H/Animal Science liaison, where he has spent the majority of his time until being appointed Interim Director of 4-H.

In reflection, Loveday shares the highlight of his career.

“I enjoyed coaching judging teams, but my biggest accomplishment is the skillathon program,” says Loveday. “It all started out of the premier exhibitor program to put more emphasis on the showman than the animal. I visited other states to get an idea of what to do, and I was determined to bring it to Tennessee and do it better.”

The Tennessee State Skillathon program has been a huge career focus for Loveday. His most recent contribution is the Dwight and Rita Loveday Skillathon Endowment to support the state skillathon team when they compete at the national competition.

Loveday’s exact retirement date is not yet set because of COVID-19, but he looks forward to the days of retirement.

“In 4-H, when someone asks you do something, you try to do it to your best ability,” he laughs. “Rita and I plan to travel and spent time with our five grandchildren. We have our flock of sheep, and we enjoy taking care of the kids and sheep together.”