A Changing of the Guard in Cooperative Extension

— Written By and last updated by

Recently, N.C. Cooperative Extension in Henderson County saw a “changing of the guard” of sorts. Longtime Administrative Assistant Ivy Olson retired on March 1, 2020. Just a few weeks before Ivy’s retirement Keai Tilly was hired to train with Ivy. Keai began her tenure as Administrative Assistant of March 1. Such is the case in any organization. People come and go as circumstances dictate. It’s never easy to change, but sometimes we are fortunate to have smooth transitions.

Wishing You the Best, Ivy

If you have engaged with Cooperative Extension anytime in the last 12 years, you knew Ivy. She was the face of the office. She was the one you wanted to see if you needed something done. Ivy was indeed a legend here in our office. She was respected by our clients, her co-workers and her colleagues across the state.

Although we are happy for Ivy, we will certainly miss her smiling face as each person walks through our doors. Ivy has been our “go-to” person for all these years. When I came here 35 months ago, I learned quickly that she had most of the answers to the questions I had. Steve Pettis teaches his Master Gardeners to “ask Ivy” if they have any questions.

You just don’t replace in one fell swoop the experience that she has brought to her job. She has been a blessing to everyone she interacted with. She has also served as our safety officer, technology officer, vehicle maintenance manager, supply chief, kitchen police, newsletter editor, social coordinator, catering coordinator, cheerleader, head nurse, and counselor. She has worn so many hats over these 12 years that she needs two hat racks.

She was also a trusted friend. Someone who cared when tragedy struck or was there to encourage you when times were hard. Ivy was a beacon of optimism when it looked like the worst was yet to come. Her spirit of hope was contagious.

For all these things and many more, we are grateful to Ivy. Her dedication, hard work, personality, and knowledge are a testament to her character. Ivy is always about the business at hand. That’s not to say she doesn’t have a great sense of humor and is always a pleasure to be around. But her primary goal was to accomplish the task.

We are fortunate that Ivy passed our way. Ivy, we wish you and Ken the best in retirement. We pray for your good health and safety and hope you will continue to be part of our Extension family for many years to come. In the meantime, I will leave you on this note – thank you for making your mark on this office and on all our lives. We will miss you and we love you. God bless you.

Welcome to Cooperative Extension, Keai

Cooperative Extension was very fortunate to be able to hire Keai Tilly on February 1. Keai has hit the ground running and brings a world of talent to our office. She has learned quickly, and you will find she is already a great asset in Cooperative Extension.

Keai is originally from Buncombe County but has lived in Henderson County for some time. She earned her Associates Degree in Arts and Sciences in Hotel & Restaurant Management from Asheville-Buncombe Community College and her Certificate in Accounting from the same school. She most recently worked for Zoe Dental in Asheville and before that worked three years for John Laughter Jewelers.

Her primary experience was with the Biltmore Estate. however, where she worked for almost 10 years in a couple of different roles. She served as Group Rooms Coordinator, Conference Services Administrative Assistant, and as a Hotel Accountant. She brings with her a great deal of accounting, bookkeeping, and financial skills. She also brings a warm personality and a high level of customer service attained through her years in hospitality.

Keai is very skilled in several computer programs, is highly organized, is very team-oriented and possesses excellent communication skills. We are very fortunate to have Keai coming into this position with such great skills and experience. We look forward to her working many years for Henderson County Cooperative Extension.

We knew Keai would be a great fit for the team here in Cooperative Extension. That has quickly proven to be true. She has blended right in with the cast of characters in our office and is rapidly learning our clientele. I know you will enjoy working with her as we have already.

If you haven’t had a chance to meet Keai yet, please come by and see her (once the COVID-19 era is over). I’m sure you will find her to be very cordial and a great addition to our team. We welcome Keai to Cooperative Extension.