Ernie Burkett

Ernie Burkett serves as the operations manager of the family farm.

Education, his 1st primary inanimate love, is his focus for life, in all angles of its ultimate glory for the benefit of and toward the final analysis, that being the betterment of the Earth we all are blessed to live upon for an all too brief period of time.

A time frame of 12 years from beginning of his undergraduate degree in 1965 to its completion in May of 1977 served as the basis of his well-rounded education. That time went something like this: a radical love of history – the study/reflection of history in relation to today, right now (speaking of the past). Radical involvement in the anti-war activities, circa 1966-75; study at the University of the Philippines and his first government job as a clerk-typist; participation in the Woodstock generation; highly supportive in thought and action of the support and formation of the Free University of Denton, a member of the Free University Network (F.U.N.), a national organization serving a new idea that much relevant learning takes place outside the “structured classroom.” It was a radical and successful idea that was copied by those who love education – the idea morphed into what nowadays is known as continuing education!

He worked his way through the official degree program, sometimes working as many as three jobs in a 24 hour period, five or six days a week. During those 12 years, the work he did with many Puerto Ricans on a 500 acre nursery in New Jersey, supplying plants for mostly New York City, was right up there as one of the most interesting jobs and helped improved his Spanish.  Another undoubtedly interesting job was learning and working several weeks as a leathersmith in Toronto, Canada, and was time well spent. After Canada, and back to Virginia, several months were spent working at Newport News Dry Dock & Ship Building, starting as a mechanic’s helper and ending work as one of three assistants to the Director of Operations in the Preventative Maintenance Department. The work paid well, allowing him to save money and go back to Texas to finish an undergraduate degree in Education.

In May 1977, his graduation from the University of North Texas with a BS in Secondary Education (Composite Social Sciences with a teaching certificate) led to over two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer Agricultural Extension Agent in West Africa, working with local farmers. An extra-special project was writing a grant proposal to the American Embassy whereby he secured money, and, in working directly with the President of the country in which he served, he secured materials and with sweat equity from the local people, helped construct a new secondary school building in his assigned village.

Upon returning to the USA, he became a teaching fellow at UNT serving international students for the Driver’s Education department, resulting in his receiving all the professional certifications available in that field. During that time, he met his wife, Becky, married now over 30 years, continued his Master’s program and graduated from the University of Memphis in August 1985 with a Masters of Education degree in Higher Education/Student Services. For the next almost 25 years, he served education in a variety of ways, his final federal government assignment being a Peace Corps Volunteer Recruiter/Dallas office – 1993-94, and his final part-time employment (concurrent with others) working under the umbrellas of the Texas Department of Public Safety (Safety Training Division) and the Texas Education Agency as a Supervisory Instructor in Driver Education / Program Development, completely retiring from these associations in 2005 and full retirement in 2010.

OMG thank you! Retirement!! Thank you God for the ride! Finally settled in at Shannon’s Farms – a dream fulfilled and very grateful!

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