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Nature Nut

Tim Farmer to speak
about natural history
and hunting in Kentucky

Souper Supper Series
features Kentucky Afield host

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. – Tim Farmer’s love of the outdoors has drawn those who don’t even like to fish and hunt to sit in front of their TV every Saturday night at 8:30 to watch his segments filmed “in the woods or on the water.” His fascination with Kentucky has introduced viewers to new sites they didn’t know existed in their state, and to new faces that seem like old friends.

Tim Farmer

Photo provided

Millions of Kentuckians
watch Tim Farmer
every Saturday
night on KET’s
"Kentucky Afield."

But life hasn’t always been so rosy for Farmer, who was born in Louisville and grew up in Mason and Carter counties in Kentucky. He lost the use of his right arm in a motorcycle accident in 1984 at the age of 20. He had just completed 13 weeks of U.S. Marine Corp boot camp and was on his way to Louisville to travel with friends to Millington Naval Air Base near Memphis, Tenn., when he lost control of his motorcycle and struck a guard rail, throwing him over an embankment.
Life changed that fateful June day for Farmer, but his positive outlook on life didn’t. He eventually landed a job as a fisheries technician with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. The job would lead to the best job of all, hosting KET’s "Kentucky Afield."
He was hired by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1989 “never dreaming I’d host the show one day,” said Farmer, 45.
Farmer applied for the job to carry on what he labeled a “wonderful tradition,” he said. “I watched it at my grandfather’s house in Louisville in the '70s,” and then later when his parents moved to northeastern Kentucky.
He got his big career break in 1994 when Dave Shuffett stepped down from hosting America’s oldest outdoor show, "Kentucky Afield." Thirty-six candidates applied for the job, said Nancy Theiss, who was to become Farmer’s boss until she left the Fish & Wildlife Department in 1998.
“I required the applicants to submit a videotape,” said Theiss, who is now executive director of the Oldham County History Center. “I took them home because there were so many.”
After she popped Farmer’s tape in, her “family heard him and then saw him on the tape and said, ‘Mom, he’s the one. He’s great!’ ” Theiss said he “had a lot of presence and energy that comes across television, so I hired him. Plus, he’s a tremendous athlete and sportsman.”
Farmer will be speaking about his experiences as host of "Kentucky Afield" at 6 p.m. on Feb. 10 at the Irish Rover, Too for the Souper Supper Series. This series is presented by the Oldham County History Center with proceeds funding student archaeology summer camps.
"The audience will get to meet a Kentuckian that cares about the conservation of our state and be inspired to hear Tim’s story about the challenges he faces as host of 'Kentucky Afield,' ” said Theiss.
Farmer said there are so many memorable experiences he could speak about. Some instances that stand out while filming "Kentucky Afield" include finding a monkey on Kincaid Lake, and having the opportunity to meet people such as Don Everly of the Everly Brothers, the Mandrel sisters, Ted Nugent and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry.
Farmer appreciates most the opportunity his job gives him to travel and meet people. “We make it all about the people we meet,” he said. Farmer’s charismatic personality has won two Emmy awards for the show.
Farmer can’t pinpoint a favorite place to hunt or fish in Kentucky. “It changes from week to week. I like it all, from Maysville in the north to the southeastern part of the state. Everything is different.”
Growing up in rural Mason County, where his family moved in 1970, Farmer developed a love for the outdoors from his parents, Jerry and Sherry Farmer. He especially remembers fishing with his dad, “who would always make time to take me.”
Farmer does a lot of volunteer work and has many speaking engagements every year at places such as Cardinal Hill Rehab in Lexington, Ky. He has a passion for helping others with disabilities to make adaptions for hunting and fishing sports, such as recently helping a Cardinal Hill patient find a fishing brace like the one he uses.
Farmer said he is “never starved for stuff to do on the show.” He invites viewers to email or call with suggestions. “I’m always open to ideas,” a thought which mirrors Farmer’s outlook on life.

• Reservations are required for this program and can be made by contacting the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826. Tickets are $20 for members, $25 for non-members.

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